Conservation DistList Archives [Date] [Subject] [Author] [SEARCH]

Subject: Drying sand

Drying sand

From: Douglas Sanders <dsanders>
Date: Thursday, March 25, 2004
Deborah la Camera <dlacamera [at] mfa__org> writes

>I am seeking thorough references to the historic use of sand as a
>means to quickly dry fresh writing ink. In the writing of
>manuscripts, sand was sprinkled on the wet ink of recently written
>pages and shaken off in order to speed up drying.  Presumably, if
>the ink was tacky enough, some of that sand would remain loosely
>adhered to the surface of the ink lines.  I believe that I have
>identified a late 17th- early 18th century Italian drawing on which
>sporadic crystals, akin to drying sand remain loosely adhered to the
>surface of the ink.  However, SEM/EDS analysis of those crystals
>yielded results that I was not expecting.  Rather than silica, the
>crystals proved to be a covalent potassium/calcium sulfate.

I think what you have may be gypsum (calcium sulphate)--often used
as 'pounce' for writing with ink.  I have my doubts that 'sand'
would ever be used as a pounce--it is not very absorbent, and would
have a tendency to scratch the surface of writing papers. Pulverized
cuttlefish bone was apparently used as well--there may be potassium
and calcium salts in this; I am not sure of the constituent

Douglas Sanders
Indiana Historical Society
450 West Ohio Street
Indianapolis IN 46202-3269

                  Conservation DistList Instance 17:62
                  Distributed: Friday, March 26, 2004
                       Message Id: cdl-17-62-007
Received on Thursday, 25 March, 2004

[Search all CoOL documents]