Manila copal

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Manila copal


A soft variety of Copal resin obtained from the Agathis dammara trees native to the Philippines and Indonesia. Manila copal is a diterpenoid resin composed primarily of polycommunic acid. Copals were used in the 18th and 19th centuries for varnishes and resin/oil media. Manila copals were also used in many Fixative recipes.

Synonyms and Related Terms

Agathis dammara; manilla copal (Br.); copal de Manila (Esp.); copale di Manila (It); Manila resin; manilla

Other Properties

Soluble in ether, methanol, and ethanol. Partially soluble in amyl alcohol. Insoluble in water. Most copals fluoresce white in short-wave UV light. Saponification number = 178 Acid number = 128.

Melting Point 230-250
Density 1.062
Refractive Index 1.544

Hazards and Safety

Combustible, burning with a bright flame, dense smoke and strong smell.

Additional Information

K.van den Berg, J.van der Horst, J.Boon, "Recognition of Copals in Aged Resin/oil Paints and Varnishes" in ICOM Preprints, Lyon, 1999. p.855-861.

Sources Checked for Data in Record

  • R. J. Gettens, G.L. Stout, Painting Materials, A Short Encyclopaedia, Dover Publications, New York, 1966
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 227; synonym Boea copal
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • Encyclopedia Britannica, Comment: "Copal." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2004. Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service. 14 Apr. 2004 .
  • Website address 1 Comment: "Copal: An Immature and Controversial Resin" at

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