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fiberdrunk

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I've been reading up on iron gall inks and found quite a few different recipes. It's kinda fun to compare them. I've read that the most permanent and least corrosive of the ink gall recipes were those that used a ratio of 3 parts gall to 2 parts copperas (according to Dr. James Stark), or 3:1 according to the Ink Corrosion Website.

 

Dr. James Stark recipe (1855)

12 oz gall

8 oz sulphate of indigo

8 oz copperas

a few cloves

4-6 oz. gum arabic

 

Makes 1 gallon of ink. Don't use metal nibs.

 

Comments: After experimenting with various substances, and among others with Prussian blue and indigo dissolved in various ways, he found the sulphate of indigo to fulfil all the required conditions and, when added in the proper proportion to a tanno-gallate of iron ink, it yielded an ink which is agreeable to write with, which flows freely from the pen and does not clog it; which never moulds, which, when it dries on the paper, becomes of an intense pure black, and which does not fade or change its color however long kept. The author pointed out the proper proportions for securing those properties, and showed that the smallest quantity of the sulphate of indigo which could be used for this purpose was eight ounces for every gallon of ink. The author stated that the ink he preferred for his own use was composed of twelve ounces of gall, eight ounces of sulphate of indigo, eight ounces of copperas, a few cloves, and four or six ounces of gum arabic, for a gallon of ink. It was shown that immersing iron wire or filings in these inks destroyed ordinary inks. He therefore recommended that all legal deeds or documents should be written with quill pens, as the contact of steel invariably destroys more or less the durability of every ink. The author concluded his paper with a few remarks on copying inks and indelible inks, showing that a good copying ink has yet to be sought for, and that indelible inks, which will resist the pencilings and washings of the chemist and the forger, need never be looked for." Source: Forty Centuries of Ink by David Nunes Carvalho

 

The British Government Ink Requirements (1889)

 

"To be made of Best Galls, Sulphate of Iron, and Gum. The Sulphate of Iron not to exceed in quantity one-third of the weight of the Galls used, and the specific gravity of the matured Ink not to exceed 1045 degrees (distilled water being 1000 degrees)." That of Black Copying Ink "To be made of the above materials, but of a strength one fourth greater than the Writing Ink, and with the addition of Sugar or Glycerine. The specific gravity of the matured Ink not. to exceed 1085 degrees." And that of Blue-Black Writing Ink "To be made of finest Galls, Sulphate of Iron, Gum, Indigo, and Sulphuric Acid. The specific gravity of the Ink when matured not to exceed 1035 degrees." Source: Forty Centuries of Ink by David Nunes Carvalho

 

 

Jane Austen Iron Gall Ink (circa 1813)

 

"To Make Ink"

 

Take 4 oz. blue gauls [gallic acid, made from oak apples]

2 oz. of green Copperas [iron sulphate]

1 oz of half of gum arabic

 

Break the gauls, the gum & Copperas must be beaten in a Mortar & put into a pint of strong stale Beer; with a pint of small

Beer, put in a little refin'd Sugar, it must stand in a chimney Corner fourteen days & shaken two or three times a day."

 

From a letter Jane wrote to her sister, Cassandra on 14 October, 1813, Jane expressed her concern that the ink bottle be filled. This was in a time when she did the majority of her writing. To see a link with her handwriting, and presumably this ink recipe, go to Jane Austen's Fiction Manuscripts. The writing has changed to brown. Source: The Jane Austen Centre (scroll down to the bottom)

 

 

Palatino's Recipe (1540 AD)

 

Soak 3 oz. galls coarsely crushed in 1 5/8 pints rain water.

Leave in the sun 1 or 2 days.

Add 2 oz. copperas, finely crushed, stir well with a fig stick.

Leave in the sun 1 or 2 days.

Add 1 oz. gum arabic and leave one day in the sun.

 

Comments: Made and used by the late Colonel Crosland who writes: "I found 1/2 oz. gum sufficient. The mixure should be carefully strained, bottled with India-rubber corks -- rebottled after sediment has settled. Phenol should be used to prevent mould. When I had it prepared by a careful chemist the mixture was finally warmed (not boiled) for 15 minutes. This infusion (without boiling) is advised in L'Arte di Scrivere dell Encyclopedia Methodica, Padua, 1796. It is unlikely to fade for a long time." Source: The Calligrapher's Handbook

 

 

Edward Cocker's Prescription from The Pen's Transcendency (1672)

 

Pour 2 gallons of rainwater into an earthen stand or vessel that is well leaded or glazed within; and infuse in it 2 pounds of gum Arabic, 2 pounds of Blew-galls [blue] bruised, 1 pound of Coppperas and 2 oz. of Roch [Rock] Allum: stir it every morning with a stick for 10 days and then you may use it. You may vary the quantity observing the same proportions.

 

Comments: Greyish when first used, turns black after a few days. Fluid and easy to use but inclined to eat into the skin or paper. Fades a little after long exposure to light. Source: The Calligrapher's Handbook

 

 

Dr. Ainsworth Mitchell's Ink (1904)

 

(I) Dissolve 1 1/2 oz. of tannin in 1 pint of warm water. (II) Dissolve 1 1/2 oz. of copperas in 1/2 pint of water. Mix (I) and (II) and add 1% (say 1/2 oz.) of gum arabic also 1/2 drachm phenol (Calvert's carbolic acid). Expose to air and sun for darkening and stir frequently. Keep in an earthen vessel covered with muslin and stir every day for a week. After darkening add 1 in 1000 parts of hydrochloric acid. Let the ink settle for a week and decant. Warming accelerates the darkening but the ink should not be boiled.

 

Comments: Made, used and praised by the late Colonel Crosland, who writes: "This ink is superior to Palatino's in appearance and permanence." Source: The Calligrapher's Handbook

Find my homemade ink recipes on my Flickr page here.

 

"I don't wait for inspiration; inspiration waits for me." --Akiane Kramarik

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I've been reading up on iron gall inks and found quite a few different recipes. It's kinda fun to compare them. I've read that the most permanent and least corrosive of the ink gall recipes were those that used a ratio of 3 parts gall to 2 parts copperas (according to Dr. James Stark), or 3:1 according to the Ink Corrosion Website.

 

Dr. James Stark recipe (1855)

12 oz gall

8 oz sulphate of indigo

8 oz copperas

a few cloves

4-6 oz. gum arabic

 

Makes 1 gallon of ink. Don't use metal nibs.

 

Comments: After experimenting with various substances, and among others with Prussian blue and indigo dissolved in various ways, he found the sulphate of indigo to fulfil all the required conditions and, when added in the proper proportion to a tanno-gallate of iron ink, it yielded an ink which is agreeable to write with, which flows freely from the pen and does not clog it; which never moulds, which, when it dries on the paper, becomes of an intense pure black, and which does not fade or change its color however long kept. The author pointed out the proper proportions for securing those properties, and showed that the smallest quantity of the sulphate of indigo which could be used for this purpose was eight ounces for every gallon of ink. The author stated that the ink he preferred for his own use was composed of twelve ounces of gall, eight ounces of sulphate of indigo, eight ounces of copperas, a few cloves, and four or six ounces of gum arabic, for a gallon of ink. It was shown that immersing iron wire or filings in these inks destroyed ordinary inks. He therefore recommended that all legal deeds or documents should be written with quill pens, as the contact of steel invariably destroys more or less the durability of every ink. The author concluded his paper with a few remarks on copying inks and indelible inks, showing that a good copying ink has yet to be sought for, and that indelible inks, which will resist the pencilings and washings of the chemist and the forger, need never be looked for." Source: Forty Centuries of Ink by David Nunes Carvalho

 

The British Government Ink Requirements (1889)

 

"To be made of Best Galls, Sulphate of Iron, and Gum. The Sulphate of Iron not to exceed in quantity one-third of the weight of the Galls used, and the specific gravity of the matured Ink not to exceed 1045 degrees (distilled water being 1000 degrees)." That of Black Copying Ink "To be made of the above materials, but of a strength one fourth greater than the Writing Ink, and with the addition of Sugar or Glycerine. The specific gravity of the matured Ink not. to exceed 1085 degrees." And that of Blue-Black Writing Ink "To be made of finest Galls, Sulphate of Iron, Gum, Indigo, and Sulphuric Acid. The specific gravity of the Ink when matured not to exceed 1035 degrees." Source: Forty Centuries of Ink by David Nunes Carvalho

 

 

Jane Austen Iron Gall Ink (circa 1813)

 

"To Make Ink"

 

Take 4 oz. blue gauls [gallic acid, made from oak apples]

2 oz. of green Copperas [iron sulphate]

1 oz of half of gum arabic

 

Break the gauls, the gum & Copperas must be beaten in a Mortar & put into a pint of strong stale Beer; with a pint of small

Beer, put in a little refin'd Sugar, it must stand in a chimney Corner fourteen days & shaken two or three times a day."

 

From a letter Jane wrote to her sister, Cassandra on 14 October, 1813, Jane expressed her concern that the ink bottle be filled. This was in a time when she did the majority of her writing. To see a link with her handwriting, and presumably this ink recipe, go to Jane Austen's Fiction Manuscripts. The writing has changed to brown. Source: The Jane Austen Centre (scroll down to the bottom)

 

 

Palatino's Recipe (1540 AD)

 

Soak 3 oz. galls coarsely crushed in 1 5/8 pints rain water.

Leave in the sun 1 or 2 days.

Add 2 oz. copperas, finely crushed, stir well with a fig stick.

Leave in the sun 1 or 2 days.

Add 1 oz. gum arabic and leave one day in the sun.

 

Comments: Made and used by the late Colonel Crosland who writes: "I found 1/2 oz. gum sufficient. The mixure should be carefully strained, bottled with India-rubber corks -- rebottled after sediment has settled. Phenol should be used to prevent mould. When I had it prepared by a careful chemist the mixture was finally warmed (not boiled) for 15 minutes. This infusion (without boiling) is advised in L'Arte di Scrivere dell Encyclopedia Methodica, Padua, 1796. It is unlikely to fade for a long time." Source: The Calligrapher's Handbook

 

 

Edward Cocker's Prescription from The Pen's Transcendency (1672)

 

Pour 2 gallons of rainwater into an earthen stand or vessel that is well leaded or glazed within; and infuse in it 2 pounds of gum Arabic, 2 pounds of Blew-galls [blue] bruised, 1 pound of Coppperas and 2 oz. of Roch [Rock] Allum: stir it every morning with a stick for 10 days and then you may use it. You may vary the quantity observing the same proportions.

 

Comments: Greyish when first used, turns black after a few days. Fluid and easy to use but inclined to eat into the skin or paper. Fades a little after long exposure to light. Source: The Calligrapher's Handbook

 

 

Dr. Ainsworth Mitchell's Ink (1904)

 

(I) Dissolve 1 1/2 oz. of tannin in 1 pint of warm water. (II) Dissolve 1 1/2 oz. of copperas in 1/2 pint of water. Mix (I) and (II) and add 1% (say 1/2 oz.) of gum arabic also 1/2 drachm phenol (Calvert's carbolic acid). Expose to air and sun for darkening and stir frequently. Keep in an earthen vessel covered with muslin and stir every day for a week. After darkening add 1 in 1000 parts of hydrochloric acid. Let the ink settle for a week and decant. Warming accelerates the darkening but the ink should not be boiled.

 

Comments: Made, used and praised by the late Colonel Crosland, who writes: "This ink is superior to Palatino's in appearance and permanence." Source: The Calligrapher's Handbook

 

 

ETA: another great resource is Ancient & Modern Inks Recipes by David N. Carvalho. This website has many historic recipes, including a fire-proof one.

Find my homemade ink recipes on my Flickr page here.

 

"I don't wait for inspiration; inspiration waits for me." --Akiane Kramarik

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Hi Fiberdrunk,

 

Actually these recipes are a bit old-fashioned and totally unfit for fountain pens. The only feasible option is buy commercial IG inks like Mont Blanc midnight blue (blue-black) and Lamy blue-black in bottles or the Urkundentinte formulation I once quoted on this topic, with some modicication to make it flow in fountain pens. All these recipes will create inks which can be only used with dip pens or even quills, some contain the destructive sulfuric acid: unlike hydrochloric acid, this acid will not evaporate when applied on paper, but tends to concentrate more and more over time and will burn holes in your paper, when the water evaporates leaving the sulfuric acid behind on the surface.

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Hi Fiberdrunk,

 

Actually these recipes are a bit old-fashioned and totally unfit for fountain pens. The only feasible option is buy commercial IG inks like Mont Blanc midnight blue (blue-black) and Lamy blue-black in bottles or the Urkundentinte formulation I once quoted on this topic, with some modicication to make it flow in fountain pens. All these recipes will create inks which can be only used with dip pens or even quills, some contain the destructive sulfuric acid: unlike hydrochloric acid, this acid will not evaporate when applied on paper, but tends to concentrate more and more over time and will burn holes in your paper, when the water evaporates leaving the sulfuric acid behind on the surface.

 

 

Thanks Pharmacist! I always enjoy your posts. I have read your recipes earlier in the thread.

 

When you mean "this acid will not evaporate when applied on paper," are you referring to the weaker acid in the commercial ink? Thank you for your knowledge and generosity in sharing it.

 

ETA: I'm attempting to make my first iron gall ink right now (dip pen ink only) from oak leaf galls I picked this fall here in North Carolina. I know the tannin level probably won't be as high as it would be in those prized aleppo galls. I figure I'll ferment them for up to 2 months in distilled water to get the maximum amount out of them, then I will boil it to kill the mold. Then I'll let it cool, then add the remaining ingredients, then strain and bottle. I have iron sulfate and gum arabic on hand, ready for the next stage after the fermentation. Wish me luck!

 

 

32 grams oak leaf galls

345 ml distilled water

 

21 grams copperas

11 grams gum arabic

 

Proportions come out to 3 parts gall, 2 parts copperas, 1 part gum arabic & 30 parts distilled water.

Edited by fiberdrunk

Find my homemade ink recipes on my Flickr page here.

 

"I don't wait for inspiration; inspiration waits for me." --Akiane Kramarik

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If you think the amount of tannin is low, I would suggest to use the ratio of 3 to 1 galls to ferrous sulphate, because an excess of iron can make your ink corrosive to the writing surface. After fermentation: do not boil it a such: strain the mold and the galls first before boiling. I forgot to tel that clove essential oil is a very good preservative (contains the phenolic compound eugenol, which is a much more powerfull preservative compared to phenol) and will give your ink a distinctive smell as well. A good ratio is 1 drop per 500 ml and shake the ink to get it dissolved. Since cloves are used as spice, this is very safe to use.

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If you think the amount of tannin is low, I would suggest to use the ratio of 3 to 1 galls to ferrous sulphate, because an excess of iron can make your ink corrosive to the writing surface. After fermentation: do not boil it a such: strain the mold and the galls first before boiling. I forgot to tel that clove essential oil is a very good preservative (contains the phenolic compound eugenol, which is a much more powerfull preservative compared to phenol) and will give your ink a distinctive smell as well. A good ratio is 1 drop per 500 ml and shake the ink to get it dissolved. Since cloves are used as spice, this is very safe to use.

 

OK, I'll try your recommended ratio to be safe. Thanks for the clove essential oil tip, too. I should be able to find that here. Would that be a good preservative for pokeberry and black walnut inks, do you suppose? Thanks again for your wisdom!

 

ETA: Do you recommend storing iron gall inks in amber bottles or clear glass bottles?

Edited by fiberdrunk

Find my homemade ink recipes on my Flickr page here.

 

"I don't wait for inspiration; inspiration waits for me." --Akiane Kramarik

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  • 1 month later...

Pharmacist, is it possible to design an IG ink in Green or Red? Can your recipie be used, but instead of lamy black ink any suitable Red or green ink be used to give the initial color?

 

Regards,

hari

In case you wish to write to me, pls use ONLY email by clicking here. I do not check PMs. Thank you.

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Pharmacist, is it possible to design an IG ink in Green or Red? Can your recipie be used, but instead of lamy black ink any suitable Red or green ink be used to give the initial color?

 

Regards,

hari

 

Here's someone who posted some YouTube videos where he had made different colored iron gall inks. Check out YouTube for his other videos (pgary is his handle).

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BV7F32GAe3s

Edited by fiberdrunk

Find my homemade ink recipes on my Flickr page here.

 

"I don't wait for inspiration; inspiration waits for me." --Akiane Kramarik

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  • 10 years later...

I thought I would add the recipe to the list:

 

From Edward Cocker's The Pen Triumph as quoted from Writing implements in Joe Nickell's Pen, Ink and evidence. 

 

Take three ounces of galls which are small and heavy and crisp, put them in a vessel of three pints of Wine, or of Rain-water, which is much better, letting it stand so infusing in the sun in one or two dayes,; then take two ounces of Coppris, or of Roman Vitrial, well, colour’d and beaten small, stirring it well with a stick, which being put in, set it again in the Sun for one or two dayes more. Stir all together, adding two Ounces of Gum Arabique of the clearest and most shining and lustrous, add certain pieces of the Barque of Pomgranat, or a small quantity of double-refin’d Suger, boyling it a little over a gentle fire. Lastly, pour it out, and keep it in a vessell of Glasse, or of Lead well covered. 

 

I tried finding it in the original but I couldn't find it. 

 

Simplified recipe:

3 Oz of gall nuts

3 pints of rain water (preferably) or wine

Infuse for two days in sun

Add 2 Oz of crushed vitriol, mix, let sunbath for two days in the sun.

Then add 2 Oz of gum arabic

Add either double refined sugar or bark of Pomegranate, boil a little. 

Pour in glass/ lead vessel...

Prepare your quill and compose ;)

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