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An Iron Gall Inquiry



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I have a question or two concerning Rohrer and Klinger's iron gall inks. The R&K website states that their iron galls (Salix and Scabiosa) are "archivally safe." They have to be...they're iron galls, right? Then how on earth do they fare so badly in lightfastness tests? Do they contain only a minuscule amount of iron gall? It seems they should perform pretty well.

 

I'm just curious about an ink I'm falling in love with :wub: and must have a bottle of.

 

 

www.lettermatters.com

P.O. Box 196 Kingsburg, CA 93631

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When you archive paper, you generally don't leave it in strong artificial or direct sunlight. You usually keep it away from light in a container of sort. If you have ever seen centuries old writing it tends to be very visible if the iron gall formula has be processes correctly.

What Would The Flying Spaghetti Monster Do?

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When you archive paper, you generally don't leave it in strong artificial or direct sunlight. You usually keep it away from light in a container of sort. If you have ever seen centuries old writing it tends to be very visible if the iron gall formula has be processes correctly.

 

Sort of off topic, but this is why for a while Museums were still using Kodachrome for archival duplication instead of the newer Ektachrome film. Kodachrome didn't last as long under light (since at the time people still had 'slide shows'), where as Ektachrome lasted longer under the light so was better for every day usage. But Kodachrome lasted longer in dark storage, and course when you store something for preservation you keep it away from light/UV, acids, humidity, etc.

 

IG though has been around a lot longer than the current 'eternal' dye-based inks, so it may be just as good for archival use, just hasn't been around long enough to be 'tried and proven'.

 

I have a question or two concerning Rohrer and Klinger's iron gall inks. The R&K website states that their iron galls (Salix and Scabiosa) are "archivally safe." They have to be...they're iron galls, right? Then how on earth do they fare so badly in lightfastness tests? Do they contain only a minuscule amount of iron gall? It seems they should perform pretty well.

 

I'm just curious about an ink I'm falling in love with :wub: and must have a bottle of.

 

 

In regards to archival safe, older IG formulas are a bit acidic, so it's possible that over time it could literally eat the paper away even though it's quite visible. R&K's formulas at worst just seems to stain.

 

PS: I love Salix in my stubs, nice color, nice shading, and not too dry for writing.

Edited by KBeezie
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I suspect archivally safe really means the ink won't destroy the paper. Some IG inks, especially the older recipes, are so chemically active that they eventually eat their way through the page. As has already been mentioned, permanence is a separate issue.

The liberty of the press is indeed essential to the nature of a free state; but this consists in laying no previous restraints upon publications, and not in freedom from censure for criminal matter when published. Every freeman has an undoubted right to lay what sentiments he pleases before the public; to forbid this, is to destroy the freedom of the press; but if he publishes what is improper, mischievous or illegal, he must take the consequence of his own temerity. (4 Bl. Com. 151, 152.) Blackstone's Commentaries

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According to Wise Geek, "Archival ink is an ink which is designed to resist fading and weathering so that it will endure for future enjoyment. As a general rule, this type of ink works best with specially designed archival paper, so that the paper will endure as well." So, paper matters too. I recall reading somewhere that the standard for archival ink is legibility for 400 years. None of us will be around that long to test our inks. Earlier iron galls such as used by J. S. Bach destroyed the paper they were used on after a few centuries. I don't expect my journals or letters to live long enough for that to matter. It's fading a few decades from now I'm more concerned about.

www.lettermatters.com

P.O. Box 196 Kingsburg, CA 93631

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Bo Bo Olson

IG on parchment lasts very long. I go to museum exhibits and admire the hand writing from 1100-1300 once every year or two...or even the new stuff from 15-1600.

German vintage '50-70 semi-flex stubs and those in oblique give the real thing in On Demand line variation. Modern Oblique is a waste of money for a shadow of line variation. Being too lazy to Hunt for affordable vintage oblique pens, lets you 'hunt' for line variation instead of having it.

www.nibs.com/blog/nibster-writes/nibs-germany & https://www.peter-bo...cts/nib-systems,

 

The cheapest lessons are from those who learned expensive lessons. Ignorance is best for learning expensive lessons.

 

 

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It is very, very, very important to distinguish between hand-made iron-gall ink made using fermented oak galls, copperas and fermented wind/beer/vinegar and modern iron-gall inks made by mixing pure chemicals to a fixed formula.

 

The old style IG inks varied greatly from maker to maker and even season to season. They were developed for use with short-life feather quills and parchment. These IG inks were safe for parchment.

Sometimes the batch would be safe for paper, and sometimes it would eat the paper along the edges of the letter, so the letter fell out.

Sometimes the batch would oxidise and fade to brown, then yellow, no matter what it was written on, parchment or paper. Look up the Codex Sinaiticus. The original writing was made with a good batch of IG ink and is still hard and black, but some of the younger corrections were made with poorer batches, and have faded to brown.

 

Modern IG inks are consistent and are safe for stainless-steel and gold nibs, and for paper.

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“Them as can do has to do for them as can’t.


And someone has to speak up for them as has no voices.”


Granny Aching

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Modern IG inks are consistent and are safe for stainless-steel and gold nibs, and for paper.

 

Though Gold Nibs were rarely ever at risk from even the old IG inks, since Gold Nibs and Ebonite Feeds did not corrode with Iron Gall (not sure about the rest of the pen though, and I'm not sure how many pens now days uses ebonite feeds, though not sure newer plastic would corrode either), steel was the main issue with that acidity (and probably why steel dip nibs were often bought in large quantities).

 

But yes, in all my searching and my own experience with Salix and Scabiosa, I haven't seen anything worse than just taking more work to clean the staining and being a bit dry to write with.

Edited by KBeezie
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Banks used to use IG inks for permanency, and had gold-plated dip nibs made to suit. I have a box of such nibs made for the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. These were not fancy nibs made for executive, but standard clerical nibs for the accountants to use with the ledgers.

fpn_1412827311__pg_d_104def64.gif




“Them as can do has to do for them as can’t.


And someone has to speak up for them as has no voices.”


Granny Aching

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Banks used to use IG inks for permanency, and had gold-plated dip nibs made to suit. I have a box of such nibs made for the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. These were not fancy nibs made for executive, but standard clerical nibs for the accountants to use with the ledgers.

 

Mainly for the waterproof I presume (and not fading in storage).

 

Were those nibs ground to what we'd consider XXF (accounting) and was gold-plating enough to keep the IG from reacting with it? (as opposed to using a full gold nib).

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steel was the main issue with that acidity (and probably why steel dip nibs were often bought in large quantities).

 

 

Regular steel will corrode with just plain water.

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  • 1 year later...
Steven Avery

 

> DC Waites

> Look up the Codex Sinaiticus. The original writing was made with a good batch of IG ink and is still hard and black...

 

Greetings!

Using Codex Sinaiticus as an ink exemplar is exceedingly problematic. There is simply far too much physical and historical evidence that it was actually produced int he 1800s.

 

Please take a look at this page.

http://codexsinaiticus.org/en/manuscript.aspx?dir=next&folioNo=5&lid=en&quireNo=35&side=r&zoomSlider=0

 

In the vulgate history of the manuscript, this is a page that was supposed to have been used and started in a scriptorium with heavy use for hundreds of years, been moved to the desert clime, and then received another 1000 years including lots of heavy use, before being "discovered" in 1844.

 

Yet you have the following features:

 

1) white parchment, there is zero yellowing with age.

(this is a page that went to Germany, before the ms. was coloured, and thus they are totally consistent in their "snow-white" and "fine white parchment" colour)

2) parchment is flexible and supple, the ms. has life, easily bends, excellent conservation, it is not brittle. It is "exceptional" per the British Library (a word used again and again). Similarly, there is little concern about ink flaking (as e.g. If Alexandrinus, a truly old ms. is handled. And Alexandrinus was called "limp, dead" compared to the vellum of Sinaiticus by Skeat-Milne).

3) vellum on the coloured 90% is wildly inconsistent in colour and staining, unlike any truly old mss (putting aside water damage) The Codex Sinaiticus Project, without realizing the answer, even put up a special picture showing the "colour variance" to be studied. The answer: staining by hand after ink is applied can be rather amateurish, at least at first.

4) vellum the edges are clean as a whistle, the expected grime of handling and using is missing. (The top Russian scientist Nikolai Alexandrovich Morozov, 1854-1946, had pointed this out in 1910 as one of the factors contradicting the Tischendorf narrative. Morozov was made an honorary member of the Academy of Sciences right before Sinaiticus 90% was dumped on the Brits in the Russian fire sales of both authentic and fake items in the 1930s.)
5) the ink in some spots, as above, appears to be a virtual "super-ink" (there are retraced parts of the ms, there is no indication of retracing here)

 

No physical testing has ever been done on the parchment or the ink. The history was filled with controversy, and Constantine Simonides specifically claimed to have been involved in the production of the ms. on Mt. Athos, c.1840. (This is a whole fascinating history, including the specific accusation that the bulk of he ms, the yellower parts that left Sinai in 1859, had been coloured by hand, e.g. by lemon-juice. What you see above is a page from the part that went to Germany in 1844, before the colouring. That "Tale of Two Manuscripts" is what makes this history truly fascinating and unexpectedly easy to discern, as we are able to see the "before" and "after"!

 

So, can this seriously be claimed to be 1650 years old? For a manuscript with a contested provenance (no catalog entry, no nuttin, simply a "poof provenance") and no history before 1840? That shows that it was tampered? That is totally "exceptional" in ways that cry out "recent".

Even if you are not interested in the issues around Sinaiticus authenticity:

 

vellum and ink connoisseurs should be aware that the frequent use of Sinaiticus as a long-term example is, at best, questionable.

 

Steven Avery

Dutchess County, NY

Edited by Steven Avery
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Rohrer & Klingner performs poorly on lightfast tests due to it being pretty tame and safe for the average pen user like me, that does not flush the pen after every full converter but simply refills it with more ink.

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  • 2 years later...
Steven Avery

> DC Waites

> Look up the Codex Sinaiticus. The original writing was made with a good batch of IG ink and is still hard and black...

 

Greetings!

Using Codex Sinaiticus as an ink exemplar is exceedingly problematic. There is simply far too much physical and historical evidence that it was actually produced int he 1800s.

 

Please take a look at this page.

http://codexsinaiticus.org/en/manuscript.aspx?dir=next&folioNo=5&lid=en&quireNo=35&side=r&zoomSlider=0

....
vellum and ink connoisseurs should be aware that the frequent use of Sinaiticus as a long-term example is, at best, questionable.

 

 

Here is a pic - where you can compare ink from Codex Sinaiticus from 1845 to ink that is given the conjectured date of 350 AD.

 

Oops - I'm not sure what extensions I can upload from either my disc or a Box.net type site, I see some pics here are .jpg but they are not taking.

 

So for now, I will put in a url with the pic.

 

comparing acid-wear of 1845 ink with theorized 350 AD ink

http://www.purebibleforum.com/showthread.php?587-comparing-acid-wear-of-1845-ink-with-theorized-350-AD-ink&p=1209#post1209

 

 

 

 

 

 

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inkstainedruth

Not familiar with the Codex Sinaiticus. But I have read where needlework has disintegrated over the centuries on fabric, leaving only the needle holes, from the use of thread dyed black with tannin-laced dyes.

Additionally, I'm wondering if the differences between parchment (processed and treated sheepskin -- and I KNOW a guy who made his own parchment) and paper (rag content from plant fibers -- in the Middle Ages largely linen, but possibly also cotton depending on location) would be another difference. Especially given the differences in longevity of rag paper vs. wood pulp paper.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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Bo Bo Olson

The had writing on the old parchment I saw in various museum exhibitions were fantastic....masters of the quill.....and not knowing better, was astounded how white and not faded much of the works were.

It's not that I could tell what exact script was used, and the museum 'guards' many well versed on other things in the exhibitions didn't know either.

 

Many were important documents , with red wax seals hanging off of them, Xéd by some King or Emperor. Bibles.......just staring at such great writing.

 

Now from this thread, I know what I saw was not unusual for protected documents that are @ 1000 years old. I'm sure had I looked in harsher light, the parchment may have yellowed a tad. But considering it was sheep leather, there might be a touch of natural yellow to the 'white' parchment.

German vintage '50-70 semi-flex stubs and those in oblique give the real thing in On Demand line variation. Modern Oblique is a waste of money for a shadow of line variation. Being too lazy to Hunt for affordable vintage oblique pens, lets you 'hunt' for line variation instead of having it.

www.nibs.com/blog/nibster-writes/nibs-germany & https://www.peter-bo...cts/nib-systems,

 

The cheapest lessons are from those who learned expensive lessons. Ignorance is best for learning expensive lessons.

 

 

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inkstainedruth

The had writing on the old parchment I saw in various museum exhibitions were fantastic....masters of the quill.....and not knowing better, was astounded how white and not faded much of the works were.

It's not that I could tell what exact script was used, and the museum 'guards' many well versed on other things in the exhibitions didn't know either.

 

Many were important documents , with red wax seals hanging off of them, Xéd by some King or Emperor. Bibles.......just staring at such great writing.

 

Now from this thread, I know what I saw was not unusual for protected documents that are @ 1000 years old. I'm sure had I looked in harsher light, the parchment may have yellowed a tad. But considering it was sheep leather, there might be a touch of natural yellow to the 'white' parchment.

 

Back when I first moved to Pittsburgh years ago, I went to a traveling exhibit of various documents that was going to be in the city, including the copy of the Magna Carta that is in the collection of the National Archives. I had only been living there a week or so, so my attempts to get to where the exhibit was turned into an interesting adventure (Pittsburgh is mostly NOT straight blocks like NYC is, and I made a wrong turn and a few wrong assumptions!). And then had to stand in the hot sun for a couple of hours in a parking lot with no shade because I didn't have a "ticket" (I said "*What* ticket? This was reported on the noon news...." And then when I got in, finally, it was a climate controlled trailer which was so dark and misty that you could barely see anything. The writing on the Magna Carta was very small, and I think it was in Latin, and I remember the ink was dark grey and that was about it. Not a total waste of an afternoon, but pretty near (other than the somewhat dubious bragging rights of "I went to Station Square from Highland Park -- via Regent Square, Braddock Avenue, the Parkway East, the Chateau neighborhood on the North Side, the West End Bridge and Carson Street...." :blush:

A friend of mine who has extremely poor vision (she was born without lenses in her eyes!) also went to see it and she apparently was told she could not bring a magnifying glass in to examine the Magna Carta in any detail, because they were afraid of light damaging the documents.

Since then, I've learned that you can just go to the National Archives in DC and see it. Just walk right up to the case, because most of the tourists are standing in line to see the Declaration of Independence.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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Randal6393

I love the DC National Archives. So many great pieces of writing and such important documents, in a case, right in front of us. One of the reasons that the documents can be displayed with minimal damage is because most of the cases are sealed and have inert nitrogen instead of air. The glass is also treated to restrict damaging light, especially ultraviolet and infrared. (My thanks to the museum guards for their friendly patter.) What a connection to history!

 

Enjoy,

Yours,
Randal

From a person's actions, we may infer attitudes, beliefs, --- and values. We do not know these characteristics outright. The human dichotomies of trust and distrust, honor and duplicity, love and hate --- all depend on internal states we cannot directly experience. Isn't this what adds zest to our life?

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