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Subject: Flaking ink on manuscript

Flaking ink on manuscript

From: Michael Maggen <maggen>
Date: Tuesday, July 14, 1998
John Holmes <joh [at] llgc__org__uk> writes

>I would like to know if anyone out there has experience of a
>problem with flaking inks on an illuminated Italian manuscript,
>circa 1400. I have been told that this is a defect typical of
>Italian vellum manuscripts of this period.

Flaking of ferro gall Ink is a well known phenomena which associate
with many manuscripts and with illuminated Italian manuscript .
Apart of the corrosion damage to the manuscript there is always the
question of what can be done in order to stabilize the acidity of
the ink. This ink contains organic and inorganic acids with unstable
metal salts (transition metal ions).

Recently I received an interesting publication
"Proceedings--European Workshop on Iron gall Ink Corrosion,
Rotterdam 1997". Some of these papers are good sources for better
understanding of the scientific nature and degradation of iron gall

As far as concerns the causes of flaking, it could be that the
specific manuscript you are speaking of had a problem of a weak
binders--this type of damage should be examined carefully--but in
general the main cause for flaking iron gall inks has to do with
degradation of the collagen fibers which supports the ink. Abigail
Quandt a Rare Books and Manuscripts Conservator from the Walter art
Gallery Baltimore, presented a paper in the Manchester Conference
IPC part of which had to do with flaking inks and gelatin
consolidation of a 13th-century Spanish manuscript, (more detail can
be found in her paper: The Documentation and treatment of a late
13th century copy of Isidore of Sevilles Etymologies AIC).

In the same conference, I presented a paper which dealt with gelatin
consolidation for flaking ink of a 10th-century Hebrew manuscript,
for more details see Restaurator. The Conservation of Aleppo Codex
Vol.12 no.2 1991.

Both work of Mrs. Quandt and mine were done in the same manner using
the same materials (parchment size) and vacuum tables, though, no
one of us had an idea of the other while the work was done. However,
once in a while I review the condition of this manuscript and find
the consolidation worked nicely, no more flaking the last eight
years since the job was done. Today we hear more of the new approach
to stabilize the transitional metals with phytic acid (salts)
however, I feel this materials were not fully researched as I
believed that in old manuscripts, the main effect of the acidity and
transition metal ions have already had their effect, and we have to
deal today more with post acidity effects than with the acidity

Michael Maggen
Senior paper conservator
The Israel Museum Jerusalem

                  Conservation DistList Instance 12:10
                  Distributed: Tuesday, July 14, 1998
                       Message Id: cdl-12-10-002
Received on Tuesday, 14 July, 1998

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