At one time, Cow gum was part of many drawing offices for paste-up work
In our previous article on classic album covers using Comic Sans, there was a passing reference to Windows ‘95. Well before then, cutting and pasting images from a clipboard meant just that to the average computer user. In the drawing office, no graphic artist till the 1980s or thereabouts was without this product:
Contrary to popular belief, Cow gum has nothing to do with the bovine creature. It was a liquid petroleum rubber based glue (similar to the stuff used in Vaseline). This was used for mounting and sticking paper onto paper or card. It came in a red and white tin and took a long time to dry. Sometimes, a residue of Cow gum may be present on the sheet. This was rectified by means of a special eraser.
Why Cow gum? It is named after F.P. Cow, the manufacturers of the product. With the arrival of the Apple Macintosh and desktop publishing software, it became obsolete as creating page layouts and artwork moved into the digital age. The fixative also gave off fumes which gave creatives a bit of a high.
Today, you can get a substitute to Cow gum. Ivy’s equivalent is known as Studio Gum, which is basically the same stuff. There is also another version manufactured by Toucan. Its packaging style pays homage to F.P. Cow’s rubber-based fixative.