What Is Paper?
True paper is characterized as thin sheets made from fiber that has been
macerated until each individual filament is a separate unit. Medieval
paper was made of diluted cotton, linen fiber. (Hunter 1943, 117) The
fibers are then intermixed with water and by the use of a sieve-like screen,
the fibers are lifted from the water leaving a sheet of matted fiber on
the screen. The thin layer of intertwined fiber is paper.
(Hunter 1943, 5)
Many people include think of papyrus and rice paper as paper. They are
not. Papyrus is not made from macerated fiber so, it is not true paper.
Papyrus is made from a grasslike aquatic plant in the sedge family called
Cyperus papyrus. It has woody, bluntly triangular stems that are cut or
sliced end to end with metal knife. Then these thin "boards"
are pasted together much like laminated wood. (http://education.yahoo.com/search/be?lb=t&p=url%3Ap/papyrus
Rice paper is not paper. It is made from strips of the cut spirally from
the pith of the rice paper tree, a small Asiatic tree or shrub, Tetrapanax
papyriferum, that is widely cultivated in China and Japan. The pith is
cut into a thin layer of ivory-like texture by means of a sharp knife.
(American Paper and Pulp Association, 1965, 17). Parchment and vellum
are also not paper. They are made from the skins of animals (Hunter 1943,6)
Where It Began.
Paper as we know it, was invented in China, AD 105, by the Chinese Eunuch
Ts'ai Lun. It was, thin, feted, formed, flat made in porous molds from
macerated vegetable fiber. (Hunter 1943,4) Before the 3rd century AD,
the first paper was made of disintegrating cloth- bark of trees and vegetation
such as mulberry, hemp, china grass (Hunter 1943,56)Paper was used in
China from AD 868, for engraving religious pictures and reached its height
of in 1634 with the wooden block prints made popular by Sung Ying-hsing.
The technology of making paper moved from China to Japan and then to Korea
in AD 610 where it was commonly made from mulberry bark and Gampi. Later
it was made from bamboo and rice straw. (Hunter 1943,59)
Marco Polo gave one of the first descriptions of Chinese papermaking in
his 'Milione'. He mentions that the Chinese emperors jealously guard the
secrets of papermaking and that fine paper is manufactured from vegetable
fiber: rice or tea straw, bamboo canes and hemp rag cloth.
Chinese paper made from bark and the fibers of rags and hemp may have
traveled on caravans following the Gobi Desert, the Desert of Takla Makan
and the Tarim Valley and finally arrived in Samarkan. But papermaking
was a closely guarded secret and it was not actually made there until
after 751 AD. In 751 the Chinese lost a battle in Turkistan on the banks
of the Tharaz River. It was recorded that among the Chinese prisoners
were skilled papermakers. The craftsmen began making paper in Samarkan.
Samarkan was a good place to make paper because it had an abundant supply
of hemp and flax and pure water. (Hunter 1943,61)
It has been conjectured that the first paper mill was established in Baghdad
Papermaking then spread to Damascus and to Egypt and Morocco. It took
500 years to find its way to Europe. (Hunter 1943, 115)By the end of the
10th century, paper had replaced parchment and papyrus in the Arab world.
The is a comparatively large number of early Arabic manuscripts. on paper
dating from the 9th century. The material of the Arab paper was apparently
substantially linen. It seems that the Arabs, and the skilled Persian
workmen whom they employed, at once resorted to flax, which grows abundantly
in Khorasan, as their principal material, afterwards also making use of
rags, supplemented, as the demand grew, with any vegetable fibre that
would serve; cotton, if used at all, was used very sparingly. Paper of
Oriental manufacture in the Middle Ages can be distinguished by its stout
substance and glossy surface, and was devoid of water-marks. (Stutermeister
1954, 11)Paper In Europe
The first mention of rag-paper occurs in the tract of Peter, abbot of
Cluny (A.D. 1122 - 1150), adversus ludaeos, cap. 5. (http://www.manufactura.cz/paper.htm)s
Several manuscripts survive that were written in European, countries on
Oriental paper or paper made in the Oriental fashion. The oldest recorded
document on paper was a deed of King Roger of Sicily, of the year 1102;
and there are others of Sicilian kings in the 12th century. A notarial
register on paper, at Geneva, dates, from 1154. The oldest known imperial
deed on the same material is a charter of Frederick II to the nuns of
Goess in Styria, of the year 1228, now at Vienna. In 1231, Frederick II
forbade further use of paper for public documents; which were in future
to be inscribed on vellum. In Venice the Liber plegiorum, the entries
in which begin with the year 1223, is made of rough paper; as are the
registers of the Council of Ten, beginning in 1325; and the register of
the emperor Henry VII. (1308--1313) preserved in Turin. In the British
Museum there is an older example in a manuscript. (Arundel 268) which
contains some astronomical treatises written on an excellent paper in
an Italian hand from the first half of the 13th century. In the public
Record Office there is a letter on paper from Raymond, son of Raymond,
Duke of Narbonne and count of Toulouse, to Henry III of England, written
during the years 1216-1222. The letters addressed from Castile to Edward
I., in1279 and following years (Pauli in Bericht, Berl. Akad., I854),
are instances of Spanish made paper. (Stutermeister 1954, 11)
There is a record of paper being used by the Empress Irene in Greece at
the end of the 13th century, but with one doubtful exception, there are
no extant Greek manuscripts on paper before the middle of the 13th century.
http://www.manufactura.cz/paper.htmPapermaking Comes To Europe
The Muslim conquest of Spain brought papermaking into Europe. The English
word "ream" (meaning 500 sheets) is derived through Spanish
and French from the Arabic word rizmah that translates as "a bundle".
Both Spain and Italy claim to be the first to manufacture paper in Europe.
(Hunter 1943, 115) One of the first paper mills in Europe was in Xativa
(now Jativa or St. Felipe de Javita in the ancient city of Valencia and
it can be dated to AD 1151. (Hunter 1943, 153) Some scholars claim that
the Arabs built the Xativa mill in approximately AD 1009. Papermaking
continued under Moorish rule until 1244 when the moors were expelled.
Paper making then began to gradually spread across Christian Europe. (http://www.mead.com/ml/docs/facts/history.html)
The first wire mold for making paper is identified in Spain dating to
1150. Bamboo molds were common in China, but it was not readily available
The bamboo allowed the mold to be flexible, but the European rigid wire
mold, was better suited to the formation of rag fiber. Europeans also
invented the Fence or Deckle, which keeps the paper within bonds (Hunter
The earliest paper was called 'cloth parchment', but it often contained
wood and straw in addition to cloth. All these raw materials were beaten
to a fine pulp and mixed with water. Sheets of paper were then pressed
out, dried and hardened.
The demand for paper was slight in the 1st Century Europe (Hunter 1943,
153) . Paper cost more than vellum, it was more fragile than parchment
and it was associated with Jews and Arabs who were not trusted. (Hunter
1943, 61) In fact, The Church in Western Europe initially banned the use
of paper calling it a 'pagan art' believing that animal parchment was
the only thing 'holy' enough to carry the Sacred Word. (http://members.aol.com/Ppreble2/history2.html)
It was only with the advent of printing in the middle of the 15th Century
that the demand became greater. (Hunter 1943, 153)The first representation
of the printing process is the 1568 wood print Der Papierer by Jost Amman
in the Little Book of trades . (Hunter 1943, 5)
Papiermühle mit Wasserradantrieb by Jost Amman: Stände
und Handwerker, Frankfurt a.M. 1568
Paper Making in Italy
In Italy the first great center of the paper-making industry was Fabriano
in the marquisate of Ancona. Mills were established in 1276, and rose
to importance with the decline of the manufacture in Spain. (http://www.manufactura.cz/paper.htm)The
first official document recording the presence of paper manufacturing
in Fabriano dates to 1283, and is the deed of a public notary recording
the purchase of a house by a "carthaio" or paper maker, with
another six paper makers called as witnesses. This document clearly points
to the existence of a number of paper factories, and implies a well developed
Fabriano was the first manufacturing center to harness water power to
drive the fibrillation (pulping) process, previously a labor intensive
manual activity. (http://www.museodellacarta.com/ing/chiavelli.html)
In 1340 a factory was established at and Treviso ; and other factories
were quickly established in the territories of Florence, Bologna, Parma,
Milan, Venice. The factories of northern Italy supplied southern Germany
with paper as late as the 15th century. The earliest German factories
are said to have been set up between Cologne and Mainz, and in Mainz itself
about 1320. Ulman Stromer established a mill in 1390 at Nuremberg, with
the aid of Italian workmen. Ratisbon and Augsburg were other sites of
early manufacture. Western Germany, the Netherlands and England, are said
to have obtained paper at first from France and Burgundy then through
the markets of Bruges, Antwerp and Cologne.
The first paper-mills in France were established in 1189, in the district
of Hérault. By the second half of the 14th Century, the use of
paper for all literary purposes had become established in all of Western
Europe. In the course of the 15th century vellum was gradually superseded
by paper. Some later manuscripts would use a mixture of vellum and paper.
usually a vellum sheet would form the outer, or the outer and inner, leaves
of a quire while the rest were paper.
(Stutermeister 1954, 11)Paper Making In Italy
Papermaking in Italy is dominated by the historic and powerful feudal
family, Fabriano. The Council Statute of 1436 prohibited anyone within
a radius of 50 miles from Fabriano buildings from manufacturing paper
or teaching paper making secrets to those not residing within the Council
territory, pending a fine of 50 ducats.
A later prohibition has even stiffer penalties. Transgressors were considered
"rebels" and thereby banned from the city with consequent capital
confiscation. The extent of the power of the local tribunal's protection
of the Fabriano papermakers is highlighted in a 1445 document. Council
priors, concerned that if maestro Piero di Stefano, the only artisan who
practiced the "modular" art in the Marche province died his
craft would die with him. The Council demanded the old maestro to teach
the craft to his son or any apprentice in his workshop and not to construct
or repair screens used outside the district of Fabriano or he would be
penalized with a fine of 100 ducats.
Modular craftsman specialized in making the wooden screens known
as "modularo" . The screen or module is made-up of a
wooden framework, on which a dense wire mesh is placed and also a movable
wooden frame or deckle. It must be constructed so that it will support
the weight of the paste and the water without deforming the paper. (http://www.museodellacarta.com/ing/chiavelli.html)Paper
Making In England
There is evidence that at the beginning of the14th century paper was used
for registers and accounts. The British Museum has a register (Add. 31,
223 ), of the hustings court of Lyme Regis, the entries in which begin
in the year 1309. The paper, of a rough manufacture, is similar to the
kind that was used in Spain. The Records of Merton College, Oxford, show
that paper was purchased "pro registro" in 1310.
Evidence for the history of paper-making in England is extremely scanty.
The first maker whose name is known is John Tate, who is said to have
set up a mill in Hertford early in the 16th century. (http://www.manufactura.cz/paper.htm)
Britain's first commercially successful paper-mill was established on
the River Darent in Dartford as early as 1588. This paper-mill was set
up by John Spilman ( Spielman), a German entrepreneur who became 'Goldsmyth
of our Jewelles' to Elizabeth I and James I. He manipulated the favor
and patronage of successive monarchs to ensure that he had a virtual monopoly
of the paper industry. (http://www.dartfordarchive.org.uk/technology/paper.shtml)
In 1588 Spilman was granted a Crown lease of two mills in the Manor of
Bignores at Dartford (probably close to what is now Powder Mill Lane),
situated on the fast flowing River Darent. The mills appear to have been
owned by Spilman earlier as he had already undertaken expensive repairs
and alterations costing an estimated £1,500. It is not clear whether
John Spilman himself knew anything about the techniques of paper-making,
but he was able to finance the employment of skilled German paper-makers
at Dartford. The newly constituted paper-mill of Dartford was the first
mill in England to produce good quality white paper on a commercially
viable basis. It was a sight to behold, one of the town's earliest tourist
Spilman's Dartford mill was the subject of 352 lines of poetry written
in 1588 by Thomas Churchyard and dedicated to Sir Walter Raleigh. The
acutely long-winded doggerel includes the first description of paper-making
ever to appear in print. The mill seems to have been a prominent and impressive
This is so fine with workmanship set foorth
So surely built, and planted in the ground
That it doth seeme a house of some estate
To which brave mill do thousands still repayre
So see what things are wrought, by cunning skill,'
Churchyard's poem gives some indication of the paper making process employed
at Dartford : A Paper-mill
That now neere Dartford standeth well
Where Spilman may himself and household dwell
The Mill itself is sure right rare to see
The framing is so quaint and finely done
Built of wood and hollowed trunks of trees
The Hammers thump and make so loud a noise
As fuller doth that beats his woollen cloth
In open show, then Sundry secret toyes
Make rotten rags to yield a thickened froth
There it is stamped and washed as white as snow
Then flung on frame and hanged to dry, I trow
Thus paper straight it is to write upon
As it were rubbed and smoothed with slicking stoneThe Dartford-based mill
was granted extensive monopoly powers that were often the subject of dispute.
A patent dated February 1589 granted Spilman the monopoly of buying or
dealing in linen rags, old fishing nets and leather shreds '
for making all sorts of white paper. Nobody else was permitted to build
a paper-mill without Spilman's consent. All persons were forbidden to
make any paper in any mills'
alreadye made erected or used for broune
paper mills' save with the license and assent of Spilman.
In July 1597 Spilman was granted a new patent for 14 years which confirmed
his monopoly and granted him and his deputies power to search any premises
where they suspected rags or paper were being hidden. Spilman's water-tight
monopoly was designed to stop other mills attempting to make highly-prized
It is clear that there was some diversification of product at a later
date, for in 1617 Spilman was making a new and pleasing kind of playing
John Spilman was knighted by James I at Dartford. The knighthood was probably
granted as much for his activities as court goldsmith and jeweler as for
his contribution towards the evolution and development of England's paper
Sir John died in 1626 and is commemorated in Holy Trinity Church with
a tomb, which incorporates colored effigies of himself and his first wife
Elizabeth Mengel, daughter of a Nuremberg merchant. She died in 1607 at
the age of 55. He had several children by his second wife Katherine who
survived until about 1644. On the left hand side of the Spilman tomb is
a commemorative tablet erected by the Legal Society of Paper-Makers, who
in 1858 paid £58 towards the tomb's restoration.
Some 37 paper mills existed in England between 1588 and 1650, most were
involved with the production of inferior quality brown paper. The trend
towards the production of white paper came later after Spilman's monopoly
was broken. (http://www.dartfordarchive.org.uk/technology/paper.shtml)How
Is Paper Manufactured?
Papermaking required a long and often expensive apprenticeship. Workers
were frequently sworn to secrecy because no craftsman wished to share
knowledge with competitors. Thirteenth century, paper was produced almost
entirely from linen and cotton rags pulped in water (http://lsm.crt.state.la.us/map7.htm).
The pulped fibers were thoroughly mixed in a deep vat, the n the vatman
would dip a wire mesh tray into the mixture and a sufficient amount lifted
out to yield the required thickness of paper. A wooden frame called a
deckle fitted over the tray to form a raised edge and prevented the watery
pulp from escaping. Pulp flowing between the frame and the deckle produced
an irregular feathery edge around the paper hence the term "deckle-edged"
paper. (http://lsm.crt.state.la.us/map7.htm) Most paper makers had 2 molds
and one deckle (Hunter 1943, 225).
As soon as possible the newly formed sheet of paper was removed from the
tray and placed between two pieces of felt. The paper-and-felt "sandwiches"
were then pressed to remove surplus water and the paper hung to dry. (http://lsm.crt.state.la.us/map7.htm)It
was typical in Europe that one a vat man would form the sheets, and a
coucher would lay them down (Hunter 1943, 225).
What Colors Did Paper Come In?
What About Adding Things To Paper?
White paper was the most desired of medieval papers. The poorer grades
were made of old and discarded materials and yielded a light coffee color
to light Grey.
Bleaching was not known unto the early 19th century (Hunter 1943, 225)
so papermakers had to depend on using only fine fibers for the pulp. The
best fabric to be used in period for paper was the linen of the whitest
kind. The cotton and linen of the period were woven by hand and were free
of chemicals and bleaching. (Hunter 1943, 154) Most English paper is a
coarse and gray color until the late 17th century. In France a bluing
was added to try to correct the muddy color. Paper making in the winter
was difficult because the water was hard to clarify, so it was muddy.
The finest paper was free of inclusions. What plagues the modern handmaker
of paper plagued the medieval papermaker.
Keeping the paper free of inclusions and specks has always been a challenge
to the papermaker(Hunter 1943, 227). The hairs of vat man or coucher are
often trapped in the paper during the couching process.
Other inclusions such as insects and leaves become trapped in the freshly
molded paper. The Robert C. Williams American Museum of Papermaking located
at the Institute of Paper Science and Technology in Atlanta, Georgia has
a 15th century piece of paper with a mosquito embedded in the paper. (Hunter
'Papermarker's tears' are blemishes caused by water being dripped on the
freshly formed moist paper which causes a thin spot. (Hunter 1943, 225)
Blotting paper is first mentioned in the year 1465. It was a coarse, gray,
unsized paper, fragments of which have been found among the leaves of
15th-century accounts, where it had been left after being used for blotting.
Blotting is mentioned in W. Horman's Vulgaria, 1519 (p. 8o b) :
Blottyng papyr serveth to drye weete wryttynge, lest there be made blottis
Brown paper appears in 1570-1571, and was sold in bundles at 2s. to 2s.
What Is A Watermark?
Watermarks are marks made from wires soldered to the surface of the wire
mesh of the paper mould. The soldered mark is elevated above the surface
and during paper making causes thinning of the layer of pulp, whereby
the paper becomes transparent against the light. A water mark (le filigrán,
wasserzeichen) then becomes visible in the structure of the paper. (http://www.manufactura.cz/paper.htm)
The twisted forms were held in place by thread like wires stitched back
and forth binding the marks to the "laid and chain" wires. On
old paper, the sewing lines can be easily detected since the wires used
for securing the design and the design were made from the same gauge of
wire. (Hunter 1943, 264).
Watermarks first appear 1282 (Bayley 1902, 1) and by the
end of the 1200's the craftsmen active in Fabriano were in the habit of
countersigning their production with watermarks. (http://www.museodellacarta.com/ing/cartamano.html)
The creation of the mark on the wire netting was sometimes entrusted to
goldsmiths, in Cheb for instance in 1540, who were more skilled in drawing
and forming the wires then the mould maker. (http://www.manufactura.cz/paper.htm)
The simplicity of watermarks in the13th century is striking, partly due
to the clumsy wire. The earliest designs were crosses, ovals, areolas,
knots, triangles, 3 hills, pommee crosses (Greek crosses with balls at
the ends of the crossbars) (Hunter 1943, 268) . By the 14-15th century,
the wire was thinner so the designs became more detailed (Hunter 1943,
The designs had multiplied into thousands of motifs representing every
phase of nature and human endeavor. By the time that printing from moveable
types is developed in 1450, the tradition of watermarking paper is already
two centuries old (Hunter 1943, 261)
The term water mark is fairly modern. The first use in English is beginning
of 18th Century. In German the word Wasserzeichen was used in the first
part of 19th century, Filigrane in French and Papiermerken in Dutch
(Hunter 1943, 263).
Few watermarks bear dates and then the dates cannot be
trusted since molds were used for many years (Hunter 1943, 264), and there
is evidence that unscrupulous manufactures also faked the watermarks of
prominent papermakers (Hunter 1943, 265).The whole question of why papermakers
used watermarks is interesting. Several theories have been proposed.
Identification Marks- like Trademarks of today.
This seems unlikely since there were so many more watermarks than papermakers.
(Hunter 1943, 220-240)
Some 15th century works contain a dozen or more different watermark in
the same book. It is unlikely that these represent different mills. However,
the lawyer Bartola de Sassoferrato De insignis et armis dating between
1340 and 1350, mentions that a paper maker can be prohibited from using
the mark of a different producer, and also mentions the falsification
of marks. (http://www.manufactura.cz/paper.htm)