Adventures of our Forefathers

Bill began his writing career by penning articles and stories for various magazines and interests, but eventually devoted his efforts exclusively to buckskinning and muzzle loading. He spent nine years as the managing editor of the American Mountain Men’s magazine, The Tomahawk and Long Rifle. His three Rocky Mountain novels about the adventures of modern - day mountain men, based loosely on actual events, have met with acclaim as have his how-to book, Lighting Grandma’s Fire, and the very successful Rendezvous - Back to a Simpler Time, a text and photo work about modern rendezvous. Bill is currently working on a new novel extending the adventures of his well-established characters in the Rocky Mountain series.


A little!!!!

When we want to transfer our thoughts into journal notes here's some ways to produce the ink and make the quills in getting the process done.


Rob Allen’s 1804

Transcribed by John T. Kramer, SnakeOyl, NAF #4

These receipts are taken from the original hand written book owned by John T. Kramer permission is granted solely to the NAF to publish and distribute..

p. 22, No. 34

Method of Silvering on Copper

To 4 oz. of Aqua Fortis add a sufficient quantity of the filings of Silver, which in 24 hours will be fit for use.  The manner of using this preparation is by rubbing it lightly over the copper with a piece of Flannel; afterwards with powdered Cream of Tart with dry Flannel until it takes the appearance of Silver.

p. 22, No. 35

A Method of browning Gun & Pistol Barrels

Dissolve 1 oz. of Blue Vitriol in 2 oz. of Water, and at the end of 24 hours add 3 drachms of Nitrous Acid.  The barrel being perfectly clean, the fluid is to be applied on its surface with a Hare or Rabbit’s foot until every part is covered with it, and after lying in a dry place two days, the rust is to be removed from it & is to be well rubbed with a hard brush & bees wax.

p. 43

Sil vering Powder

Dissolve Silver in Nitric Acid and put pieces of copper into the solution; this will (?throw down?) the Silver in a state of Metallic powder.  Take 15 or 20 grains of this powder, and mix with it 2 dr. of acidulous tartrite of potash, the same quantity of common Salt, and ½ dr. of Alum.   Or to ½ oz. of the above precipitate Silver add common Salt and Muriate of Ammoniac of each 2 oz. & 1 dr. of Corrosive Sublimate: rub them together & make them into a paste with water.   With this, copper utensils of every kind, that have been previously boiled with acidulous tartrite of potash & alum, are to be rubbed; after which they are to be made red hot & polished.  The article to be silvered may first be cleaned by dilute nitric acid or scoured with common Salt & Alum.  A little of the Silvering powder may then be moistened with water & rubbed on the surface of copper or brass.  It may afterwards be polished with soft leather.


Black Ink

3 oz powdered galls

1 oz Salt of Steel

1 oz Logwood Chips

1 oz Gum Arabic

10 Corrosive Sublimate

2 Qts of Soft Water

p. 56

Imperial Pop or Ginger Beer

1 ½ oz Cream Tartar

1 ½ oz Ginger slices

2 small lemons sliced

1 ¼ # Lump Sugar

2 ½ gallons boiling water

To stand covered for 8 hours, then stir in two table spoons full of yeast and let it work in a warm situation for a day: then take off the yeast, run the liquor through a Sieve, & bottle it.


2 oz Cream Tartar

1 ½ oz Ginger beaten

1 Lemon sliced

1 ½ # Lump Sugar

8 quarts boiling Water

When cold strain off the liquor and add four spoons full of yeast.  After standing in a warm place 24 hours, take off the yeast, strain it, bottle it and tie down the corks.


To make Woolen Silk & Cotton waterproof.

These articles may be rendered waterproof, by taking Caoutchouc dissolving it in a Mineral Oil (which may be procured in abundance at the gas works) and applying it on the cloth, over which, another piece of cloth is laid; it is then run through a roller, which gives the cloth the appearance of a single piece.

General Information

Ordinary black writing ink contains a mixture of the tannates and gallates of the proto and sesquioxide of iron.  These are insoluble in water, and are suspended by means of gum.  Creosote or essential oils are added to prevent moulding.

Many receipts are given for inks.  As a general rule, the use of vinegar, logwood, and salts of copper is not to be recommended.  Inks so prepared are richer at first, but will fade and act on pens.

Most ink is pale when first written with, but becomes dark; this is owing to oxidation.  Such ink lasts better than that which is very black on application.

When traditional ink fades, it is from a decomposition of the organic matter; it may be restored by brushing over with infusion of galls or solution of ferrocyanide of potassium.  The durability of any ink is impaired by the use of steel pens.

There was a great deal of experimentation and improvement in inks and writing during the mid-nineteenth century.  By 1865 much of what is transcribed below was outdated.  For example ink powder receipts containing white sugar were developed after our period of interest.

If there is enough interest I can add information on coloured inks, sympathetic inks, printer’s inks and other period methods of copying various writings and restoring decayed writings as was known by 1840.  All the below receipts were developed before 1825 and are transcribed as accurately as I can.  Primarily taken from MacKenzie’s 5000.


Receipts for Pen & Ink, &c.

Compiled by John T. Kramer, SnakeOyl, NAF #4M



To Make Common Black Ink

Pour 1 gall. of boiling soft water on 1 lb. Of powdered galls, previously put into a proper vessel.  Stop the mouth of the vessel, and set it in the sun in summer, or in winter where it may be warmed by any fire, and let it stand 2 or 3 days.  Then add ½ lb. of green vitriol powdered, and having stirred the mixture well together with a wooden spatula, let it stand again for 2 or 3 days, repeating the stirring, when add further to it 5 oz. of gum Arabic dissolved in a quart of boiling water; and lastly, 2 oz. of alum; after which let the ink be strained through a coarse linen cloth for use.


A good and durable black ink may be made by the following directions: To 2 pts. of water add 3 oz. of the dark-colored, rough-skinned Aleppo galls in gross powder, and of rasped logwood, green vitriol, and gum arabic, each 1 oz.

This mixture is to be put in a convenient vessel, and well shaken four or five times a day, for ten or twelve days, at the end of which time it will be fit for use, though it will improve by remaining longer on the ingredients.

Best Ink Powder

Infuse a pound of galls powdered, and 3 ounces of pomegranate peels, in a gallon of soft water for a week, in a gentle heat , and then strain off the fluid through a coarse linen cloth.  Then add to it 8 oz. of vitriol dissolved in a quart of water, and let them remain for a day or two, preparing in the meantime a decoction of logwood, by boiling a pound of the chips in a gallon of water, till 1-3d be wasted, and then straining the remaining fluid while it is hot.  Mix the decoction and the solution of galls and vitriol together, and add 5 oz. Of gum arabic, and then evaporate the mixture over a common fire to about 2 quarts, when the remainder must be put into a vessel proper for that purpose, and reduced to dryness, by hanging the vessel in boiling water.  The mass left, after the fluid has wholly exhaled, must be well powdered; and when wanted for use, may be converted into ink by the addition of water.


Compositions were; also formerly made for portable, or extemporaneous inks, without galls or vitriol, of which the following is a recipe: -- Take ½ a pound of honey, and the yolk of an egg, and mix them well together.  Add 2 drachms of gum arabic finely levigated, and thicken the whole with lamp-black to the consistence of a stiff paste, which being put to a proper quantity of water, may be used as ink.

Ink Powder for Immediate Use

Reduce into subtle powder 10 oz. of gall-nuts, 3 oz. of Roman vitriol, (green copperas,) with 2 oz. each of roche alum and gum arabic.  Then put a little of this mixture into a glass of white wine, and it will be fit for instant use.


Take equal parts of black rosin, burnt peach or apricot stones, vitriol and gall-nuts, and 2 oz of gum arabic, put the whole in powder or cake as required.

Exchequer Ink

Take 40 pounds of galls, add 10 pounds of gum, 9 pounds of copperas, and 45 gallons of soft water.  This ink will endure for centuries.

To Produce a Facsimile of any Writing

The pen should be made of glass enamel; the point being small and finely polished; so that the part above the point may be large enough to hold as much ink as, or more than, a common writing pen.

A mixture of equal parts of Frankfort black, and fresh butter, is now to be smeared over sheets of paper, and rubbed off after a certain time.  The paper, thus smeared, is to be pressed for some hours; taking care to have sheets of blotting-paper between each of the sheets of black paper.  When fit for use, writing paper is put between sheets of blackened paper, and the upper sheet is to be written on, with common writing ink, by the glass or enamel pen.  By this method, not only the copy is obtained on which the pen writes, but also, two, or more, made by means of the blackened paper.

To Prevent Mould in Inks

In order to secure the above and other inks from growing mouldy, a quarter of a pint or more of spirit of wine may be added; but to prevent its containing any acid, which may injure the ink, a little tartar or pearl-ashes should be added, previously, and the spirit poured off from it, which will render it innocent with regard to the colour of the ink.

Another method

The most simple, yet effective, method is to infuse a small piece of salt about the size of a hazel-nut to each quart.

To Make New Writing Look Old

Take a drachm of saffron, and infuse it into half a pint of ink, and warm it over a gentle fire, and it will cause whatever is written with it to turn yellow, and appear as if of many years standing.

Preparing Quills

M. Scholz, of Vienna, has discovered a new process for rendering quills more firm and durable than those of Hamburg.  The following are the means employed: -- He suspends, in a copper, a certain number of quills, and fills it with water, so as just to touch their nibs.  He then closed the copper, so as to render it steam tight; here the quills experience considerable heat and moisture from the steam, by which the fat they contain is melted out.  After about four hours’ treatment in this manner, they attain they proper degree of softness and transparency.   The next day cut the nibs, and draw out the pith, then rub them with a piece of cloth, and also expose them to a moderate heat.  The following day they will have acquired the hardness of bone without being brittle, and will be as transparent as glass.


Until then I am yr' svt,


stories & adventures pertaining to those than went before us.

Page 5

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