Jack C. Thompson
$8.95 + $2.50 P&H
Ink Samples are available.
  • How old is iron gall ink?
  • Why did some iron gall inks corrode parchment and paper - and others did not?
  • Is the method of parchment manufacture important?
  • What are Aleppo galls, and are they important?
  • What is copperas, and how is it manufactured?
  • How was traditional Jewish ink manufactured?
  • What makes a Japanese or Chinese ink stick good?
  • What are ink grinding slates, and how can you recognize a good one?
  • When is a "rotten" ink better?

These questions and many more are answered in 
Plus: the complete transcription of a 16th c. Booke of Secrets on ink making, including a technical glossary and extensive bibliography. 

The price is $8.95  
(Plus $2.50 Shipping and Handling). 


INTRODUCTION  The organization of the text which follows may puzzle some readers.  The first twenty pages were written at the request of one of the editors of an American journal of medieval studies; when the galleys were returned to me for correction I noticed that someone had removed my copyright notice. There was also a copyright assignment form from the university press hired to print the journal, which required the author to relinquish all copyright and subsidiary rights to the university press.  This was unacceptable to me. I was willing to grant them first North American serial rights, but no more than that. That was unacceptable to the editors; the copyright representative of the university press never returned my telephone call asking for clarification of the issue.  I informed the editors of my plan to combine my text with another work I had published and offer it up for sale; further, I had already commenced production of a videotape about the manufacture of iron gall ink, and that is a subsidiary right.  In the end, I required that they return the manuscript. It is now combined with the text from 1596 which I published in 1995. Two other scholars have also provided valuable material. Willis Johnson's translation from the Hebrew of the recipe for manufacturing traditional, ritual iron gall ink, and Claes G. Lindblad's text on stick ink. The original title of the article was "The Manufacture of Iron Gall Ink," and that has been changed to the present title to reflect the addition of carbon based gum/glue inks.  There is more about copperas in the text which follows than about oak galls. It was my intention to write more about galls, but it became increasingly clear to me that oak galls may not have played as important a role in the manufacture of ink as has been heretofore accepted. There is information in the bibliographies and footnotes for those who wish to learn more about galls and other sources of tannic acid.  There are two bibliographies. The first one was compiled through my research for the article; the second bibliography supports the technical glossary at the end of the 1596 transcription of A Booke of Secrets . There is some duplication between the two, but not much.  Top
GLOSSARY OF OBSOLETE CHEMICAL TERMS  from Manuscript Inks  by Jack C. Thompson  Aloe epaticum: Also, hepatic aloes. From East Indies originally. Reddish brown or liver color; powder is of a dull yellow color.  Alum: Typically, potassium aluminum sulphate (K2SO4.Al2[SO4]3.24H2O).  Alum plumosum: Plumose alum, or Plume alum. A kind of natural alum, composed of a sort of threads, or fibres, resembling feathers; whence its name; artificially produced by treating clay tobacco pipes with sulfuric acid to produce crystals; not asbestos.  Aurum musicum: Also, Aurum mosaicum, musitum,  musivum, purpurina, porporina; mosaic gold. Stannic sulphide (SnS2).  Argentum musicum: Mosaic silver.  Ashes of Copper: Cuprous oxide (Cu2O)  Auripigmentum: Also, orpiment, opiment.  Arsenic trisulfide (AS2S3).  Blew heidleber: Bilberry, whortleberry, huckleberry.  Brasill: Brazil wood. A natural dye from the wood of Caesalpina braziliensis. (C16H12O5).  Brimstone: Sulfur (S).  Colofoniam: Colophony; a resinous substance from distillation of light oil from turpentine.  Conterfein: Metallic zinc (Zn).  Gauls: Oak galls.  Gaule of Eeles: Gall of eels, also, Bile yellow; bile from the gall bladder of eels; gall stones.  Gineper: Juniper.  Indicum: Indigo; a plant dye prepared from the fermented leaves of the plant, Indigofera tinctoria.  Limbeck: Alembic; a glass or pottery vessel used to distill or reduce liquids over heat, consisting of a body/cucurbit/matrass, a head or capital, a pipe, and a receiver.  Luttum: Lute, typically of clay, to form a seal.  Oxe gaule: Ox gall; prepared liquid from a bovine gall bladder, used as a surfactant, and as a coloring agent.  Pixgraecum: Also, pica greca. Greek pitch.  Pomestone: Pumice stone.  Quick silver: Mercury (Hg).  Red lead: White lead or litharge heated for some hours to approx.  480 C (Pb3O4).  Salarmoniacke: Sal Ammoniac, (also Sal Armoniac,  Salt Armoniack); ammonium chloride (NH4CL).  Strong wine: Brandy.  Unsleact lime: Unslaked lime.  Verdigreece: Verdigris (verdegrise, vert de grise), basic copper  acetate (Cu(C2H3O2)2 . 2Cu(OH)2).  Victriall: Vitriol; typically ferrous sulphate, also known as  Green vitriol (FeSO4).  Blue vitriol, blue copperas; copper sulphate (CuSO4.5H2O).  White vitriol; zinc sulphate (ZnSO4).  White lead: Basic lead carbonate (Pb(CO3)2 . Pb(OH)2).  Top