Iron gall ink in the Edward Thomas manuscripts and its conservation at Glamorgan Archives

Special Collections and Archives / Casgliadau Arbennig ac Archifau

The following post is courtesy of Pamela Murray, an MSc Conservation Practice Student at Cardiff University and conservation volunteer at Glamorgan Archives. She has been working on the Edward Thomas Conservation project as a student conservator thanks to the generous support of the National Manuscript Conservation Trust


Iron gall ink was a common writing ink throughout Europe, dating back to the 1st century AD and used all the way til the 19th century. Iron gall ink is made from tannins that have been extracted from galls (generally oak tree galls), iron sulphates, gum and water. There are different recipes and methods found throughout history, some even include using wine.

Iron Gall Ink recipe ET blog This is a recipe from the Dutch website dedicated to Iron Gall Ink: https://irongallink.org/igi_index78f9.html

So what’s the problem with this historic ink? The degradation process can be detrimental to the paper or work of art.

Excess iron…

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