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One Incontrovertible, Unequivocal, Undeniable Fact Which Refutes the Diary

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  • The Maybrick Diary was originally a scrap album, and the small corner of what was evidently a photograph was also found in the spine. Perhaps what is being called "bone black," is nothing more than charcoal from a charcoal drawing, which, of course, is what one finds in scrap albums from the early 1900s.

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    • Perhaps what is being called "bone black," is nothing more than charcoal from a charcoal drawing, which, of course, is what one finds in scrap albums from the early 1900s.
      Really? Can you go into a little more detail on this, please?

      Graham
      We are suffering from a plethora of surmise, conjecture and hypothesis. - Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure Of Silver Blaze

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      • Graham,
        Charcoal tablets,from memory, were being sold in the 1930's.They could be crushed into powder.

        Comment


        • Well, Feldman’s claim that charcoal was used with arsenic appears to be based on an affidavit from Maybrick’s acquaintance Valentine Blake (see Chris Jones, A-Z) who apparently gave Maybrick three packets of arsenic. One was white, being more or less pure, but the other two were gray (grey to y’all) because they had been mixed with charcoal. Whether this was bone black or some other type of charcoal, I don’t know and don’t know if anyone else knows. But I don't think we can say that Feldman merely made it up.

          Meanwhile, the powder found in the spine of the Diary was not described as gray, but black, and Dr. Eastaugh merely **suggested** it might be bone black, which he also claimed was used as “a drying agent.” (I don't have the report, see Jones again).

          However, as always, more questions than answers. Was this just a throwaway suggestion or did Eastaugh actually go on to make a chemical analysis? And was his statement based on a visual examination only? According to the National Gallery, bone black should be distinguishable from other types of charcoal, because under magnification its individual grains tend to be disk-shaped, whereas charcoal made from wood tends to be more irregular. (Art history stuff). What did the “Maybrick” powder look like? And was Eastaugh aware of this difference? Further, was the powder found in the section of the spine with the cut-out pages, or in the section containing the Diary’s text? If the former, isn’t it likely to have been associated with what had been removed? Since scrap books of this type are used for photographs, valentines, postcards, small drawings, etc., I am merely suggesting it could be charcoal from an artist’s charcoal pencil, which, once upon a time, was a popular way to make sketches. These pencils are not bone black, but made from the charcoal of willow, but again, how did Eastaugh make his analysis?

          Considering other indications of the Diary being a rather crude hoax, it seems unlikely that the hoaxer would plant bone black in the spine in hopes that Feldman or someone else would make this obscure connection. If they were going to that length, why not just use actual arsenic?

          Comment


          • Originally posted by rjpalmer View Post
            Well, Feldman’s claim that charcoal was used with arsenic
            The relevant passage in Feldman doesn't say that bone-black was used with arsenic, RJ, but that "bone black was also used as an antidote to strychnine poisoning [and] James Maybrick was an arsenic and strychnine addict". That's saying something quite specific about bone-black which I've been unable, so far, to corroborate.
            Kind regards, Sam Flynn

            "Suche Nullen" (Nietzsche, Götzendämmerung, 1888)

            Comment


            • Originally posted by Sam Flynn View Post
              Just reading around 't internet on treatments for arsenic poisoning, I haven't yet seen carbon, in whatever form, being mentioned - apart from in Feldman's book.
              There are plenty of sources that mention this but it was also known as a cure for more common complaints such as indigestion.

              Comment


              • Sam--Fair enough, but even if Feldman was slapping a little gold leaf on the lily, I think we have to concede that charcoal was mixed into arsenic on occasion...but....check this out:

                "In the year 1888 Mr. [Valentine] Blake was engaged with a Mr. Nation in making cotton from rhea grass or ramie in which manufactured arsenic was used." Blake's process used ...."a mixture of arsenic and charcoal (the statute requires arsenic to be mixed with soot or indigo, not charcoal, when sold by a chemist)." "In February, 1889, Mr. Blake again visited Liverpool, and he handed to Mr. Maybrick in his office about 150 grains of arsenic made up in three packages--one of white arsenic, one of arsenic mixed with soot, and one of arsenic mixed with charcoal." South Wales Daily News, 1 June 1894.

                So, this was a "one off" occasion in which Blake gave Maybrick some arsenic used in the production of ramie, hence the charcoal. One wouldn't normally expect to see charcoal in the sources Maybrick snorted. The article also states charcoal and soot, not "bone black."

                Anyway, it seems strange that if Feldman found this to be exciting evidence he didn't have the black dust analyzed further.

                Comment


                • Originally posted by David Orsam View Post
                  There are plenty of sources that mention this
                  Be that as it may, I haven't yet found a reference to bone black being used as an arsenic (or strychnine) antidote, which is what Feldman said.
                  Kind regards, Sam Flynn

                  "Suche Nullen" (Nietzsche, Götzendämmerung, 1888)

                  Comment


                  • For what it is worth, and it may be worth little, I also have a memory of looking through my parents' photo albums as a child and seeing lots of black dust in the spine. It was from those little black "mounting corners" that were popular in the 1930s-60s for mounting photographs in albums. The black paper would degrade and leave a lot of nasty black dust. Who knows on what Eastaugh's statement was based?

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by rjpalmer View Post
                      Anyway, it seems strange that if Feldman found this to be exciting evidence he didn't have the black dust analyzed further.
                      Indeed, if only to check for any arsenic that might have been mixed in with it.
                      Kind regards, Sam Flynn

                      "Suche Nullen" (Nietzsche, Götzendämmerung, 1888)

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by Sam Flynn View Post
                        Be that as it may, I haven't yet found a reference to bone black being used as an arsenic (or strychnine) antidote, which is what Feldman said.
                        Firstly, in terms of definitions, from The Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1856:

                        "IVORY-BLACK....When all the volatile products are separated, the mass which remains in the retort, consists of the earthy and saline portions of the bone, blackened by carbon of the animal matter, and forming what is called ivory-black, bone-black or animal charcoal."

                        From Knights' American Mechanical Dictionary, 1876:

                        Bone-black is prepared by the distillation of bone in retorts,
                        Animal charcoal is another name for bone-black
                        Ivory-black is a bone black obtained from cuttings, raspings, dust, and scrapes of ivory.


                        So bearing in mind that animal charcoal, bone-black and ivory-black are all essentially the same thing:

                        "Pharmacologia" by John Ayrton Paris MD, 1823:

                        Under "Medical uses of charcoal":

                        "It has been lately asserted to possess powers as an antidote to arsenic; if this be true, its action can only be mechanical by absorbing like a sponge the arsenical solution, and thereby defending the coats of the stomach from its virulence."

                        Refers in this context to Lardner's Prepared Charcoal which is said to consist of "cretaceous powder, or chalk finely powdered, rendered gray by the addition of charcoal, or ivory black."

                        This is from The Half-Yearly Abstract of the Medical Sciences, Jan-June 1851:

                        In the "Transactions of the Medical Society of London" by Dr A.B. Garrod, detailing some experiments in which he employed purified animal charcoal as an antidote. This is prepared from ivory black, by digesting it in dilute chlorohydric acid to remove the earthy matters, afterwards washing it and heating it to redness in a covered crucible.

                        Dr Garrod concludes from his experiments:

                        1st. That animal charcoal has the power of combining , in the stomach, with the poisonous principles of animal and vegetable substances, and that the compounds thus produced are innoxious, therefore, when given before these poisons have become absorbed, it will act as an antidote.

                        2nd. That animal charcoal will absorb some mineral substances, and render them inert; but so large a quantity of the charcoal is required, that it is not so well adapted for many poisons of this class, as their own special antidotes; the effects of arsenic, however, appear to be better combated by this than any other article.
                        "

                        In "The Elements of Materia Medica and Therapeutics" vol 1 by Jonathan Pereira M.D., 1854 under "poisons and reputed antidotes" one of the antidotes listed for arsenic is "Animal charcoal (purified animal charcoal, common animal charcoal,ivory black)".

                        That animal charcoal and bone black was regarded as interchangeable can be seen from this extract from "The Retrospect of Medicine" by W. Braithwaite (ed) 1858:

                        "Animal Charcoal an antidote to Vegetable Alkaloids – If to solutions of little poisons of henbane, belladonna, stramonium, or morphia, a little animal charcoal be added, the poison is completely neutralized. This property makes animal charcoal of the greatest use as an antidote to these substances; common black bone will do very well; vegetable charcoal does not possess these properties (Dr A. B. Garrod p.361)"

                        A Dictionary of Chemistry and Allied Branches of Other Sciences vol 1, 1870

                        "Bone black…removes bitter principles and organic alkaloids from their solutions, and has been recommended as an antidote in case of poisoning by such substances".

                        Harper's Magazine vol 43, 1871:

                        "A German chemist directs attention to its property of absorbing inorganic bodies also, and suggests that bone-black might occasionally serve as a valuable antidote in cases of poisoning."

                        And then:

                        "Note-book of Materia Medica" by Dr Angus Macdonald, 1871

                        "Animal charcoal is chiefly used as a decolourising agent in pharmacy and the arts, but little as a medicine. But it may be employed in some cases as wood charcoal. It has been recommended as an antidote in poisoning by certain alkaloids, as morphia, strychnia and aconitia; but it is extremely doubtful if it ever does more in such cases than simply entangle, and thus delay the absorption of the poison to a slight extent. "

                        Comment


                        • Why didn't you have T-shirts made with "Sam Flynn is a complete fvckwit" written on them in big letters?

                          One link would have done.
                          Kind regards, Sam Flynn

                          "Suche Nullen" (Nietzsche, Götzendämmerung, 1888)

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by rjpalmer View Post
                            For what it is worth, and it may be worth little, I also have a memory of looking through my parents' photo albums as a child and seeing lots of black dust in the spine. It was from those little black "mounting corners" that were popular in the 1930s-60s for mounting photographs in albums. The black paper would degrade and leave a lot of nasty black dust. Who knows on what Eastaugh's statement was based?
                            I have a copy of Eastaugh's report dated 2 October 1992. He says that a "black powder" was found "lying in between the pages and cut edges near the binding".

                            Four areas of the specimen of the black powder were examined using an SEM/EDS system and the elements found in the powder were as follows:

                            1. Ca S P Cl Mg Cl Na K
                            2. Ca Si S P Cl Na Mg Al K
                            3. Ca Cl S P Mg Si Na Al K
                            4. Ca S P Cl Si Mg K Na

                            [Ca = calcium
                            S = sulfur
                            P =phosphorus
                            Cl = chlorine
                            Mg = magnesium
                            Cl - chlorine
                            Na = sodium
                            K = potassium
                            Al - aluminium
                            Si =silicon]

                            He goes on to say:

                            "Examination of the black powder under the SEM revealed needle-like particles as well as some flat crystalline material. The presence of phosphorus as well as large amounts of calcium in a black powder suggest that the material may be pigment bone (or ivory) black - this substance is characterised by the presence of calcium phosphate derived from bones. Further analysis is advisable to fully confirm the identification."

                            In the conclusion he says: "The black powder is possibly based on bone black."

                            So the identification doesn't seem to have been confirmed.

                            Comment


                            • That's interesting, David, and worthy of investigation. Thanks. So it was found among the cut edges...

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by Sam Flynn View Post
                                Why didn't you have T-shirts made with "Sam Flynn is a complete fvckwit" written on them in big letters?

                                One link would have done.
                                A classic!

                                Iconoclast
                                Soldier of Fortune, Man of Peace, Destroyer of Images, Nice Guy

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