Senefelder’s Crayon Black 1803


Thought I’d test Senefelder’s Crayon Black 1803, as quite a few people here at BP swear by it.

A question though, do you typically add something to it? I was surprised that even working the ink on the slab for 20 minutes doesn’t change the viscosity to a degree that lets it distribute properly by the oscillating drum on the proofing press. Very different experience from using my other (oil-based and rubber-based) inks.

Haven’t used lithographic inks for letterpress printing before, so thought I’d post a shout-out to those of you that use these kinds of inks on a regular basis.

Thanks in advance.

Best regards,

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I think the Senefelser inks are intended for hand rolling to use with litho stones. Perhaps you could roll the ink out with a brayer and apply the ink to the proof press from a brayer?

Hi Frank,

Thanks for your reply. For this edition I’m afraid it’s not possible,

It seems some people on the list (and some in other online discussions and in printing books) use Senefelder’s Crayon Black 1803 successfully by letting the motorized inking assembly with its oscillator, riding rollers etc, distribute the ink.

At this point, I’m curious exactly how, as it seems way to stiff for the inking assembly. At the same time I have never seen any references to anyone adding any ink additives etc. First I thought I may have a very old can, but I tested a different brand and can last night and the same problem applies.

Best regards,

Hi Mats, I know with our print group the subject of ink comes up at this time of year due to cold workshops. I have on occasion brought ink into the house to warm up for a few hours and that helps. I use standard litho inks on my windmill and generally that works but I do use tack reducer for larger areas of colour sometimes.

Hi Frank,

My shop is well heated so it’s not related to that. But I think you are right about hand rolling from a slab, I’ll test that for a future project.

Best regards,

That’s definitely an ink for stone lithography, not for letterpress, and stone inks are -very- stiff.

Yes, Graphic Chemical’s Senefelder Crayon Black Ink is primarily to be used in hand lithography, be it stone or ball-grained aluminum plate.

It is normal for the ink to be quite stiff. After retrieving some from the can, we would then work it with a palette knife for about 2-3 minutes to “relax” the ink. The ink contains no driers so it takes a very long time for it to completely dry out.
Although one can print with this ink, we usually use the ink during the process stage where we begin to stabilize the image on stone or ball-grained aluminum plate before the actual printing stage.

I’m sure the ink could be modified to use in letterpress by perhaps mixing it with some linseed varnish #3 to make it “flow” better. Just a guess, though.

Just one last word about this ink, currently it is quite difficult to obtain, so if you got some, hang on to it. I’m not sure when we’ll see another batch appear on the market…

Thanks zbang and CARNOTT for comments and advice.

As mentioned in my original post, this ink is used by quite a few letterpress printers - some of them considered to be master printers - which was the reason I wanted to test it. So it can definitely used for letterpress printing, but they probably inked the forms by using hand rollers (as Frank also suggested), so that is likely the road to success.