“Light tomorrow with today.” ~Elizabeth Barrett Browning
By: Proserpina , 6:35 PM GMT on July 29, 2012
PAPER, PART IV
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:
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.
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. http://www.madehow.com/Volume-3/Paper-Currency.htm 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)
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.
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.
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.
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:
The following sites belong to the artists whose work I posted:
http://www.jenstark.com/ Jen Stark
http://www.elsita.typepad.com/ Elsa Mora
http://www.artyulia.com/ Yulia Brodskaya
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jolispaons/sets/7215 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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