BPG Iron Gall Ink

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Iron gall ink is a black or brown ink that was in common use from the 5th to the 19th centuries for writing and for artwork. Some formulations of the ink are stable, while others degrade over time and can cause damage or loss to the underlying substrate. High temperature and relative humidity have a negative effect on these aging properties. Iron gall ink is also referred to as iron-gall ink.

The Iron Gall Ink Website is an essential starting point for learning about the history of iron gall ink and its preservation. This wiki page focuses on research that has been published since that website was last updated in 2011. The annotated bibliography below is a selective list of the most relevant literature and is focused on storage, handling, and treatment of paper documents affected by iron gall ink degradation. It is not intended to be comprehensive. For a more complete list of citations, see Crystal Maitland's bibliography below.

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Copyright 2024. The Book and Paper Group Wiki is a publication of the Book and Paper Group of the American Institute for Conservation. It is published as a convenience for the members of the Book and Paper Group. Publication does not endorse nor recommend any treatments, methods, or techniques described herein. Information on researching with the wiki and citing the BPG Wiki can be found on the Reference and Bibliography Protocols page. The BPG Wiki coordinators can be reached at bookandpapergroup.wiki@gmail.com.

Cite this page:

BPG Iron Gall Ink. 2024. Book and Paper Group Wiki. American Institute for Conservation (AIC). Accessed February 28, 2024. https://www.conservation-wiki.com/wiki/BPG_Iron_Gall_Ink

General[edit | edit source]

Henniges, U., Reibke, R., Banik, G. et al. 2008. Iron gall ink-induced corrosion of cellulose: aging, degradation and stabilization. Part 2: application on historic sample material. Cellulose 15, 861–870. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10570-008-9238-0

Kolar, Jana., and Strlič, Matija, eds. 2006. Iron Gall Inks : On Manufacture, Characterisation, Degradation and Stabilisation. Ljubljana: National and U Library.

Maitland, Crystal. 2017. Bibliography prepared by for "Iron Gall Ink: Decision making and treatment practices workshop," Canadian Conservation Institute, Ottawa, ON - November 6-9, 2017.

Extensive bibliography on all aspects of iron gall ink and its treatment.

Potthast, A., Henniges, U. & Banik, G. 2008. Iron gall ink-induced corrosion of cellulose: aging, degradation and stabilization. Part 1: model paper studies. Cellulose 15, 849–859. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10570-008-9237-1

Reissland, Birgit and Frank Ligterink. 2011. The Iron Gall Ink Website. Maintained by the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands. Accessed December 12, 2022.

  • Contains detailed information, recipes, and a long list of references.

Examination and Evaluation[edit | edit source]

See also: Media Problems § Ink

Albro, Sylvia, Julie l. Biggs, Claire Dekle, Mary Elizabeth Haude, Cyntia Karnes, and Yasmeen Khan. 2008. "Developing Guidelines for Iron-Gall Ink Treatment at the Library of Congress. The Book and Paper Group Annual 27: 129-165.

Presents guidelines for treating paper documents with iron-gall ink. The guidelines consist of:
  • Examination form designed specifically for iron-gall ink on paper to supplement the primary record of treatment
  • Glossary that standardizes the terminology used in the examination form
  • Recommendations for micro-chemical and solubility testing
  • Flow charts, or “treatment trees,” to guide the decision-making process based on results obtained through examination and testing
  • Explanatory notes on the treatment options presented.

Baker, Cathleen A. 1985. "A Comparison of Drawing Inks Using Ultraviolet and Infrared Examination Techniques." In Application of Science in Examination of Works of Art, ed. by Pamela A. England and Lambertus van Zelst, 159-163. Boston: Museum of Fine Art.

  • Iron gall ink and carbon black ink can be distinguished under IR illumination. IGI is faint, carbon-based inks are dark.

Reissland, Birgit and Judith Hofenk de Graaff. 2001. Condition Rating for Objects with Iron Gall ink ICN-Information Number 1. Netherlands Institute for CulturalHeritage (ICN). (accessed 3/2018)

  • Visual rating system to categorize condition of object and aid in decision making concerning preservation.

Reissland, Birgit. 2001. "Visible progress of paper degradation caused by iron gall inks." In: The Iron Gall Ink Meeting, Newcastle upon Tyne, 4th & 5th September 2000: Postprints, University of Northumbria, ed. J. Brown. The iron gall ink meeting, Newcastle, 4-5 September 2000

Tse, Sesaon & Robert Waller. 2008. "Developing a risk assessment model for iron gall ink on paper." ICOM Committee for Conservation, Vol. 1: 299-307.

Tse, Season, Doug Goltz, Sherry Guild, Valeria Orlandini, Maria Trojan-Bedynski, Mary Richardson. 2009. "Effect of Aqueous Treatments on Nineteenth-Century Iron-Gall-Ink Documents: Assessment Using Hyperspectral Imaging .The Book and Paper Group Annual 28.

Testing[edit | edit source]

Belhadj, Oulfa, Claire Phan Tan Luu, Sylvie Meslet-Struyve, Sandra Vez, Birgit Reissland, et al. 2014. “The Dutch Fe-Migration Mending Test: Exploring Further Areas of Use.” Journal of Paper Conservation 15 (1): 9-15.

Hahn, Oliver, Birgit Kanngießer and Wolfgang Malzer. 2005. "X-ray Fluorescence Analysis of Iron Gall Inks, Pencils and Coloured Crayons." Studies in Conservation 50 (1): 23-32.

Havermans, John, Hadeel Abdul Aziz, and Hans Scholten. 2003. "Non Destructive Detection of Iron-Gall Inks by Means of Multispectral Imaging Part 2: Application on Original Objects Affected With Iron-Gall-Ink Corrosion." Restaurator 24 (2). Accessed December 11, 2023.

Neevel, Johan G. 2009. "Application issues of the bathophenanthroline test for iron(II) ions" Restaurator 30.

Neevel, Johan G., and B. Reissland. 2005. "Bathophenanthroline indicator paper: Development of a new test for iron ions." Papier Restaurierung 6 (1): 28–36.

Peckham, Susan, Julie Biggs, Claire Dekle, Cyntia Karnes, and Yasmeen Khan. 2017. "Necessity is the mother of invention—DIY iron (II) test paper." Poster presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Institute for Conservation.

  • Describes a method developed at the Library of Congress to produce and use larger sizes of iron (II) indicator test paper, based upon the technique first developed at the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands.

Local Repair[edit | edit source]

See also: Consolidation, Fixing, and Facing

See also: Adhesive Recipes and Tips for recipes and instructions.

Charles, Vanessa. 2008. "Cold Gelatine Adhesive." Papierrestaurierung 9(3): 11‐12.

This short article describes using cold 6% gelatine, sieved through a fine mesh to repair papers damaged by deteriorating IGI.

Jacobi, Eliza, Birgit Reissland, Claire Phan Tan Luu, Bas van Velzen and Frank Ligterink. 2011. "Rendering the Invisible Visible: Preventing Solvent-Induced Migration During Local Repairs on Iron Gall Ink." Journal of Paper Conservation 12: 25–34.

Jacobi, Eliza. 2017. "Moisture and mending: A method for doing local repairs on iron-gall ink." In Adapt & Evolve 2015: East Asian Materials and Techniques in Western Conservation. Proceedings from the International Conference of the Icon Book & Paper Group, London 8–10 April 2015. London: The Institute of Conservation. 80–90. Accessed December 23, 2022.

Martin, Aurélie, Véronique Rouchon, Thierry Aubry, Nelly Cauliez, Marthes Desroches, and Marlene Marguez. 2011. "Local Strenghtening of Mould-Damaged Manuscripts A Case Study on Logbooks of Early French Expeditions in Louisiana (1684-1722)." Journal of Paper Conservation 12(1): 21-29. Accessed December 11, 2023.

Titus, Sonja , Regina Schneller, Enke Huhsmann, Ulrike Hähner and Gerhard Banik. 2009. "Stabilising local areas of loss in iron gall ink copy documents from the Savigny estate." Restaurator 30. https://doi.org/10.1515/rest.003

  • This article discusses the treatment of letterpress copy books with iron gall ink using Berlin tissue pre-coated with gelatin, activated with limited moisture on a suction table. Gelatin was chosen over Klucel because of its stabilizing influence on iron gall ink.

van Velzen, Ban and Eliza Jacobi. 2011. "Instructables, Remoistenable Tissue." Journal of Paper Conservation 12(1).

  • Instructions for preparing 3% gelatin on tissue as a remoistenable tissue.

van Velzen, Ban and Eliza Jacobi. 2011. "Instructables, Repair on Iron Gall Ink with Remoistenable Tissue." Journal of Paper Conservation 12(2).

  • Instructions for using the tissue prepared above to mend iron gall ink.

Humidification and Flattening[edit | edit source]

See the Iron Gall Ink Website.

Belhadj, Oulfa, Claire Phan Tan Luu, Sylvie Meslet-Struyve, Sandra Vez, Birgit Reissland, et al. 2014. “The Dutch Fe-Migration Mending Test: Exploring Further Areas of Use.Journal of Paper Conservation 15 (1): 9-15. Accessed December 11, 2023.

Curtis, Antoinette. 2016. “Zorbix as a Moisture Source for Parchment and Paper Treatments.Journal of Paper Conservation 16 (3): 115-11.

Duranton, M., and G. Hennion. 2015. “Application of Silicagel M®: A moistening treatment of a water-sensible starched textile and its decoration.” Paper presented at the 11th IADA Congress, Berlin, Germany.

Eusman, Elmer, and Kees Mensch. 2000. "Washing and Humidifying Iron Gall Ink on Paper: Effects on Iron Migration (Abstract)." The Book and Paper Group Annual 19.

Washing[edit | edit source]

See also: Washing § Physical or Chemical Sensitivity of Media

Albro, Sylvia, Julie l. Biggs, Claire Dekle, Mary Elizabeth Haude, Cyntia Karnes, and Yasmeen Khan. 2008. "Developing Guidelines for Iron-Gall Ink Treatment at the Library of Congress". The Book and Paper Group Annual 27: 129-165.

Connelly-Ryan, Cindy, et al. 2007. "Optimizing ink corrosion treatment protocols at the Library of Congress" (Abstract only). In Edinburgh Conference Papers 2006, ed. Shulla Jaques. London: Institute of Conservation, 195-202.

Dekle, Claire and Mary Elizabeth Haude. 2008. "Iron-gall Ink Treatment at the Library of Congress: Old Manuscripts—New Tools."The Book and Paper Group Annual 27.

Practical application of the Albro et al. 2008 paper above.

Eusman, Elmer. 2002. "Effects of aqueous treatment on iron-gall ink - monitoring iron migration with the iron (II) indicator test." In The Broad Spectrum, ed. Harriet K. Stratis & Britt Salvesen: Archetype Publications, 122-127.

Hofmann, Christa, Dubravka Jembrih-Simbürger, Manfred Schreiner, Rudolf Eichinger, Leopold Puchinger, Oliver Hahn, Ute Henniges, Antje Potthast, and Erna Pilch-Karrer. 2007. "To Treat or Not to Treat—That is the Question: Options for the Conservation of Iron-Gall Ink on Paper."The Book and Paper Group Annual 26.

Rouchon, Véronique, Marthe Desroches, Valéria Duplat, Marine Letouzey, and Julie Stordiau-Pallot. 2012. "Methods of Aqueous Treatments: The Last Resort for Badly Damaged Iron Gall Ink Manuscripts." Journal of Paper Conservation 13 (3): 7-13. Accessed December 11, 2023.

Tse, Season, Doug Goltz, Sherry Guild, Valeria Orlandini, Maria Trojan-Bedynski, Mary Richardson. 2009. "Effect of Aqueous Treatments on Nineteenth-Century Iron-Gall-Ink Documents: Assessment Using Hyperspectral Imaging."The Book and Paper Group Annual 28: 15-26.

Phytate Treatment[edit | edit source]

See also: Chelating Agents

Evers, Jennifer, and Gwenanne Edwards. 2021. "Adaptations of iron gall ink protocols: The conservation treatment of an American Revolutionary War diary." Care and conservation of manuscripts 17 : proceedings of the seventeenth international seminar held at the University of Copenhagen. Museum Tusculanum Press: University of Copenhagen.

Hahn, Oliver, Max Wilke, and Timo Wolff. 2008. “Influence of aqueous calcium phytate/calcium hydrogen carbonate treatment on the chemical composition of iron gall inks.” Restaurator 29 (4): 235-250.

Henniges, Ute, and Antje Potthast. 2008. “Phytate Treatment of metallo-gallate inks: Investigation of its effectiveness on model and historic paper samples.” Restaurator 29 (4): 219-234.

Kolar, Jana, Martin Sala, Matija Strlic, and Vid Simon Selih. 2005. "Stabilisation of Paper Containing Iron-Gall Ink with Current Aqueous Processes." Restaurator 26(3): 181-189.

Kolar, Jana, Alenka Mozir, Matija Strlic, Gerrit de Bruin, Boris Pihlar, and Ted Steemers. 2007. "Stabilisation of Iron Gall Ink: Aqueous Treatment with Magnesium Phytate." e-PRESERVATIONScience 4: 19-24.

Guild, Sherry, Season Tse, and Maria Trojan-Bedynski. 2013. "Technical Note on Treatment Options for Iron Gall Ink on Paper with a Focus on Calcium Phytate." Journal of the Canadian Association for Conservation 37: 17-21.

Neevel, Johan G. 1995. "Phytate: a Potential Conservation Agent for the Treatment of Ink Corrosion Caused by Irongall Inks." Restaurator 16(3): 143-160.

Orlandini, Valeria. 2009. "Effect of Aqueous Treatments on Nineteenth-Century Iron-Gall-Ink Documents: Calcium Phytate Treatment--Optimization of Existing Protocols."The Book and Paper Group Annual 28: 137-146.

Tse, Season, Sherry Guild, and Amanda Gould. 2012. "A Comparison of Aqueous Versus Ethanol Modified Calcium Phytate Solutions for the Treatment of Iron Gall Ink Inscribed Paper." Journal of the Canadian Association for Conservation 37: 3-16.

Tse, Season, Doug Goltz, Sherry Guild, Valeria Orlandini, Maria Trojan-Bedynski, and Mary Richardson. 2009. "Effect of Aqueous Treatments on Nineteenth-Century Iron-Gall-Ink Documents: Assessment Using Hyperspectral Imaging." The Book and Paper Group Annual 28: 75-82.

Tse, Season, Sherry Guild, Maria Trojan-Bedynski, and Valeria Orlandini. 2006. "Effect of aqueous treatments on 19th century iron gall ink documents part 2: Artificial aging by heat, humidity and light." In Pre-conference proceedings of the second iron gall ink meeting, University of Northumbria, Newcastle upon Tyne, 24–27 January 2006, 40–42. Newcastle upon Tyne: University of Northumbria.

Disaster Response[edit | edit source]

Orlandini, Valeria, H. Neevel, G. de Bruin, L. Cortella, S. Borrego Alonso, L.S. Villalba Corredor and A. Aguirre Vilchis. 2023. "Salvaging Iron Gall Ink Based Collections from Ink Corrosion, Fungal Attack and Climate Change: Considering the Past and the Future." ICOM-CC Graphic Documents Working Group Newsletter, 4: 12-18.

Storage, Housing, and Exhibition[edit | edit source]

Hansen, B.V. 2005. “Improving Ageing Properties of Paper with Iron-Gall Ink by Interleaving with Papers Impregnated with Alkaline Buffer and Antioxidant.” Restaurator 26 (3): 190-202.

Rouchon, Véronique, Maroussia Duranton, Oulfa Belhadj, Marthe Bastier-Deroches, Valéria Duplat, Charlotte Walbert and Birgit Vinther Hansen. 2013. "The use of halide charged interleaves for treatment of iron gall ink damaged papers." Polymer Degradation and Stability 98: 339 - 1347. Accessed December 11, 2023.

Historical Treatment[edit | edit source]

Reissland, Birgit. 1997. "Conservation - Early methods 1890-1960." Iron Gall Ink Website.

Morenus, Linda Stiber. 2003. "In Search of a Remedy: History of Treating Iron-Gall Ink at the Library of Congress." Book and Paper Group Annual 22: 119–125.

  • A history of iron gall ink treatment methods used at the Library of Congress, including lining, silking, lamination, deacidification, and phytate treatment.

External Links[edit | edit source]

History of This Page[edit | edit source]

This page was created in June 2017 by Denise Stockman.

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