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The Hidden History of Invisible Ink March 8, 2018

Charleston, Staten Island
The Hidden History of Invisible Ink, Staten Island, New York

While discrete communication was challenging in the past, people were certainly up to the task of keeping their secrets safe—usually through the use of invisible ink. Through a combination of desperation and ingenuity, people of the past found many different ways to create a writing material that couldn’t be detected with the eyes alone. While the processes were more challenging that using an ink cartridge in a printer, the history behind these applications is incredibly interesting. Read on to discover a few notable ways invisible ink has been utilized.     

3 Historic Uses of Invisible Ink

1. Royal Revenge

When Protestant Queen Elizabeth I was in power, her Catholic cousin—Mary, Queen of Scots—was held captive at her own home for about 18 years. During this time, Mary was only able to maintain communication with her Catholic community by sending out coded messages written in an invisible ink.

Mary wrote in alum—made visible when coated in water—as well as a wasp secretion that appeared when exposed to ferrous sulfate. Eventually, a spymaster decoded these messages and used them as a way to trick Mary into devising a plot against Elizabeth. Soon after, Mary was executed.  

2. Blinding Entertainment   

ink cartridgePhilosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau was used to putting pen to paper to record his many thoughts on the human condition. But he was known to have a little fun with writing as well. In the 1700s, he wrote messages with an ink composed of an arsenic-based mineral and quicklime. In addition to being invisible, the ink could be ignited to stun crowds with an entertaining explosion. Unfortunately, Rousseau went too far with the mixture when the formula exploded in his face, leaving him blind for several weeks. Imagine the printer repairs that would be necessary if the same mixture was used in an ink cartridge today!   

3. Wartime Espionage

World War I required emissaries all over the world to develop new ways to keep wartime communication under lock and key. Since both sides of the conflict were constantly finding ways to expose these materials, each party had to get creative. Germany led the practice by using a variety of materials to evade American and British forces, including solutions derived from laxative medications and lemon juice. Americans, on the other hand, would hide their ink materials on matchsticks or in their clothing to avoid detection from the enemies.


As history indicates, sending messages in invisible ink isn’t always that successful. Fortunately, you can print with clarity when you get dependable ink cartridges and laser toner from Alpha Laser Richmond in Staten Island, NY. Specializing in printer and copier repair, this team can introduce you to a variety of products that produce refined images at high volumes—all for an affordable price. Focused on convenience, these specialists can fulfill bulk orders as well as provide ink cartridge recycling to ease your environmental concerns. For more details about their services, visit this company online or call (718) 317-1263.

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