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Subject: Iron gall ink

Iron gall ink

From: Frank Mowery <mowery>
Date: Wednesday, March 6, 2002
Michael Maggen <maggen [at] netvision__net__il> writes

>This practice of removing acidity from ferro gall writings was first
>introduced by Frank Morey in the last IPC conference in London.

It is important to give credit to the correct person. Michael Maggen
misunderstood that I introduced the technique of "boiling iron gall
ink drawings and manuscripts" to reduce the free iron ions that are
the cause of much of the corrosion in iron gall ink items. In 1997,
Julie Biggs presented a paper based on the work she conducted at the
Folger Shakespeare Library. Her research began after reading the
article "Tintenfrass im Papier"(Restauro 2/1993) authored by
Friederike Heller, Franz Mairinger, Manfred Schreiner, and Otto
Waechter. This article discusses the boiling treatment of corroded
iron gall ink documents. In Julie's paper at the London IPC
Conference in London 1997, she cites her correspondence with John
Waterhouse a scientist at the Institute of Paper Science and
Technology in Atlanta Georgia. John Waterhouse suggested that
boiling could have a beneficial effect on the paper, breaking some
of the crosslinks that are associated with the embrittlement and
desiccation of aged paper.

At the Folger Library we are still occasionally "boiling" corroded
iron gall ink manuscripts as part of a treatment that also includes
the use of calcium phytate. We place the items in a Hollytex
envelope that is created by sealing the polyester web with a heat
welder. The corners are cut open to allow air bubbles to escape. The
enveloped originals  are first pre-wet with ethanol then placed in
the bath that is about 95 degree Celsius (there is a gentle
bubbling). They are kept in the bath for 15 minutes then removed,
dried on the vacuum suction table and sprayed again during the
drying period with ethanol. After they are dry, they are given a
calcium phytate treatment developed by Johan G. Neevel and Birgit
Reissland first presented in Restaurator 16 1995-143-60.  Stay tuned
to the continued work by Julie Biggs, she is finishing a
comprehensive work on iron gall ink.

J. Franklin Mowery
Head of Conservation
Folger Shakespeare Library
201 East Capitol St. SE
Washington DC 20003

                  Conservation DistList Instance 15:61
                 Distributed: Wednesday, March 6, 2002
                       Message Id: cdl-15-61-001
Received on Wednesday, 6 March, 2002

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