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The Noodler's Ink Company is located just south of the former home of Manjiro Nakahama in Fairhaven, Massachusetts - a town that once was a part of "Old Dartmouth". Dartmouth is the home of Noodler's Ink, and the founder of the company is a member of the Society of Friends - with extensive hereditary ties to the Yankee Whaling Industry that Manjiro knew so well.
This is why there is a whale ship upon Noodler's 1 oz. boxes.
This is also why there is an ink dedicated to Manjiro Nakahama's memory.
The ink is modeled upon whaler's logbook ink of the 1840s. It is a durable deep sepia brown - yet is highly unusual in one respect: it is a security ink that can be tested as genuine with an application of common bleach once dry upon the paper. It will turn brown sepia to red - and if the bleach is strong enough the color changes further still from red to royal purple. These colors were designed for their symbolic value: sepia brown from 1840s whalemen's ink, red for the color of the Japanese national flag, and purple in honor of Emperor Meiji - for his reasoning affected by Manjiro Nakahama.
ヌードラーズ・インク・カンパニー（The Noodler's Ink Company)は、幕末の日本で活躍した通訳のジョン万次郎（中濱 万次郎）のゆかりの地、マサチューセッツ州フェアヘイブン市にあります。この土地はかつて、捕鯨産業で名高いアメリカにおけるイギリスのプリマス植民地、「オールド・ダートマウス」の一部であり、歴史的に大変意義のある町でもあります。ジョン万次郎は、この土地の「ヤンキー捕鯨協会」のメンバーとして活躍した時代がありましたが、我がヌードラーズ・インク・カンパニーの創始者も、この捕鯨協会に代々深く関わってきた家系の出身者です。 我が社の１オンスサイズのインク箱に捕鯨船が描かれているのは、そういった背景があるからなのです。そして、創始者は特別な思い入れを持って、このインクを作り出しました。 このインクは、例えるならば、まるで防弾のような安全性が持ち味です。太陽の光に長時間当てても色褪せることなく、また、このインクを使ってサインをすれば、誰かが後から偽造しようとしてもできるものではありません。というのも、このインクには他のインクには無い、特殊な特徴があるのです。 耐久性の高い、深みのあるセピアブラウン色のこのインクは、１８４０年代の捕鯨船の記帳用インクがモデルとなっています。ちょっと簡単な実験をしてみましょう。 紙にこのインクで文字を書き、その上に一般の漂白剤を付けてみます。乾かすと、セピアブラウンから赤色に変化するのがわかるでしょう。また、もしその漂白剤が強いものだったならば、更に赤色から紫色に変わるのです。つまり、このインクは一般の漂白剤を使った簡単な実験で、本物かどうかを確かめることのできる、セキュリティーインクなのです。 この三つの色は、それぞれが象徴するものを元に作り出されました。セピアブラウンは１８４０年代に捕鯨船員たちが使っていたインクの色、赤色はアメリカ国旗の赤、そして紫色は中濱万次郎に対する創始者の特別な思いを反映して、明治天皇に敬意を表してデザインされました。
From the founder of Noodler's Ink concerning the ink design:
What are the sources for determining a whalemen's sepia? There has been mention that sepia is an iron gal based ink. This is completely incorrect. Sepia by definition is based upon a natural, non-synthetic ink in particular cuttlefish and squid ink. Cuttlefish ink makes a classic sepia - dating back to ancient Mediterranean cultures. Whalemen's sepia is different. The Old Dartmouth Historical Society runs the New Bedford Whaling museum - which contains innumerable historical documents written by 19th century whalers. You can see them in person today, but one cannot do much more than that (no chemical analysis for instance).
My source is more personal - that source being my great uncle Reginald Hegarty - who served upon whaleships and whose father was a whale ship captain. Hereditary ties to whaling are extensive, but Great Uncle Reginald is the best source I could hope to have for such an endeavor as the replication of whalemen's logbook ink. A Google search shows who my great uncle was and why his writings and other passed-on information are good sources in the quest to replicate whaler's logbook ink.
Whaling voyages went to the far ends of the earth, and ink from the port of New Bedford would inevitably run out. Quakers, being frugal with any and all capital risked in a whaling endeavor, found a source of ink that abounded any ship in hunt for the whale (particularly the sperm whale) – the whale’s food: the giant squid (see image below). Bits of squid were common - including ink sacs in tact and are able to be refined, filtered through gauze or burlap. Thus, a few preservatives, one had whalemen's logbook ink at little to no added cost to the budget of the voyage.
Many Noodler's customers will never buy any ink containing animal products - and this ink contains no animal content! It replicates whaler's logbook ink in color and shading - it does not replicate its contents as it would not resist UV light if it contained salt (salt was the primary preservative of whaler's logbook ink - and is not exactly the best ingredient for a modern ink!).
Further design clarifications: the initial red after a bleach application is for moments the red of the Japanese National Flag. But, the royal color that follows is not a European royal purple - it is the lighter and more delicate royal color of the royal chrysanthemum. The Japanese monarchy is often referenced as the "Chrysanthemum Throne" (see image below). The final transformative color is modeled upon that delicate royal purple of that particular floral shade.
It is hoped that this additional information adds to the historical perspective the ink is meant to convey.
A special note on the history of the two men pictured on the label:
In January 1841, young Manjiro Nakahama and four friends were caught in a fierce storm as they fished off the Japanese coast. They drifted for weeks, and swam to an uninhabited island.
After months on the island, a whaleship from New Bedford rescued them on June 27, 1841. Captain William H. Whitfield, impressed by young Manjiro's intelligence, decided to take him to America. The sixteen-year-old boy was alone with his rescuers after his companions left the ship and remained in Hawaii. The xenophobic government of Japan, the Tokugawa Shogunate, would not permit them to return after contact with foreigners.
The John Howland sailed into New Bedford harbor almost two years later in May 1843. Manjiro lived first with a friend of Capt. Whitfield's, and later on the captain's farm. He attended school and studied navigation and whaling with the captain. He was known locally as John Manjiro or John Mung.
In 1846, Manjiro became a hand on whalers and merchant ships. Three years later, he set out for Japan via the California Gold Rush (1849), eventually reaching his native land in 1851, after an absence of ten years.
The Tokugawa Shogunate greeted Manjiro with suspicion and harsh interrogations, although he was eventually allowed to remain in Japan. For the rest of his life, he participated in the transformation of Japan from feudal to modern nation, working as interpreter, translator, shipbuilder, whaler, and teacher.
In the 1850s, when Commodore Perry anchored his fleet off the Japanese coast, Manjiro worked behind the scenes to persuade the government of the wisdom of opening the country's closed ports to world trade.
Manjiro and his mentor kept in touch until Whitfield's death in 1886. Manjiro lived until 1898. The descendants of both men have maintained the connection that began over 150 years ago. The bond between Manjiro's native village and Capt. Whitfield's New Bedford/Fairhaven home was formalized in a sister city relationship in 1987.