The Iron Gall Ink Website

Treatment - Pre-treatment assessment

Birgit Reissland, Karin Scheper and Sabine Fleischer (2007)

When an interventive conservation treatment is not avoidable and no alternative measures exist, the first step is to carry out a pre-treatment assessment. The aim of this assessment is to minimize undesirable treatment side effects. The outcome reveals potential treatment risks and determines the final treatment decision. This is the last opportunity to select objects which bear a high risk in order to prevent avoidable damage. A pre-treatment assessment will take a few minutes but will save time and prevent subsequent stress. It is recommended to carry out a visual examination as well as certain spot tests. Conservators who frequently assess ink-corroded objects will gain more experience, decreasing the assessment time.


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A well lit working area (preferably day light), a microscope or magnifier, a UV-lamp and a light table are necessary for a suitable pre-treatment assessment for iron-gall ink corroded objects. Keeping in mind a prediction of the potential treatment risks associated with ink corrosion, the following visually perceptible characteristics of the object should always be determined. Please note that depending on object specific properties and the present damage, other tests might be necessary as well.