Conservation of iron-gall ink manuscript (a musical score)

  • Owner: Barcelona Council (Orfeó Català – Palau de la Música).
  • Artefact: Handwritten score on iron-gall ink and laid paper. Renaissance binding on reversed leather and cotton ties.
  • Date: 1643.
  • Damages: Corrosion of iron-gall ink and paper. The binding had remarakable losses and damages.
  • Conservation treatment: Wet cleaning, deacidification, phytate treatment (phytic acid) of the inks. Lining of the folios Binding conservation
Top corner (back cover). Left, before conservation. it has engrained wax on the surface. Losses on the supports are caused by abraded leather and cardboard.

Upper corner (back cover). Left: before rconservation. Wax stains embedded in the leather. Losses on the supports are caused by abraded leather and cardboard. The barely noticeable holes of the fabric ties on both sides. After conservation (right) the lost areas have been mended and infilled, as well as the folios.

Measurement of the presence of iron (III) ions with acidic degradation.

Images 1-4: Measuring the presence of iron ions which cause acidic degradation. The pink tone indicates positive result. Left bottom image: After treatment with phytic acid, the iron cations have been complexated (null result for the test). Last photo: pH test after conservation indicates a more stable value (8.5) than before (4.0 to 4.5).

The core of the endband under the pastedown. Piece of waste parchment manuscript under the spine.

The core of the endband under the pastedown reveals that there had been headbands, though they are lost today. The spine inner reinforcement is a piece of manuscript parchment waste (left, held by the tweezers) also known as membra disjecta.

Phytate treatment on manuscript with iron-gall ink.

Before (left) and after (right) conservation. Corrosion due to iron gall inks has been treated with phytate acid. Afterwards the papers were lined to reinforce them. Now they can be handled without risk of further desintegration.

Binding on reverse leather before and after conservation.

Front cover. Binding on reverse leather and raised cords. Embossed geometric decoration and hand written title. It had considerable losses and intense dirt. Digital photo montage from the image previous to conservation (left) and after (right).