Van Son Discontinues 1 lb Ink Cans?

I was told today that Van Son has chosen to discontinue the one pound ink cans of Oil Base Plus and Rubber Base Plus inks. Does anyone have any more info on this? I checked their site and see that most of the base colors for the Pantone mixing system are already out of stock in the one pound size.


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I ordered a few 1lb cans they sent me one, and called me asking if i wanted the larger ones instead. So i got one tiny can and one very large can of black rubber base..

I could not afford the whole order in large cans, but if it was 1 lb can i could have gotten alot more colors

So yes it is true…

I was told this by one of their staff 18 months ago at a print exhibition. Letterpress ink is a small part of the business and production of small tins is not cost effective.

The minimum size will be the kilo.

From the latest dealer price list I have from Van Son, it appears that most of their ink line is moving to the 2.2 kilo containers. They do not list letterpress as an available option. Certain rubber base “Standard Colors” remain available in 1 lb cans, such as VS311 Amazon Green, and 8 other colors. The Rubber Base Plus line, starting with VS105 and VS162 in the two basic blacks, have a starting list price of $34.65 for a 2.2 kilo can. The most expensive is VS2322 Pantone Blue 072 at $77.22 for a 2.2 kilo can. I will probably be adding the Van Son line to what I offer in ink, along with another supplier who offers ink in 5 oz tubes and 1/2 pound cans. This latter ink is a US made ink from a small ink company.

The one exception in the Van Son line is opaque white, which because of the heavier weight of the pigment, is offered in a 1.5 kg can that equates at 3.3 pounds, in the Rubber Base Plus, and lists at $95.04. You’ve got to really like or need Opaque White at that price. You may have to make room in your will and pass some of this ink onto your heirs.

I noticed Van Son’s change to larger cans over a year ago. Aside from the inconvenience of having to buy larger ink containers, the new cans are of a horrible design, have a much larger surface area (that promotes more skin on top) and have a push-on lid with a thin lip that makes for a messy edge. Looking at other ink sources now.


One couls also buy large cans and put them in smaller cans with better lids. I also noticed someone is selling tiny vanson inks on ebay, probably filling smaller cans..

Just looked up the minimum order for some metallic gold and it’s $135! Next!

This is disappointing. We’ve had a good system going here at The Arm with new users contributing a one pound can to the communal ink supply with their first press booking. I guess it is time to re-think the system or find a new ink maker to work with.


Well, perhaps this will motivate some of the folks in the US to try Gans Ink. Still sold in friendly 1 lb containers, and I have found it to be excellent ink.

Dan, if you want to try a few test colors of Gans Rubber Base Ink, without actually ordering, you can drop by Haven Press sometime and I’ll scoop you some small 1oz jars of ink to try.

Thanks, Mark. I might have to take you up on that.


I actually discovered this just today after placing an order.

FWIW, I have also noted that the PRICING of Gan’s ink is better than Vanson…

The White they make is more to my taste than Vanson…
And I generally like their vehicles/tintbase more than Van-son.

~There are a couple of other benefits to their blacks- their 29995 dense black is superb for opaque coverage.

~They make an awesome Reducer that comes in a bottle and improves both setting AND the transfer of their ink when using big photopolymer flats.

I’ve been talking this company up for a long time, and I guess I just hope people consider them as a viable replacement for Vanson’s 1 lb cans.

We’re in the process of transitioning to Gans and so far, I really like what I’ve been seeing. Their letterpress black (which is maybe the 29995) is really great. The neons are brighter than VanSon and don’t seem to dry out as quickly. Also, pricing is quite a bit better.

Braden Sutphin Ink Company has one pound cans and is way better than Vanson. -American Made also.
They also sell press wash.

I been using their New Century Line of ink. Oil Base. slow to dry on press. I also use their 30lb pails of rubber base black. I only buy 5lb cans in colors, not sure what a pound can of ink costs.

Gans Ink website is a bit overwhelming to me. So exactly which Gans inks do you use and where do you buy them. I’ve been using oil base inks from Van Son and would prefer to continue to use oil base.

As Delbert would say in the movie “Oh Brother Where Art Thou?” : I’m with you fellers!

This change in packaging sizes by Van Son is actually a good thing since it will have the effect of causing folks to experiment with different materials, and thus expand their printing horizons…. and maybe even their minds!

As you may recall, a few years ago I travelled a great deal and studied the relief / letterpress printing techniques of Tibet, Korea, and many other places. What I discovered is that one can print some really fabulous work, using all SORTS of materials.

There is no “best” ink, paper, or image block… and there are a lot of alternatives to choose from. Of course, some of them may require a bit more though and maybe some effort to learn ho to use them….. but isn’t that what the world needs nowadays: a bit more thought instead of folks blindly following the “status quo”?

So…. if Van Son stops making ink in 1lb cans, who cares?

Hey John Horn- I don’t order from the website. I call them. They are very helpful whenever I do? But I would suggest their rubber base line for letterpress, in the HIGHER tack, and a bottle of reducer to use for modification as needed. Most of their ink prints well for me without reducing.

Dave- philosophically “who cares”; but immediatly and tangibly, if I had to guess, a lot of folks who have money invested in an ink system who do not wish to pay 2.2x the price to re-order a single color….


Actually, I care. I require materials that work for me. I have no desire to experiment. I want consistency, day in, day out, year after year. If I put a job on the press, I do not want surprises, I want dependable results.

Good Morning Haven P, and John…. good points.

I certainly do understand about having a preferred material and wanting to have consistent results. That is a noteworthy goal….. and one that I agree is important.

My point is that there are a lot of alternatives out there that will produce consistent, beautiful results…. if one takes the time to learn them.

I’ve been doing this type of work for a long, long time and i’ve seen all sorts of paper / ink/ plates / clean up solvents / rollers come and go. No material can be counted on to always be there. It is unwise to limit one-self to strictly one material, lest it be discontiued…. or in this case packaged in large, unaffordable cans.

Learning and always having alternative materials is not simple “experimenting”, it is actually a necessitiy if one is to keep printing excellent results year in and year out for decades without interuption. It is part of “mastering the trade”…. which we all can agree is what we should be striving toward.

Without actually trying to speak FOR them, I would venture that the vast majority of printers in the field~ novice, experienced, or otherwise~ even those working with ‘out of date equipment’~ would likely prefer to work with inks that are standardized. This is in contention with having the headache of sourcing, purifying, and working to mix together various raw materials for ink making.

There are reasons ISO standards and the ASTM exist, as I am sure you know, and frankly, it’s not a bad idea to work within those things. But, this is a duscussion about the lack of availability of 1 lb cans, which speaks to commercial viability- not the deadening of an industry and the lack of materials altogether. So, one needn’t preach survivalist tendencies just yet ;-)

I make my own inks sometimes when I cannot find the ink I seek on the market (and I am talking about putting together a raw base or manufactured base like a urethane for silkscreen, burnt plate oil for letterpress/intaglio, or litho varnish- and then adding a drying agent, and an ingredient like a pigment or effect chemical).
Even still the majority of the time I am looking to use a pre-mixed, pre-made ink/or set of inks if I can find it.

There are a lot of reasons why one would follow your abstract process such as limited access to materials, and the regions you speak of probably have this as a reason most of the time (Where does one source printing ink in Nepal).

But I contend that you’re jumping into a discussion and adding miscellaneous information to it which is probably not necessary to the discussion and doesn’t really serve a purpose to the core of the plight: 1. Is it true that 1 lb cans aren’t available anymore- yes; 2. who is now able to provide 1 lb cans as a source? 3. How can this problem be contended with and still involve a reliable source of ink?

Here is my question about this horrible larger can. If i were using ink all the time and were buying 1 lb cans of ink, if you paid more, wouldnt you just have a bigger longer lasting supply of ink.

Im no printer but like most consumables its something your going to use. I found someone selling 1/4 pound cans of vanson ink on ebay.

Also you could buy the bigger can of ink take out 1 pound and sell off the rest…. Im sure some newbies on here like me would buy some extra 1 lbs here and there lol..

But like many people have told me, vanson makes a quality product, who cares what size…. If it works keep using it, and you will have alot more lol

Smile its just ink lol

HavenP…. you are missing my point, and putting words into my mouth that I did not say.

Agreed, most printers don’t want to have to make their own ink….. BUT that’s not what I’m talking about.

What I am referring to is that it would be wise for printers to stop being dependent on a single source for their ink, and learn to use other material… perhaps some of the other well-made commercially available inks on the market, perhaps Faust, or Gans or Charbonnell….

there is no “survivialist” mentatily here, just simple common sense about becoming overly dependent on a sole-source supplier that does not appear to be interested in supporting our trade. It’s only good business practice.

Personally, I don’t care that VanSon has changed their packaging…. since I’ve got other vendors who make high quality ink, and I’m not dependent on any single one of them. That is my point.

Well, that’s a clarified point, and a good one; I think somewhere along the way in the “larger conversation” I misread or misunderstood, my mistake. Sorry, man. It sounds like we are saying the same thing, or similar- adapt and find other brands than just the ‘walmart’ mentality of all using the same thing; I’m suggesting one other brand but not really any other alternatives, and I’d be happy to hear of other rubber base ink brands.

What brands have you tried/can you recommend as far as rubber base inks are concerned?

I found the ink from Southern Ink Company, Inc. works great for me.

I agree with greater houston…I have had excellent results with Southerm Ink Co’s products. I print with traditional metal and wood types on a Gordon Jobber and traditional impression…or maybe just a bit more than a kiss to demonstrate my work didn’t come off of a laser printer. The Southern Ink Dense Black is especially impressive.

Jim DiRisio
The Norlu Press
Fayetteville, NC

Haven P, no problem…. a discussion among friends is always a good thing.

If I use Rubber Base, it tends to be Gans….NA Graph also has some good materials…. but I’m not a big rubber base fan.

I prefer oil base ink….. especiall those from Faust Ink Co. Unfortunately their web-store is not functional, so you have to order it from retail vendors. Southern in Texas (mentioned above) also makes a good ink.

my personal favorite ink is Charbonnell….. but I can’t talk about the current availability since I’m using “new old stock” purchased overseas several years ago. It is a bit slow drying, but it does put down a nice, solid, lightfast impression.

Is the Southern Ink oil or rubber base? I’ve been using VanSon rubber base. I’d like to find a compatible ink for mixing as I still have a lot left.

I just purchased some ink from Southern and am going to give it a try. They say it will mix with oil-base fine. I’m curious because they say it dries like oil-base but can stay open like rubber-base. I’m hoping it will play nice with my other oil-base inks.

We have long used the Van Son, Pantone rubber and oil base inks in 1lb cans in the letterpress shop at Cooper Union, so this change in Van Son’s production has delayed our re-stocking order. It doesn’t make sense for us to order the larger cans for student use. I have considered ordering larger cans and the repackaging it into smaller, empty cans, though that seems a bit excessive.

I have been discussing alternatives with a supplier we usually purchase ink from. The suppliers has recommended that we give Spinks rubber and/or acrylic base inks a try. My initial concern was that new cans of Spinks ink and older cans of Van Son we still have in stock here may not mix well/play nice together. I have been assured by our supplier and a manufacturer that the Spinks and Van Son inks are compatible.

I will probably order a can or two to test the new product. Does anyone have experience with Spinks? Love it or hate it?

I also use Braden Sutphin for my all of my inks, Rubber & Oil Based, everything I order is 1lb cans. I order everything via email or phone, the pricing is reasonable, and if I ever have any questions about the ink they are very knowledgable. Everything ships UPS straight to my door.

Michael Keeton,
Do you have an email address for Braden Sutphin? The contact link on their site doesn’t work.


I have used Braden for years, I get mine from Mix Masters in Lynn, MA, if you can’t find them I have their info in my rolodex (no some of us still use them) let me know and i’ll get it for you.