Beneficial effect of gelatin on iron gall ink corrosion

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Iron gall Inks corrosion causes paper degradation (browning, embrittlement) and treatments were developed to tackle this issue. They often include resizing with gelatin to reinforce the paper and its cellulosic fibers (of diameter approx. 10 µm). This work aimed at measuring the distribution of ink components at the scale of individual paper fibers so as to give a better understanding of the impact of gelatin (re-)sizing on iron gall ink corrosion. For this purpose, scanning transmission X-ray microscopy (STXM) was used at the Canadian light source synchrotron (CLS, Saskatoon). This technique combines nano-scale mapping (resolution of 30 nm) and near edge X-ray absorption fine structure (NEXAFS) analysis. Fe L-edge measurements enabled to map iron distribution and to locate iron(II) and iron(III) rich areas. N K-edge measurement made it possible to map gelatin distribution. C K-edge measurements allowed mapping and discrimination of cellulose, gallic acid, iron gall ink precipitate and gelatin. Three fibers were studied: an inked fiber with no size, a sized fiber that was afterwards inked and an inked fiber sprayed with gelatin. Analysis of gelatin and ink ingredients distribution indicated a lower amount of iron inside the treated cellulosic fiber, which may explain the beneficial effect of gelatin on iron gall ink corrosion.




Gimat, A., Michelin, A., Massiani, P., & Rouchon, V. (2021). Beneficial effect of gelatin on iron gall ink corrosion. Heritage Science, 9(1).

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