Proserpina's WunderBlog

Conclusion to

By: Proserpina, 6:35 PM GMT on July 29, 2012


ylaya moscaia
Yulia Brodskaya

The 19th Century and the industrial revolution brought another change to the evolution of paper-making.

Paper remained a luxury item until the introduction of steam-driven paper-making machines in the 19th century. These new machines could make paper with fibers from wood pulp. Although there were several prototypes, it was the Fourdrinier machine that became the basis for modern paper-making. With the introduction of wood pulp in 1843 paper making was no longer dependent on recycled material. Wood pulp comes from softwood trees such as spruce, pine, fir, larch, and hemlock. It can also be made from hardwood such as eucalyptus, aspen, and birch.

“ Together with the invention of the practical fountain pen and the mass produced pencil of the same period, and in conjunction with the advent of the steam driven rotary printing press, wood based paper caused a major transformation of the 19th century economy and society in industrialized countries. With the introduction of cheaper paper, schoolbooks, fiction, non-fiction, and newspapers became gradually available by 1900. Cheap wood based paper also meant that keeping personal diaries or writing letters became possible and so, by 1850, the clerk, or writer, ceased to be a high-status job.”

Above quoted from:

elsa mora
Elsa Mora

Up to now I have given a generalized history of the development of writing surfaces from ancient times to our times. The last section of “The Road to Paper-making” will discuss paper-making in the USA.

elsa mora
Elsa Mora

The first paper mill in the Colonies was established in 1690 at Wissahickon Creek, near Philadelphia. It was a recycling paper mill using rags. The process of making paper from wood pulp was introduced in the USA in the early 1900s. The next mill in the USA was established in 1710. Most early mills in the Colonies were started by Europeans who had been apprentice paper-makers.

When the American Revolution was taking place in the 1800s, there was another revolution taking place. The paper industry was being converted to mechanization.

About the same time as the Declaration of War against the British in 1776, a paper mill was started in Central Massachusetts on a tributary named Crooked Pond. The mill called the Abjiah Burbank (the name of the owner), was powered by a 12 foot water wheel which drove two engines. Rags were the raw materials for the paper pulp. In the Colonies, paper was called ‘wove’ due to the way the paper mold was constructed.
The Abjiah Burbank mill was very successful during the Revolutionary War but it declined once the mechanization of the paper trade eliminated manual labor during the 1800s.

Newspapers started appearing in the Colonies in the late 1600 and early 1700s. With the increased availability of paper, newspapers became accessible to more and more people. Political information was thus readily spread in the
Pre Revolutionary and Revolutionary period.

An early paper mill of note built in Massachusetts was the Crane Mill, built in 1801 in the town of Dalton. Since 1879 Crane and Company has produced all the paper that United States Currency is printed on! The Crane Company also provides paper to print passports, banknotes, social, and business items. l

By 1810 there were 185 paper mills in the new United States. To identify mill products, a picture of the paper mill was printed on the ream wrapper. American paper-makers experimented with alternative raw materials as early as the 1790s.

The first US newspaper printed on paper made from wood pulp was the edition of the Boston Weekly Journal which appeared on January 14, 1863.

Poplar was the preferred wood for making wood pulp and new mills appeared near the source of this fiber, mainly in New England. By 1890 there were 25 pulp mills in Maine, producing 182 tons of pulp per day! Five years later Maine was producing 1036 tons of pulp per day, and 508 tons of paper per day. A long way from the times when the production of paper was one sheet at a time!

In the early 1900s the three states which led in the paper making industry were Massachusetts, New York, and Maine. Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont followed. At the same time new facilities were constructed in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. In the 20th Century, Wisconsin became an important center for paper-making mills. Canada was also an important player in the making of paper, primarily newsprint, most of which was shipped to the USA.

By 1930 Maine surpassed Massachusetts in paper production, becoming the second leading paper producing state behind New York. According to the articles I read for this report, today Maine is the leader in coated paper and uncoated ground wood production. These grades of papers are used in magazines, catalogs, and printing papers.
By 1960 the largest paper-making state was Wisconsin. The 1970s and the 1980s Wisconsin, Washington, and several southern states saw an increase in paper production.

I tried to find out which companies are today’s top Paper Mills but I was unable to find a definite answer for the current year. This is what I was able to glean from the info I gathered:

Top 5 Global Paper Producers by total sales in 2005 were:

International Paper (USA)
Georgia-Pacific (USA)
Weyerhaeuser (USA)
Kimberly-Clark (USA)
Stora Enso (Finland)

One source says that in the year 2011 the number one paper-making State in the Nation was Wisconsin, and has been for 50 years.

jolie paons
Iolis Paons

Who is competing with American companies today?

Yes, you guessed it. New paper capacity is now shifting to Asia. While no new mills have been built in the USA, many new mills are being built in China, Korea, Indonesia, and other Asian countries. These new mills are larger, faster, the cost of labor is cheaper, and pulp trees are abundant.

Jen Stark

What about THE PAPER CITY do you ask?

The town nicknamed The Paper City is Holyoke in Massachusetts. It is situated between the western bank of the Connecticut River (the largest river in New England) and the Mount Tom Range of mountains. From the late 19th century until the mid-20th century, Holyoke was the world’s biggest paper manufacturer. This was possible because of the Connecticut River, and the Holyoke Canal System which was built in 1849 to power the paper and textiles mills. At one point there were over 25 paper mills in Holyoke.

Sadly on March 16, 2012 a piece of Holyoke history went up in flames. The former site of the Mt. Tom Division of American Writing Paper burned to the ground.

A personal note:

Soon after I started writing my blog on the History of Art, I coincidentally found out about Holyoke and its nickname. My art teacher happened to mention that she is from Holyoke, The Paper City! I of course I did a little research and discovered the historical background to the town of Holyoke. Recently I told my teacher about my paper blog and how she indirectly added some information to my blog. She told me that her great grandfather came from Ireland to live and work in Holyoke. The specific work was to help build the Dam which was critical in making Holyoke “The Paper City”! Thank you J. for your contribution to my blog.

Photobucket photo

While searching for photos relevant to this blog, I came across a site that features photos of paper art. Art! Well, instead of photos of old mills and paper making photos, I decided to beautify the blog with photos of paper art. I recommend that you look at the following site for more stupendous photos: ordinary-examples-of-paper-art/

paper garland

The following sites belong to the artists whose work I posted: Jen Stark Elsa Mora Yulia Brodskaya 7604766091529/ jolis paons


One last note: There is a lot more that could be discussed, such as the pollution that is generated by the paper mills, the disputes around the world that deal with not only paper mill pollution but the depletion of our forests, destruction or our resources, recycling, etc. Perhaps some of you might be interested in posting information/point of view relevant to these topics.

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Updated: 3:38 PM GMT on August 10, 2012


Part 3 of the paper story blog.

By: Proserpina, 6:31 PM GMT on July 06, 2012

olympics 2012 london Pictures, Images and Photos

Paper Part 3

Can you imagine a world without paper?

How many pounds of paper per year does each person in the USA use? How many books are read per year? How about newspapers? Look around your house and see how many things are made from paper. Yes, from your toilet paper to your paper money, paper is a necessity. You say that computers are creating a non-paper society, really? In actuality, we now generate more paper than ever before because of computers!

Paper is considered one of the most important inventions of all times. It allowed countries to develop and advance their civilization. For example, an important cultural advancement was the Renaissance Era which would not have occurred without the introduction of paper and the printing press. Also the lower cost of printing books on paper and their availability, stimulated the foundation of new schools and universities. Education which had been restricted to the nobility and upper classes, was now possible for other classes.

Where and when was paper invented?

Paper as we know it has its roots in China. Although recent findings put the invention of paper long before 105 AD, this is the date recognized for the invention of paper. Chinese records name Ts’ai –Lun, from Lei-yang in China, as the inventor of the modern method of making paper. He used rags and other plant fibers, fixed a recipe for paper-making, and refined and popularized paper as a material for writing.

paper early chinese
Sample of early paper in China

papermaking  chinese stamp
Stamp showing paper-making in ancient China

The knowledge of paper-making stayed within China for several hundred years before it reached Korea and Japan around 6oo A.D. The manufacture of paper was kept a closely guarded secret until 750 when it reached Samarkand via the silk and trade routes. It is believed that Chinese paper-makers were taken in battle and were forced to share their craft with their captors. From this point the craft spread throughout the Arab regions, to Baghdad in 793, Damascus and Egypt in the 10th century, and Morocco by 1100.

Paper making reached Europe with the coming of the Arabs. Manufacturing of paper began in the Iberian Peninsula and Sicily. Around the year 1151 the first paper mill in Europe was built in the city of Xativa (in Valencia), Spain. From there, paper-making spread to Italy where the Fabriano paper mills were established in the 13th century (not controlled by Arabs). France, Germany, and other countries followed in the establishment of paper mills. The first paper mill set up in England was in 1490 by John Tate, near Stevenage in Hertfordshire. The first known successful mill in England was set up in Dartford in Kent, in 1588.

The oldest known paper document in the West is the Mozarab Missal of Silos, from the 11th century. Probably it used paper made in the Arab part of the Iberian Peninsula.

The earliest extant European document on paper manufactured in Europe is an order written in Greek and Arabic issued by Adelasia del Vasto in 1109 (Do you remember my Adelasia blog?). The order, which is preserved in the State Archives at Palermo, concerns a salt mine near Castrogiovanni (today Enna). This document was written on paper and not parchment because it wasn’t an ‘important’ document! Microscopic analysis shows that the paper is made from linen cellulose.

Earliest extant European document, order by Alelasia

What’s paper made of? Trees or wood you say? Yes, but not until mid-1800s.

As mentioned, Ts’ai-Lun made his paper from rags and plant fibers. He produced paper sheets from bark of mulberry trees, hemp waste, old rags, and fishnets. The Chinese method of producing paper was adopted and improved by other cultures, but the basic materials to make paper remained the recycled fibers from used textiles, called rags.

The improvement of the difficult process of making paper was completed in the early Middle Ages in the town of Fabriano (province of Ancona), Italy. Rudiments of the early buildings and inscriptions still exist.

Fabriano made high quality paper on an industrial scale and even today has a reputation for fine watermarked paper. Oh yes, Fabriano still produces paper! I often use their fine watercolor paper for my paintings.

The three major innovations that made Fabriano the cradle of modern paper-making are:

“1) Use of animal gelatin to surface size the paper,

2) Invention of a hydraulic press to work the pulp, to replace what were effectively manual pestle and mortars.

3) Watermark technique, a brass wire motif is stitched onto the sieve plate of the cylinder press. The fibres are less dense at this point so more light can pass through the paper. Each paper has its own unique watermark.”

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Existing remnants of original Fabriano paper mill.

For a virtual tour of the Fabriano museum including a video making paper in the old fashioned way please go to:

Gutenberg and his printing press

In 1448 Johannes Gutenberg was credited with inventing the printing press (it is believed that moveable type was invented hundreds of years earlier in Asia). Gutenberg used paper instead of parchment to do the first printing in Europe!

When Gutenberg produced his first Bible around 1456, Europe was still using parchment and so he printed a few Bibles on parchment. For each Bible on parchment he needed 300 sheep! Certainly mass production of books on parchment was not advisable but paper made from linen rags was a solution.

Documents and books could now be reproduced quickly and in large quantities. It was around this time that Gutenberg began his Bible project, the printing of 200 copies of the Gutenberg Bibles. They were all sold at the 1455 Frankfurt Fair. About 50 of these Bibles survive today.

gutenberg bible
One of the Gutenberg Bibles

Booksellers in the Middle Ages rarely had ready-made books in their shop. Usually a book would be ordered, after the order the book would be copied by hand, to be picked up by the buyer several months later. By using paper Gutenberg was able to easily print many copies of the same book, the first mass production of books in history was on its way.

Imagine the disbelief and confusion when someone offered for sale many copies of the same book! There is a story about Gutenberg’s partner that when he offered 20 identical copies of the Bible to a bookseller in Paris, he was forced to quickly flee for his life! People were certain that the only explanation for this occurrence was that the man was in league with the devil!

Within decades there were many printing shops set up in many cities in Central, Western, and Eastern Europe. Italy, a center of early printing, established print shops in 77 cities by 1500. Many printing centers emerged in Italy with Venice as a major printing center. One major early Venetian printer of classic books was Aldus Manutius.

A few notes of interest:

1.Increased demand for rags created a huge shortage and as a result there actually were “rag wars” during the 1700s! Nations passed laws forbidding rags to be taken out of the country! As expected rag smuggling became a lucrative business! To save cotton and linen rags, England even decreed that the dead could be buried only in wool. Of course the wool industry was probably also protecting its weakening industry.

2.China was not the only culture that developed paper as we know it today, there were other cultures who had invented similar papers. The Mayan culture was one of those cultures that had invented paper. In fact there were many books in existence at the time of the Spanish conquest of Yucatan, in the 16th century. Unfortunately in the effort to spread the Christian religion, in 1562 Bishop Diego de Landa ordered that the books be destroyed.

The Maya codices are folding books stemming from the pre-Columbian Maya civilization, written in Maya hieroglyphic script on Mesoamerican bark cloth. A few of the Myan books were saved from destruction and were brought to Europe.

Today there are three codices whose authenticity is beyond doubt. The codices are named after the City where they are located. They are:

The Madrid Codex (112 pages)
The Dresden Codex (74 pages) T
The Paris Codex (22 pages).

A page from the Dresden Codex

Do you know which city is called The Paper City? The answer will be found in the 4th and hopefully last section of the paper blog!

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Updated: 11:13 PM GMT on July 29, 2012


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