Throwback Thursday: Of Ink and Inkpots

A few days ago, while teaching my little one the English alphabet, I told him – I for Ink Pot – and then it struck me that he would see an ink pot only in illustration…and for us it used to be such an essential part of life.

I remember that at the beginning of each new academic session, Papa would buy a large bottle of ink. We would fill a small bottle from it. The large bottle would be placed in a cupboard while the smaller one would be kept securely on the study table. The manufacturers might ask us to break the bottles after use, but we never did so. After every few days, the bottle would be filled again. (Ball point pens were a big No-No in the school and we all had to use fountain pens).

When I was in school, there were two brands that were most famous: Camel and Chelpark.

 For some reason, though we always bought Camel products: Pencils, Crayons, Geometry Set, Paints, for ink Camel was never considered good enough. We always bought Chelpark.  [Some of our classmates were loyal fans of Camel]. Blue-Black was the preferred colour. At times, this bugged us no end. The Royal Blue colour that some of our classmates used had a sparkle to it which made their notebooks look bright while our notebooks filled with Blue-Black colour seemed dull. I remember Papa explaining it to us why Blue-Black was better. Perhaps it didn’t spread that much, perhaps it blotted easily, perhaps it had a certain gravitas, perhaps it was permanent and not washable…I do not know but perhaps if I were to buy ink today, it’d be…


Blue-Black colour.:)

I remember when Reynolds came to India, it brought with it a revolution in writing. Though the purists cried foul, the messy, leaky fountain pens were soon on their way out. So were broken nibs, ink-stained fingers, the imprints of these fingers on the uniforms…and ink pots.

Yet when I look back, getting ready for the school. There we are arranging our pencil boxes : sharpening the pencils, filling the pens with ink, using a small rag to wipe them clean later. Organised people would use a dropper to fill the pen but people like me, who were always running late, would pour it hurriedly from the bottle which often resulted in an overflow and a messy table… but that’s another story.


Entry for Throwback Thursday @ Peggy Ann’s Post in which we share ‘old’ stuff.

4 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: Of Ink and Inkpots

  1. Been there, done that, Neer. I have similar memories, of simple but useful stationery. I remember filling my fountain pens with a \”filler\” from a bottle of Camel ink. A fountain pen is still the best way to a neat handwriting. Thanks for this post, enjoyed it.


  2. Thanks Prashant. Glad you liked the post. How things change! We used to argue over inks and nibs (small or big) and pens (with a tube or without one). Our children will most probably argue over laptops and i-phones.


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