The Iron Gall Ink Website

By W. Philip - transcribed, edited and provided with a technical glossary by Jack C. Thompson

From: Manuscript Inks by Jack C. Thompson © 1996 The Caber Press

A Booke of Secrets

A Booke of Secrets is a 1596 translation of a Dutch edition (which itself may have been translated from a 1531 German text) that contains a wonderful collection of ink recipes. These include iron gall ink recipes formulated for paper and parchment, and recipes for making different colored inks. In addition there are instructions for etching in metal and coloring quill pens. The text concludes with a technical glossary and a list of source literature.

A Booke of Secrets was published in 1995 by The Caber Press in Manuscript Inks. This publication also contains instructions for making iron sulfate (ferrous sulfate/copperas/green vitriol) and iron gall ink, and includes a text on the manufacture of carbon ink sticks by Claes G. Lindblad. Manuscript Inks can be purchased by contacting Jack Thompson. He also sells sample sets of various iron gall inks.

This text is a good example of a type of source used by art historians to research historic artist techniques. You might find it helpful to refer to Source Reserach which illustrates the difficulties in interpreting these sources.

A booke of secrets

Hundreds of recipes for iron gall ink have been published over the centuries. The sheer variety and number of these recipes testify to the widespread use of iron gall ink and its primary importance to our literary and artistic traditions. Artists and scribes, domestics and entrepreneurs each concocted their own formula to suit their particular needs.

Interest in making historic inks has increased in the last several years, due in large part to the efforts of a few ink enthusiasts who have shared their vast knowledge and experience on the subject. This website is an effort to continue this dialogue, by sharing information about iron gall ink and promoting an appreciation for its unique place in history.

It is surprisingly easy to make iron gall ink - the earliest recipes are often the simplest - and the ingredients are inexpensive and readily available.


The original copy of the text which follows is owned by the Yale Center for British Art and the editor appreciates the good offices of Elisabeth Fairman in making it available for this publication.

After reading a photocopy of the text, I thought it would be worthwhile to reproduce the text with a technical glossary to help explain some of the more obscure terms.


The term, conterfein, was located in only one source; Hoover's translation of De Re Metallica. "Well leaded" has been taken to mean "glazed," given that most recipes for early glazing compounds include lead in their formulae.


The original text was black letter, with paragraph headings in a roman font. Aside from changing the black letter to a more legible font, the text is, for the most part, unchanged from the original; "u" has been replaced with "v" where appropriate in modern usage (i.e., "conuenient" is now "convenient," etc.). One spelling error has been corrected ("tino" is "into") and a missing word has been supplied: "To keepe that neither Mise nor [moths] eat or fret the paper...."


Secreta, or books of secrets, have been a mainstay of scholarship and research for a very long time; the tradition continues today in the notes which students make in class, in a lab, and in the library. In this, they follow a very old tradition; accurate information mingled with folklore and opinion. The recipe for a gold color, on p. 9, is a goo example. The reference to Michaelmas day [29 September] suggests an English origin for that recipe, while the reference to Saint Laurance day [10 August] suggests a French origin.


The Dutch work which was translated into English was entitled: Ettliche Künste, auff mancherley Weisz Dinten und allerhand Faben zu bereyten; essentially the same as: Artliche kunste mancherley weyse Dinten und aller hand farben zubereyten, which was published in Nuremberg, in 1531. Neither the Dutch nor the German texts have been compared with the English translation, but it would seem that they are, more or less, the same.


I am indebted to David Meesters, of Amsterdam, for providing information about aloe epaticum, via internet.

Jack C. Thompson
Portland, Oregon
August, 1995


A Booke of secrets

And first to make inke in divers maners

It is first to bee understood that if you wil make a great quantitie of Inke together, you must encrease the waight, and measure, according to the proportion you meane to make, as for example, if you will make ten quarts of Inke, then take foure quarts of water, and sixe quarts of vineger and wine, that is, three of each sort, which together with the water make ten quarts, and so must you doe with other quantities, either more or lesse. The like must you doe in the waight of your other stuffe that belongeth thereunto, as for a pint of water, six ounces of gaule, foure ounces of victriall, and foure ounces of gum, and if you take foure quarts of water (which is eight pints) if you give to every pint his proportion, then multiplying either by sixe they make fortie eight, so many ounces of gaule must you put to ten quarts, mixed as afore said with wine, vineger, and water, and of victrial and gum, of each xxxii ounces, according to the first proportion, and so must you observe your quantities, of waight and measure in each proportion, as you are minded to encrease the same, as in this treatise you shall read.

To make Inke to write upon paper

Take halfe a pint of water, a pint wanting a quarter of wine, and as much vineger, which being mixed together make a quart and a quarter of a pint more, then take six ounces of gauls beaten into small pouder, and sifted through a sive, put this pouder into a pot by it selfe, and poure halfe the water, wine and vineger into it, take likewise foure ounces of victriall, and beat it into pouder, and put it also in a pot by itselfe, whereinto put a quarter of the wine, water, and vineger that remaineth, and to the other quarter, put foure ounces of gum Arabike beaten to a pouder, that done, cover the three pots close, and let them stand three or foure daies together, stirring them every day three or foure times, on the first day set the pot with the gauls on the fire, and when it begins to seeth, stir it about till it be throughly warme, then straine it through a cloath into another pot, and mixe it with the other two pots. stirring them well together, and being covered, then let it stand three daies, till thou meanest to use it, on the fourth day, when it is setled, poure it out, and it wil be good inke. If there remaine any dregs behind poure some raine water (that hath stand long in a tub or vessell) into it, for the older the water is, the better it is, and keepe that untill you make more inke, so it is better then clean water.

To make Inke for parchment

Make it in all points like to the inke aforesaid, only take a pint of water, and of vineger and wine a pint more, that is, of each halfe a pint.

Another sort of Inke

Take a quart of cleare water, and put it in a glasse, put into it thirteene ounces beaten victriall, let it stand three daies, and stir it three or foure times every day, then take thirteene ounces of beaten gaules, and put them into a new earthern pot, that is wel leaded, poure into them a quart of cleane water, that done, set it on the fire, and let it seeth till it consumeth about a finger deepe, but suffer it not to seeth so fast that it seeth over the pots brim, then strain it through a wollen cloath, into another pot, that is leaded, poure into the cloath a cup full of good vineger, and strain it through likewise, that done, if there remaineth anything in the cloath, cast it away, then put into the matter, foure or five ounces of beaten gum, and stir them well together, then again straine them through a cleane wollen cloath, and poure into a cup full of good vineger, and straine it through the cloath, and let it stand till it be coole, then put it into a straight necked glasse, stop both the glasses well, til you have occasion to use them, then take of each water a little quantitie, and mix them together, so have you good inke.

Another of the same sort, but easie to make

Take the beaten gauls, and put them in the water, doe the like with the victriall in a pot by it selfe, let those two waters stand, and when you have cause to use inke, poure out of each pot a like quantitie, and it will be blacke, then put into it a little beaten gum, and it will bee good inke.


Take a quart of strong wine, put it into a new pot, and set it on a soft fire till it be hote, but let it not seeth, then put into it foure ounces of gauls, two ounces and a halfe of gum Arabike,and two ounces of victriall, al beaten into smal pouder, and sifted through a sive, stirre it with a wooden stic

To make coloured inks

Of red colour, and first of Brasill

You must take care when you seeth Brasill, that you do it when the element is clear, without clouds, raine, or wind, otherwise it will not be good, you must make it thus:
Take quicklime, poure raine water upon it, let it stand all night, in the morning poure the water softly from the lime, or straine it through a cloath, and for a quart of water, take an ounce of Brasill, let it seeth till it be halfe consumed, then put into it one ounce of beaten alum, one ounce of gum Arabike, two ounces of gum of a Cheritree, or else two ounces of cleane glue, straine it from the wood: you may likewise put into it some chalke beaten to pouder.

To seeth Brasill another way

To an ounce of Brasill, take the third part of a quart of beere, wine, or vineger, put it in a new pot, let it stand a night, in the morning set it on the fire and let it seeth till it be halfe consumed, then for every ounce of Brasill, take two pennyworth of alum, beaten to pouder, and as much beaten gum Arabike, stir them wel together, and let them seeth againe but if you desire to have it somewhat darke, then scrape a little chalke into it: when it seeteth, let it not seeth over the pot, and being cold, strain it through a cloath, and put it into a glasse well stopped.

Another red colour

Mingle salt and honny together in a bason, let it stand eight daies, then seeth it, and it will be a red colour.

Purple colour

Take two pound of blew heidleber, two ounces of alum, one ounce of ashes of copper, which you may have at the brasiers, a pint of water, put them into a ketle, let it seeth till it consume two fingers deepe, when it is cold, straine it through a clout, in a cleane glasse or pot, let it stand a while, then straine it into another pot, and let it stand till it be thicke enough.

To make Rosin

Take strong vinegar, or wine, and put pouder of alum therein, when the alum is dissolved, then make a strong and thicke lee with quickelime, and take foure times as much Brasill as your alum waieth, put it in a clout, and hang it in the lee, and let it stand a day and a night, then straine it, and hang the Brasill again in the lee, and let it stand as long as it did the first time, which doe in like manner three or foure times, when you have done so let it stand and drie, and it is perfect.

Another Rosin

Take two parts red lead, one part white lead, and mingle them together, or take Auripigmentum and red lead, of each a like quantitie, and mingle them together.

Fire colour

Take sout of a chimney, and a little alum, let them boile, then take gineper, granded with water, and temper it together, with alum and gum Arabike.

Tawny colour

Take blacking, and mingle it with red lead and gum Arabike.

Yellow colour

Take hauthorne berries, gather them eight daies after Saint Laurence day, bruse them and put a little beaten alum unto them, stirre them well together, and let them stand one night, and it will be a faire yellow.

Another good yellow

Take the barke of a tree, cut off the outside, and throw it away, cut the rest in small peeces, and poure water unto them, let them seeth two or three times, then put pouder of alum into it, stirre them well together, and let them seeth againe.

Another yellow

Mix saffron with the yolke of an eg, and it maketh a faire shining colour. Otherwise.

Put saffron and alum into a clout, and put vineger into it, and strain it out: or take saffron, the yolke of an eg, gum Arabike and alum, and mix them together.


Take gaule of Eeles, or of other great fishes, or oxe gaule, put some vineger to it, and a little chalke, and make a paste thereof.

Greene colour

Take the blacke berries that grow on the hauthorne tree, and gather them eight daies after Michaelmas day, bruse them, poure water into them, and put therein a little beaten alum, stir them well together, and let them stand two daies and a night, and it will be good greene.

A faire greene colour

Take honie, put a little quantitie of vineger more then the honie is, into it, mingle it well in a leaded or a copper pot, stop it well, and set it twelve daies under another pot, and put thereto a little chalke.
Also take copper plates, put them in a copper pot, and put stilled vineger to them, set them in a warm place, till the vineger become blew, then put it into another leaded pot, poure vineger into it againe, let it stand so till it become blew, this doe so many times, till you thinke you have inough, then let it stand till it be thick.

To temper or prepare Verdigreece

Grind it with wine, and put two or three drops of honny to it.

To make good greene

Take copper plates, let them lie six months in vineger in a warme place, then take them out, and drie them in the sun, and the flower you find upon the plates, scrape it of, for that is the colour.

Blew colour

Grind chalke with the juice of the elder berries, straine it through a clout, put a little alum water unto it, let it drie, and keep it til you need.
In the same sort you may make colour of the blew corne flowers. Also the juice of the blew corn flowers alone, with alum and gum tempered together, is a good blew.
Also mulberies boiled with alum.
Also take blew corn flowers that are not too much blowne, and gather them in a morning before the sun riseth, plucke the blew leafe, and let not any of the white come among them, and put them into a copper kettle, and hang it in seething water, till they be drie, keepe them in a glasse well covered. When you wil make colour of them, then take some of the blew leaves, and put them into a drinking glasse, poure water into them, till it be thicke like dowe, let it stand covered twelve houres, then presse the liquor through a cloath into another glasse, and put a little glue into it, and set it in a warme place, or else in whote water, untill it bee drie and thicke to use.

To make Azure

Take one ounce of white lead, nine ounces of Indicum, pour good vineger unto it, put them in a leaded dish, let them seeth well, and that which swimmeth on the top is the colour.
Or take two parts of chalk made of egshels, one part of Verdigreece, one part of Salarmoniacke, mingle them together with strong vineger, and put them in a new pot, stop it well, that no aire issue forth, set it in a warme place for a month long, and it will be Azure.

To temper or prepare Azure

Wash it wel in cleane water, and that swimmeth on the top, cast it away, and that which lieth in the bottome, is good, doe so three or four times one after another, and let the water bee cleane poured from it, then take white of egs that are well beaten, put thereto a little beaten gum Arabike, and let it stand till the gum is dissolved, then put the Azure into it, and mingle them well together, straine it through a linnen cloath into an inkehorne, and use it when you will.

A faire blew

Grind the Azure with faire water very well upon a stone, then put it in a horne or shell, and pour water theron, stir them wel together, then let them stand half a day, then pour out the water, and take the gaule of a great fish, and grind it with gum and the white of egs, and use it when you thinke good.

White colour

To write with chalke out of a pen upon blacke tables or paper.
Grind quicklime, egshels, and chalke, together with the milke of a goat.

To make chalke of egshels
Take egshels, and let them lie three daies in vineger, then wash them well in faire water, drie them in the sun, and beat them to pouder, then grind them upon a stone.

A good white colour

Take white glasse wel beaten to pouder, put thereto some brimstone in pouder, and keep it in a pot wel covered, set it upon a soft fire, til it be red hote, then let it coole, and grind it on a stone.

Gold colours

To Make Aurum Musicum

Take one ounce of Salarmoniack, one ounce of quick silver, one ounce of Conterfein, halfe an ounce of brimstone, bruse the brimstone, set it on the fire, but let it not be over hote least it burneth, or become black, then take the Salarmoniack, and the quick silver, being in pouder, mix them wel together, then mingle them with the brimstone, stir them well and quickly with a sticke, till the brimstone becommeth hard, then let it cool, grind it on a stone, and put it in a glasse with a long neck wel stopped with luttum, and set it in a pan with ashes, make a fire under it, and let it stand halfe a day, in such maner, not over hote, till a yellow smoke riseth upon it, and when the yellow smoke is gone, then it is prepared.


Take an ounce of tin, melt it in a pot, put into it half an ounce of Tartarum, and one ounce of quick silver, stir them together, till it bee hard, and congealed into a cake, then grind it well upon a stone, put to it one ounce of beaten Salarmoniack, mix them wel together, then melt one ounce of brimstone, but make it not too hote, poure the ground pouder into it, stirre it well untill it bee hard, let it coole, and doe as before is said.

You must temper it thus

Grind it well, wash it wel in clean water out of one mussell shell into another, till it bee very cleane, then put it into a pewter pot, put some gum water therein, stir it about, and write therwith, let it drie, and polish it.

Argentum Musicum

Melt an ounce of Tin, and put thereto an ounce of Tartarum, an ounce of quick silver, stirre it well til it be cold, beat it in a morter, then grind it on a stone, temper it with alum water, and write therewith, then polish it.

To write a gold colour

Take a new laid hens eg, make a hole at the one end of it, and let the substance out, then take the yolk of an eg, without the white, and foure times as much in quantity of quick silver, grind them well together, stop the hole of the egshell with chalke and the white of an eg, then lay it under a hen that sitteth with six egs more, let her sit upon it three weekes, then breake it up and write therewith, some say it must bee laid under three several hens, and under each hen three weekes.

To write with gold out of a pensill

Take hony and salt a like quantity, grind them wel, put to it a leaf of gold with a little white of an eg, put it into a mussell shel, and let it purifie, temper it with gum water, and write therewith, let it drie, and polish it with a tooth.
Or grind saltstone well with the white of an eg, put into it a leafe or two of gold, and write therewith as before.
Or grind a leaf of silver or gold very smal with gum water, and wash it in a mussell shel as aforesaid.

To write all mettals out of the pen

Grind cristall well, temper it with gum water, or the white of an eg, write with it, then let it drie, then take the mettal, which you wil, and rub it upon the letters writen, till the letter bee well coloured with the color of the mettall, then polish it with a tooth.
Or take cristall and pomestone, both ground very small, put thereto a little verdigreece, beaten likewise to pouder, and put them all into a leaded pipkin, set it upon a soft fire, but let it not bee too hote, let it not stand so long on the fire, that it becommeth as blacke as a coale, then grind it on a stone, temper it with gum water, write with it as aforesaid.

A good gold colour

Take linseed oile, put into it a little Aloe Epaticum, and alum, let them seeth well in a leaden pot.

To lay gold upon anything

Take red lead, temper it with linseed oile, write with it, and lay gold upon it, so let it drie, and polish it.
Or lay gum Arabike in vineger, so long til it wareth white, take it out and put it into the white of egs, till it melteth, write w ith it, when it is almost drie, lay the gold upon it, then let it stand one night, and polish it.

To lay gold upon glasse

Grind chalke, and red lead in like qantity together, with linseed oile, lay it on, when it is almost drie, lay your gold upon it, and being well dried, polish it.

End of the colours.

ke, and it will be good inke.


Take an ounce of beaten gaule, three or four ounces of gum Arabicke, put them together in a pot with reine water, and when the gum is almost consumed, strain it through a cloath, and put into it almost halfe a cup of victriall beaten to pouder.


Take a pint of beere, put into it an ounce of gaules beaten to pouder, let it seeth till it seeme somewhat red, then put to it three quarters of an ounce">

of greene victriall, in small pouder, and let it seeth againe, when you take it off the fire, cast into it three quarters of an ounce of gum and a small peece of alum, both in pouder, and stir them all together till it be cold.


Take two handfull of gauls, cut each gaule either into three or four peeces, poure into them a pint of beere or wine, which you wil then let it stand eight houres, straine it from the gaules, and put victriall therein, and to the victriall a third part of gum, set it on the fire to warm, but let it not seeth, and it will be good inke: and of those gaules you may make inke foure or five times more.

To make inke upon a suddaine, to serve in an extremetie

Take a wax candle, and light it, hold it under a cleane bason or a candlesticke, till the smoke of the candle hangeth thereon, then put a little warme gum water into it, which tempered together will be good inke.

To keepe Inke that it sinketh not into the paper neither that it come not off and that moths nor mise hurt not the paper

Take the shels of hazell nuts, and put them into the inke, and it will not sinke through the paper. And that it may not come off, put a little salt into it. To keepe that Mise nor eat or fret the paper, put a little wormwood water into the inke.

To write without inke, that it may not be seen, unlesse the paper be wet with water

Take pouder of victriall, and put it into a cleane inkehorne, put a little cleane water to it when the victriall is dissolved, write with it either upon paper or parchment, and let it drie, and it cannot bee read: when you will read it take halfe a pint of water, and put thereto an ounce of pouder of gaules, mix them well together, then straine them through a linnen cloath into a cleane pot, then draw the paper through the water , and the writing will be blacke, as if it had ben written with inke.

To take Inke out of paper or parchment

Take Colofoniam, which is called pixgraecum, beat it small, and cast it on the paper that is written, then wet a cloath, and lay it on the colofoniam, upon the cloath lay some fresh horse dung. and upon that set a smooth tile stone, then if it be in winter let it stand a whole night, but if it be summer, let it stand but from morning until nine of the clocke.


Take Salarmoniacke and alum, still it in a limbeck, and with this water wet the writing and it will goe out.

How to grave in yron and steel, or in other mettals with strong water

For as much as that every man in this our age, is given to write, learne, and practise all manner of arts, I am of opinion it will not be unprofitable unto such as are desirous to learn, if I set somewhat before them that may teach them to write letters, and grave any other thing in steele, yron, or other mettals, which I willingly present unto them, although it be but a small matter, if it be profitable unto them, I wish them to use it.

Take two parts of verdigreece, one part of common salt, beat it in a morter, put thereto sharpe vineger, and when you will grave, anoint your plate first with red lead tempered with linseed oile, let it drie, this substance lay upon the plate, and the warmer the place is, when it lieth, the sooner it wil eat in, and when it is drie, take away the pouder, and make the plate cleane againe.

Or take two parts victriall, one third part Salarmoniack, grind it togither upon a stone with wine, and lay it on as aforesaid, but lay it cold upon the place where you grave, and set it in a celler four of five houres.

Another way to grave with water

Take verdigreece, Mercurie, sublimated victriall, and alum, of the one as much as the other, beat them all to pouder, put them into a glasse, let them stand so half a day, and stir it often about, then lay wax mingled with linseed oile, or red lead with linseed oile, and write in it that you mean to grave, then put the water upon it, and let it remaine so halfe a day, if you wil have it very deepe, then let it stand longer, if you will grave any other worke as images, etc.
Then lay the wax upon the yron or steele very thinly on, and draw what you will therein with your instrument, that it may touch the mettal, then put water into the strokes, and it wil be graven.

Another way, but more piercing

Take one ounce of verdigreece, half an ounce of Alum plumosum, halfe an ounce of Salarmoniack, halfe an ounce of Tartarum, halfe an ounce of victrial, and half an ounce of common salt, all beaten to pouder, mingle them together, and pour strong vineger unto them, let them stand one houre, and when you wil grave, write upon the yron or steele with linseed oile, and red lead, and let it drie, then heat the water aforesaid in a leaded pan, and let it stand on the fire, and hold the yron or steel over the pan, poure the hote water upon it with a spoon, and let it run again into the pan, which doe for the space of a quarter of an houre, then rub it off with ashes or unsleact lime, but be sure that the places you will eat into be all well covered with red lead.

To colour quils and parchment of divers colors

Take the quils, and cut away the fethers, and rub them wel with a wollen cloath, that the skin go clean off, that the quil may be smooth, which must alwaies be done before you die them, cut off a little of the end of the quil that the colour may enter into them, lay them in alum water, for halfe a day, take them out and drie them, then die them, when they are died, as I wil teach you, let them be wel dried, and strike them over with a cloath betweene two fingers, then stick them in a bord that is full of holes, and let every one have a space betweene it, that they touch not together, and drie them in the aire.

To die quils greene

Take two parts verdigreece, a third part Salarmoniacke, grind them well together, steepe them in strong vineger, and put the quils into it, and cover them close, let them lie therein till they be green as you desire to have them: you may die likewise bones and wood in the same manner, lay the quils, wood, or bones, in a leaded pot, poure vineger upon them, wherein Greekish green is mixed, cover it, and set it seven daies or more under warm horse dung. You may also temper verdigreece with vineger, till it bee somewhat drie, put the quils into it, let them lie long therein, then take them out, and put them in warm horse dung, and let them continue therein eighteene daies together: you may die red quils in that sort and make them greene, also take strong vineger, put it in a copper pot, or kettle, put verdigreece into it, let it stand til it be green, put the quils into it, and let them lie til they be green.

Red quils

Seeth them in Brasil, as before you are taught, baving first laid them in alum water.

Yellow quils

Seeth them in yellow colour, as before you are taught what you shall do with the barke of aple trees.

Blacke quils

Seeth beaten gaules in strong vineger, lay the quils in it, and let them seeth likewise, then lay them in the white of egs, and put unto them the green pils of walnuts, and let them seeth all together.

To colour parchment and velim of divers colors

Take as much parchment or velim as you will, and fasten it at the corners and sides with nailes unto a bord, with the smooth side outwards, annoint it then with what colour you will, be it yellow, blew, red or black, such as you find set down in this booke, let it drie well, then stroke it over, and let it drie in a place, where no dust is stirring.



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.


Pix graecum: 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).


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Jack C. Thompson
Thompson Conservation Lab.
7549 N. Fenwick
Portland, OR 97217, USA
503/735-3942 (voice/fax)