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Re: Rustic inks

>To: biblio@iris.claremont.edu
>From: cop@bio.tamu.edu
>Organization: Texas A&M University - Biology Dept

>I mentioned the ongoing discussion concerning old ink recipes to a 
>calligrapher friend of mine. He came up with the following, which 
>may be of interest to others on biblio:
>The "gall" in gall ink has little to do with animal gall-bladders.  
>It's the galls from oak trees, an excellent source of tannin.  I 
>have recipes that I copied from formula books at the IU Chemistry 
>library on how to extract the tannin from the galls, and how to take 
>old saw blades and dissolve them in sulfuric acid to get the ferrous 
>sulfate. Some recipes included animal gall as a surfactant, but one 
>can achieve the same results with gum arabic to thicken the ink.  
>The best steel pen recipe I've ever seen included a bit of copper 
>salts.  It quickly plates your steel pen with copper (really!  An 
>orange pen point) and supposedly retards corrosion of the steel.  It 
>makes a nice black ink, at any rate.  (But not for fountain pens!!  
>Those old recipes produce ink so full of precipiates that I wouldn't 
>trust a good pen to their untender mercies.)  

Peter D. Verheyen
Rare Book Conservator
Cornell University Library

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