Where to buy ink online?

Another noob question…

Where is the best place to order ink online?

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Well, it depends on what kind of ink (soy, oil, rubber) you want, and in what quantity.
You can order 1lb cans of both oil and rubber from VanSon (http://www.vansonink.com/store.aspx). You can buy both basic Pantone colors and custom mixes.
NA Graphics sells oil based inks (and rubber based too, I think) in 1lb cans and oil based inks in 1/4lb tubes. They sell the basic Pantone colors and some additional ones as well. (http://order.nagraph.com/ink.html)
Then there is the “ink in tubes guy” who posts on here sometimes. If you do a search here, you should be able to find him. I think he’s willing to mix many ink colors.
Soy ink - I don’t know.

Hello Elizabeth,

I’ve gotten oil-based ink from Renaissance Graphics and Graphic Chemicals:




I’ve been buying my ink from the Oldham group in Ft Worth. Great oil based ink for letterpress.

Oldham Group
Joe or Becky
(817) 554-0041
[email protected]

Thanks everyone. Is oil the most generally preferred?

i JUST bought a letterpress and haven’t had a chance to try it, but as a long-time printmaker, i just thought i would give a shout-out for graphic chemical. they are great, they are so knowledgeable and helpful, always on top of things. i got some rubber inks with my letterpress, but i also plan to try some of my old standby graphic chem and charbonelle oil-based inks because they are what i know and love.

I use rubber based inks (except for metallic colors, which only come in oil based) because they stay open on the press longer. I’m a beginner, so I do a lot of fiddling. With rubber based inks I can ink up on a Saturday morning, print all day and leave the press idle while I fix all my mistakes.
I also like that rubber based inks don’t skin over in the can. That really drives me crazy for some reason, but it might not bother you.
I think that oil based inks are supposed to be easier to clean up, but I haven’t really noticed that. They’re definitely better for printing on coated paper since they dry. Many people find oil based inks to look a little richer.
I’m really happy with my rubber based ink. I’ve ordered from Van Sons and Graphic Chemical and been very happy with both.

Hello Elizabeth.
You can also buy ink from Letterpressink.com. They sell ink in 1 pound cans and in 1/4 pound tubes.



VanSon for rubber based inks is THE BEST!

Well, though you cannot purchase them through any online store I have found, GANS has always been my favorite rubber-base ink. They come in high tack and are extremely stable on press for me. (I have had van-son start drying really quickly and change viscosity during long runs.) You can reduce them with a tack reducer that is actually made from the base as well, comes in a bottle that Gans sells. Really good stuff.


(Also, Evrythingisfine and anyone else- It’s rubber “base”, not “Based”. They’re not based on rubber. The base in the ink IS rubber. It’s like “I PRINT STATIONARY” ~ Well, maybe you don’t move when you’re printing, but I print Stationery and I move quite a bit.)

You gotta call them, but here’s the website:


@Haven Press;
Thanks SO MUCH for the pretentious response, I absolutely needed to be corrected on a one letter misspell.

I often hear people talk about rubber soled shoes, as in “shoes with a rubber sole”… similarly, I always read rubber-based as “with a rubber base”.

Hi Mark,
I see NA Graphics, Boxcar Press, The Arm ;) and other sources calling it rubber based in context. That’s what my grandpa said and so I imagine it passed muster at Carnegie Tech in the printing management program. As far as I am concerned, folks can call it what they like as long as they don’t call it paint and they don’t try to clean their ink knives with water in my kitchen sink.


Firstly, “Base” is the infinitive form. Which is grammatically correct in the particular way of saying “Rubber base ink”.

I would add:
1. It says it on the can.

2. Colloquial language is not the same as a defined term or correct grammar, and colloquial language is not always correct. (see: Stationary vs Stationery, as I was attempting to point out.)

3. Check a google search for rubber BASE ink vs Rubber BASED ink. Just a quick search will demonstrate that manufacturers don’t seem to refer to it as ‘based’. The can you are holding if you are holding Van Son says “base” on it.

4. You can find suppliers who do call it “based”. (A familiar one- Boxcar!)
Printers/Pressman/Ink mixers/etc probably say this as well and judging on people’s feelings about my post (which was intended to inform, not criticise), well, there you go.

I guess it’s interesting how specific details are lost on people, and others are just accepted as the norm, vs what could be said grammatically correctly. Apologies for being a grammar snob, and Dan- no offense, but just because your pappy mighta said it doesn’t make it necessarily grammatically correct….?

Happy printing,

Ammusingly, the boxcar page actually says one thing in words/marketing/address, and the pictures of the CANS SAY BASE.



Anyhow, I aint got no mores to say about et. Goodonyuh for speakin’ how’vr yuh please.

I guess I’ve been drug into this discussion both because I am one of the sellers of ink listed and my alma mater was mentioned. It doesn’t much matter to me—when I was attending the aforementioned university, inks using a rubber base were in their infancy and had a terrible reputation. Commercial printers avoided them like the plague. The formulation has greatly improved over the years and the real issue to me is not one of grammar but if the ink is suitable for the intended use.

And with Van Son inks, made in the Netherlands, the current item of interest is the conversion from one pound cans to a standard 2.2 kg can that significantly increases the investment for small shops/studios to have a selection of ink colors. U.S. ink makers are also headed in this direction which will eventually impact most printers with higher investments in ink.

And speaking of terminology and grammar, the postings on this forum are rife with mangled printing terms, misspellings, drawer for case, etc. It becomes a mine field of disastrous proportions for those whose native language is English, and very pardonable for those who have English as a second or third language. It does stifle participation in this forum to harp on the same old misuse of the language and printing terms—I read this forum for the meat of the discussion, not if someone chooses to write run-on sentences using all lowercase. Their grammatical ignorance is excusable if they have something of merit to add to the discussion.

Well said Fritz


Again, Haven Press, your response is pretentious as it gets.

Very well said, Fritz.

I do have a complaint in that as printers, and often the only so-called professional doing the actual printing, our standards for spelling and grammar need to be high. We need to be able to read someone else’s copy and spot errors be it in an electronic file, a printed proof, copy to be set into type, etc. so as to help our clients over their language difficulties. Because once an error(s) is put on paper with ink, it’s too late. And then one’s standing as a professional comes in for justifiable criticism. To the extent that e-mails and postings to this forum are an indication of a person’s command of the language (or how lazy they are), there are more than a few people who I wouldn’t trust with any printing that involved words—line drawings, ok, but for the real meat of printing, I would go elsewhere.

I guess people are also blissfully ignorant. We always check new customers for the spelling of their street name, and if they are on a street, avenue, place, or some other designation and if they got their zip code right. Probably a fourth of our new customers can’t even get their address entered correctly.

I totally agree, Fritz. It used to be that printers were some of the leading scholars in their communities. I blame the education system, which sends students into the world with what should have been failing abilities in language, as well as other knowledge and skills. It is very evident all across the Internet — grammar, spelling, punctuation, and thinking have all deteriorated. And as you say, customers, products of the same system, are little or no better.


To: everythingisfine

The Fatal Punctuation Mark:
How a Single Comma Made the Difference Between
Life and Death
Russian Czarina Maria Fyodorovna reportedly once saved the life of a man by transposing a single comma in a warrant signed by her husband, Alexander III (1845-1884), exiling a man to death in Siberia. On the bottom of the warrant, the czar had written: “Pardon impossible, to be sent to Siberia.”
The Czarina changed the punctuation so that the instructions read instead as follows: “Pardon, impossible to be sent to Siberia.” The man was set free.
Punctuation is usually not a matter of life and death — but it certainly does affect the meaning of a sentence, which is the intended lesson of this anecdote.
Note: Though the use of the comma in the Czar’s original warrant is not correct according to the standards of contemporary American English (which would call for a dash or a colon), it was correct according to the conventions of the Russian language, which, like many others, allows for looser usage of punctuation than English.

Right, interesting to note that I’m being called pretentious for basically minding my p’s and q’s on a dang letterpress website.

everything is anything to everyone.

As a very active sub in grades 7–12, I can tell you that the English, Literature and grammar teachers are top notch in every school. I also teach graphic design at the college level and asked a college writing teacher if there is a connection between what the students are taught in 7–12 and college. Her answer was, “no.” There’s an obvious disconnect. My experience as a teacher tells me it is as important to tell students “why” something is important as it is the correct usage. Not every student will be a scholar, past or present.

Personally, I don’t believe for a second that grammar, spelling, punctuation or thinking are deteriorating. Quite the opposite.

I find it much more likely that this perception arises because the democratization of communication is allowing those whose language skills are below par to still communicate widely.

Compare the average person’s writings today with that of the actual average in the 1950s and I think you’d find a definite improvement. It is just that most of what we read from that era was written by the few who had command of the written word, rather than the majority who did not.

Similarly, we might think that the world is becoming an angrier place, but I suspect it is just that the angry people now have an audience of peripheral social-media “friends” with whom to share their rants, rather than screaming at walls or pigeons as they did before Facebook.

I agree with kimaboe. Also this forum is about ink on paper

Any recommendation for soy based ink?

I used to work retail and had customers who had to fill out a government form written in “legalese”. A frightening percentage of my customers were at about a fifth grade elementary school level or less in reading and as for their ability to write intelligibly… well, the less said about that the better.

I had some sympathy for folks who came from Mexico or Laos, but anyone who grew up speaking English should at least be able to get the gist of the meaning from context, even if they didn’t know a term or two. Almost nobody knew what the word “renounced” meant… and felony? How could you possibly not know if you were a convicted felon or not!?

As far as correction in print… in my experience there are some errors that are completely invisible until after you have run at least 500 copies.

Whenever I get to feeling superior, I put aside my own stuff for a few minutes and take a look at something that Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Heinlein, Andre Norton or for more modern folks; Craig Johnson wrote. After reading just a bit their works, I realize that I am a poor excuse for a writer incapable of producing a coherent sentence without spelling and grammar checking software. I then hang my head in shame and soldier on to hopefully do better next time.

Of late, I have taken to using an actual manual typewriter again for composition of stories. It’s how I started out, and with no spell check or grammar correction, laziness about such things is discouraged by the nature of the device.

Now, how all this arose from a thread entitled “Where to buy ink online?” is another interesting question.