Naturwissenschaften und Technologie in der Kunst; Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien; Schillerplatz 3; 1010 Wien
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Ink Corrosion of Paper

Object T0 from the Lavater Collection after artificial ageing.

Conservators of libraries and archives are often confronted with the problem of the ink corrosion and degradation of the paper substrate in the regions around the script. Several international research projects have the aim to stop the degradation process of the paper fibers caused by the ink material like iron gall ink and to save inkcorroded cultural heritage from further deterioration.

The goal of the analytical investigations of the iron gall ink corroded papers within the project "Combined application of fungicide and complexing agents for the treatment of organic storage media, in particular paper" was to study the iron migration from the ink areas into the surrounding paper after various conservation treatments as well as after artificial ageing.

The measurements were carried out using non-destructive micro x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (µ-XRF[1]) on the original iron gall ink corroded papers dated to the 19th century which are part of the Lavater Collection in the Oesterreichische Nationalbibliothek (ÖNB). Therefore, line scans were carried out in 3 series, always at the same measuring line: analysis of the original, untreated papers, measurement after chemical treatment, and analysis of the artificially aged papers. Further µ-XRF measurements were performed after the chemical treatment on the self-prepared iron gall ink papers from Austrian State Archive (ÖSTA). Finally, the measured x-ray intensities of iron in the ink and the surrounding paper areas were used to compare the efficiency of the conservation treatment used.


[1] The µ-XRF instrument used was built within the EU-Project No. SMT4 – CT98- 2237 in co-operation with Spectro Analytical Instruments, Kleve/Germany and University of Antwerp/Belgium Co-ordinator: Prof. Dr. K. Janssens.