Cream shortening and sugar. Add molasses slowly, stirring constantly. Mix spices with cream of tartar and add to mixture.
Mix baking soda and buttermilk. Add alternately with the flour to the sugar and spices mixture. You may not need the whole 9 cups of flour but you should end up with a fairly stiff dough. Chill dough overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Roll dough out to at least 1/4-inch thick (the thicker the better), using as little flour as possible. Keep dough refrigerated when not rolling and cutting. Cut into cookies and brush with beaten egg. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Alternately, you can form the dough into golf ball size round, roll in white sugar, place on a cookie sheet and then flatten slightly.