A Timeline of Analytical Techniques for Characterization and Treatment of Iron-gall Ink – A Brief Overview of the Last Two Decades

Antonio Carlos Augusto da Costa, Fernanda do Nascimento Corrêa, Gustavo de Souza Sant’anna


An extensive review of the published literature about the iron-gall inks was done based on searches in the main scientific publications dealing with cultural and historical heritage, chemistry, physics and paper conservation. What could be observed from this search, performed for the last two decades, is that this field faced high and low movements that contributed for the present stage of development in the preservation of documents containing iron gall inks. The search performed was divided into five distinct periods: the start of the development of studies of iron gall ink documents; the search for non-destructive techniques to understand the chemical composition of the ink; the improvement of analytical instrumental analysis; the consolidation of international groups dealing with the matter of paper conservation; and, finally, the worry and drawbacks for a practical application of the accumulated scientific knowledge. Some final considerations about interdisciplinarity in the field are also presented.


Iron gall ink; Characterization; Treatment; Stabilization; Analytical detection.

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