Posted on 07/18/2013

Photo taken on July  5, 2011

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Europe a A History
Norman Davis

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Photo replaced on July 18, 2013
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The art and craft paper-making was first recorded in Europe in 1144 in the small Moorish town of Xativah, now San Felipe, near Valencia. It had taken 1,000 years to cross Eurasia from China, via Samarkand and Cairo. Important technical developments, including dipping moulds and watermarks, were pioneered a century later in Italy, most probably at Fabriano near Ancona. The first known watermark was a large F (for Fabriano).

From there paper spread far and wise, gradually replacing the older writing materials of papyrus, parchment, and pergamon. Early paper-mills were built at Ambert in Auvergne (1326), Troyes (1338), Nurnbert (1390), Leira in Portugal (1411). Hertford in England(mid-fourteenth-century), Constantinople (1453), Cracow (1491), and Moscow (1565). The demand for paper was greatly increased by the arrival of printing.

Standard paper sizes were introduced in Bologna in 1389: Imperial (22X30 inches), Royal, Medium, and Chancery. Book pages were made by folding sheets double (folio), twice (quarto), or three times (octavo). In 1783 the Montgolfer brothers, who owned a paper-works at Annonay, constructed their hot-air balloon from paper. But paper’s supreme contribution lay in the dissemination of knowledge. “Hail to the inventor of paper,” wrote Herder, who did more for literature than all the monarchs on earth.

Handcrafted paper still has its enthusiasts today. There is an International Association of Paper Historians, with their journal based in Germany, and a score of paper museums. Antique paper mills still function at Fabriano, at Moulin Ricard-en-Bas in France, at Koog aan de Zaan in the Netherlands, at Niederzwonitz in Germany, at St. Alban in Basle, Switzerland, and at Duzniki Zdroj in Silesia.

Excerpt: Chapter ‘The middle Ages’ (Europe a History ~ Norman Davis)