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One Incontrovertible, Unequivocal, Undeniable Fact Which Refutes the Diary

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  • Clearly the Chief Diary Defender has no interest in asking her "close friend" to assist in getting to the truth regarding either the anonymous letter received by Robert Smith or his 2012 test sample for which there is no evidence that it was actually written in pre-1992 Diamine ink. I never thought for one moment that Smith was reading these posts but I would have thought his "close friend" would ask him for more information and a copy of the anonymous letter, a letter for which, at present, no evidence has been produced that it was written by Warren, something which seems to be nothing more than an assumption on Smith's part in his 2017 book – and we know that Smith makes a number of errors in that book. But perhaps Smith's "close friend" has no interest in establishing facts and much prefers to rely on speculation and assumptions about these matters.


    • It's perfectly true that the little red diary doesn't prove anything at all. It's the undisputed fact that Mike, in March 1992, was seeking a used or unused Victorian diary with a minimum of 20 blank pages which is the salient point and, as no sensible reason has ever been produced for Mike to have wanted such a diary at this time period, other than to create a forged Victorian diary, we can all draw our own conclusions as to why he was wanting to forge a Victorian diary in March 1992.


      • If the Diary's text was created in the summer of 1991 then it most certainly was "left a while" if it was actually transcribed in March/April 1992.

        I don't think it's very complicated as long as we work on the basis that Alan Gray drafted Mike's affidavit based on what Mike told him (and that 1990 was a typo for 1991).

        In that scenario, Alan Gray believed that whole thing was done while Tony was still alive but he had misunderstood, because when Mike told him that the diary was written in 1991, he did not mean "transcribed", he meant "drafted [in draft]". Gray certainly thought that the 11 day period of transcribing the diary was in 1991 but, had he known that the red diary was purchased in March 1992 (something which, in the affidavit narrative, occurs in 1991), he would have surely questioned Mike further. In which case he might have got to the bottom of the matter.

        The only time Mike refers to the 11 days is in this sentence:

        "Anne and I started to write the Diary in all it took us 11 days. I worked on the story and then I dictated it to Anne who wrote it down in the Photograph Album and thus we produced the Diary of Jack the Ripper. Much to my regret there was a witness to this, my young daughter Caroline."

        Tony is not mentioned at all here. But Alan Gray, thinking that this "writing" was the same as the drafting of the diary and thus believing that the 11 days was in 1991 when Devereux was still alive, then included this sentence:

        "During this period when we were writing the Diary, Tony Devereux was house-bound, very ill and in fact after we completed the Diary we left it for a while with Tony being severly (sic) ill and in fact he died late May early June 1990 [should be 1991]."

        But I am suggesting that while Mike did say this to Gray, he was there talking about "drafting" not "transcribing" but it is what has understandably confused Gray. Even while I am typing this, trying to communicate the difference, it's obvious that the word "writing" is ambiguous and confusing.

        Just think about it. Mike was drinking very heavily at this time and probably rambling for much of it. Gray has to do his best to construct a coherent narrative from what Mike is telling him while keeping the affidavit in Mike's own words as much as possible. Mike probably isn't terribly interested in checking the facts or giving any great thought to the chronology of events, a chronology which he clearly messes up in the affidavit (e.g. the date of purchase of word processor etc.) although every single time that the affidavit is referred to by the Chief Diary Defender these other dating errors in the chronology are simply ignored.


        • A passage from Melvin Harris's letter to Voller seems to have been misunderstood. Let me re-post it with a different emphasis:

          "By late 1998 I saw signs of irregular fading and bronzing. Since then the bronzing has increased to the extent that, today, the portion written with a steel pen is dramatically bronzed. Bronzing in the heavier, fountain pen section is not so dramatic and is uneven. I have taken this letter to colour-copying firms but all the fine details are far too subtle for the machines to pick up fully, nevertheless they have managed to capture enough of the bronzing effect to let you see the proof for yourself."

          Nick Warren used two different pens to write the sample. A Victorian steel pen and a new clean fountain pen. It was the bronzing of the sample written with the steel pen which had increased in 2001 to the extent that it was "dramatically" bronzed. The bronzing with the fountain pen section was not so dramatic.

          So bronzing is affected by the pen used as well as the paper. If there is no dramatic bronzing to be seen in the Diary it might simply mean that it wasn't written with a Victorian steel pen. That's all.

          I don't think it's very difficult. Voller saw the colour copy (which I think was made in 1998 but if I'm wrong about that was certainly created at some point between 1998 and 2001) and said that the bronzing was similar to what he saw in the Diary in 1995. What's hard to understand about that?

          No-one is saying that this means the ink in the Diary must definitely be Diamine, only that it could be. It just can't now be ruled out on the basis of Voller's visual examination of the Diary in October 1995. If that's controversial I must be missing something.


          • It is certainly true that Baxendale's statement that synthetic dyestuffs such as Nigrosine were not used before the First World War could have been better worded in respect of a caveat but the point is, firstly, that it is clear that Baxendale was saying that information about the use of such dyestuffs was scarce (thus showing he was not an expert on the subject) and secondly that, in a published book, his actual words on this point were removed by Robert Smith in their entirety, from a report which was not publicly available, without any indication by Smith that he had removed those words. I can't see how that can possibly ever be defended. Yes, we know that Baxendale was wrong about the history of Nigrosine but the non sequitur being pushed is that because he was wrong about that one thing his entire report loses credibility and can be ignored. That simply cannot be true of someone who was, in 1992, a very experienced document examiner, the very first person that Robert Smith and Shirley Harrison went to for an expert opinion!


            • It's quite an odd experience to see myself being asked to explain something for which I've already provided an explanation in a post that someone is purportedly responding to, with that explanation being ignored.

              "So perhaps I can leave it to David to explain how the ink went from dark grey to dark grey with bluish undertones then back to dark grey again, and why Voller was so sure the ink wasn't his own nigrosine based Diamine, which would have looked "blacker"".

              Did I not already provide an explanation for this when I said:

              "Yes, it may have been dark grey, but in Voller's mind, dark grey with bluish undertones, hence he established the presence of Nigrosine.

              Or perhaps Voller was one of those colour blind men that we have been warned about."

              An obvious possible mistake is to assume that Voller's definition of "bluish undertones" is the same as Baxendale's.

              But we have been given a new alternative answer as to why Voller made no mention in October 1995 of the absence of bluish undertones in the Diary, namely that Diamine ink, due to its level of Nigrosine, would not have produced bluish undertones.


              "Could it be that the level of nigrosine in any ink will determine whether bluish undertones are visible or not? Might Voller have known this, but had some other way of recognising a nigrosine based ink that was not his own Diamine"?

              This, of course, gets really confusing because we are being told that Robert Smith's test sample of Diamine ink DID produce visible bluish undertones. So if Diamine ink would be expected to produce such undertones, how to explain Voller's silence on the subject when he didn't mention seeing any when examining the Diary and ruling out it being written with Diamine ink (while accepting it was a Nigrosine based ink).

              You see the new explanation doesn't really cut the mustard because here is what Voller said in his letter to Nick Warren dated 21st November 1994 about the bluish undertones:

              "Your observation concerning the visual impression of Diamine MS ink is quite correct".

              Pausing there, that's quite impressive for a "twat" to make that correct observation. Voller continues:

              "Nigrosine, although a black dyestuff, does have bluish undertones and this is all the more obvious when the dyestuff concentration is relatively low. More about this later."

              Then, later in his letter he says:

              "Diamine MS ink, in common with many genuine Victorian black inks and with Modern Registrars/Recorders inks is a 'Ferrogallous' ink. This is why previous analyses have revealed the presence of iron. Inks of this type contain Ferrous Sulphate, Gallic Acid and Tannic Acid and upon exposure to light and air, these react to produce Ferric Gallotannate which is a sort of black pigment which has essentially permanent lightfastness, is more or less totally resistant to any reasonable form of chemical attack and in the process of its formation, causes the ink to become deeply etched into the paper. Since the black colouration of the Ferric Gallotannate takes a little while (24 hours or more) to fully develop, it is necessary to incorporate a small quantity of some conventional dyestuff purely as a 'sighting' colour so that you can see what you are writing. Hence my earlier remark about the low concentration of Nigrosine".

              I read Voller there saying (as I mentioned in an earlier post in fact) that Diamine ink has a low concentration of Nigrosine which should, therefore, mean that there are obvious bluish undertones to the ink.

              That being so, it remains a mystery why Voller did not rule out the ink being Diamine on the basis of the absence of bluish undertones when he saw it in 1995, while confirming that it was a Nigrosine based ink, yet not saying that it must be an ink with a high concentration of Nigrosine.

              Far from saying the ink should be bluer in October 1995, he said it should be blacker. But, as I keep saying, Nick Warren's test sample from 1995 written with pre-1992 Diamine formula ink, looks very similar in colour to the Diary not blacker at all - so Voller just seems to be wrong about what the ink should have looked like.

              He might have been the chief chemist at Diamine but, hey, he was no doctor!


              • It is true that Robert Smith claims in his 2017 book that the ink in the anonymous 1995 letter is, in his view, "identical" to the ink in his own 2012 test sample. But then again Smith says a lot of things in his book which have turned out on close inspection to be wrong. Just look at my article "Robert Smith and the Maybrick Diary: The False Facts Exposed!" for some examples.


                Smith has not produced a copy of the 1995 anonymous letter for inspection so we don't actually know if it really is identical.

                But, if it is, I have already provided one possible explanation namely that both the 1995 anonymous letter and Smith's 2012 test sample were written with POST-1992 Diamine ink. In which case, one would expect them to look identical.

                In this respect, I note that the unlabelled bottle of ink sent to Shirley by Voller in 1995 went missing for 16 years before supposedly turning up in an attic in 2011. But how can Smith be certain it was the same bottle with the same contents?

                I have already asked this question. I'm still waiting for an answer and it looks like I could be waiting for ever.


                • Originally posted by David Orsam View Post
                  If Baxendale found nothing to suggest the presence of iron then that is the fact of the matter. It was perfectly proper for him to report that (absence of) finding. He did NOT say that there was no iron in the ink.
                  Yes, you said this before, David. I seem to recall you suggested Baxendale may not have been equipped to detect iron in ink, in which case it would have been a foregone conclusion that he would find nothing to suggest its presence, and it would only have been right and proper to point this out to Robert Smith, so he would not be misled into thinking Baxendale was equipped to detect it, looked for it and found none.

                  That would have been the equivalent of Mrs Mop reporting back to her employers that she had found nothing to suggest the presence of dust or grime in their recently acquired holiday home, but neglecting to mention she had not brought a mop, duster, polish or her specs with her.

                  But now we get another story, this time from a note made by the fragrant Melvin Harris, based on what Baxendale himself allegedly told him:

                  Here is some very important information which may never have been published before - I've certainly never seen it. It's an extract from a note by the late Melvin Harris based on what he had been told directly by Dr Baxendale (underlining in original):

                  "When Dr. Baxendale made the first examination of the diary ink it looked so new to him that he didn't even bother to make a chemical test for iron. As he explained to me, he made a visual examination of the ink only and since it showed not the slightest trace of age-bronzing, concluded, rightly, that it could not possibly be an iron-gall ink laid down some 104 years ago. His solvency test, a perfectly valid test in experienced hands, took him by surprise; "The pigments dissolved in distilled-water within seconds", he told me. This should not happen with a century-old gallotanic ink."
                  So apparently, Baxendale 'didn't even bother' to test for iron, which implies he was equipped to make a chemical test for it, but couldn't be arsed because he'd already reached a conclusion from his visual examination. Did he make that clear to Robert, or did he let him think that his use of Thin Layer Chromatography to examine the ink would have found the presence of iron, as well as Nigrosine, had any been in the ink? One also wonders why Baxendale's solvency test result took him by surprise then, if it merely supported what he already believed. But 'this should not happen' is not quite the same as saying 'this could never happen', is it?

                  Was this more a case of Mrs Mop reporting back to her employers that she had found nothing to suggest the presence of dust or grime, but neglecting to mention that she'd brought all the equipment with her but sat on her fat arse with a fag and a cuppa because it all looked clean enough to her already without her specs on?

                  Baxendale's area of expertise was forensic document examination. He had a lot of experience in the subject. This is why he was chosen by Smith and Harrison, above all others, to examine the diary. He remains, in fact, the only forensic document examiner to have examined the diary. He concluded that it was a modern fake. People don't like this result so they try to smear him. But that is what he concluded and, hey, who knows, maybe he was correct!
                  Who the hell needs to try?? With David around and dragging Melvin out of his grave to help, poor old Baxendale is now between a rock and a hard place.
                  "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


                  • Originally posted by David Orsam View Post
                    Ultimately the issue of whether Robert Smith's 2012 sample has bluish undertones or not is irrelevant. The reason for this is that we have Nick Warren's contemporary sample, written with Alec Voller's Diamine Ink, dated 26 January 1995.

                    I posted an extract from this sample and I don't think there can be any doubt that it looks similar to the Diary ink.

                    But you don't even have to take my word for it or question the quality of the photograph (itself a desperate tactic) for we have Melvin Harris saying, as I quoted yesterday, but which has, so far, been ignored:

                    "Nick in the enclosed letter even comments on this saying “…the effect is very watery, astonishingly so at first.” Indeed the Diamine ink I have seen is so close to the ink on the Diary pages that I regret that Smith and Harrison did not take your advice and write something down on a blank page back in January 1995. "

                    (NB. my original transcription of "your Diary pages" was wrong and should have been "the Diary pages")

                    Harris was, here, enclosing a colour copy of Nick Warren's sample for Voller's inspection and saying that it was "so close to the ink on the Diary pages". As we know, Voller commented in 2001 that the sample was indeed similar to the Diary ink (and I am paraphrasing there).
                    The difficulty with this is that Melvin didn't have the original diary pages in front of him in order to make a fair comparison. At best he'd have been relying on the smaller black and white facsimile in Shirley's book to compare directly with the colour copy of Warren's sample, and his memory of what the actual, full size diary pages had looked like when he saw the diary, briefly, at the book launch in 1993. To my knowledge this was the only occasion Melvin ever saw it.

                    Similarly, in 2001, Voller would have been relying on his memory of how the ink on the diary pages had appeared six years previously, in 1995.

                    Yet, Warren's 1995 sample does not look very much like Robert Smith's 2012 sample.
                    No, it certainly doesn't.

                    I do not claim to be able to explain this but might I suggest that, as the bottle of ink went missing for 16 years, it may be that the bottle that was found in an attic in 2011 might not actually have been the same sample provided by Voller in January 1995.
                    Of course. Shirley was bound to send Robert a bottle of any old ink she had found, assuming it to be one of the two which Voller had sent to her.

                    And Robert was bound to accept that this bottle was the right ink.

                    And the anonymous letter he received in 1995, referring to 'Diamine ink' wasn't written in the Diamine ink Voller sent to Warren, but just happened to look 'identical' on the page to whatever ink Shirley had found in the attic and sent to Robert.

                    Perhaps it was a bottle of post-1992 Diamine which had been purchased from the Bluecoat Art Shop and which Shirley confused herself in 2011 into thinking was Voller's recreated pre-1992 sample.
                    What's that supposed to mean? I don't recall Warren sending Shirley any of the ink he had bought in 1994 from the Bluecoat shop, but if he did, would it not have had a mass-produced printed label on it, and been easily distinguished from the four bottles Voller made up specially for Warren and Shirley to the previous formula, which he presumably labelled himself?
                    "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


                    • Originally posted by David Orsam View Post
                      Here is some very important information which may never have been published before - I've certainly never seen it. It's an extract from a note by the late Melvin Harris based on what he had been told directly by Dr Baxendale (underlining in original):

                      "When Dr. Baxendale made the first examination of the diary ink it looked so new to him that he didn't even bother to make a chemical test for iron. As he explained to me, he made a visual examination of the ink only and since it showed not the slightest trace of age-bronzing, concluded, rightly, that it could not possibly be an iron-gall ink laid down some 104 years ago. His solvency test, a perfectly valid test in experienced hands, took him by surprise; "The pigments dissolved in distilled-water within seconds", he told me. This should not happen with a century-old gallotanic ink."
                      One more thing - where is Baxendale's claim to have examined the diary 'line by line for signs of bronzing' [or words to that effect], which I seem to recall from one of rj's posts quoting Melvin?

                      It's not in the above extract, so where and when did Baxendale tell Melvin this? We were led to believe that he had scoured all 63 pages for bronzing and found none. But if he couldn't even be arsed to find the iron, which we know was in the diary ink, because it looked 'so new' to him, why should we believe he could be arsed to hold the diary up to the window and search in vain through the entire document, line by line, for the kind of very slight, barely visible bronzing, which Voller would observe in one or two places in 1995?
                      "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


                      • Originally posted by David Orsam View Post
                        And, incidentally, I don't recall saying that I photographed the original letter written by Nick Warren.
                        Okay, so what exactly did David photograph recently? Does he know? Has he posted what he does know about it? It often takes me a couple of weeks or more to catch up with everything because, unlike the obsessive, I can't sit here waiting to pounce on every post on the same day it appears.

                        If David photographed a photocopy of the original letter, or another photograph, or even a copy of a copy, does he know how old the original letter was when his recently acquired image of it was first made?

                        And I'd love to know why posting the image has not so far proved just a very amateurish exercise in futility.
                        Last edited by caz; 05-24-2018, 04:53 AM.
                        "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


                        • Originally posted by Sam Flynn View Post
                          The same questions could be asked of any hoaxer at any time, Caz. Chances are, whoever wrote the diary just found these Crashaw poems in books. The biographical links and the Times Crossword bit strike me as being the same kind of curious coincidence whether we're talking about Mike or a non-Mike hoaxer.

                          To turn your question on its head: "Why would a non-Mike hoaxer even be looking for details of Crashaw's life and works to begin with?"
                          Sincere apologies for the delay in replying, Gareth. I've been stuck in the bog a lot lately.

                          I strongly suspect our hoaxer knew their stuff on Maybrick and Crashaw before deciding to write their funny little spoof, turning the former into saucy Jacky, with his "Confessions of a Crashaw Quoting Arsenic Eater".

                          I have never been persuaded by the argument that Jack came first and the hoaxer then set about the onerous and risk-filled task of finding someone to squeeze into his boots and solve a century-old mystery, not having the ghost of a clue in advance what their research - and other people's in future years - might or might not throw up. How many potential rippers did they look at before settling on Maybrick? Was he the first and only? Why did they settle on him at all?

                          I'm all for reducing the number of curious coincidences, especially of the type we see in the hoaxer's decision to have "Sir Jim" spout godawful poetry and, of all the poets in all the world throughout history, to have him quote Crashaw. There was a rhyme and reason for doing that, which had nothing to do with coincidence.

                          And that's without the hoaxer's luck that floorboards were lifted in "Sir Jim's" old bedroom on the very day his diary got its first known mention when Mike Barrett gave London a call.


                          Last edited by caz; 05-24-2018, 05:27 AM.
                          "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


                          • Originally posted by David Orsam View Post
                            Regarding the Crashaw quote and the Sphere book, I can't confirm the truth of any of this, but this is what appears in what is, I assume, a previously unpublished note by Melvin Harris:

                            "A book and other documents that were "evidence" were mentioned to private detective Allan Gray by Mike Barrett, at the beginning of August 1994. No title was given. Mike also mentioned that he had left his "evidence" with his solicitor. At that time Gray took just passing notice of this claim. He is not a Ripperologist, and at that juncture he was simply employed to trace Anne and Mike's daughter . But in the first week of September Mike extended his engagement and asked Gray to help him "prove" his forgery claim so that the story could be sold to a newspaper...
                            Yes, this one rings loud bells. I could have sworn rj recently suggested it was an invention on the part of Keith Skinner and/or myself that Mike had ever asked for Alan Gray's help to "prove" his own forgery claims, because it presumably made no sense to rj either, that Mike would have needed a private detective's help to prove it, if he had really been involved in forging the diary.

                            ...He said that his earlier actions could dry up the royalties and he wanted some compensation for this. It was at that point that Mike first NAMED the book as a " 'Sphere' book about poems". Let me underscore this: this partial naming took place in the FIRST WEEK of September 1994. His disclosure of the location of the Crashaw lines to Mrs Harrison, did not take place until much later, on 30th September. But he had earlier said to Gray that he had kept the book "up his sleeve". He had not told the Liverpool reporter about this book, since they "wanted everything for nothing" and made no offer to pay anything at all. Here let me register that Allan Gray will back this up with a statement meant for publication."
                            Yes, Melvin made a similar claim on the message boards in April 2002, which we refer to in Ripper Diary [see pages 252 to 255 for more details]. We also refer to a taped conversation between Mike and Alan Gray, on 7th November 1994, which indicates that the latter was hearing about the Crashaw quote, and Mike's claim to have lodged the Sphere book with his solicitor, for the first time, although Gray explained to us in 2003 that nobody at that time, including Melvin Harris, had ever mentioned that it could be of great importance. This makes nonsense of the claim that Mike had mentioned the Sphere book to Gray in early September, in connection with the new brief and the "evidence" he supposedly already had to prove his forgery claims, and told him he had kept this book "up his sleeve". How could Gray have remembered this detail and related it to Melvin at some later date, if it hadn't registered enough with him at the time to ring any bells when Mike brought up the subject two months later? And if the claim came from Mike... nuff said. But I'm not sure if Melvin and Mike ever communicated directly.

                            Of course, I don't think Gray ever did 'back this up' in any published statement, nor is it easy to imagine quite how he could have done. Mike only finally produced a tatty, obviously used copy of the Sphere book on 6th December 1994, and there never was any evidence that he had lodged this previously with his solicitor or kept it literally "up his sleeve". He found the quote in a library book at some point after his initial forgery claim, then presumably managed to track down and purchase the copy he handed over to Gray in the December. There was no record of Mike attending the offices of his solicitor between 25th August 1994 and 9th January 1995; no record of the Sphere book being lodged or withdrawn on any date; and no recollection of this happening in the event, considered unlikely by Mike's solicitor, that no record had been made on either occasion.
                            Last edited by caz; 05-24-2018, 07:07 AM.
                            "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


                            • Originally posted by Kattrup View Post
                              I think, from what he normally posts, that the failure to admit mistakes is one of the chief characteristics that David Orsam dislikes. It’s intellectually dishonest.

                              So I don’t think it’s very uncharacteristic of him to admit human fallibility, I rather think the opposite, that’s one of his objectives: everyone makes mistakes. It’s only failure to admit such that is a real mistake.
                              Hi Kattrup,

                              What do you make of David's recent claim to be peppering his posts with deliberate typos in the hope that I will gleefully rush in to point them all out and support his claim that I suffer from a mental illness? Isn't that not only intellectually dishonest and rather puerile, but also morally repugnant?

                              It may be a great way of not having to admit any mistakes he makes accidentally, now or in the future, on the subject of the diary, because he can simply tell people he was trying to bait someone he thinks is mentally ill - even though I shan't be taking the bait.

                              But the downside is that anyone not aware of his funny little experiment will assume he's careless at best, thick at worst, or - when it comes to deliberately getting something like a date or year wrong - serving up misinformation, accidentally on purpose.

                              It's a funny old world, if that kind of debating tactic is considered not only sane, but perfectly acceptable, or even praiseworthy.


                              Last edited by caz; 05-24-2018, 08:03 AM.
                              "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


                              • I would suggest it is a good practice to read all the posts in a thread before replying to one in case there has been any additional information.

                                In this case, in respect of Baxendale's findings in respect of iron, I have already added a note by Melvin Harris entitled "SOME INKY FACTS" which contains this passage regarding Baxendale (my bold):

                                "What he actually wrote was “There is nothing to suggest the presence of iron” but this was a verdict based on an optical examination in which he found not the slightest trace of age-bronzing. This is made plain by later words, which read: “It is not obviously an iron-based ink….there is no sign of such a brown colour.” And Dr Baxendale has now written to me and explained that he first looked for the bronzing that one would rightfully expect in a document that was said to date from 1888-89; it was absent. He also writes that the first line above should have read “presence of oxidised iron” to avoid confusion. He further writes that “The omission of that one word caused some misunderstanding.”

                                Clearly the inclusion of the word "oxidised" into Baxendale's report so that the relevant sentence should have read "There is nothing to suggest the presence of oxidised iron" changes everything.

                                Any further questions arising out of Dr Baxendale's report and the way it has been drafted should be addressed to Dr Baxendale, not me. The key finding from Dr Baxendale's report has nothing to do with iron (and nothing to do with nigrosine). It is this, as reported by Harris (corroborating the Sunday Times article in 1993):

                                "His solvency test, a perfectly valid test in experienced hands, took him by surprise; "The pigments dissolved in distilled-water within seconds", he told me. This should not happen with a century-old gallotanic ink."

                                That sorts that one out.