Will Your Cachets Last?
(by Bruce Cranford, P.E.)
This question is being asked by more collectors in light of the newer printing
technologies available using computers, and because some cachet manufactures
have started using ink jet printers to produce cachets. While there are many
factors that determine the length of time a cachet will last, e.g., envelope
paper, handling, storage conditions, and inks, I will address the issue of inks,
and only those from ink jet color printers.
It was brought to my attention several years ago on a business trip, that the
inks used by many ink jet printers are water soluble and fade over time. Upon
further investigation, I discovered that some inks fade when exposed to
Ultra-violet (UV) light (which causes the fading when exposed to sun light).
Also, water soluble inks may run or bleed if the cachet is exposed to high
humidity or moisture. The types of Inks that do not fade, or resist fading and
color shifting for long periods of time (many years), and do not bleed or run,
are known as "archival inks."
In researching information for this article, I reviewed the APS section on
Preservation and Care of Philatelic Materials. The APS does not address inks
used by ink jet printers. I also reviewed the Collectors Club of Chicago
Reports. They do not address the inks used in ink jet printers. The Internet
offered more information (see references below).
Inks for ink jet printers come in many different formulations but are of two
- Dye inks: use liquid colorant, usually water based, not waterproof,
adversely affected by UV, fade.
- Pigment inks: use solid colorant, usually waterproof, resistant to UV.
Prior to the development of ink jet printers for use in the home, many cachet
manufactures used commercial printers who used permanent inks, many of which
were archival inks.
I contacted several of the major ink jet printer manufactures. Inks are
available from two sources; the manufacturer of the printers and 3rd party ink
manufacturers. I contacted Epson, Kodak, and HP. Kodak and HP stated they do
not make archival ink for their ink jet printers.
"Ink jet prints will only last about 1 - 1.5 years unprotected. This is not
due to the paper, but to the dye-based inks themselves, which are not stable.
If the prints are kept out of UV light (sunlight), they will last longer. There
are UV sprays used by photographers to protect their photographs. You might
want to check with a local professional photographer for recommendations. We
(Kodak) have not tested any of these sprays, however, & therefore cannot make
"For archival purpose Hewlett-Packard only recommends use of a LaserJet
printer. None of our DeskJet printers have archival quality ink available.
While our newest PhotoREt III inks are much more fade resistant then older inks,
we do not rate or recommend them for archival purposes."
In the summer of 2000, Epson announced archival inks were available for their
Stylus Photo 1270 and 870 printers. Archival inks are not available for their
other printers. Epson went on to say that the use of after market archival inks
will void the warranty.
In searching the Internet, several 3rd party manufacturers were identified that
make archival inks for ink jet printers, e.g., Inkjet Art Solutions, and
Printing Images CTC, Inc. I have no experience with 3rd party ink manufactures
and cannot endorse or recommend the two examples listed.
Cachet and decal manufactures that use a color ink jet printer with non archival
inks, run the risk of the cachets and decals fading, change color, and degrading
In conclusion, I recommend that collectors inquire if the manufacturer uses
archival inks. I strongly recommend that cachet manufactures use archival
inks. Prior to using 3rd party inks however, the manufactures should check with
the ink jet printer manufacturer to determine if this action will void the
American Philatelic Society, Preservation and Care of Philatelic Material:
Collectors Club of Chicago, Reports 1-5, 1029 North Dearborn St., Chicago, IL
Computer Friends, Inc., http://www.injet.cfriends.com/
Graphic Utilities, http://www.ainop.com/guifort/difference.htm
Inkjet Art Solutions, http://www.tssphoto.com/sp/dg/archival_inks
Printing Images CTC, Inc., IQ Durable Dye Based Inks,
The PC Technology Guide, http://www.pctechguide.com/13inkjets.htm