Kevin McGrane - reagents in Leipzig - brighten, reduce foxing, stabilize ink and kill mould and mildew

Steven Avery

Kevin McGrane
Steven Avery "you conjecture that the CFA had an aggressive reagent". Which only goes to show that you didn't read carefully, and only saw what you wanted to see. I never said that the CFA was subjected to 'aggressive reagents'. BTW peroxide and ammonia vapour in low concentrations are not aggressive reagents. The aggressive reagents were used by the likes of Mai, who destroyed manuscripts in the process.

The 1820 - 1850 was the heyday for applying chemicals to manuscripts, and their use was significantly curtailed after that once the extent of the long term damage became evident. It is not unreasonable to wonder whether at least some mild reagents were employed during the 1840s (both were available, and both still in use in the 20th century) to brighten, reduce foxing, stabilize ink and kill mould and mildew etc.

This is from our conversations on

Have to check what spurred it from the articles.

In fact, Kevin goes into a huge theoretical conjecturing about how Leipzig pages became whiter, involving specific aggressive reagents, which we will study more carefully below, post #3. This is quite amazing.
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Steven Avery

Cooper Book p.
Modern day conservators would be horrified at treatments that parchments were subjected to in former times, particularly during 1820 – 50, which in some cases have permanently damaged the documents.275 Parchment is particularly susceptible to mould in conditions of high humidity, as well as accelerated gelatinization, but some mild wash regimes are employed. Aqueous washing of parchment presents difficulties, because parchment is damaged if saturated by water and then air dried, and there is always the danger of some solutes in the ink running;276 but a humid atmosphere with dilute anhydrous ammonia gas, or hydrogen peroxide vapour (synthesized 1811) with anhydrous ammonia has long been known as treatment employed by conservators as a fixative for the ink (reducing the acidity, retarding ink corrosion), with mild bleaching properties on the substrate to reduce yellowing and staining, as well as arresting fungal or microbial rot. Hydrogen peroxide with ammonia was still being used in the twentieth century to brighten yellowed and foxed ‘white parchment’, for example the Juliana Anicia Codex, a ‘white parchment’ codex produced around AD 512.277 Indeed, some folios in that codex have been selectively brightened using the peroxide-ammonia method.278 Since Dr Cooper is promoting the belief that there are very significant difference in colour between the Leipzig leaves and the British Library leaves (in reality there is not) one would at least expect him to have investigated the possibility of different treatments applied to the leaves as conservation practices rather than rushing to the explanation that the British Library leaves have been deliberately darkened in order to deceive.

275 The aforementioned Cardinal Mai was famous – or infamous – for the use of such chemicals especially on palimpsests, resulting in near destruction of some manuscripts. One rather famous conservation and cleaning attempt in the 1830s by the British Museum on a copy of the Magna Carta rendered it illegible.

276 The black precipitate formed in situ as the ink oxidizes has poor solubility, but because the ink when applied is fairly colourless, containing no pigment, some formulations of iron-gall ink have a small amount of dye added so that the ink is visible when applied; and these dye additives can be soluble.



... Dr Ekkehard Henschke, Director of Leipzig University Library 1992- 2005, who was a member of the Codex Sinaiticus Project, and intimately familiar with the Leipzig leaves and the British Library leaves, gives a very candid assessment of the true state of the Leipzig leaves in 2006-7: [T]he varying hot, cold and humid conditions in Leipzig produced a lot of damage...[T]his part of the Codex had suffered badly from humidity...The leaves owned by the British Library are in a better state.274
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