Bibliographical Annotations and Orientations

The Red Queen shook her head, “You may call it ‘nonsense’ if you like,” she said, “but I’ve heard nonsense, compared with which that would be as sensible as a dictionary!”.

Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871)

With this excellent start one might have supposed that watermarks would have been accepted as a proven aid in bibliographical detective work. But it has not quite worked out that way. No doubt their seeming complexities have frightened off some would-be users. Others, assuming that the main use for watermarks must be that of establishing dates, and finding some difficulty or ambiguity in using them so, did not try further. The fault has lain partly in a tendency to assume that problems involving papermarks may be solved simply by opening Les Filigranes at the proper page. Enthusiasts have claimed too much; old-time skeptics have sniffed at watermarks as the toys of dilettantes; and no group has been willing to undertake the basic study of the nature of handmade paper.

Allan H. Stevenson, ‘Briquet and the Future of Paper Studies’, in Briquet’s Opuscula (1955)

As computers become ubiquitous adjuncts to research in the Humanities in general, and to bibliographical work in particular, we're going to see time and again the stale made fresh, the forgotten discovered anew, the expensive turned affordable, the outdated transformed into the contemporary, and the marginal allotting [sic!] a place in the mainstream. This, I think, finally marks the so-called computer revolution as a development of the first rank, and as one from which there is no turning back: the technology's power to revitalize and transform everything it touches.

David Gants, ‘Pictures for the Page: Techniques in Watermark Reproduction, Enhancement and Analysis’ (1994), on the website of the Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia.

So what do we recommend?

Writings on paper are numerous, and often a complete waste of time, so the present listing derives from the first instance from what I have on my working bookshelf and some other items that I have discovered on other bookshelves.

Of course, asking any major catalogue or a search engine for “paper” or “papier” or “carta” is to get a mass of replies as meaningful as jabberwocky. My procedure on the whole has been to browse through what can be found on the shelves of major libraries, among the most helpful being the Salle des livres rares at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and my own personal stamping ground, the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze (but I admit that I have not experimented the joys of Leipzig). Such collections tend nevertheless to be eccentric in their choice and arrangement of volumes, and one ought also to remember that books about papermaking are in one place, watermark repertories in another, and decorated papers … well, they are together with the writings about bindings, so be patient, thorough, and browse properly. On the other hand, if there is a better way of doing it, I have not been told what it is.

To put the problem in a nutshell, when I compare the bibliography of paper with the other field in which I have assembled and written an analogous guide, that of analytical or material bibliography, the most striking feature is the lack of a single central text, such as Bowers’ Principles of Bibliographical Description (1949), flanked by the manuals of McKerrow (1927) and Gaskell (1972), which collectively establish a method and around which other writings rotate or to which at least refer. The bibliography of paper is vaster and more wide-ranging, but in many cases banal, limited, or too locally inclined. There are plenty of bulgy, glossy tomes by cultural journalists, with nice photographs of pretty watermarks, and information culled mostly from second or third-hand sources, as well as infinite articles about single papermills in outlying regions, or the distribution of watermarks in a manuscript or printed book, some of which show only the barest cognizance of Briquet and none whatsoever about how to use Briquet. The same holds true for the plethora of websites.

But here are some pointers.



Bibliographical guides through the labyrinth are available in a certain quantity and of a certain quality, beginning with Briquet himself, and continued in E.J. Labarre, ‘A Short Guide to Books on Watermarks’, Hilversum, The Paper Publications Society, 1955, reprinted in The Nostitz Papers. Notes on Watermarks found in the German Imperial Archives of the 17th & 18th Centuries, and Essays showing the Evolution of a Number of Watermarks, Hilversum, The Paper Publications Society, 1956, pp. xxxvii-xlii, issued also in German with the title: ‘Bücher über Wasserzeichen. Eine Bibliographie’, Philobiblon, vol. 1 (1957), pp. 237-251, and very confusingly also in Imprimatur, vol. 1 (1957), pp. 233-251. Likewise valuable is the ‘Select Bibliography of the Literature of Paper History and Watermarks published since 1907’ by J.S.G. Simmons, introduced into the 1968 reprint of Briquet’s Les filigranes (pp. *37-*53).

Irving P. Leif, An International Sourcebook of Paper History, Hamden, Archon, 1978, with 2,185 entries, integrated with Kate Frost, ‘Supplement to Leif. Checklist of Watermark History, Production, and Reproduction Research’, Direction Line, 8 (University of Texas, Spring 1979), pp. 33-56, is a compilation by a scholar who assembled bibliographies in a variety of fields, but provides a good overview of the state of play in the English-speaking world at the time.

Bibliographical summaries relating to paper also crop up in more general guides to bibliography and/or the history of the book, beginning with Horst Meyer’s self-published annual Bibliographie der Buch und Bibliotheksgeschichte (BBB), which ran from its first launch in 1982 up to its demise in 2003, and always contained a section on ‘Literatur zur Papier’. More specifically related to the German-speaking world is Erdmann Weyrauth, Wolfenbütteler Bibliographie zur Geschichte des Buchwesens im Deutschen Sprachgebiet 1840-1980, München-New York, Saur, 1990-98, 3 vols., who likewise provides information about writings on paper and paper-history. Albeit with an overt bias in favour of English-language writings, an equally useful synthesis is G. Thomas Tanselle, Introduction to Bibliography. Seminar Syllabus, which over the years has progressed through nineteen revisions. The most up-to-date version, published by the Book Arts Press, Charlottesville, University of Virginia, 2002, is available online on the site of the Rare Book School ( and dedicates part 5, pp. 181-193, to paper, with a particular eye to the bibliographical applications. A good place to remedy the language imbalance, especially in order to root around for articles and treatises in lesser-known tongues, is the Dutch Book History Online (i.e. the electronic development of the ever useful Annual Bibliography of the History of the Book), published by Brill, which can however only be viewed in a library with a subscription to the data-base.

Several of these secondary bibliographical repertories have been brought together in a compilation entitled the Internationale Bibliographie zur Papiergeschichte (IBP). Berichszeit: bis einschließlich Erscheinungsjahr 1996, München, K.G. Saur, 2003. The principal editors were Elke Sobek and Frieder Schmidt, and it is to all extents and purposes a catalogue of the holdings of the Deutsche Bibliothek and the Deutsches Buch- and Schriftmuseum der Deutschen Bücherai in Leipzig, with the inclusion in the entries of the press-marks of the copies in these two institutions (which is useful if you live in Leipzig, but not so useful if you live anywhere else). The first two volumes are made up with the 20,000 bibliographical entries (how German to have precisely 20,000 entries!) in a very exact organised structure. The remaining two volumes are a massive set of indexes, for author, title, just about everything that can be imagined, including concordances for several of the previous bibliographical resources mentioned above, in particular Leif, without however the supplement by Frost, which appears to have been missed; Pulsiano; Meyer’s BBB, and Weyrauth. As is commonplace with Saur volumes, the cost is prohibitive, so the work is only to be found on the shelves of large libraries, but it is an amazingly comprehensive resource and repays thoughtful perusal. Given its origin, this bibliography is weighted in favour of German and Eastern European writings (no bad thing), and also has the merit of having thoroughly indexed many of the more obscure and difficult to find journals in the field, such as Papiergeschichte and The Paper Maker (one of the banes of paper studies is the proliferation of hard-to-find periodicals with extremely important material, so this is excellent). Having praised this work and highly recommended it, it should be said that, as often happens nowadays when material is translated from a database into a printed format, the layout is hard on the eye. Work has also moved forward, since the Leipzig database is now available as the ‘Bibliography’ in the Bernstein ‘Memory of Paper’ project on the website of the Austrian Academy for Sciences with a total of 31,000 entries [35]. Unfortunately the demise of EEC funding for the project means that it has not been updated in the last five and more years (the inability of Eurobureaucrats to see the uselessness of funding research without providing long-term continuity is infuriating ... after all, it is our money they are wasting). Furthermore, though in many respects the Bernstein project is an exciting and innovative resource, it is abominable at explaining itself and completely fails to tell the unwary user that what it presents as a ‘Bibliography’ is in fact the IBP (it was not until I discovered the paper version that I was able to decipher the cross-references to other bibliographical resources, or understand the significance of the press-marks in the Leipzig libraries). At the end of the day, however, even 31,000 entries are anything but comprehensive and many of the items described in the following pages do not appear in the IBP. Some of them of course are post-2009 and the cut-off for the project’s funding; others are in journals that they seem to survey only intermittently, such as the Italian La Bibliofilìa; but the principal obstacle to their coverage is that important information about paper and paper-evidence, especially in a more bibliographical application, often appears in articles or books that do not declare this content as such through a title, and therefore the only way to find them is to read the damn thing! Some random checking suggests that about a third of the items described here, including all my own writings (modesty!), are not known to the IBP.

As ever, with compilative, or enumerative, bibliographies, the other big problem involves what we might call hierarchy. Thirty-thousand odd bibliographical citations constitute an impressive mass; nothing therein, however, tells us what is important and what is trivial, what is good and what is bad, what is boring and what is innovative and exciting. (This is an obstacle the pure sciences resolve through citation indexes and bibliometrics, showing how often a single article has been cited by others and thus obtaining a grading of its importance and utility, but to apply any such parameter to paper studies would be unthinkable, or would merely serve to confer superstar status on a certain Briquet, C.M.) Readers and users of the present œuvre should therefore keep the IBP or the Bernstein resource at hand for browsing purposes, but understand that the principle followed here is the exact opposite. While not handing out Michelin stars, value judgements abound, and if something is not mentioned, it might not be worth the trouble of going and looking at it; on the other hand I might be completely wrong!

In particular, the emphasis is on reading. I have generally read, sometimes reread, tried to read, or at least glanced over, more or less all the items described here, and so there are plenty of adjectives, some flattering, some scathing, providing evaluations that should help you as reader to make your own choices. Of course, my judgements may be unfair, misleading, or simply wrong, but at least they are there and, if you prefer to think differently, well, that is your business.

Differently from the IBP, orientated primarily towards the modern period, my interests are in Medieval and Renaissance Italian paper, so this listing does display an unwarranted prejudice in favour of works on this area (well, you probably do not know enough about Medieval and Renaissance Italian paper, which is a fascinating and complex subject, so here is a chance to close the glaring gap in your education). As an alternative to what is suggested here, a bibliography orientated towards learning about paper in a more general way is provided by John Bidwell for his course at the Virginia Rare Book School in Charlottesville (see website).


General Introduction

Among general histories of the book, the one that stands out for the chapter it dedicates to paper, entitled ‘La question préalable: l’apparition du papier en Europe’, is the famous L’Apparition du livre by Lucien Febvre and Henri-Jean Martin, Paris, Albin Michel, 1958, pp. 25-51, reprinted as a paperback edition: 1971, with a further issue in 1999 (in reality a reprint of the 1971 setting with the addition of a ‘Postface’ by Frédéric Barbier). As is well-known, the work was originally commissioned from Febvre (1878-1956) in the early 1930s as a companion volume to Le journal by Georges Weill (1934). Febvre procrastinated and eventually involved Martin (1924-2007), at the time a “young librarian” at the Bibliothèque Nationale, who became to all effects and purposes the real author of this seminal volume. It was translated into English in 1976, but the version which merits real attention is the one in Italian, first published in 1977, containing an extraordinary preface by Armando Petrucci in the guise of a palaeographical Marxist Devil’s advocate (if you think that is impossible, try reading it). Readers familiar with Italian will likewise still find helpful the beautifully printed book by Anne Basanoff, Itinerario della carta dell’Oriente all’Occidente e sua diffusione in Europa, Milano, Cartiera Ventura, 1965, better known in its 1977 reprint by Il Polifilo in Milan. (I have never understood why this last work, written by a curator at the Bibliothèque Nationale, who contributed to the Febvre-Martin, L’Apparition du livre has never been available in French, but this is one of the many mysteries of paper studies).

If you have any intention of learning anything about papermaking methods in an enjoyable fashion, the best starting point is the figure and the writings of one of history’s most versatile and creative multitaskers, Dard Hunter (1883-1966), one of the few people to be able to boast that they personally conducted every phase in the making of a book, i.e. writing the text, making the paper, printing the book, and even selling the copies. His several writings on papermaking, issued mostly under the aegis of the Mountain House Press, are Old Papermaking (1923), The Literature of Papermaking 1390-1800 (1925), Primitive Papermaking (1927), Old Papermaking in China and Japan (1932), and Papermaking in Southern Siam (1936), and even at the time were expensive collectors’ items. Nowadays therefore they are wildly unaffordable for impoverished paper scholars. A synthesis of all his previous research, however, flowed into his master work: Papermaking. The History and Technique of an Ancient Craft, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1943. This first edition includes two examples of leaves of handmade paper, one laid and one wove, missing from the reprints. As with all his works, it sold out at great speed, so a second edition, revised and enlarged, was published in New York, again by Knopf, and in London by Pleiades Books, in 1947. The increment is a considerable one, not just in the addition of two extra chapters, but above all in the illustrations, which more than double in number. (When the second edition went out of print, it was reprinted in 1978 in New York by Dover editions, of which plenty of copies, some of them at absurdly low prices, are available in Abebooks). This one work has over the years become a bible for people passionate about paper and papermaking. Hunter’s greatest merit is that his several investigative journeys, to Fiji and Samoa (1926), Japan, Korea, and China (1933), Siam (1935), and India and Nepal (1937-38), captured photographically traditional, thousand-year old processes of papermaking, just before they disappeared with the onset of modern civilization (there might be a better word). Not only the diagrams and the photographs, but also the original artefacts related to papermaking, that he obtained and took back home, are thus a permanent and precious record of techniques and methods that since have been lost. On the other hand, for all its greatness and charm, his work is inconsistent in scholarly and bibliographical terms: he was only slightly acquainted with Medieval and Renaissance European paper, and the problems posed by serious bibliographical research, for instance, the twinship of moulds and watermarks, hardly impinge on his consciousness. In his own lifetime, he further published My Life with Paper. An Autobiography, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1958, again with leaves illustrating varieties of handmade paper tipped in, and valuable photographic illustration, although he is sometimes imprecise about the details of his own life. Otherwise, see the thoroughly-documented book, based almost entirely on research in the extensive Hunter family archive, by Cathleen A. Baker, By his own Labor: The Biography of Dard Hunter, New Castle, Oak Knoll Press, 2000, as well as the websites dedicated to him and his descendants, who continue his many activities at the Dard Hunter Studios in Chillicothe, Ohio. Dard Hunter also founded a museum dedicated to paper at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology in 1939; in 1954 it moved to the Institute of Paper Science and Technology at Appleton, Wisconsin, and moved again in 1989 to the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, where it is now part of the Robert C. Williams Paper Museum (see website, which has plenty of useful links) [33].

For those able and willing to cope with German, a robust introduction to the study of watermarks is Karl Theodor Weiss, Handbuch der Wasserzeichenkunde, bearbeitet und herausgegeben von Wisso Weiss, Leipzig, Fachbuchverlag, 1962, reprinted by Saur, 1983. The book was actually begun by Weiss (1872-1945) during the First World War, but remained unpublished until it was brought out by his son nearly twenty years after his death. Albeit dated, it remains pioneering in its treatment of issues such as twin watermarks. Again in German (albeit now also available in Italian) is a carefully expounded and extensively documented overview of the history of papermaking by Peter F. Tschudin, Grundzüge der Papiergeschichte, Stuttgart, Hiersemann, 2002. Coming from a line of paper scholars, the author is the ex-president of the International Association of Paper Historians and ex-director of the Basel Papiermuseum and so has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the subject. The result is an authoritative survey of the history of papermaking and it is especially good on the economic and industrial development of the industry in the modern period. From the viewpoint, however, of scholars, bibliographers, or cataloguers, trying to exploit paper as a source of physical information for books or documents of the Medieval, Renaissance, or Early modern period, it is a disappointing book, with some surprising inaccuracies, for instance the Bologna stone is twice mentioned with the date “1308” instead of 1389 (pp. 95, 100, in the German original; pp. 98, 101, of the Italian translation; and unfortunately the mistake is being repeated by other scholars, for instance, in the Bull’s Head and Mermaid catalogue of the Bernstein travelling exhibition in 2009, p. 14). Likewise, the fact that watermarks are twins, due to the use of paired moulds at the vat, receives only a cursory mention and names such as Roberto Ridolfi, Allan Stevenson, and Paul Needham, never appear in the text nor even in the haphazardly-assembled bibliography (wherein, for example, L’Art de faire le papier by Lalande is confused with the Encyclopédie). The recent Italian translation is bettered by the inclusion of an introduction, which is excellent on watermark repertories, especially Briquet, by Ezio Ornato, see ‘Prefazione all’edizione italiana’, in Peter F. Tschudin, La carta: storia, materiali, tecnica, a cura di Federica Peccol, Roma, Edizioni di storia e letteratura; Passariano, Centro di catalogazione e restauro dei beni culturali, 2012.

The category of coffee-table histories of paper, with geographically sweeping titles, is of course a large one (in all senses). Here are a few examples. Reasonably brief is Michel Vernus, La fabuleuse histoire du papier, Yens-sur-Morges (Suisse), Cabédita, 2004. Also in French is Le papier: 2000 ans d’histoire et de savoir-faire, Paris, Imprimerie Nationale, 1999, by cultural journalist Lucien X. Polastron, who is overfond of big-sounding issues (in 2004 he published a work with the title Livres en feu. Histoire de la destruction sans fin des bibliothèques). This book is magnificently illustrated and I suspect that those of us who teach courses on paper will nick a lot of its images; otherwise it has nothing new to say. Another highfaluting tome, but disappointing in its use of sources and attention to detail, above all in the knowledge it displays of the papermaking process, is Lothar Müller, Weiße Magie, München, Carl Hanser Verlag, 2012, trans. White Magic. The Age of Paper, Cambridge-Malden, Polity Press, 2014. The latest general overview in the English-speaking world is Alexander Monro, The Paper Trail: An Unexpected History of the World's Greatest Invention, London, Allen Lane, 2014. It is nicely written, by a journalist and writer, who has lived a lot in China and thus dedicates two-thirds of the volume to the Far and Middle East, but it is more about the “book” (in a Febvre-Martin sense) than about “paper”. The text is also littered with small, but annoying, errors of detail: it is incorrect to say that “it was not until 1276 that the first significant Italian paper mills were set up in Fabriano” (p. 221: see below 6e. Marches); there was not a “second printing” of Copernicus in Nuremberg (p. 268); Milton did not visit “Galileo in prison” (same page); the original Encyclopédie was not published from 1750-55 (p. 302); and so on and so forth. Most significantly perhaps, there is no real sense that sheets or leaves of paper have been looked at as material objects, while a subject such as “watermarks” does not even merit a mention in the index.

On the basic process of papermaking at the vat, the clearest and most concise introduction in English remains that by Philip Gaskell, A New Introduction to Bibliography, Oxford, at the Clarendon Press, 1972, corrected reprint 1974 (and numerous further reprints), pp. 57-66. Almost all bibliographies on paper, especially of the potted kind, cite this chapter, deservedly so. It should, however, be noted that not all the details in Gaskell’s account are borne out by other sources, or by direct observation of paper-making, and some are self-evidently wrong. The principal cause is his reliance on the account in Chamber’s Cyclopædia (1728) [5], without consulting the more extensive, and probably trustworthy, descriptions in Lalande and in the Encyclopédie. For instance, he limits the retting process of the rags to “four or five days” (p. 57), though he does also say that the “pounding took place in two or three stages, separated by pauses for further rotting”. Other sources are more generous in their indication of time: in his brief account of the process in 1494 Grapaldo says eleven days, in 1591 Rocca says fifteen days, while in the Eighteenth century the Encyclopédie says two to three months [5]; clearly the procedure varied enormously, according to the sort of rags, environmental conditions, temperature, etc., but Gaskell’s time-span seems too short. Likewise he states that the Hollander beater “did not pound but minced the rags into pulp with revolving knives” (p. 57): in reality the blades on the revolving drum are blunt and the cutting, if any, is done by a plate with teeth on the floor under the drum. He describes the material in the vat as having the “consistency of liquid porridge” (p. 57): such would be suitable for making cardboard; when paper is involved the appearance is more like very diluted milk. In explaining the work at the vat, he says that the “maker then lifted the deckle and slid this first mould along a board to the coucher, from whom he received the second mould of the pair in return” (p. 58): in fact the maker usually places the first mould on a support on the edge of the vat for the water to drip, while it is the coucher who slides the second mould back along the board and subsequently lays a new felt on the post. The same book also provides an excellent brief description of the technical developments in mechanical paper-making at the beginning of the Nineteenth century (Gaskell is always better on machinery than on people).

As an alternative, or integration, to Gaskell, I highly recommend the essay by John Bidwell, ‘The Study of Paper as Evidence, Artefact and Commodity’, in The Book Encompassed. Studies in Twentieth-century Bibliography, edited by Peter Davison, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1992, pp. 69-82. Likewise worth scrutiny are three more recent, appositely written, short pieces by scholars active in paper research, albeit in the latter two cases mostly applied to English Renaissance texts: Timothy Barrett, ‘Papermaking, History and Practice’, in Teaching Bibliography, Textual Criticism, and Book History, edited by Ann R. Hawkins, London, Pickering & Chatto, 2006, pp. 142-148; R. Carter Hailey, ‘The Bibliographical Analysis of Antique Laid Paper: A Method’, ibid., pp. 149-154; and the chapter by Mark Bland, ‘Paper and Related Materials’, in Idem, A Guide to Early Printed Books and Manuscripts, Oxford, Blackwell-Wiley, 2010, pp. 22-48. Though these items are necessarily concise, all three know what they are talking about and incorporate original research.

Given the importance of the subject, a large number of works with a purpose to systemize knowledge dedicate entries to paper and to the history of paper, including the successive editions of the Encyclopaedia Britannica and other national encyclopedias. This category includes collective works specifically dedicated to the field of book history and library studies, wherein the most recent example is by Daven Christopher Chamberlain, ‘Paper’, in The Oxford Companion to the Book, edited by Michael Suarez S.J. and H. R. Woudhuysen, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2010, I, pp. 79-87 (which, however, gets a smack on the wrist for giving the introduction of papermaking into Italy as 1276). This essay is also available in The Book. A Global History, eds. Suarez-Woudhuysen, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2013, pp. 116-129.

There are also several miscellaneous publications, either conference acts or collections of essays, that are worth thumbing through. A largish volume of conference proceedings is Produzione e commercio della carta e del libro secc. XIII-XVIII. Atti della “Ventitreesima Settimana di Studi” [of the Datini Foundation in Prato], 15-20 aprile 1991, a cura di Simonetta Cavaciocchi, Firenze, Le Monnier, 1992. This gets negative points for the lack of an index and for the fact that most of the contributions are hotch-potch summaries of what people have written elsewhere; on the positive side are the discussions after the papers, which contain some exhilarating transcription mistakes! Two well-constructed English language collections, containing a number of items with genuine bibliographical purport, are the Essays in Paper Analysis, edited by Stephen Spector, Washington, The Folger Shakespeare Library; London and Toronto, Associated University Presses, 1987, and Puzzles in Paper: Concepts in Historical Watermarks, edited by Daniel W. Mosser, Michael Saffle & Ernest W. Sullivan II, New Castle, Oak Knoll Press; London, British Library, 2000, which publishes papers from the Roanoke conference of 1996. Markedly francophone, but with some interesting accounts of individual research experiences, are the acts of the conference held in Paris in 1998, see Le papier au Moyen Âge: histoire et techniques, édité par Monique Zerdoun Bat-Yehouda, Turnhout, Brepols, 1999. A useful and wide-ranging collection of short articles is: Looking at Paper: Evidence & Interpretation. Symposium Proceedings, Toronto, 1999, held at the Royal Ontario Museum and Art Gallery of Ontario, May 13-16, 1999, edited by John Slavin, Linda Sutherland, John O’Neill, Margaret Haupt and Janet Cowan, Ottawa, Canadian Conservation Institute, 2001 (the original is not easy to find, but the volume is available in pdf. on the website of the CCI). A deserving set of essays in Italian, churned out by the paper restorers of the Istituto Centrale per il Restauro e la Conservazione del Patrimonio Archivistico Librario (this absurdly long title substitutes the earlier Istituto Centrale per la Patologia del Libro, which was already a mouthful), is Gli itinerari della carta. Dall’Oriente all’Occidente: produzione e conservazione, a cura di Carla Casetti Brach, Roma, Gangemi editore, 2010. As well as items on Chinese paper, Japanese paper, and Arab paper (see below), it has a perceptive round up of the history of papermaking in the West by Simonetta Iannuccelli, ‘L’Europa della carta’, pp. 95-148. Two substantial, mainly German language (entirely in the second case), collections are Papier im mittelalterlichen Europa: Herstellung und Gebrauch, edited by Carla Meyer, Sandra Schultz, Bernd Schneidmūller, Berlin-Mūnchen-Boston, Walter de Gruyter, 2015, and Wasserzeichen, Schreiber, Provenienzen: neue Methoden der Erforschung und Erschließung von Kulturgut im Digitalen Zeitalter, zwischen wissenschaftlicher Spezialdisziplin und Catalog Enrichment, herausgegeben von Wolfgang Eckhardt, Julia Neumann, Tobias Schwinger, und Alexander Staub, Frankfurt am Main, Vittorio Klostermann, 2016, which publishes the acts of a conference held 6-8 October 2014. The many annual meetings of the International Association of Paper Historians and of the British Association of Paper Historians also bring together numerous short items dealing with every aspect of paper history [34]. The contents are listed on the respective websites, though, since these volumes are mostly self-published, they can be difficult to find in libraries. For the papers from the many conferences held at Fabriano, see [6e. Marches]. References are frequently made to the essays contained in these collections in the paragraphs that follow.

Anyone looking for an inspiring way into the interaction between paper studies and bibliographical analysis should start with the personal testimony and apologia pro vita sua of Allan Stevenson, Observations on Paper as Evidence, Lawrence, University of Kansas Libraries, 1961. This is the text of a lecture, the seventh in an annual series on ‘Books and Bibliography’, delivered on 6 November 1959 and issued in the form of this pamphlet (just out of curiosity, the sixth lecture, given less than a year previously on 14 November 1958, was the likewise seminal The Bibliographical Way by Fredson Bowers).


China and Far Eastern Paper

The “classic”, and easily by far the best, account, at least as far as English-language readers are concerned, is by Tsien Tsuen-hsuin (1910-2015), who was professor of Chinese literature and library science at the University of Chicago (it is a Chinese name in which Tsien indicates the family). His absolutely admirable synthesis is a book, entitled Paper and Printing (1985), which forms volume V: Chemistry and Chemical Technology, part 1, of Joseph Needham’s vast, vast Science and Civilisation in China, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1954-, so far issued in seven volumes and 27 separate books, and still expanding. On the down side, it is a nuisance not having Tsien’s volume as a separate item; on the plus is the fact that the collective work can be found on the shelves of most major libraries. An excellent anthology of thirty early Chinese texts about papermaking, with versions both in Mandarin and in French, is Le papier dans la Chine Impériale. Origine, fabrication, usages, textes présentés, traduits et annotés par Jean-Pierre Drège, Paris, Les Belles Lettres, 2017.

At the time of the publication of Tsien’s book, the oldest known paper was believed to be some scraps discovered in a tomb at Pa-chhiao, near Sian in Shensi province, belonging to the Han dynasty and datable between 140 and 87 B.C. The said items apparently show the imprint of fabric on the surface, showing that the earliest process was indeed with a floating mould, something that Dard Hunter suggested, but was unable to demonstrate, see Papermaking, 2nd edition, cit., 78-84; Tsien, Paper and Printing, cit., p. 38, with further bibliography and references to Chinese sources. In 1986, however, a tomb excavated at Fangmatan, near Tianshui in Gansu province, dating from the early 2nd century B.C., unearthed a fragment of a map, which today is considered the official oldest surviving document on paper (for an image of the same, ask Wikipedia), see Xumei Yi-Xiuwen Liu, ‘The Calligraphy and Printing Cultural Heritage of Gansu. The Development of the Engraved Printing Process and Papermaking: an Archeological Approach’, in The History and Cultural Heritage of Chinese Calligraphy, Printing and Library Work, edited by Susan M. Allen, Zuzao Lin, Xiaolan Cheng, Jan Bos, Berlin, De Gruyter-Saur, 2010, pp. 45-70: 64.

A well-documented summary of the information on the centuries-long debate about Cai Lun (or Tsai Lung) and the origins of paper is available in Józef Dabrowski, ‘Remarks on the Invention of True Paper by Cai Lun’, IPH Congress Book, vol. 16 (2006), pp. 5-16, with ample bibliography (on the IPH website). A synthesis of the archaeological debate, with a powerful denunciation of the attempts of the Chinese Ministry’s attempts to fix the historical version, is Pan Xixing, ‘Review on the Debate of Paper History during Recent 30 Years in China’, Paper History, vol. 15, issue 2 (2011), pp. 6-12 (on the IPH website). A further article relating to archaeological discoveries is Guilhem André, Jean-Paul Desroches, Jean-Pierre Drège, Véronique Rouchon, ‘L’un des plus anciens papiers du monde récemment exhumé en Mongolie: découverte, analyses physico-chimiques et contexte scientifique’, Arts asiatiques, vol. 65 (2011), pp. 25-39.

A more general survey in French is Monique Zerdoun, ‘Le papier, de la Chine à l’Occident, un passionant périple’, one of an interesting collection of short items making up the catalogue of an exhibition at the Louvre, June-September 2011, with the title: Le papier à l’oeuvre, sous la direction de Natalie Coural, Paris, Louvre éditions, 2011, pp. 29-43. An overview in Italian is available in Yirong Ma, ‘L’Oriente e la carta’, in Gli itinerari della carta, cit., 2010, pp. 13-28. The same volume includes an essay on Japanese paper-making techniques: Silvia Sotgiu, ‘La carta giapponese’, pp. 29-58.

The discovery of the Library in the Mogao cave complex was described by Aurel Stein, Serindia. A Detailed Report of the Explorations in Central Asia and Westernmost China, London-Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1921, 5 vols., in particular in vol. II, while for the booty carted back to London, see Lionel Giles, Descriptive Catalogue of the Chinese Manuscripts from Tunhuang in the British Museum, London, Trustees of the British Museum, 1957, containing 8,102 entries, without however considering a further 3,000 fragments. The paper artefacts in the collection were subjected to analysis at the time by one of the major experts of the time, see R.H. Clapperton, Paper: An Historical Account of its Making by Hand from the Earliest Times down to the Present Day, Oxford, Shakespeare Head Press, 1934, pp. 1-26. Pelliot gave his account of the find in Les grottes de Touen-Houang, Paris, Geuthner, 1920-24, 6 vols., especially valuable for their photographic documentation, and likewise the Japanese mission published a descriptive catalogue as Monumenta Serindica, Kyoto, 1958-63, 6 pts. The membra dispersa are being brought together in a huge state-of-the-art project, promoted by the British Library, christened the International Dunhuang Project (IDP), which sets out to reconstruct the contents of the Library cave in a digital environment. The project also includes extensive information taken from the collection of Aurel Stein’s papers in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, comprising photographs of his seven dogs called Dash. The Diamond Sutra (British Library, Mss. Or. 8210/P.2), in particular, is described in Frances Wood-Mark Barnard, The Diamond Sutra. The Story of the World’s Earliest Dated Book, London, The British Library, 2010. It is also discussed in depth in the IDP Newsletter, n. 38 (2011-12) (available on line, including a digital copy of the original document). A reader-friendly account of the discovery of the Library cave is also provided by Munro, The Paper Trail, cit., 2014, pp. 65-75.

The archive of documents dating from 722 A.D. on Chinese paper found at Mount Mugh, is now held by the Institute for Oriental Studies, Academy of Sciences, in St. Petersburg. A catalogue of the same was published in Russian in the same city (called however Leningrad) in 1934. Further bibliographical information, albeit without particular reference to the physical support, is available in Frantz Grenet-Nicholas Sims Williams, ‘The Historical Context of the Sogdian Ancient Letters’, Studia Iranica, vol. 5 (1987), pp. 101-122. Reproductions of these early papers are helpfully available in the important book on the history of Arab paper by Jonathan Bloom [3].

The bibliographical problem posed by Chinese printing with woodblocks, which lasted up to comparatively recently and is still extant in more traditional contexts, is that, as with stereotype printing in the West, multiple impressions can be taken off the same blocks over a long period of time, often with small variants of state or issue. Individual copies therefore can present complex variants and, unlike books on Western paper, there is no help from paper or watermarks. For an example, see the ‘Chinese Books’ section of the website of Cambridge University Library, which includes digital copies of many items, including the famous Shi zhu zhai shu hua pu, or Ten Bamboo Studio Collection of Calligraphy and Painting by Hu Zhengyan (1584-1674), famous as the first book printed with polychrome xylography, on which see Thomas Ebrey, ‘The Editions, Superstates and States of the Ten Bamboo Studio Collection of Calligraphy and Painting’, East Asian Library Journal, vol. 14 (2010), pp. 1-119.

The earliest European account of papermaking in China is found in the famous volume of Arts, métiers et cultures de la Chine, représentés dans une suite de gravures, exécutées d’après les dessins originaux envoyés de Pékin, accompagnés des explications données par les missionaires français et étrangers, pensionnés par Louis XIV, Louis XV, et Louis XVI, Paris, Nepveu Libraire, 1814-15, which includes twelve hand-coloured plates showing the various stages of the process. The text on papermaking follows an analogous treatise on lacquer and lacquer making. Digital copies are easily found on the internet but the sequence is also reproduced in Polastron, Le papier​, cit., pp.33-35..

As far as more recent times go, a portrait of a Chinese papermaking community still using traditional methods is Jan Jacob Karl Eyferth, Eating Rice from Bamboo Roots: the Social History of a Community of Handicraft Papermakers in Rural Sichuan, 1920-2000, Cambridge (Mass.), the Harvard University Asia Center, 2009. Likewise the interaction of American papermaker, Elaine Koretsky, with traditional Chinese communities, is documented in her Killing Green. An Account of Hand Papermaking in China, Ann Arbor, The Legacy Press, 2009.

On papermaking in Korea, documented in the 1930s by Dard Hunter, see Aimee Lee, Hanji Unfurled. One Journey into Korean Papermaking, Ann Arbor, The Legacy Press, 2013.

The history and materials of papermaking in Japan are described in a successful and well-known book by Timothy Barrett, Japanese Papermaking. Traditions, Tools, and Techniques, with an appendix on alternative fibers by Winifred Lutz, New York, Weatherhill, 1983; reprinted Floating World Editions, 2006.

A precious testimony of traditional papermaking in Kashmir is recorded in a collection of 86 gouache paintings, showing local trades and crafts, brought together in an album made by an anonymous native artist some time between 1850 and 1860, acquired in 1904 by the Library of the British Museum (now obviously British Library). Early datings of the pictures, singly numbered Add. Or. 1660-1745, based on a mistaken belief about their provenance, attributed them to some time previous to 1830; more recent work argues that they belong instead to the decade 1850-60. The image showing papermaking at Add. Or. 1699 is reproduced in Polastron, Le papier, cit., p. 105 (mistakenly indicated as f. 40r in the manuscript). The same work interestingly relates it to a collection of 23 photographs taken at Srinagar in Kashmir in 1917 by William Raitt, who was a pioneer in the introduction of mechanical papermaking using bamboo pulp in India, now held by the Science Museum (viewable online). The gouache painting and the photographs are eerily similar. On papermaking in India in a wider sense, see the ample volume by Alexandra Soteriou, Gift of Conquerors: Hand Papermaking in India, Chidambaram, Mapin publishing, 1999 (not difficult to find in Western libraries or on the internet).


Medieval and Modern Arab Paper

The bibliographical discussion begins with an article, based principally on the archaeological discoveries in Egypt, by the Vienna palaeographer and papyrologist, Joseph von Karabacek, ‘Das arabische Papier. Eine historisch-antiquarische Untersuchung’, in Mittheilungen aus der Sammlung der Papyrus Erzherzog Rainer, vols. 2-3 (Vienna 1887), pp. 87-178, followed by ‘Neue Quellen zur Papiergeschichte’, vol. 4 (1888), pp. 75-122. His study for obvious reasons centres on the material discovered in the archeological sites in Egypt acquired by Archduke Rainer and now held by the National Library in Vienna. The first of these articles enjoyed a wide circulation as an offprint and is available in English as Arab Paper, translated by Don Baker and Susy Dittmar, London, Archetype Publications, 1991, reissued in 2001. The other fundamental Nineteenth-century article on the subject is inevitably Charles-Moïse Briquet, ‘Le papier arabe au Moyen âge et sa fabrication’, L’Union de la papeterie, (avril-septembre 1888), with a separate offprint: Berne, Imprimerie Suter & Lierow, 1888, reprinted in Briquet’s Opuscula. The Complete Works of Dr. C.M. Briquet without “Les filigranes”, Hilversum, the Paper Publications Society, 1955, pp. 162-169, which discusses Karabacek’s work, but also upholds the priority of his own studies on the absence of cotton fibres. Useful also for the secondary bibliography, which includes references to modern criticism in Arabic, is Adam Gacek, The Arabic Manuscript Tradition. A Glossary of Technical Terms and Bibliography, Leiden-Boston-Köln, Brill, 2001. In terms of the background history, the brief mention of waterpowered triphammers to produce pulp for papermaking appears in the Kitab al-Jamahir fi al-jawahir (On the Knowledge of Gems) by Medieval Arab scholar al-Bîrûnî (973-1051), and is discussed in particular in Donald R. Hill, A History of Engineering in Classical and Medieval Times, London, Routledge, 1984, pp. 169-171.

Though the matter of paper is treated on the edge of other subjects, a discussion well worth scrutiny for its intrinsic intelligence is formed by the early articles of French palaeographer, Jean Irigoin (1920-2006; for a bibliography of his writings, see the website of the College de France). In his first published work he provided a thumb-nail classification of the characteristics distinguishing Arab and Western paper, see ‘Les premiers manuscrits grecs écrits sur papier et le problème du bombycin’, Scriptorium, vol. 4 (1950), pp. 194-204, reprinted in Griechische Kodikologie und Textüberlieferung, herausgegeben von Dieter Harlfinger, Darmstadt, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1980, pp. 132-143. In this same article he draws attention to ms. Vat. Gr. 2200, attributed to c. 800 A.D., as probably being the oldest surviving manuscript on paper in a Western script. Irigoin also furnishes an excellent explanation, with diagrams, of the difference between the flexible and the rigid mould in ‘Papiers orientaux et papiers occidentaux. Les techniques de confection de la feuille’, Bollettino dell’Istituto Centrale per la Patologia del Libro, vol. 42 (1988), pp. 57-79. This last article is partially repeated and amplified in Idem, ‘Les papiers non filigranés. État present des recherches et perspectives d’avenir’, in Ancient and Medieval Book Materials and Techniques, Erice, 18-25 settembre 1992, a cura di Marilena Maniaci e Paola F. Munafò, Città del Vaticano, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1993, I, pp. 265-312. Further useful information about Arab paper in a codicological context is provided in the acts of the conference held in Paris in 1988, see Le papier au Moyen Âge, cit., 1999. Also valuable and informed is Geneviève Humbert, ‘Papiers non filigranés fabriqués au Moyen-Orient jusqu’en 1450. Essai de typologie’, Journal asiatique, vol. 286 (1998), pp. 1-54, and Idem, ‘Le manuscrit arabe et ses papiers’, Revue des mondes musulmans et de la Méditerranée, nn. 99-100 (2002), pp. 55-77 (available on line).

One feature of Medieval “Arab” paper whose purpose has remained obscure, to the puzzlement of scholars, are the zig-zag marks, seemingly made by a sort of comb while the freshly made sheet is still resting on the mould, that characterize Medieval Spanish and some Italian paper. See in particular: Ulman Schulte, ‘Einige Bemerkungen zu den Zick-Zack-Linien in frühspanischen Papieren’, Papiergeschichte, vol. 12 (1962), pp. 7-9; Paul Canart, Simona Di Zio, Lucina Polistena, Daniela Scialanga, ‘Une enquête sur le papier de type «Arabe occidental» ou «Espagnol non filigrané»’, in Ancient and Medieval Book Materials and Techniques, cit., 1993, pp. 313-393; Marie-Thérèse Le Léannec-Bavavéas, ‘Zigzag et filigrane sont-ils incompatibles? Enquête dans les manuscrits de la Bibliothèque nationale de France’, in Le papier au Moyen Âge, cit., 1999, pp. 119-133, who draws attention in particular to ms. Arabe 2291 at the Bibliothèque Nationale, where the paper exhibits both zig-zags and a watermark, strange though it might seem.

In the English-speaking, non-palaeographic universe, contributions by Don Baker (1932-94) have provided a system of classification that allows for a better periodisation and also geographical placing. Although Baker published little in his lifetime, his work has been continued and is summarised in Helen Loveday, Islamic Paper. A Study of the Ancient Craft, London, Archetype publications, 2001 (one could wish, however, that the photographs were of better quality). This is admirably complemented by a large and beautifully produced book by Jonathan M. Bloom, who is professor of Islamic and Asian art at Boston College, Massachusetts. His Paper before Print: The History and Impact of Paper in the Islamic World, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 2001, is perhaps more of a cultural history of the influence of paper on the Islamic world, which also does some useful debunking of Western preconceptions. It also begins with a useful survey of the Chinese and Far Eastern precursors of Arab papermaking. Traditional Arabs texts about papermaking, ink, and calligraphy, are assembled and translated in Jamâl Abarrou, L’Art du livre et sa fabrication au XIe siècle en Occident musulman et en Europe du sud. Encres, papiers, colles, enluminure, reliure et calligraphie, Reims, Jamâl Abarrou, 2015.

One well-worn legend relating to early Egyptian papermaking, with ghoulish overtones, involves the recycling of linen-wrappings taken from mummies. The source for the story is the Medieval philosopher Abd al-Laṭîf al-Baġdâdî (1162-1231), who in his Kitâb al-Ifâda wa-'l-i῾tibâr (Book of Information and Consideration) says that in Egypt the tomb-raiders sold the linen and hemp from the mummies to the papermakers. It has further been claimed that in the middle of the Nineteenth century large quantities of rags, taken from mummies, were imported from Egypt to feed the demands of the American paper industry, see Joseph A. Dane, ‘The Curse of the Mummy Paper’, Journal of American Printing History, vol. 17 (1995), pp. 18-25, reprinted in Idem, The Myth of Print Culture. Essays on Evidence, Textuality, and Bibliographical Method, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 2003, pp. 170-185. While Dane’s approach is to debunk the myth, in 2010 “Mummy scholar” S.J. Wolfe in a conference reported on line has drawn attention to a broadside printed at Norwich, Connecticut, in 1859, which specifically declares that it is printed on paper made with rags from imported mummies at the Chelsea Manufacturing Company of the same town (so it is true and they are coming to get you . AAaaaaargghhhh……!!!).

The Geniza documents recovered from the Cairo Synagogue by Solomon Schechter at the end of the Nineteenth century and now at Cambridge University Library are being put on line in a cutting-edge technology project by the Taylor-Schechter Geniza Research Unit (see website). It repays thoughtful browsing. They also issue a newsletter Geniza Fragments, which up to October 2016 has produced 72 numbers. As yet, relatively little attention has been paid to the paper as a physical support of the countless fragmentary texts, but fibre identification in the future might be able to provide valuable information.

From the Middle Ages and increasingly up to the beginning of the Nineteenth century, paper used in the Islamic world and exported down into Sub-saharan Africa was made in Italy: according to Bloom, Paper before Print, cit., 2001, p. 56, fig. 24, the earliest known copy of the Qur’ān, on Western paper with a crossed-key watermark, dates from about 1340. Italian papermakers from the Sixteenth-century onwards even went to the extent of designing a special three-crescent moon watermark, designating paper for export to the Islamic world (the reasons behind the mark are not known, but plausibly they involved the animal collagen used for the sizing and possible religious objections). Of course, in pure capitalist fashion (remember Japanese motor-bikes in the 1970s?), the consequence was to destroy the older local industry, see Leor Halevi, ‘Christian Impurity versus Economic Necessity: A Fifteenth-century Fatwa on European Paper’, Speculum, vol. 83 (2008), pp. 917-945. For later periods an excellent overview is available in Terence Walz, ‘The Paper Trade of Egypt and the Sudan in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries and its Re-export to the Bilâd as-Sûdân’, in Modernisation in the Sudan. Essays in Honour of Richard Hill, edited by M.W. Daly, New York, Lilian Barber Press, 1986, pp. 29-48, now updated and republished in The Trans-Saharan Book Trade: Manuscript Culture, Arabic Literacy and Intellectual History in Muslim Africa, edited by Graziano Krätli and Ghislaine Lydon, Leiden, Brill, 2011, pp. 73-108. The same Brill volume also includes Ghislaine Lydon, ‘A Thirst for Knowledge: Arabic Literacy, Writing Paper and Saharan Bibliophiles in the Southwestern Sahara’, pp. 35-72, which is more about books than paper, but nevertheless contains some valuable snippets of information. Also revealing for the paradoxical Islamic attitude to paper documents is the same author’s ‘A Paper Economy of Faith without Faith in Paper: A Reflection on Islamic Institutional History’, Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, vol. 71 (2009), pp. 647-659 (available on Ghislaine Lydon’s page at the History Department of UCLA).


Medieval Western Paper

The origins of Western paper are full of controversy, misleading data, unpublished data, too many failures to read what has been previously published, and equally many failures to challenge what has been previously published. So here are some issues that might be considered.

Paper most likely “came” to the West through Islamic Spain, where the primitive mills associated with Arab techniques were famously concentrated in the city of Játiva (or Xátiva), near Valencia, whose territory was overrun by Christian forces in 1244. Though it has been asserted that both stamping mills and the metal-based mould first appeared in Spain rather than in Italy, there is no reason to think that the invasion brought about innovation in traditional Islamic methods. Solid, and above all sceptical, assessments are provided by one of the most authoritative scholars of Medieval Spanish history, Robert I. Burns, S.J., in articles such as: ‘The Paper Revolution in Europe: Crusader Valencia’s Paper Industry – A Technological and Behavioral Breakthrough’, The Pacific Historical Review, vol. 50 (1981), pp. 1-30; Idem, Society and Documentation in Crusader Valencia. Diplomatarium of the Crusader Kingdom of Valencia: The Registered Charters of Its Conqueror Jaume I, 1257-1276. Part I, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1985; Idem, ‘Paper Comes to the West: 800-1400’, in Europäische Technik im Mittelalter 800 bis 1400: Tradition und Innovation, herausgegeben Uta Lindgren, Berlin, Gebracht Mann Verlag, 1996, pp. 413-422. In this last article, in particular, Burns demolishes the claims made by Oriol Valls i Subin't, who “has popularized a version of that thesis, in which Christian paper mills multiplied marvelously along the Catalan rivers ‘from Tarragona to the Pyrenees’ from 1113 to 1244. His many articles and two books, valuable for such topics as fiber analysis in medieval paper, continue to spread this untenable and indeed bizarre thesis … these were all in fact cloth fulling mills” (p. 415). For an overview of the history of milling technology, see Adam Robert Lucas, ‘Industrial Milling in the Ancient and Medieval Worlds: A Survey of the Evidence for an Industrial Revolution in Medieval Europe’, Technology and Culture, vol. 46 (2005), pp. 1-30. The Spanish Medieval industry survived up to about 1350, when it disappeared due to the competition with Italian imports, and this fact confirms the probability that it had not mastered mechanical beating nor introduced the metal-based mould. One important archive to have survived and to have provided important information for paper historians is that of the Kings of Aragon in Barcelona, see Carme Sistach, ‘Les papiers non filigranés dans les archives de la Couronne d’Aragon du XIIe au XIVe siècle’, in Le papier au Moyen Âge, cit., 1999, pp. 105-117, where analysis shows that the fibres in the earliest sheets were lightly beaten, suggesting that the action was hand-powered, and that the sizing was done with vegetable starch.

The earliest dated Western document on paper, written in Sicily in 1109, is held by the State Archive in Palermo, Tabulario di San Filippo di Fragalà, n. 9, and was discovered by Giuseppe La Mantia, Il primo documento in carta (Contessa Adelaide, 1109) esistente in Sicilia e rimasto sinora ​sconoscuito, Palermo, Stab. tip. A. Giannitrapani, 1908. A photograph of the document can also be seen in the Enciclopedia italiana di scienze, lettere ed arti, vol. IX (1931), tav. LV. It was restored in 1995: for fuller information, see Domenico Ventura, ‘Sul ruolo della Sicilia e di Amalfi nella produzione e nel commercio della carta: alcune considerazioni in merito’, in Alle origini della carta occidentale: tecniche, produzioni, mercati (secoli XIII-XV). Atti del convegno, Camerino, 4 ottobre 2013, a cura di Giancarlo Castagnari, Emanuela Di Stefano, Livia Faggioni, Fabriano, Fondazione Gianfranco Fedrigoni-Istituto Europeo di Storia della Carta e delle Scienze Cartarie ISTOCARTA, 2014, pp. 95-119: 104-105. After the Norman conquest of Sicily, the use of paper, which seems to have been common under the previous Arab administration, was discouraged and important documents were recopied on parchment. The text of the order by Frederick II in 1231, according to which all official documents on paper are to be recopied in this fashion is published in the Constitutiones Regis Siciliae, Liber I, titulus LXXX ‘De instrumentis conficiendis’, Naples 1786, reprinted Messina, Sicania, 1995, also in Giancarlo Castagnari, L’arte della carta nel secolo di Federico II, Fabriano, Pia Università dei Cartai, 1998, pp. 16-17. The fact does show that paper, albeit mistrusted in terms of durability, was freely available. Paper subsequently lived alongside parchment up to the advent of printing, albeit with an initial parallel use of animal skin in a large number of early editions, including a third of the surviving copies of the Gutenberg Bible. The vast increase in the quantity of material required and the complexity of printing on parchment, however, ensured the triumph of paper. This transition is skillfully charted by Paul Needham, ‘Book Production on Paper and Vellum in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries’, in Papier im Mittelalterlichen Europa, cit., 2015, pp. 247-274. 

The whole issue of describing and interpreting Medieval “Western” paper, or what followed on from the technical and technological revolution at Fabriano [6e. Marches], has been dominated by the question of the watermark. Obviously this is to some extent misleading, since from the late 1220s to the late 1280s paper was being produced that had all the relevant characteristics, excepting the watermark. This material, which is inevitably rare and difficult to describe, has not so far received all the attention it deserves, but see the already cited article by Jean Irigoin, ‘Les papiers non filigranés', cit. A further bibliographical round-up, comprising basically the Irigoin period, is Marie-Thérèse Le Léannec-Bavavéas, Les papiers non filigranés médiévaux: de la Perse à l’Espagne. Bibliographie 1950-1995, Paris, Editions du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 1998.

One much debated question in Medieval paper is sizing, or the issue of when the partial impermeability of the surface was achieved by animal collagen rather than starch-derived substances. A dated, but still useful article, is Henk Voorn, ‘A Brief History of the Sizing of Paper’, The Papermaker, vol. 30 (February 1961), pp. 47-53. The research laboratory established in 1932 by William James Barrow (1904-67) at the Virginia State Library in Richmond carried out destructive analysis of a sample of 1,470 examples of Renaissance and later paper, see W.J. Barrow Research Laboratory, Physical and Chemical Properties of Book Papers, 1507-1949, Richmond, W.J. Barrow Research Laboratory, 1974. More recent techniques, this time involving non-destructive analysis, applied to a sample of 1,495 items, including 363 printed items, of which 200 common to the previous Barrow investigation, has recently been conducted by the splendid ‘Paper through Time’ project at the University of Iowa, coordinated by Timothy D. Barrett (see website, which has further bibliography of a dauntingly scientific nature). What the survey shows is a high level of collagen sizing up to about the 1490s, after which date it drops, and the believable explanation is that printers preferred lightly-sized papers for their oil-based ink. Although the quantity of manuscript paper from later periods in the specimen pool is not large, as compared to the printed sample, it does suggest that paper destined for writing purposes received a higher degree of sizing than printing paper. The other inevitable defect of these studies, based on United States collections and the willingness or unwillingness of libraries there to make valuable material available for analysis, is the lack of genuinely early paper. The Barrow sample has little previous to the end of the Sixteenth century; the more ample ‘Paper through Time’ one has only three items, all Italian, previous to 1400 and relatively few before the onset of printing in the second half of the Fifteenth century. There is ample room therefore for a future project looking at paper in Italian archives at the end of the Thirteenth century, in order to clarify the passage from vegetable to animal sizing. One recent Italian publication, which provides information about vegetable or animal sizing in very early, i.e. pre-1300, paper is Giancarlo Castagnari, ‘Le origini della carta occidentale nelle valli appenniniche delle Marche centrali da una indagine archivistica’, in Alle origini della carta occidentale, cit., 2014, pp. 9-34, which cites analyses conducted in 1893 held in the archive of the Miliani firm. It is backed up by a paper in the same volume by Graziella Roselli, Claudio Pettinari, Noemi Proietti, Stefania Pucciarelli, Sara Basileo, ‘Tecniche diagnostiche per l’indagine di manufatti cartacei dell’area camerte-fabrianese (secoli XIII-XV)’, pp. 239-268. Twenty-one samples are reported on, mostly from local archives: only one item, dated 1286, appears sized with starch; otherwise collagen sizing prevails from an early date.

A census of 316 Thirteenth-century Greek manuscripts written on paper, which charts the passage from “Arab” paper to “Western”, published in a somewhat out of the way place, is that by Giovanna Derenzini, ‘La carta occidentale nei manoscritti greci datati del XIII e XIV secolo (con una giunta sulla produzione della carta a Fabriano agli inizi del Quattrocento)’, in Contributi italiani alla diffusione della carta in Occidente fra XIV e XV secolo, a cura di Giancarlo Castagnari, Fabriano, Pia Università dei Cartai, 1990, pp. 99-135.

References to the terms “ream” or “risma” in Medieval Italian documents are usefully brought together by Kirsten Schröter, Die Terminologie der italienischen Buchdrucker im 15. und 16. Jahrhundert: eine wortgeschichtliche Untersuchung mit besonderer Berücksichtigung von Venedig, Tübingen, Max Niemeyer, 1998, pp. 193-195. Given that the matter has arisen, a brief excursus into the terminology might be helpful. In paper commerce the smallest unit is the quire, obviously deriving from the Latin quaternum (fourfold) or quinternum (fivefold), i.e. what was assembled as a gathering in a parchment manuscript, almost always with four or five sheets (because of the behaviour of the membrane, larger gatherings can be awkward). When books started being constructed with paper, the association of quire with four or five was lost: on the one hand the term remained as a synonym for gathering, on the other in paper commerce it became a term for a unit of 25 sheets (or alternatively a “short quire” of 24 sheets). Twenty quires, or 500 sheets (the same quantity as in today’s standard pack of A3 or A4), made up a ream, and this should be taken as the standard definition. For instance, in L’Art de faire le papier Lalande cites the Arrest du Conseil d’État du Roi, 27 January 1739, which states specifically that “La rame de toutes sortes de Papiers sera composée de vingt mains, chaque main de vingt-cinq feuilles, non compris les feuilles d’enveloppe, qui se mettent dessus & dessous: & sera chaque rame, outré lesdites feuilles d’enveloppe, recouverte de deux feuilles de gros papier, appellé Maculature …” (p. 92. Translation: The ream for every kind of paper is to be made up of twenty quires, and each quire of twenty-five sheets, not including the so-called wrapping sheets, covered by two sheets of coarse paper, called maculature). There was, however, an alternative practice of a “short ream” of 480 sheets. In a ream the two outermost quires were known as “cording quires” or “cassie quires”, i.e. from the French cassé (broken), and were formed with defective sheets, for which, if they were damaged in transport, it was no matter. For larger quantities, 1,000 sheets = 40 quires = 2 reams = 1 bundle, or, alternatively: 960 sheets = 40 “short” quires = 2 “short” reams = 1 “short” bundle; and likewise: 5,000 sheets = 200 quires = 10 reams = 5 bundles = 1 bale, with the alternative: 4,800 sheets = 200 “short” quires = 10 “short” reams = 5 “short” bundles = 1 “short” bale. Just to complicate matters further, by the beginning of the Nineteenth century, to compensate wastage, printers had introduced their own separate quantities, i.e. 516 sheets, or 21½ “short” quires = 1 printer’s ream; 1,032 sheets = 2 printer’s reams = 1 printer’s bundle; and 5,160 sheets = 5 printer’s bundles = 1 printer’s bale. Try learning all that off by heart!

Two hefty tomes, with vivid orange covers, expound the lengthily and lovingly harvested knowledge of Ezio Ornato, Paola Busonero, Paola F. Munafò, M. Speranza Storace, La carta occidentale nel tardo Medioevo, Roma, Istituto Centrale per la Patologia del Libro, 2001, relating to an extensive survey of the paper in manuscripts and printed books up to the end of the Fifteenth century, known in the various ongoing reports as Progetto Carta, while for Francophones some of the material is reworked in Ezio Ornato, ‘Princesse ou Cendrillon? Quelques réflexions sur l’histoire du papier filigrané dans l’Occident médiéval’, Scrittura e civiltà, vol. 25 (2001), pp. 223-301. What it does represent is a corpus of just under a hundred manuscripts and incunabula that have been analysed in laboratory conditions in order to establish the “thickness” and the “whiteness” of the paper. The bad news is that these two volumes were planned as the first instalment of a much larger enterprise, now defunct (I won’t comment on the Italian habit of constructing cathedrals in the desert, but I’m sorely tempted). Since a lot of material, especially the images, will now never appear, the usefulness is much impaired; but nevertheless a huge amount of historical and codicological analysis has been poured into this work and, although it means having to wade through pages of graphs and statistics, and coping with some “ornate” Italian prose, it remains well worth the effort. The moment seems appropriate, moreover, to draw attention to the collected essays of Ezio Ornato: again a misnomer, Ornato and friends all on a bicycle together might have been a better title, since this particular codicologist has a deep fondness for collective enterprises, as the volume duly declares: La face cachée du livre médiéval. L’histoire du livre, vue par Ezio Ornato, ses amis et ses collegues, Roma, Viella, 1997. To this should be added a small volume, written by the man on his own, Apologia dell’apogeo. Divagazioni sulla storia del libro nel tardo medioevo, Roma, Viella, 2000, in which the first of the three essays is ‘Un amico poco fidato del manoscritto: la carta’ (pp. 19-32).


Renaissance to Eighteenth-century Descriptions and Images of Papermaking, and Manuals of a Later Era

When I started to compile this listing of all the early references to papermaking, rather ingenuously, I assumed that someone else, somewhere, somehow, had previously done much the same thing. But nothing! or at least I have so far failed to find it. So here are all the published references of a certain importance, both textual and visual, with accompanying bibliography where extant or useful, to the process, as a whole or in part, up to and slightly beyond the end of the Eighteenth century, after which date the sources become unmanageable. The ordering is unashamedly chronological and fuller discussions of all these items appear in Chapter 3.

● 1398. The text of the short treatise De insignis et armis by Bartolo da Sassoferrato, in which the great Medieval jurist famously (but erroneously) delineated the function of watermarks in paper, was left unfinished at his death and was completed by his son in law Niccolò Alessandri in 1358. As well as circulating in manuscript, it was first published in his Consilia, disputationes necnon tractatus in Lyon in 1498, followed in the Sixteenth century by inclusion in his Consilia, quaestiones, tractatus in Lyon in 1535 and in volume 11 of the complete edition of his works in Venice in 1570-71. Modern editions are Bartolus de Saxoferrato, Tractatus de insigniis et armis, mit Hinzufügung einer Übersetzung und der Citate neu herausgegeben von Felix Hauptmann, Bonn, P. Hauptmann, 1883; Bartholi De insigniis et armis, in Medieval Heraldry: Some 14th Century Heraldic Works, edited by Evan John Jones, Cardiff, printed by W. Lewis, 1943, pp. 224-252; A Grammar of Signs: Bartolo da Sassoferrato’s Tract on Insignia and Coats of Arms, edited and translated by Osvaldo Cavallar, Susanne Degenring, and Julius Kirshner, Berkeley, Robbins Collection Publications, University of California, Berkeley, 1995, appendix I, pp. 109-121, with the passage about watermarks at p. 113; it also includes a good English translation at pp. 145-157. The passage about Fabriano in the Eighteenth century was excerpted in Meerman’s De Chartae Vulgaris seu Lineae Origine, 1767, pp. 7-8 (see below), and in modern times is discussed in particular in Andrea F. Gasparinetti, Aspetti particolari della filigranologia, Milano, Rivista “Industria della carta”, 1964, p. 30. Lots of people have cited it since, usually taking it at face value;

● 1494. There is no modern critical text, unfortunately, of the De partibus aedium by the Parma humanist, Francesco Maria Grapaldo (1460-1515). The first edition attributed to 1494 (ISTC ig 00349000) survives in a little under fifty copies and can be viewed online (in a badly scratched microfilm) on the Gallica website, while in the Sixteenth century the work had a further five editions, with minor textual differences, in 1501, 1506, twice in 1516, and in 1517 [see Chapter 3]. The passage describing the papermaking process is found at f. o4v as part of book II, chapter 9, entitled Bibliotheca. It has been excerpted various times, for instance in Giacomo Sardini, Esame sui principj della francese ed italiana tipografia ovvero Storia critica di Nicolao Jenson, Lucca, per conto della Nuova Società Tipografica, nella Stamperia Bonsignori, 1796-98, III [Appendice], p. 98; Augustin Blanchet, Essai sur l’histoire du papier et de sa fabrication, Paris, Ernest Leroux éditeur, 1900, p. 63; Silvia Rizzo, Il lessico filologico degli umanisti, Roma, Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 1973, p. 18; and in Jósef Dabrowski-John S.G. Simmons, ‘Permanence of Early European Hand-made Papers’, Fibres and Textiles in Eastern Europe, vol. 11 (2003), pp. 8-13, also issued in the Papers of the 24th International Congress of Paper Historians, Porto, Portugal, 11-20 September 1998, Basel, Peter F. Tschudin, 2001, pp. 253-263. An Italian discussion of the passage, which unhelpfully does not include the Latin text, can be found in Giorgio Montecchi, ‘La carta come fondamento dell’humanitas vitae e della memoria nell’Europa del Quattrocento’, in Idem, Il libro nel Rinascimento. Saggi di bibliologia, Milano, La storia, 1994, pp. 111-129: 112-114.

● 1546. The earliest known piece of legislation relating to papermaking, which also lays down norms for the numbers of sheets in a ream and so on, is a Polish royal edict of 1546, see Józef Dąbrowski-John S.G. Simmons, ‘“Ad perpetuam rei memoriam …”. The Royal Regulation of Polish Papermaking in 1546’, in IPH Congress Book, vol. 10 (1994), pp. 44-51, also issued in parallel Polish and English versions in Przegląd Papierniczy, vol. 52 (1996), pp. 267-272, 329-335.

● 1558-65. The recently discovered manuscript sketch of a beating machine by Alberto Alberti (1526-80), attributed to c. 1558-65, belonging to the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal, can be viewed on the Centre’s website and is discussed by Thea Burns and Myra Nan Rosenfeld, ‘Design for Water-powered Stampers: Early Italian Papermaking Technology illustrated in a Drawing in the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal’, in Looking at Paper: Evidence & Interpretation, cit., 2001, pp. 99-104.

● 1568. The image of the papermaker in the Eygentliche Beschreibung aller Stände auff Erden, hoher und nidriger, geistlicher und weltlicher, aller Künsten, Handwercken und Händeln, durch d. weitberümpten Hans Sachsen gantz fleissig beschrieben u. in teutsche Reimen gefasset, Franckfurt am Mayn, bey Georg Raben in Verlegung Sigmund Feyerabents, 1568 (VD16 S-244), reprinted in 1574 (VD16 S-245), has been reproduced in just about every discussion of the history of papermaking, and is nowadays easily found in digital form, with the image of the paper factory at f. F2r. Likewise, the parallel Latin text by Hartmann Schopper, Πανοπλία. Omnium illiberalium mechanicarum aut sedentarium artium genera continens, Francoforti ad Moenum, apud Georgium Coruinum, impensis Sigismundi Feyerabent, 1568 (VD16 S-3897), with the image of the paper factory at f. C4r, is easily found as a digital text online. For a trilingual discussion of these early images, see W. Fr. Tschudin, Papierer, Buchdrucker und Illuminierer in alten Abbildungen des 16. und 17. Jahrhunderts = Papetiers, imprimeurs et enlumineurs dans des gravures anciennes des 16e et 17e siècles = Papermakers, Printers and Illuminators in Engravings of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, Basel, Sandoz, 1964. On Amman’s collaboration with the publisher Sigmund Feyerabend, see Ilse O’Dell, Jost Ammans Buchschmuck-Holzschnitte für Sigmund Feyerabend. Zur Technik der Verwendung von Bild-Holzstöcken in den Drucken von 1563-1599, Wiesbaden, Harrassowitz, 1993.

● 1578. The Theatre des instrumens mathematiques & mechaniques, or to give its alternative Latin title, the Theatrum instrumentorum et machinarum by Jacques Besson is bibliographically complicated, since the preliminary gathering exists in four different states or issues: two in French, one dated 1578 and the other dated 1579, one in Latin dated 1578; and one bilingual in both French and Latin, dated 1578. Although the title-page declares that it was published in Lyon by Barthelemy Vincent, it was actually printed in Geneva, see the splendid GLN15-16 datebase conceived by Jean-François Gilmont and maintained by the Bibliothèque de Genève for a more detailed analysis. The French 1578 issue was republished in facsimile in Rome, Edizioni dell’elefante, 2001, and is reproduced digitally also in Gallica. The 1579 reissue is available digitally on the website ‘Architectura. Architecture, textes, et images’ of the Centre d’Études Supérieures de la Renaissance (CESR) of the University of Tours. The plate showing the “Noua moletrinae trusatieis structura” is number 25. It is reproduced also in Hunter, Papermaking, cit., 2nd ed., p. 155.

● c. 1580. The regulations of the paper mill at Regensburg, dated c. 1580, are transcribed in the original German, with an accompanying French translation by Blanchet, Essai sur l’histoire du papier et de sa fabrication, cit., 1900, pp. 78-81.

● 1585. The Piazza universale di tutte le professioni del mondo by Tomaso Garzoni was first published in Venice by Giovanni Battista Somascho in 1585 (some copies have the variant date 1586), and was reprinted a total of fourteen times up to 1665. The most useful modern edition is that edited by Giovanni Battista Bronzini, Firenze, Olschki, 1996, which introduces the woodcuts from the Eygentliche Beschreibung by Jost Amman. The Discorso XXVIII has as its subject: “De’ scrittori, o scrivani, e cartari, e temperatori di penne, e cifranti, e professori di hieroglifici, et ortografi” (pp. 306-316), and burbles on at length about the cultural importance of the paper industry, but fails to say anything useful.

● 1588. The very bad poem by Thomas Churchyard (c. 1520-1604) has a fairly impossible title, which is rarely cited in its entirety, but which reads: A Sparke of Frendship and Warme Goodwill, that Shewest the Effect of True Affection and Vnfoldes the Finenesse of this World. Whereunto is Ioined the Commoditie of Sundrie Sciences, the Benefit that Paper Bringeth, with Many Rare Matters Rehearsed in the Same, with a Description & Commendation of a Paper Mill, Now and of Late Set Vp (neere the Towne of Darthford) by a High Germayn called M. Spilman, Ieweller to the Queen’s Most Excellent Maiestie, and was published in London in 1588 in an unsigned edition attributed to Thomas Orwin (ESTC S109866). The first edition is rare, but a facsimile of the Bodleian copy was issued by the Wynkyn de Worde Society in 1978. A German translation of the part about the paper mill was issued in 1941, see Thomas Churchyard, Johann Spielmann, ein deutscher Papiermacher in England: ein Gedicht aus dem Jahre 1588, ins Deutsche übertragen von Vera de Cordova, Zittau, Lehrwerkstatt für Schriftsatz und Druck, 1941. There have also been excerpts of the same by some English private presses. For a brief, but efficacious, discussion of the text, see Hunter, Papermaking, 2nd ed., cit., pp. 120-121.

● 1591. The description of the Renaissance papermaking industry by Angelo Rocca appears in his Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana a Sixto V. Pont. Max. in splendidiorem, commodioremq. locum translata, Romæ, ex Typographia Apostolica Vaticana, 1591, pp. 381-382. Though there have been ample studies on Rocca as the founder of the Biblioteca Angelica in Rome, for which it has been erroneously and unconvincingly claimed that it is Europe’s oldest, still extant “public library” (without any clear definition of what is understood by a public library, but whatever the definitions, the Malatestiana Library in Cesena, opened in 1454, and Francis Trigge Chained Library in the parish church of St. Wulfram’s in Grantham, established in 1598, are both older), this passage has not – to my knowledge – been re-edited in modern times.

● 1607. The fame of Vittorico Zonca’s Nouo teatro di machine et edificii not only meant that the first edition published in Padua, appresso Pietro Bertelli, 1607, was followed by further editions in 1621, 1627, and 1656, but that it has also enjoyed at least four modern photographic reprints, as follows: Roma, Edindustria, 1960; edited by Karl Weiss, Acuto, Aedes acutenses, 1969; with a presentation by Erminio Caprotti, Milano, L. Maestri tipografo ed editore, 1979; and edited by Carlo Poni, Milano, Il Polifilo, 1985.

● 1637. The first extensive Chinese account of papermaking, including woodcut illustrations of the process, is published by Sung Ying-Hsing, Thien Kung Kai Wu [The Exploitation of the Works of Nature]. Since it is a block-book, different impressions have different dates (Hunter gives it as 1634) and the illustrations are often included in discussions of the history of papermaking with only vague bibliographical references. A translation into English was provided by Sun Zen I-Tu and Sun Shiou-Chuan, T’ien-kung k’ai wu. Chinese Technology in the Seventeenth Century, Philadelphia-London, Pennsylvania University Press, 1966 (the Chinese names and title were printed as ideograms and thus transcriptions vary). Chapter 13, describing how the bamboo fibres are prepared for papermaking, is quoted at length in Tsien, Paper and Printing, cit., pp. 69-71. Tsien also includes useful notes provided by a subsequent Chinese scholar, Yang Chung-Hsi (1850-1900), which further clarify the process.

● 1649. The gablestone showing the interior of a papermaking factory on the house of Pieter van Haack in Amsterdam is reproduced in W.A. Churchill, Watermarks in Paper in Holland, England, France, etc., in the XVII and XVIII Centuries and their Interconnection, Amsterdam, Menno Hertberger & co., 1935, p. 10.

● 1651. The technically detailed and challenging description provided by Giovanni Domenico Peri in I frutti d’albero (1651) was edited in Italian by Manlio Calegari, ‘La cartiera genovese tra Cinquecento e Seicento’, in the series Quaderni del Centro di studio sulla storia della tecnica del Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, vol. 12 (1984), defined by Conor Fahy as “a publication difficult to come by even in Italy”. Fortunately Fahy himself has solved the problem with his own exemplary edition, including a rendering into English, see ‘Paper Making in Seventeenth-century Genoa: The Account of Giovanni Domenico Peri (1651)’, Studies in Bibliography, vol. 56 (2003-2004), pp. 243-259. Its contents are also discussed in the important books on papermaking in Genoa by Manlio Calegari and Paolo Cevini, see [6e. Liguria] below.

● 1658. In the Orbis sensualium pictus by Johann Amos Comenius the papermaking factory is usually n. 92 in the sequence. The earliest version of the rather roughly cut, but accurate, woodcut is reproduced in Tschudin, Grundzüge der Papiergeschichte, cit., 2002, p. 93 (p. 96 in the 2012 Italian translation). Several subsequent editions, among the hundreds of reprints in different languages, can be viewed on line: obviously the woodcuts have been done again in different printing shops, occasionally with changes to the iconography.

● 1661. The Theatrum Machinarum Novum, neu-vermehrter Schauplatz der mechanischen Künsten, handelt von allerhand Wasser-Wind-Ross-Gewicht- und Hand-Mühlen, wie dieselbige zu dem Frucht-Mahlen, Papyr- Pulver- Stampff-Segen- Bohren- Walcken-Mangen, und der gleichen anzuordnen, by Georg Andreas Böckler, appeared in Nuremberg, in Verlegung Paulus Fürsten, gedruckt bey Christoff Gerhard, in 1661 (VD17 3:311413X), and was reissued in 1673 (VD17 39:124700W); a new edition was published in 1703. A Latin version, with the title Theatrum Machinarum Novum, exhibens Aquarias, Alatas, Iumentarias, Manuarias; Pedibus, ac Ponderibus Versatiles, Plures, et Diversas Molas, Variis frumentis commolendis, Chartae, & nitrato pulveri apparando, diversis tundendis, serrandis, terebrandis, panno constipando, decorando, aliisque usibus destinatas, adaptatas, was published in Köln in 1662 (VD17 23:296774F), with a further edition in Nuremberg in 1686 (VD17 12:654543E). The copper-plate illustrations form a sequence at the end of this large folio volume: that showing the papermill (n. 73) has been reproduced in various histories of the book, such as the recent Oxford Companion to the Book (2010), vol. 1, p. 80, and is easily found in online resources.

● c. 1689. The original edition of the Curioser Spiegel, in welchem der allgemeine Lauff des ganzen menschlichen Lebens ... vorgestellt wird, by Elias Porzelius, published in Nuremberg, verlegt bei Johann Endter, c. 1689, is rare, but the images are easily found in art history databases, for example in the Objektkatalog der Sammlungen des Germanischen Nationalmuseums. A water-coloured copy of ‘Das wohlausgesonnene Pappiermachen’ is also reproduced in Gutenberg: aventur und kunst. Vom Geheimunternehmen zur ersten Medienrevolution. Katalog zur Austellung der Stadt Mainz anlässlich des 600. Geburtstages von Johannes Gutenberg, 14. April-3. Oktober 2000, herausgegeben von der Stadt Mainz, Mainz 2000, p. 171, and the same is discussed by Klaus Roemer, Geschichte der Papiermühlen in Westpreussen und Danzig, nebst einem Anhang für den Netzedistrikt, Münster, Nicolaus-Copernicus Verlag, 2000, p. 158.

● 1693. The whereabouts of the only surviving copy of Papyrus sive Ars Conficiendae Papyri by Jesuit priest, Jean Imberdis, published Claromonti, apud Damianum Boujon, 1693, are not known today. A facsimile of the original, accompanied by a translation by Augustin Blanchet, was published in Paris by Charles Béranger in 1899. A German text was published as Papyrus des Pater Imberdis Sang vom Papier, translated by Wilhelm Niemeyer, edited and published by Armin Renker, in 1944. An English translation by Eric Laughton was published as Papyrus, or the Craft of Paper, in a limited edition by the Paper Publications Society in 1952.

● 1718. The pamphlet by Leonhard Christoph Sturm, Vollständige Mühlen-Baukunst, Augsburg, Wolff, 1718, is a treatise describing the various types of hydraulically-powered mill. The images include a traditional paper stamping mill at Tab. XXII, Tab. XXIII, Tab. XXIV, followed by the newer Hollander beater at Tab. XXV, Tab. XXVI. A digital version can be viewed on the site Echo. Cultural Heritage Online. The subsequent work by Leendert van Vuuren, Jacob Polly, and Cornelis van Vuuren, Groot Volkomen Moolenbock, 2 vols., Amsterdam, Johannes Covens & Cornelis Mortier, 1734-36, is less easily found.

● 1728. The text of the Cyclopædia, or, An Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences by Ephraim Chambers (1728) is most easily consulted (and downloaded) on the History of Science and Technology website of the University of Wisconsin. The entry on ‘Paper’ does not appear in the main sequence, but has to be sought in the Addenda at the end of the second volume. Chambers’ original entry was cannibalised and elaborated in subsequent English-language encyclopedias, often with interesting additions of detail, such as in the Pantologia. A New Cabinet Cyclopedia, published in 1819, which adds information about recent technological developmentsm in particular the Fourdrinier machine.

● 1761. L’Art de faire le papier by Joseph Jérôme Lefrançois de Lalande first appeared in the Descriptions des arts et métiers of the Académie Royale des Sciences, Paris, chez Desaint & Saillant, 1761 (a photographic reprint was issued by the Scolar Press at Ilkley in 1975) and it was republished in an augmented form in 1820 with an introduction and notes by Elié Bertrand (viewable in Gallica). A modern critical edition of the original French version is however very much a desideratum. The manuscript ‘Description d’une des plus considerables papeteries d’Auvergne’ by Paul Sevin (1693) is held by the Bibliothèque de l’Institut de France, ms. 2393, and its relationship both to Lalande and to the article in the Encyclopédie is described by Madelaine Pinault Sorensen, ‘L’article Papier de l’Encyclopédie’, in Le papier à l’oeuvre, cit., 2011, pp. 76-80. On the history of the papermaking factory L’Anglée at Châlette-sur-Loing, near Montargis, see Châlette-sur-Loing. Deux siècles d’images, Millau, Maury imprimeur, 1976, which, as well as the inevitable plates from the Encyclopédie, includes interesting photographic documentation on the building’s history as the Hutchinson rubber factory.

The publication of Lalande’s original report generated intense interest at the time and paradoxically the translations into other European languages have fared much better at the hands of scholarship. The Italian version published at Parma in 1762 was made available with an expert commentary under the title Osservazioni intorno all’arte di fabbricare la carta, a cura di Andrea F. Gasparinetti, Milano, Il Polifilo, 1962, although some illustrations of the original are omitted and Lalande’s name is not mentioned on the titlepage (so finding it in catalogues can be problematic). An English version appeared in the Universal Magazine, again in 1762, and this text was re-edited by Colin Cohen and Geoffrey Wakeman for the Plough Press in Loughborough in 1976: The Art of Making Paper: taken from the Universal Magazine of Knowledge and Pleasure ... here selected from Volumes X, XXX & XXXII. A modern English translation by Richard MacIntyre Atkinson has been published with the title The Art of Papermaking, Kilmurry, The Ashling Press, 1976. A German text was also published in 1762 and has had a modern reprint with additional commentary, see Die Kunst Papier zu machen, nach dem Text von Joseph Jerom François de la Lande, ubersetzt und kommentiert von Johann Heinrich Gottlob von Justi, 1762, herausgegeben von Alfred Bruns, Münster, Schweizer Papier historiker, 1984. Subsequently it was published in a Spanish translation, see: Arte de hacer el papel segun se practíca en Francia, y Holanda, en la Cina, y en el Japon. Descripcion de su origen, de las diferentes materias de que puede fabricarse, de los Molinos Holandeses, y de los de Cylindros; y del arte de hacer los cartones, caxas, y varios adornos de pasta, Madrid, por Pedro Marin, 1778. The apothecary Petrus Johannes Kasteleijn, or Kasteleyn (1746-94), published a Dutch translation of the French text, with the title De Papiermaker, Dordrecht, A. Blussé en Zoon, 1792, rather than producing an original treatise, as originally intended, due to Dutch fears about the betrayal of industry secrets, see Arianne Baggerman, Publishing Policies and Family Strategies. The Fortunes of a Dutch Publishing House in the 18th and Early 19th Centuries, Leiden-Boston, Brill, 2014, pp. 326-329. Last in the sequence of European translations was the Polish version in 1799.

One very useful assessment of papermaking processes, which takes as its basis the text and the illustrations of Lalande, is the monograph number of The Paper Conservator, vol. 13 (1989), containing a report by Timothy D. Barrett, in which pp. 7-27 are dedicated to ‘Early European Papermaking Methods 1400-1800’. An updated text is now available online at the already praised ‘Paper through Time’ website at the University of Iowa [35].

● 1765. The Encyclopédie des arts et métiers was first published in Paris in folio format and went through several editions in other centres, including Livorno (or, to give it its English exonym, Leghorn) in Italy, before metamorphosising into the Encyclopédie méthodique. Anyone using it today is invited to pay due heed to the distinction between the main alphabetical series of entries, issued in seventeen volumes from 1751 to 1765, and the separate series containing the copperplate illustrations, entitled Receuil de planches sur les sciences, les arts libéraux, et les arts méchaniques, in eleven volumes, which appeared from 1762 to 1772. The texts of the main entry and the illustrations have to be read in parallel. The entry Papeterie in the Encyclopédie has been brought together with other entries and the illustrations relating to book-making by Giles Barber, Bookmaking in Diderot’s Encyclopédie, Farnborough, Gregg International, 1973. On the identities of contributors, see Frank D. Kafker, The Encyclopedists as Individuals. A Biographical Dictionary of the Authors of the Encyclopédie, Oxford, The Voltaire Foundation, 1988. Beware on the other hand of a collection of illustrations, comprising ‘Papetterie’, ‘Fonderie en caracteres d’imprimerie’, ‘Imprimerie en caracteres’, ‘Relieur’, ‘Imprimerie en taille douce’, and ‘Marbreur de papier’, brought together by the Bibliothèque de l’Image (Paris 2001), since it includes only the introductions to the images, without the more substantial entries from the main series. Although infinite works have been written about the Encyclopédie’s psychological, social, and intellectual impact, the one book necessary to read in order to understand the intricacy of its textual and bibliographical history is Robert Darnton, The Business of Enlightenment. A Publishing History of the Encyclopédie, 1775-1800, Cambridge (Mass.), Harvard University Press, 1987.

What happens next to the Encyclopédie entry on papermaking is quite fun, though again the process cries out for a fuller study. The significant revision and expansion of the original for inclusion in Panckoucke’s Encyclopédie méthodique (where it appeared in the section Arts et métiers méchaniques, vol. V, 2 partie) was entrusted to the geographer Nicolas Desmarest (1725-1815), who in 1768 and 1777 made journeys to Holland to study the workings of the paper mills there and published, after the first of these trips, his ‘Premier mémoire sur les principales manipulations qui sont en usage dans les papeteries de Hollande, avec l’explication physique des résultats des ces manipulations’, in the Mémoires de l’Académie Royale des Sciences, 1771, pp. 335-364, following it with a ‘Second mémoire sur la papeterie, dans lequel, en continuant d’exposer la méthode hollandaise, l’on traite de la nature et des qualités des pâtes hollandaises et françaises; de la manière dont elles se comportent dans les procédés de la fabrication; et des apprêts; enfin des différents usages auxquels peuvent être propres les produits de ces pâtes’, 1774, pp. 599-687 (also circulated as an extract, which can cause confusion in cataloguing). He not only revised Goussier’s unsigned original version, mainly with a series of inserts, but also published it under his own name as L’Art de la papeterie, A Paris, de l’Imprimerie de Monsieur, 1789. But biter bit! His version became the basis for a work by Louis Sébastien Lenormand (1757-1839), better remembered as the inventor in 1783 of the parachute (not so strange as it might seem, since the Montgolfier paper factory in Annonay was involved in the construction of the first hot-air balloons), entitled Manuel du fabricant de papier, ou De l’art de la papeterie, Paris, à la Librairie Encyclopédique de Roret, 1833.

● 1765-71. Original copies of the Versuche und Muster ohne alle Lumpen oder doch mit einem geringen Zusatze derselben Papier zu machen by Jacob Christian Schäffer, containing samples of different sorts of vegetable fibre used to make paper, are fairly rare, but can be viewed in Google books. As with Lalande, this scientist with wide-ranging interests has generated a considerable bibliography, but on his specific contribution to the history of papermaking, see Henk Voorn, Rondom Jacob Christian Schäffer. Een bijdrage tot de geschiedenis der papierfabricage in de achttiende eeuw, Amsterdam, De Papierwereld, 1950; Eckart Roloff, ‘Jacob Christian Schäffer. Der Regensberger Humboldt wird zum Pionier für Waschmaschinen, Pilze und Papier’, in Idem, Göttliche Geistesblitze. Pfarrer und Priester als Erfinder und Entdecker, Weinheim, Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, 2010, pp. 159-182.

● 1767. The letters, which arrived from all over Europe about the origins of rag-based paper, were published as: Gerardi Meerman et Doctorum Virorum ad eum Epistolae et Observationes De Chartae Vulgaris seu Lineae Origine, edidit ac praefatione instruxit Jacobus van Vassen, Hagae-Comitum, apud Nicolaum van Daalen, 1767 (available in Google books). On the episode, see Peter Bower, ‘The White Art: The Importance of Interpretation in the Analysis of Paper’, in Looking at Paper. Evidence & Interpretation, cit., 2001, pp. 5-16.

● 1769. The Italian Dizionario delle arti e de’ mestieri was published in Venice by Modesto Fenzo in 18 volumes from 1768 to 1778, and was for the most part an unashamed paraphrase and reduction of the Encyclopédie. The first six volumes were authored by Francesco Griselini, who is therefore responsible for the entry on ‘Cartera’ in vol. 4 (1769), pp. 131-240; the remainder were written by Marco Fassadoni.


Histories of Papermaking Districts or of Single Mills

There has been considerable work in this field of late, a lot of it illustrated with attractive period photographs, while older writings come from the ever-glorious Paper Publications Society. For obvious reasons, comprehensiveness is unthinkable, given the vast number of brief articles or notes, often by local historians, on the history of single mills, for which I invite the user to explore the more general bibliographical resources listed at the beginning of this chapter [0]. Here I have tried to stick to monograph publications, with the occasional mention of some more substantial articles. The entries in this section are ordered by countries, regions or equivalents, and single towns.

[a] Austria. See Georg Eineder and E.J. Labarre, The Ancient Paper-Mills of the Former Austro-Hungarian Empire and their Watermarks, Hilversum, Paper Publications Society, 1960. Austria, of course, has to be taken sensu lato, since in the Nineteenth century and even before, the Hapsburg territories included much of Northern Italy, as well as Southern Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and most of the Balkans. This volume provides excellent tracings of 1,871 watermarks, often distinguished as right or left (presumably on the sheet viewed from the mould side, though this is not specified), but with no mention of twins.

[b] Bulgaria. In reality as a province of the Ottoman empire, but with paper mainly imported from Italy and, later, France. Italian papermakers soon developed an apposite watermark for paper for the Islamic world, usually three crescent moons, or alternatively worked a single crescent moon into other varieties of watermark, for instance a crown. For these same reasons such papers are rare in Western collections, but obviously abound in those of the former Ottoman empire. These several Bulgarian volumes usefully pay considerable attention to these watermarks, see Vsevolod Nikolaev, Watermarks in the Ottoman Empire, Sofia, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, 1954; Asparoukh Velkov-Stephane Andreev, Filigranes dans les documents ottomans. Trois croissants, Sofia, Éditions Texte Trayanov, 1983; Asparouh Velkov, Les filigranes dans les documents ottomans. Divers types d’images, Sofia, Éditions Texte Asparouh Trayanov, 2005; Stefan Andreev, Les filigranes dans les documents ottomans. Couronne, Sofia, Éditions Texte Asparouh Trayanov, 2007. In these publications the images are mostly acquired with good quality β-radiographs, so worth looking at. In terms of provenance identification, further scholars working on these papers should reference the Toscolano source material cited below: for instance, the one-headed eagle over the letters GFA in paper from the end of the 18th century identifies the Andreoli firm (GFA = Giovanni di Faustino Andreoli).

[c] France. The best source for information about mills and districts in France up to 1600 remains Briquet, though the organisation of the repertory often makes it difficult to find (an index was added however in the 1968 reprint edited by Allan Stevenson). A pioneering pre-Briquet study is Étienne Midoux-Auguste Matton, Étude sur les filigranes des papiers employés en France aux XIVeet XVesiècles, accompagnée de 600 dessins lithographiés, Paris, Dumoulin; A. Claudin, 1868. Post-Briquet, further work was done by Henri Alibaux (1872-1941), see in particular Les premières papeteries françaises, Paris, les Arts et le livre, 1926. A very impressive assemblage of secondary sources is available in Raymond Gaudriault, Filigranes et autres caractéristiques des papiers fabriqués en France aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles, Paris, CNRS Éditions, 1995, pp. 311-319. The same work includes an extensive listing of known names of papermakers (pp. 166-280) and also of their monograms (pp. 281-310). A Supplément, containing further work by the author up to 2003, has also been published: Angoulême, Association Française pour l’Histoire et l’Étude du Papier et des Papeteries, 2017. Useful general information can also be be found in Marie-Ange Doizy-Pascal Fulacher, Papiers et moulins: des origines à nos jours, Paris, Éditions Technorama, 1989, new edition: Paris, Art & métiers du livre, 1997. In terms of specific geographical areas, references are based on the 2014 Régions, though in some cases the nomenclatures are provisional.


Annonay. In France the most fascinating episode is the link between ballooning and papermaking, since the Montgolfier brothers, Joseph (1740-1810) and Étienne (1745-99), were respectively the twelfth and fifteenth offspring of a family of papermakers of Annonay, see Marie-Hélène Reynaud, Les moulins à papier d’Annonay à l’ère pré-industrielle: les Montgolfier et Vidalon, Annonay, Éditions du Vivarais, 1981; Idem, Une histoire de papier: les papeteries Canson et Montgolfier, Annonay, Canson, 1989. The picture is updated in Leonard N. Rosenband, Papermaking in Eighteenth-Century France. Management, Labor and Revolution at the Montgolfier Mill, 1761-1805, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000, which draws on the still largely intact Montgolfier archive and focuses in particular on a bitter strike and lockout in 1781. On the history of flight and its early links with the papermaking industry, see Charles Coulston Gillespie, The Montgolfier Brothers and the Invention of Aviation 1783-1784, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1983. The Montgolfier factory was also the first in France to make wove paper in 1777-79, see Marius Audin, ‘De l’origin du papier vélin’, Gutenberg Jahrbuch, 1928, pp. 69-86.

Auvergne. On the general history of papermaking in the area, see Élie Cottier, Le papier d’Auvergne: histoire d’un vieux métier, Clermont-Ferrand, Éditions Volcans, 1974; Jean-Louis Boithias and Corinne Mondin, Les moulins à papier et les anciens papetiers d’Auvergne, Nonette, Éditions Créer, 1981; and Pierre-Claude Reynard, Histoires de papier: la papeterie auvergnate et ses historiens, Clermont-Ferrand, Presses universitaires Blaise-Pascal, 2001. A remarkable labour is Pierre Delaunay, Catalogue des filigranes relevés sur des papiers d’archives d’Auvergne, Clermont-Ferrand, Académie des Sciences, Belles-lettres, et Arts de Clermont-Ferrand, 1997. It furnishes the tracings of 2,879 watermarks, organised in Briquet fashion and scrupulously cross-referenced to Les filigranes. The mills of the Auvergne in particular supplied Renaissance Lyon, on which see Pierre Chazal, ‘Auvergne et Lyonnais au XVIe siècle. Les achats de papier d’Ambert par S. Gault, marchand lyonnais (1573-1582)’, Revue d’Auvergne, vol. 95 (1981), pp. 93-102.

Grenoble and the Dauphiné. See Jean-Pierre Borgis, Moulin-Vieux. Histoire d’une papeterie dauphinoise (1869-1989), Grenoble, Presses universitaires de Grenoble, 1991; Carole Darnault, Rives, la mémoire du papier. Histoire d’une papeterie dauphinoise, Grenoble, Presses universitaires de Grenoble; Musée Dauphinois, 2000.


Troyes. Although papermaking on an Italian model first established itself in France in the Auvergne and in the hills of the South-eastern Massif Central, the needs of Paris encouraged the industry to shift further North, so that from the Fourteenth century onwards the city of Troyes became a major producer. See Louis Le Clert, Le papier. Recherches et notes pour servir à l’histoire du papier, principalement à Troyes et aux environs depuis le Quatorzième siècle, Paris, à l’Enseigne du Pégase, 1926, 2 vols. Includes tracings of watermarks from the local mills.

Vosges. See Jean-Marie Janot, Les moulins à papier de la région vosgienne, Nancy, Impr. Berger-Levrault, 1952.


See Alexandre Nicolaï, Histoire des moulins à papier du Sud-ouest de la France, 1300-1800: Périgord, Agenais, Angoumois, Soule, Béarn, Bordeaux, G. Delmas, 1935, 2 vols., reprinted Monein, Éd. PyréMonde, 2006.


See Jacques Duval, Moulins à papier de Bretagne du XVIe au XIXe siècle. Les papetiers et leurs filigranes en Pays de Fougères, Paris, L’Harmattan, 2005.


See René Dubois, Les moulins à papier de Maromme: l’histoire de la fabrication du papier dans la vallée du Cailly du XVéme siècle au XIXéme siècle, Luneray, Éditions Bertout, 1996.

[d] Germany. A history of the papermill as part of an industrial economy, which regularly innovates in response to competition, is available in the two large tomes by Günter Bayerl, Die Papiermühle. Vorindustrielle Papiermacherei auf dem Gebiet des alten deutschen Reiches, Frankfurt am Main, Peter Lang, 1987. An overview of the watermarks, mostly from Central and Eastern Europe, present in one collection is The Nostitz Papers. Notes on Watermarks found in the German Imperial Archives of the 17th & 18th Centuries, and Essays showing the Evolution of a Number of Watermarks, cit., 1956.

Bavaria. The first papermill in Germany is held to be that founded by Ulman Stromeir at Nuremberg in 1390, famously depicted a century later in a woodcut in the Schedel Nuremberg chronicle, see Wolfgang Von Stromer, ‘Die erste Papiermühle in Mitteleuropa: Ulman Stromeirs “Hadermühle” Nürnberg 1390-1453, an der Wiege der Massenmedien’, in Produzione e commercio della carta e del libro, cit., 1992, pp. 297-311.

Brandenburg. Dominated for a long time by Italian and Swiss exports, Germany was slow to establish a real papermaking industry of its own, with the first mechanised mill built only in 1818. See Klaus B. Bartels, Papierherstellung in Deutschland. Von der Gründung der ersten Papierfabriken in Berlin und Brandenburg bis heute, Berlin, Be.bra Wissenschaft Verlag, 2011.

Sachsen. An ample survey is the self-published Helmut Cedra, Aus Tradition geschöpft. 450 Jahre Papierherstellung in Königsten/Sachsen, Kurort Gohrisch, Helmut Cedra, 2010.

West Prussia. The portrait of activity in one area is provided in Klaus Roemer, Geschichte der Papiermühlen in Westpreussen und Danzig, cit., 2000.

[e] Italy. There is no proper overview of the whole history of the paper industry in Italy. A survey of some 300 late Eighteenth-century Italian watermarks in documents in Dutch archives is published in Theo Laurentius-Frans Laurentius, Italian Watermarks 1750-1800, Leiden-Boston, Brill, 2016. It appears more an excuse to demonstrate reproductions achieved with Soft x-ray radiography [26] than to produce an in-depth analysis of Italian output of the period.

The discussion that follows is arranged on the basis of the modern Regioni.


Papermaking in this area was largely under the aegis of nearby Fabriano, see Jukic Fredijana, ‘Le origini della manifattura della carta in Abruzzo. Le cartiere di Sulmona e de l’Aquila (secoli XIV-XV)’, in Alle origini della carta occidentale, cit., 2014, pp. 169-198.


Amalfi. Land access to Amalfi, except by mule, was only achieved in the Twentieth century, otherwise this beautiful city on the peninsula of the same name was only travelled to exclusively by boat. Its commercial and political significance in the Middle ages as one of the four Maritime republics meant that through commerce with North Africa and Spain it acquired a very ancient papermaking industry, probably using Arab methods. The earliest documents mentioning “resimi tres de charta” go back to 1268, see Domenico Ventura, ‘Sul ruolo della Sicilia e di Amalfi nella produzione e nel commercio’, in Alle origini della carta occidentale, cit., 2014, p. 112, who provides further bibliography on the Medieval period. In time, after adopting Fabriano techniques, Amalfi became the main supplier for the Neapolitan printing industry, see Gregorio E. Rubino, Le cartiere di Amalfi. Profili. Paesaggi protoindustriali del Mediteranneo, Napoli, Giannini editore, 2006. Further information can be found in Vincenzo Trombetta, L’editoria napoletana dell’Ottocento. Produzione, circolazione, consumo, Milano, Franco Angeli, 2008, which dedicates a chapter to Amalfi papermaking in the 19th century. A personal history is that by Angelo Tajani, Sulle orme della carta: dagli albori del più importante veicolo della cultura all'industrialismo nei ricordi di un'infanzia trascorsa in un'antica cartiera amalfitana, a cura di Francesco Saverio Alonzo, Salerno, De Luca, 1995.

Emilia Romagna.

Bologna. Two significant and well-documented studies, with ample reference to archive sources, are Pierangelo Bellettini, ‘Cartiere e cartari’, in Produzione e circolazione libraria a Bologna nel Settecento. Avvio di un’indagine. Atti del V colloquio, Bologna, 22-23 febbraio 1985, Bologna, Istituto per la Storia di Bologna, 1987, pp. 17-89; Idem, ‘Il gonfalone, l’àncora e la stella. Filigrane bolognesi nella prima metà del XVIII secolo’, in Produzione ed uso delle carte filigranate in Europa, cit., 1996, pp. 269-308.

Friuli-Venezia Giulia.

In the late Middle ages this area had a certain number of papermaking factories along the base of the mountains, though relatively little research has been done. Briquet knew and cites an article by the Udine librarian, Vincenzo Joppi, L’arte della stampa in Friuli, Udine, Tipografia G.B. Doretti e soci, 1880, which mentions the existence of a papermill at Cividale in 1293, but no further information is extant.

Gorizia. Information on the papermills established in the Eighteenth century is available in Eineder-Labarre, The Ancient Paper-Mills of the Former Austro-Hungarian Empire, cit., pp. 87-92.

Pordenone. The area to the West of the Tagliamento river became an important paper-producing area in the Eighteenth and early Nineteenth centuries, supplying the Venetian publishing industry and exporting into the Eastern Mediterranean, in particular through the figure of the industrialist Andrea Galvani, see Ivo Mattozzi, ‘I Galvani, fabbricanti di carta (1744-1855). Un modello di formazione dell’imprenditorialità?’, in Andrea Galvani, 1797-1855. Cultura e industria nell’Ottocento a Pordenone, a cura di Gilberto Ganzer, Pordenone, Edizioni Studio tesi, 1994, pp. 17-41. Also, for the outlying district of San Valentino, see: Acque e cartiera nel parco di San Valentino, Pordenone, Comune-Biblioteca dell’immagine, 1997.


Genoa. The inevitable starting point is Briquet’s first great sally into the field of watermark scholarship: ‘Papiers et filigranes des Archives de Gênes 1154 à 1700’, Atti della Società ligure di storia patria, vol. 19/2 (1887), pp. 269-394, better known from the substantial repaged offprint, Genève, H. Georg, Libraire-éditeur, 1888 (the title-page says “avec 593 dessins autographiés”, but there are in fact 594 in the listing), republished in the already mentioned, but never too highly praised: Briquet’s Opuscula. The Complete Works of Dr. C.M. Briquet without “Les filigranes”, Hilversum, the Paper Publications Society, 1955, pp. 171-218, planches I-LXXV. As Conor Fahy has since observed, “this article contains one of the great understatements of scholarship, when Briquet refers to his contribution, with its 594 tracings of watermarks, as ‘de simples notes d’un touriste en passage’”, see Fahy, ‘Paper Making in Seventeenth-century Genoa’, cit. (2003-04), p. 245. Rather too many subsequent scholars, especially those of the lazy or superficial variety, have blithely assumed that the information herein was absorbed into Les filigranes; it wasn’t, or only very partially. A very quick comparison, for instance, is provided by my favourite ‘Basilic’ (Dragon) watermark, of which the Genoa article includes eight examples and Les filigranes 110. In three instances the same image, albeit turned around in every case, appears in both repertories: nn. 27 (= 2617), 28 (= 2618), 32 (= 2643); in a fourth, n. 29, the reference is a secondary one (n. 2624), which does not mention that the image appears in the earlier article; the remaining four tracings, i.e. nn. 30 (dated 1445), 31 (dated 1441), 33 (dated 1448), and 34 (dated 1475), however, do not make their way into the successive magnum opus. Mine might well be a vox clamantis in deserto, but I do get annoyed with the plethora of state-of-the-art, cutting-edge, hypertechnological, nerd-inspired, projects, that put this and that on line in fantastic, head-spinning, exciting new solutions, but cannot find the time to sit down and do some simple straightforward bibliographical research, or even just read. So, I draw attention to the fact that a more than worthwhile project would be an extended comparison between the two publications, in order to produce a concordance and eventually recover in a digital format the missing images. A pioneering website (at least for its time), which translates Briquet’s article into a digital format, is Le filigrane degli archivi genovesi, but which has run into engineering and software problems and so is stuck in 2009: nevertheless worth a glance.

The all-important document, which, on the 24th June 1235, records an agreement to establish a papermaking shop in Genoa, is to be found at the Archivio di Stato, Archivio Notarile di Genova, Notaro Gianuino de Predono ed altri, anno 1230, f. 304r. The text was published and discussed by Briquet, ‘Papiers et filigranes des Archives de Gênes 1154 à 1700’, cit., 1888, p. 36, of the offprint (again, except for a fleeting reference, this information does not transit into Les filigranes). A more recent discussion is Peter F. Tschudin, ‘Paper Comes to Italy’, in Papers of the 24th International Congress of Paper Historians, cit., 2001, pp. 60-66. Since the whole matter of the early chronology of paper-making in Italy is extremely controversial, this is a very important item and repays careful scrutiny.

Voltri, or the hilly area to the West of Genoa. For a general introduction, see Manlio Calegari, La manifattura genovese della carta (sec. XVI-XVIII), Genova, Ecig, 1986. An extraordinary book, written by a historian of architecture, meaning that it was missed by most paper history scholarship when first published, but definitely a must-have, is Paolo Cevini, Edifici da carta genovesi: secoli XVI-XIX, Genova, Sagep, 1995. A somewhat home-made volume, with wide-ranging ambitions, but with useful information about its home turf, is Ernesto Renato Arri, Carta e cartiere. L’antica arte dei “paperai”, con particolare riferimento al comparto del genovesato e del savonese, Varazze, Associazione Culturale San Donato, 2012.


Como. A useful assemblage of historical essays is Cinque secoli di carta. Produzione, commercio e consumi della carta nella “Regio Insubrica” e in Lombardia dal Medioevo all’età contemporanea. Atti del convegno: Varese, 21 aprile 2005, a cura di Renzo P. Corritore e Luisa Piccinno, Varese, Insubria University Press, 2005.

Milan. Important in terms of its historical documentation is Kevin M. Stevens-Paul F. Gehl, ‘Giovanni Battista Bossi and the Paper Trade in Late Sixteenth-Century Milan’, La Bibliofilìa, vol. 96 (1994), pp. 43-90, which publishes two inventories from 1595, in which the paper is arranged in reams of 500 sheets. More ambitious and informative than its title suggests is Arnaldo Ganda, ‘Cenni su carta, cartai, cartolai nel Quattrocento milanese’, La Bibliofilìa, vol. 116 (2014), pp. 149-163, which recovers precious information about the existence of paper mills, many of them property of the various religious orders, from archive sources. An attractive volume, with ample reference to archive material, is the catalogue of the exhibition Sì, carta! Catalogo della mostra, novembre 2013-febbraio 2014, Milano, Archivio di Stato, 2013.

Pavia. Outside the main papermaking districts, there were numerous examples of single mills, serving a particular town. One example for which ample archive evidence has been published is Arnaldo Ganda, ‘La cartiera della Certosa di Pavia a Boffalora sopra Ticino (secoli XVI-XVIII)’, Bollettino della Società Pavese di Storia Patria, vol. 103 (2003), pp. 115-166.

Toscolano and Lake Garda. Although Toscolano, where papermaking is documented as early as 1381, geographically is closer to Milan, its importance in the Renaissance was that from early in the Fifteenth century it was in Venetian territory and thus able to supply the printing shops of the Serenissima with vast quantities of high-quality paper. A recent overview can be found in Ivo Mattozzi, ‘Le radici, il tronco e le diramazioni della produzione cartaria nella Valle delle cartiere di Toscolano’, La Bibliofilía, vol. 118 (2016), pp. 389-408. See the collection of essays, with an extensive photographic coverage, albeit somewhat coffee-tableish, in Cartai e stampatori a Toscolano. Vicende, uomini, paesaggi di una tradizione produttiva, a cura di Carlo Simoni, Brescia, Grafo, 1995. Some the material, especially that by geographers and historians, is extremely interesting; the contributions by book-historians and bibliographers are on the other hand disappointing. A subsequent, sumptuously produced, collection of essays can be found in Mulini da carta: le cartiere dell’alto Garda: tini e torchi fra Trento e Venezia, a cura di Mauro Grazioli, Ivo Mattozzi, Ennio Sandal, Verona, Cartiere Fedrigoni, 2001. Papermaking in the Valle delle cartiere above Toscolano was abandoned in 1962, in favour of a large industrial establishment down on the lake itself, and most of the buildings were allowed to fall into ruin. More recently, a Fondazione Valle delle Cartiere has been established to promote the recovery of the same and in 2007 a museum was opened in the former mill of Maina Inferiore [33]. Although the local industry was centred on Toscolano, papermakers established mills in just about every suitable locality, surveyed in Giuseppe Nova-Giuseppe Cinquepalmi, Le cartiere bresciane “minori” (Mompiano, Concesio, Carcina, Prevalle, Calvagese, Gavardo, Vobarno, Sabbio Chiese, Anfo, Padenghe, Gardone Riviera, Campione, Limone), Roccafranca, Compagnia della stampa Massetti Rodella editori, 2010; and in their subsequent: Carta e cartai a Brescia (XV-XIX secolo), Roccafranca, Compagnia della stampa Massetti Rodella editori, 2012.

On the local watermarks, Leonardo Mazzoldi, Filigrane di cartiere bresciane, Brescia, Ateneo di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, 1990-91, 2 vols., reproduces in his first volume 1,036 watermarks from 1400 to 1778 traced from documents in the Brescia State archive. The presupposition, but not certainty, is that most of this paper was produced on the nearby Lake Garda and the work provides a large number of examples of counter- or cornermarks [13], which are characteristic of Toscolano and the other mills of the area (on the other hand the tracings do not show the placing of wire and chain-lines, nor are we told which side of the sheet is involved, and there is no mention whatsoever of twin watermarks, so the usefulness of the work is impaired). The second volume, much more helpfully, publishes 152 documents, mainly contracts, from 1460 to 1560 relating to the paper industry. Further documentation relating to the first thirty years of the Seventeenth century is available in the research on a Verona printing firm, which again, for obvious reasons, obtained its paper supply mostly from nearby Toscolano, see Federica Formiga, Le filigrane nelle edizioni di Bartolomeo Merlo e Angelo Tamo (1600-1630) presso la Biblioteca civica di Verona, Vago di Lavagno, La grafica editrice, 1998.

The nearby Valle del Garza is the subject of a book by Sandro Rossetti, Le cartiere della Valle del Garza, Brescia, Grafo, 1995, which includes an attractive selection of early photographs.


Fabriano and Pioraco. As is unequivocally stated above [see Chapter 2], when a history of paper gives “1275” or “1276” as the date of the introduction of paper manufacture into Italy or, worse, Europe, it is probably a good idea to close the book there on the spot.

Some historical howlers are difficult to trace to their origin, but this venerable item has a precise beginning in the immense Storia della letteratura italiana by Girolamo Tiraboschi, Seconda edizione modenese riveduta corretta ed accresciuta dall’autore, tomo V, parte prima, In Modena, presso la Società tipografica, 1789, note at pp. 98-101, where Tiraboschi expresses his gratitude to the Fabriano scholar who sent him the information: “Tutto ciò, che intorno le Cartiere di Fabriano fin quì ho detto, deesi alla erudizione e alla diligenza del Sig. Luigi Mostarda Nobile Fabrianese, che ne ha raccolti, e me ne ha cortesemente trasmessi i documenti”. Since finding the right page in Tiraboschi in a library is a tedious task, here is what the note sent by Mostarda, in Italian, mixed with Latin, actually says about the deeds relating to the monastery of Saint Benedict in Fabriano: “In essa adunque sub trasanna carteris sororis benentesse morici gentilis la stessa Suor Benentessa alla presenza di alcuni ivi nominati existens in cartere suo posito in contrada gualdi prope Fabrianum iuxta stratam publicam &c. dona alla Chiesa di S. Benedetto di Montefano de’ medesimi Monaci Silvestrini posta circa tre miglia lungi da Fabriano dictum carterem pro dimidia cum solo & edifitio con tutti gli altri suoi beni. La seconda appartiene a’ 22. di Novembre del 1278. nella sesta Indizione; e in essa una certa Temperanza di Albertuzio vende al Sindaco del medesimo Monastero pel prezzo di otto Lire Ravennati o Anconitane un’altra cartiera: quemdam Carterem cum solo & edifitio positum a ponte gualdi iuxta viam a primo latere” (2nd ed., tomo V, parte I, pp. 99-100, note [Translation: In the said document “inside the papermill of sister Benentessa of Morico Gentile”, the said sister Benentessa in the presence of the here listed witnesses “in her papermill placed in the fraction of Gualdo near Fabriano by the public road etc.” gives to the church of Saint Benedict of Montefano of the Silvestrine congregation “half of the said papermill with the grounds and the building” and all her goods. The second belongs to 22 November 1278, in the sixth indiction, and in it a certain Temperanza, daughter of Albertuzio, sells to the administrator of the same monastery for the price of eight Ravenna or Ancona pounds another papermill: “the said papermill with its grounds and building placed at Ponte Gualdo along the road on the first side”]).

For a century and half the progress of the mistake was (and continues) inexorable, up to 1930, when its genesis, i.e. that carcere had been read as cartere, was pointed out and explained in Romualdo Sassi, ‘Due documenti che non esistono nella storia antichissima delle cartiere fabrianesi’, in Atti e Memorie della Deputazione di Storia per le province delle Marche, s. IV, vol. 7 (1930), pp. 204-209, with a separately paged offprint: Fabriano, Tip. Gentile, 1931. A year or so later he published the correspondence between Tiraboschi and Mostarda, see: ‘Un carteggio inedito del Tiraboschi’, in Atti e Memorie della Deputazione di Storia per le province delle Marche, s. IV, vols. 8-9 (1931-32), pp. 47-70, with a separately paged offprint: Fabriano, Tip. Gentile, 1932. The untruth of the 1275 or 1276 date has also been emphatically stated by Andrea Gasparinetti, Conclusione su due documenti di Montefasano, Torino 1942, repeated in English: ‘Two Legendary Paper Mills’, The Paper Maker, vol. 24 (1955), pp. 37-41, and in German: ‘Zwei alte Papiermühlen, die nie existiert haben’, Papiergeschichte, vol. 7 (1957), pp. 23-26. The date has also been debunked, albeit without knowing Sassi’s contributions, by Burns, ‘Paper Comes to the West: 800-1400’, in Europäische Technik im Mittelalter 800 bis 1400, cit., 1996, who writes that “Fabriano's claim rests on two charters – a gift of August 1276, and a sale of November 1278, to the new Benedictine congregation of Silvestrine monks at Montefano. In each, a woman recluse-hermit gives to the monastery her enclosure or ‘prison’ – Latin carcer; misread by Fabriano partisans as a form of Italian cartiera or paper mill! There is no papermaking in these documents, much less hydraulic mills” (p. 416). Rather strangely, the exorcism of the false date leads Burns to argue that paper was introduced to Fabriano later than 1276, instead of realising that nothing is demonstrated, one way or another.

The 1276 question is in any case antedated by the discovery of a document in the Medieval archive of the small city of Matelica, some fifteen km to the South of Fabriano. A ledger, in an entry for 13 January 1264, records five separate purchases of sheets of paper, together with other items of stationary and candles. The provenance of the paper is not specified, but the reasonable assumption is that it is coming from Fabriano. Attention was first drawn to this document some thirty years ago by Giancarlo Castagnari, who has recently transcribed the document in ‘Le origini della carta occidentale nelle valli appenniniche delle Marche centrali da una indagine archivistica’, in Alle origini della carta occidentale, cit., 2014, pp. 9-34: 29 (mention of the early paper documents in the Matelica archive appears, however, also in Zonghi’s 1884 pamphlet, note 3).

On the names of Fabriano papermakers in Thirteenth-century watermarks, see [12] below.

The study of the history of papermaking in Fabriano is dominated by the work of the Zonghi brothers, the elder, Aurelio (1830-1902), bishop of Fano, and the younger, Augusto (1840-1916), professor at the local school. Bibliographically speaking, the history of their several publications on watermarks is complicated and not entirely edifying. The story begins with the publication by Aurelio of Le marche principali delle carte fabrianesi dal 1293 al 1599, Fabriano, Tipografia Gentile, 1881, reprinted Sala Bolognese, Forni, 1979, in order to accompany a sample of 300 watermarks in Medieval and Renaissance paper put on display at the third ‘Esposizione nazionale’ in Milan. Crucially, the text contains only a bare listing of the watermarks, without the reproduction of any tracings, something that for reasons either of skill or cost Zonghi was unable to include (interestingly, in several letters to Aurelio Zonghi in subsequent years, Briquet explains to his correspondent in detail how to transfer tracings onto a lithographic stone, apparently to no avail, see [18]). The success met by this first venture led to a second catalogue of a larger collection, put on display at the “Esposizione Generale Italiana” in Turin in 1884, see Le antiche carte fabrianesi alla Esposizione Generale Italiana di Torino. Memoria del can. Aurelio Zonghi, Fano, Tipografia Sonciniana, 1884, reprinted Bologna, Saletta, 1981. On the occasion 1,887 marks were traced in 134 tables, albeit, again, without their being reproduced in order to accompany the catalogue. The display was awarded a silver medal and encouraged the Zonghi brothers to send the same material to the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1900. The accompanying catalogue Musée rétrospectif de la classe 88 Fabrication du papier (Matières premières, matériel, procédés et produits) à l’Exposition Universelle Internationale de 1900, à Paris. Rapport de la Commission d’Installation, s.n.t. (Saint Cloud, impr. Belin frères), p. 15, cites “Dix cartons remplis d’échantillons de papiers fabriqués à Fabriano (Italie), de 1267 à 1599”, with a chronological break-down of the contents of the ten boxes and a description of some of the contents (pp. 16-17). Together with the originals, the display included a manuscript volume entitled “Segni delle antiche cartiere Fabrianesi”, containing the tracings of some 20,000 watermarks (an item that seems to have disappeared in the interim), and the catalogues of 1881 and 1884 (interestingly, the next entries but one are for two of Briquet’s earliest pamphlets). The Zonghi’s writings on paper are rounded off with a third pamphlet, this time signed by Augusto, entitled I segni della carta. La loro origine e la loro importanza, Fabriano, Premiata Tipografia Economica, 1911 (but, as Labarre points out, the voice is Aurelio’s and it is plausible that he was the real author).

For all its importance, the material assembled by the Zonghi brothers would have remained hardly visible, except for the fact that Émile Labarre set out to recover it by putting the three pamphlets together and publishing them as: Zonghi’s Watermarks: The Watermarks Collected by A. & A. Zonghi as Traced from the Original Papers by C. Canavari, Hilversum, The Paper Publications Society, 1953, with the addition, for good measure of an essay by A.F. Gasparinetti (be careful of the fact that there is a double issue, a larger one comprising both English and Italian, and a smaller one with only English). Most importantly, Labarre had a copy made of the 134 tables by local artist and engraver, Carlo Canavari (1895-1981), which were also included, thus giving the repertory its fundamental value (though how accurate the tracings are is quite another matter). Labarre further recognised that the first listing of 300 items in 1881 had been absorbed into the bigger list of 1884, so that he indlcated the fact with a double numbering of the 1,887 tracings reproduced in the tables (for more information on these collections, see [31]). Quite recently, the three pamphlets have been republished in a sumptuous volume with the title: L’opera dei fratelli Zonghi. L’era del segno nella storia della carta, a cura di Giancarlo Castagnari, Fabriano, Cartiere Miliani, 2003. Very oddly indeed, the Italian original is accompanied by a new rendering into English by Paola Farenzi, which is not up to the same standard as that published by Labarre, and also the 134 tables of watermarks are omitted, making the whole operation almost entirely worthless (might it not have been simpler, better, and infinitely more sensible to reprint the 1953 volume?).

Proper study of the Zonghi collection has been largely impeded, up to now, by the fact that the main collection has remained in the hands of Augusto's descendents and up to quite recently has not been available to scholars (for the recent purchase of the same by the Fedrigoni foundation, see [31]). It should be understood that rather than a balanced overview, as in Briquet, the lay-out of the Zonghi collection is dictated mostly by the nature of the leaves they were permitted to “remove” from various archives. In quite a few instances, the pairings of dates suggest that they inadvertently purloined twin watermarks, see, for instance, the dragon watermarks dated 1372 at nn. 1027-1028, 1390 at nn. 1033-1034, 1410 at nn. 1035-1036, and 1412 at nn. 1038-1039. Sadly, without discovering the source of the marks in the collection, it will be impossible to obtain a confirmation, one way or the other.

The Zonghis were followed in more recent times by papermill engineer, Andrea Federico Gasparinetti (1893-1964), who produced a large number of articles, which in their original form are not always easy to find, since he published in trade journals such as The Paper Maker, Papiergeschichte, and L’industria della carta. A biography and badly executed bibliography of Gasparinetti are to be found in Giancarlo Castagnari, Carta cartiere cartai. La tematica storica di Andrea Gasparinetti, Fabriano, Pia Università dei Cartai, 2006, which republishes the text of Gasparinetti’s first article of 1938 in the Risorgimento grafico. A proper, comprehensive collection of Gasparinetti’s articles would be a wonderful project. I only hope somebody will make it happen.

Otherwise, especially in the last twenty odd years, the problem with Fabriano has been too much rather than too little, since a great deal has appeared under or near the aegis of the splendid, and well worth visiting, Museo della Carta e della Filigrana, opened a little over twenty years ago in the city’s former Dominican convent, in collaboration with the Pia Università dei Cartai (or the papermakers guild) and by the Miliani paper factory (now owned by Fedrigoni), which is the town’s biggest employer. Two useful publications produced early on by the museum are the miscellany: L’arte della carta a Fabriano, Fabriano, Museo della carta e della filigrana, 1991, and Ulisse Mannucci, La gualchiera medioevale fabrianese, Fabriano, Museo della carta e della filigrana, 1992, which provides excellent photos of the reconstruction of a Medieval stamping mill in the museum.

Further publications about the history of papermaking and the papertrade in Fabriano almost invariably involve the figure of Giancarlo Castagnari; but the abundance has included much repetition and some carelessness, especially in the correction of the proofs. The first block of volumes he edited includes: Contributi italiani alla diffusione della carta in Occidente fra XIV e XV secolo, cit., 1990; Miscellanea di storia della carta: origini, tecniche, imprenditori, fede religiosa, a cura di Giancarlo Castagnari, Fabriano, Pia Università dei Cartai, 1991; Carta e cartiere nelle Marche e nell’Umbria dalle manifatture medioevali all’industrializzazione, a cura di Giancarlo Castagnari, Ancona, Proposte e ricerche, 1993; Produzione e uso delle carte filigranate in Europa (secoli XIII-XX), a cura di Giancarlo Castagnari, Fabriano, Pia Università dei Cartai, 1996. These volumes do contain a lot of information, much of it deriving from first-hand research, but they also suffer from a certain “sameness”. Castagnari has also brought together a selection of eighteen of his various articles, published between 1982 and 2000, including several from the just-mentioned volumes, in L’uomo, il foglio, il segno. Studi di storia della carta, Fabriano, Pia Università dei Cartai, 2001. As ever, this is convenient, although, with an author tendentially repetitious, reading through is a rather tiresome process; more annoyingly, the volume includes a list of 29 of his ‘Studi di storia della carta’, without indicating which ones are present in the same. These are small issues, but they do help the reader! It’s not over yet. After something of a pause, Castagnari reappears as the editor of a beautifully-printed substantial tome, containing parallel Italian and English versions, albeit spoiled by some maccheronic renderings of the Italian originals, entitled: L’impiego delle tecniche e dell’opera dei cartai fabrianesi in Italia e in Europa. Atti delle giornate europee di studio = The Use of Techniques and Work by Papermakers from Fabriano in Italy and in Europe. Congress Book of European Paper Days. Fabriano 16-17 giugno 2006, a cura di = editor Giancarlo Castagnari, Fabriano, Cartiere Miliani, 2007. It is followed by an interesting volume about women in the local paper industry: Le “cartare” di Fabriano. Società, donne, lavoro nei tempi della città della carta, a cura di Giancarlo Castagnari, Fabriano, Fondazione Gianfranco Fedrigoni-Istituto Europeo di Storia della Carta e delle Scienze Cartarie, 2013, including some splendid photographs, and a return to more normal business with: Alle origini della carta occidentale: tecniche, produzioni, mercati (secoli XIII-XV). Atti del convegno, Camerino, 4 ottobre 2013, a cura di Giancarlo Castagnari, Emanuela Di Stefano, Livia Faggioni, cit., 2014. Finally, and fresh off the press, comes another imposing, sumptuously-printed tome: La forma. Formisti e cartai nella storia della carta occidentale = The Mould. Paper- and Mould-makers in the History of Western Paper, a cura di = editor Giancarlo Castagnari, Fabriano, Fondazione Gianfranco Fedrigoni- ISTOCARTA: Istituto Europeo di Storia della Carta e delle Scienze Cartarie, 2015. It contains valuable essays by Ezio Ornato, Peter Bower, Peter Tschudin, and other distinguished paper scholars, as well as photographic documentation of some of the Miliani’s factory’s collection of 2,300 moulds. All the texts are available both in Italian and English, albeit with some erratic translation. On the other hand, rather than this plethora of conference acts, the same energy and the same monies might have been more usefully dedicated to the publication of the records of the Medieval merchant, Lodovico d’Ambrogio and other early sources [21].

Further research on the spread of papermaking techniques from Medieval Fabriano elsewhere in Italy and in Europe can be found in Gabriele Metelli, I cartai di Fabriano, Pioraco e Esanatoglia attivi a Foligno agli inizi dell’età moderna, Fabriano, Cartiere Miliani, 2007, and in Emanuela Di Stefano, Le carte di Fabriano e di Pioraco sui mercati europei. Leadership e dispersione fra XIV e XV secolo, Fabriano, Cartiere Miliani, 2007.

Papermaking in Fabriano went through a period of decline in the Seventeenth century, due to competition from other centres and the economic crisis faced by the booktrade, which saw a sharp fall in printed output in the first half of the century, with a consequent drop in the request for paper. In the Eighteenth century the industrial set-up was transformed by Pietro Miliani (1744-1817), who reconquered lost markets and re-established the importance of Fabriano as a production centre, see the volume Pietro Miliani fabbricante di carta, a cura di Andrea F. Gasparinetti, Fabriano, Cartiere Miliani, 1963. His family successfully carried on the business, in particular his grandson Giuseppe Miliani (1816-90), see Emo Sparisci, Giuseppe Miliani. Un cartaro antico e moderno, Fabriano, Pia Università dei Cartai, 1998. The several entries, all by Castagnari, relating to the Miliani family in the Dizionario biografico degli Italiani, vol. 74 (2010), emphasise their political and economic activity, but are not without utililty, see pp. 489-491 (Giambattista, 1856-1937), pp. 491-493 (Giuseppe, 1816-1890), and pp. 493-495 (Pietro, 1744-1817). On the Miliani family and on the broader context, see the collective volume L’industria della carta nelle Marche e nell’Umbria. Imprenditori, lavoro, produzione, mercati: secoli XVIII-XX, a cura di Giancarlo Castagnari, Fabriano, Pia Università dei Cartai, 2010, which provides information about the modern period, including collateral activities such as rag-collecting and the construction of industrial paper-making machinery.

An almost final word. Obtaining some these Fabriano titles can be a nuisance, since most of them are not distributed through normal bookselling networks. Inquiries relating to the publications of the Pia Università dei Cartai, should be sent c/o Chiesa di Santa Maria Maddalena, Viale Pietro Miliani 31/33, 60044 Fabriano; likewise the publications of the Cartiere Miliani can be obtained by addressing a request to the firm’s Archivio Storico (email:; tel. 0732 702502, fax 0732 702333). The city does however boast a truly excellent specialist bookshop, which traces its origin back to 1735, with an extensive collection of works about paper, so if all else fails try there: contact the Cartolibreria Lotti, Corso Repubblica 52/58, 60044 Fabriano (Ancona).

Finally, and very new, a major English-language account of the history of the paper industry in Fabriano is Sylvia Rodgers Albro, Fabriano. City of Medieval and Renaissance Papermaking, Washington, Library of Congress; New Castle, Oak Knoll Books, 2016. Extensively illustrated, with an ample section on watermarks.

Fermignano. Papermaking was introduced here in 1407 or 1408, see Franco Mariani, ‘La cartiera di Fermignano: carta e cartai’, in Castrum Firmignani, castello del ducato di Urbino, a cura di Mario Luni, Urbino, Quattroventi, 1993, pp. 213-229.


Vercelli. The activity of some mills around Vercelli from the Fifteenth century onwards are described in Timoty Leonardi, ‘Carte filigranate in edizioni vercellesi del XVI secolo’, Bibliofilia subalpina, 2005, pp. 57-96; Idem, ‘Vicende della carta in Piemonte: imprenditorialità e rapport sociali nella cartiera di Parella’, Bollettino storico vercellese, vol. 67 (2006), pp. 39-57.


For the piece of paper dated 1109 at the Palermo State Archive, see [4]. Briquet included Sicily in his 1889-90 journey, giving rise to the article: ‘Lettre à Mr. le chevalier I. Giorgi, préfet de la Bibliothèque Nationale de Palerme, sur les papiers usités en Sicile à l’occasion de deux manuscrits en papier dit de coton.’, Archivio storico siciliano, n.s., vol. 17 (1892), pp. 52-65, republished with a manipulation of the title, i.e. ‘Sur les papiers usités en Sicile à l’occasion de deux manuscrits en papier dit de coton. Lettre à M. le chevalier I. Giorgi, préfet de la Bibliothèque Nationale de Palerme’, in Briquet’s Opuscula, cit., 1955, pp. 228-234.


The best documented and easily finest historical study available for any Italian district is Renzo Sabbatini, Di bianco lin in candida prole. La manifattura della carta in età moderna e il caso toscano, Milano, Franco Angeli, 1990. Based on an extensive trawl through the archives, it documents the economic and social history of the papermaking industry in Tuscany, concentrated at Colle Val d’Elsa, Pescia, and Villa Basilica (in the hills above Lucca) in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries. Sabbatini’s numerous other articles relating to the history of the paper industry in Tuscany, including the role of women in the same, are listed on his personal webpage at the University of Siena.

Colle Val d’Elsa. Briquet puts together a succinct, but handy summary, in the introduction for the entries ‘Tête humaine’; otherwise, considering Colle’s importance as a historical papermaking centre, studies are thin on the ground. The best starting point remains Francesco Dini, Carta e cartiere a Colle, Firenze 1982, which brings together and reprints a series of articles issued in local journals at the beginning of the Twentieth century. Watermarks in Colle paper employed in printing Florentine incunabula are reproduced by Roberto Ridolfi, Le filigrane dei paleotipi: saggio metodologico, Firenze, Tipografia Giuntina, 1957. Likewise a description of the paper in some incunabula printed at Colle appears in Curzio Bastianoni, ‘Le filigrane dei paleotipi di Colle Val D’Elsa 1478-1480’, in Produzione e uso delle carte filigranate in Europa, cit., 1996, pp. 133-148. A more recent study of a single mill is Renzo Ninci, Il mulino “detto il Moro”, già cartiera (secc. XIII-XX). Appunti per una storia economica di Colle Val d’Elsa, Colle di Val d’Elsa, C.G.I. Modernografica, 2001.

Lucca. Briquet’s pioneering essay on the watermarks of Genoa (1888) inspired other initiatives, one of which is an album by Luigi Volpicella, at the time director of the State Archive in Lucca. His Primo contributo alla conoscenza delle filigrane nelle carte antiche di Lucca, Lucca, Tipo-Litografia Dessena, 1911, reproduces 333 watermarks from 1284 to 1500. Rather curiously, he does not seem to be aware of the publication of Briquet’s magnum opus in 1907. Its significance, perhaps, is that it reproduces a pair of very early marks, dated 1284 and 1286 [19].

Pescia. Dominated by the Magnani dynasty, one exceptional text was produced by one of the last members of the family, see Carlo Magnani, Ricordanze di un cartaio, Alpignano, edizioni Tallone, 1961, reprinted in 1979. This is a beautifully written, hauntingly evocative, cider-with-Rosie account of the papermaking universe seen through the eyes of a child at the beginning of the Twentieth century. Absolutely worth having, if you can manage the strongly vernacular Tuscan (which has native Italians reaching for their dictionaries). But there is a drawback. It is only available in an edition hand-printed by the Tallone family, on hand-made, watermarked paper from the Magnani mill, so it is delight to hold and to read, but somewhat, albeit not excessively, expensive. On the other hand, if you have a birthday coming up and a generous, wealthy, indulgent lover, seeking only to please you, here is something to ask for (after the Ferrari of course).

Prato. In the mountain valley running northwards from Prato towards Bologna, the Granduchy of Tuscany built a large mill, for which some documentation has survived, see the excellent and highly recommended study by Marco Piccardi, La Cartiera de la Briglia e la manifattura della carta nel Granducato di Toscana (secoli XVII-XIX), Prato, Biblioteca Comunale Alessandro Lazzerini, 1994.

San Marcello Pistoiese. Established by the Cini family in 1807, it was the first Italian mill to install a Fourdrinier Machine, which started working in 1838, see Neri Farina Cini, La famiglia Cini e la cartiera della Lima (1807-1943), Firenze, Le Monnier, 1947; Angelo Nesti, La cartiera Cini de La Lima (PT). Uno studio archeoindustriale, Firenze, Edizioni Polistampa, 2005. On the Cini dynasty, particularly useful summaries, which include political and other activies, are available in the entries by Nidia Danelon Vasoli in the Dizionario biografico degli Italiani, vol. 25 (1981), pp. 603-607 (Bartolomeo, 1809-77), 616-620 (Giovanni, 1778-1844), pp. 620-621 (Giovanni Cosimo, 1840-1930), pp. 623-626 (Tommaso, 1812-52).

Trentino. See Aldo Chemelli-Clemente Lunelli, Filigrane trentine. La vicenda delle cartiere nel Trentino, Trento, Assessorato alle Attività Culturali della Provincia Autonoma di Trento, [1979].

Umbria. The history of the industry was heavily influenced by the proximity to Fabriano in the nearby Marches. A useful survey of Nineteenth-century watermarks, related to archive sources, is Fabio Bettoni-Bruno Marinelli, ‘Filigrane di cartiere umbre nell’Ottocento’, in Produzione e uso delle carte filigranate, cit., 1996, pp. 221-254.

Foligno. Still useful is Michele Faloci Pulignani, ‘Le antiche cartiere di Foligno’, La Bibliofilìa, vol. 11 (1909-10), pp. 102-127. For more recent work, see Gabriele Metelli, ‘Carta e cartiere folignati tra Cinquecento e Settecento’, in Carta e cartiere nelle Marche e nell’Umbria, cit., 1993, pp. 209-242; Idem, ‘La filigrana a Foligno in età moderna’, in Produzione e uso delle carte filigranate, cit., 1996, pp. 189-220.


Though Venice as – during the Renaissance – Europe’s foremost printing centre obtained the bulk of its paper supply from Lake Garda, the base of the mountains running along the Northern edge of the Po valley furnished ideal conditions for paper-making and numerous small establishments flourished, without however reaching the concentration or the importance of Fabriano or Toscolano. Most of them disappeared with the demise of papermaking at the vat and their existence has been largely forgotten. See in general terms: Antonio Fedrigoni, L’industria veneta della carta dalla II dominazione austriaca all’Unità d’Italia (1814-1866), Torino, ILTE, 1966; Ivo Mattozzi, Produzione della carta nello stato veneziano settecentesco. Lineamenti e problemi, Bologna, s.n., 1975; Idem, ‘Le filigrane e la questione della qualità della carta nella Repubblica Veneta della fine del ’700. Con un catalogo di marchi di filigrane dal 1767 al 1797’, in Produzione e uso delle carte filigranate, cit., 1996, pp. 309-339; Idem, Prodotti, tecniche, uomini di Fabriano negli stati dell’area veneta nel ’300 e ’400, Fabriano, Cartiere Miliani, 2007.

Bassano. The important publishing firm of the Remondini family assured its paper supply by purchasing or renting two papermills at Oliero, some ten kilometres away, see the chapter ‘Le cartiere e le carte’, in the excellent book by Mario Infelise, I Remondini di Bassano. Stampa e industria nel Veneto del Settecento, Seconda edizione, Bassano, Ghedina & Tassotti, 1990, pp. 65-76.

Vittorio Veneto. See Ivo Mattozzi, ‘Un processo di accumulazione di capitale manifatturiero: le cartiere di Ceneda nel primo ’600’, Studi trevisani, vol. 7 (1988), pp. 105-129; Eugenio Tranchini, Le cartiere vittoriesi tra il XVII e il XIX secolo. Appunti di storia economico-sociale, Vittorio Veneto, La Vittoriese, 1991.

[f] Netherlands. Albeit in Dutch, the starting point is Henk Voorn, De Gescheidenis der Nederlandse Papierindustrie. I: De Papiermolens in de Provincie Noord-Holland, Haarlem, De Papierwereld, 1960, II: De Papiermolens in de provincie Zuid-Holland, alsmede in Zeeland, Utrecht, Noord-Brabant, Groningen, Friesland, Drenthe, Wormeveer, Nederlandse Papierindustrie, 1973; and III. De Papiermolens in de Provincie Gelderland, alsmede in Overijssel en Limburg, Harlem, Vereniging van Nederlandse Papier, 1985. An update, covering Belgium as well, with bibliography, is Inge Van Wegens, ‘Paper Consumption and the Foundation of the First Paper Mills in the Low Countries, 13th-15th Century. A Status Quaestionis’, in Papier im mittelalterlichen Europa, cit., 2015, pp. 71-91. Seventeenth-century watermarks are surveyed by Theo Laurentius-Frans Laurentius, Watermarks (1600-1650) found in the Zeeland Archives, ’t Goy-Houtent, Des & De Graaf Publishers, 2007, and by the same authors: Watermarks (1650-1700) found in the Zeeland Archives, ’t Goy-Houtent, Des & De Graaf Publishers, 2008.

[g] Russia. The inevitable departure point, at least for Western scholars, is the material assembled by Nicolay Petrovich Likhachyov (1862-1936), alternatively tranliterated as Likhachev, aristocrat, collector, and scholar under the Tsars, who went unscathed through the first phases of the USSR, before being disgraced and exiled in 1930. As a palaeographer he put together an impressive manuscript collection of four thousand watermark tracings, published in Russian in 1899, and reissued in the West in 1994, see Likhachev’s Watermarks: an English-language version, edited by J.S.G. Simmons and Bé van Ginneken-van de Kasteele, Amsterdam, The Paper Publications Society, 1994, 2 vols., including an introductory biography by Simmons, ‘Nikolai Petrovich Likhachev (1862-1936), Scholar and Pioneer Russian Codicologist and Student of Watermarks’, pp. xli-li. Labarre and Simmons also recovered and republished in facsimile, with an accompanying English translation, the older repertory, containing 1,824 tracings, by Kornilii Yakovlevich Tromonin, see Tromonin’s Watermark Album. A Facsimile of the 1844 Moscow Edition, Hilversum, The Paper Publications Society, 1965. In most cases the watermarks are of European origin since, up to the Twentieth century, little paper was made in Russia itself.

[h] Scandinavia. A little goes a long way, see Henk Voorn, The Paper Mills of Denmark & Norway and their Watermarks, Hilversum, The Paper Publications Society, 1959, and the subsequent H.M. (Haakon Mathias) Fiskaa-O.K. Nordstrand, Paper and Watermarks in Norway and Denmark, Amsterdam, Paper Publications Society, 1978. Focused instead on the matter of paper imported from outside Scandinavia, with lots of tracings of watermarks, is Nils J. Lindberg, Paper comes to the North. Sources and Trade Routes of Paper in the Baltic Sea Region 1350-1700. A Study based on Watermark Research, Marburg/Lahn, IPH, 1994.

[i] Spain. The history of Spanish scholarship on papermaking is dominated by the figure of Oriol Valls i Subirà (1915-91), whose best known title is the bilingual two-volume work: El papel y sus filigranas en Catalunya = Paper and Watermarks in Catalonia, Amsterdam, The Paper Publications Society, 1970. He followed this with a more general three-volume history of paper in Spain, see La historia del papel en España, Madrid, Empresa Nacional de Celulosas, 1978-82, also issued in English with the title The History of Paper in Spain. His sweeping claims about the priority of the Medieval Spanish industry have been effectively countered by Robert I. Burns, S.J., see [4] above. On the further development of the industry, see J.C. (José Carlos) Balmaceda, La contribución genovesa al desarrollo de la manufactura papelera espagñola, Málaga, J.C. Balmaceda, 2004.

The study of watermarks in Spanish documents is complicated by the presence of Italian and French imports. One survey along Briquet parameters, in eight imposing volumes, is José Luis Basanta Campos, Marcas de agua en documentos de los Archivos de Galicia hasta 1600, La Coruna, Fundación Pedro Barrié de la Maza, 1996-2002. See also the meaningfully titled: Maria Carmen Hidalgo Brinquis, ‘Spanish Watermarks of the 14th and 15th Centuries: The Great Unknown’, in Le papier au Moyen Âge, cit., 1999, pp. 203-213.

The Spanish version of the Bernstein exhibition Cabeza de buey y sirena (2011), see [35], provides a useful overview of the state of play in the Iberian peninsula.

[k] Switzerland. Switzerland of course means Briquet, like chocolate and watches, beginning with: ‘Notices historiques sur les plus anciennes papeteries suisses’, published in 18 instalments in L’Union de la papeterie, republished in Briquet’s Opuscula, cit., 1955, pp., 70-111, as well as the information dispersed through the magnum opus of 1907.

Basel. Work on the history of paper has led to a remarkable success story in the creation of the Basel Papiermuseum. On the ancient history of the papermills, see Walter Friedrich Tschudin, The Ancient Paper-mills of Basle and their Marks, Hilversum, The Paper Publications Society, 1958, and more recently Peter F. Tschudin, Schweizer Papiergeschichte, herausgegeben zum Jubilaum der Schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft 1291-1991 von den Schweizer Papierhistorikern, Basel, Basler Papiermuhle, 1991. Further information on Basel output in the Fifteenth century is available in Stevenson’s book on the Missale Speciale and in Hans Kälin, Papier in Basel bis 1500, Basel, Selbstverlag, 1974.

Berne. A fundamental work, also in terms of method, since it is the first repertory to trace systematically twin watermarks, is Johann Lindt, The Paper-Mills of Berne and their Watermarks, 1465-1859, with the German Original, Hilversum, The Paper Publications Society, 1964. The text is bilingual, English and German.

Fribourg or Freiburg im Üechtland. A remarkable study is Theo Gerardy, Das Papier der Seckelmeisterrechnungen von Freiburg i. Ue. 1402-1465, Schinznach-Bad, Schweizer Papierhistoriker, 1980, which carefully delineates the paper supplies in the city’s account books from 1402 to 1456 (not the 1465 of the title). In particular, it identifies 102 pairs of twin watermarks and eight singletons, carefully related to Briquet, Piccard, and other repertories.

[l] Syria. Albeit kept in Germany. A well written piece, undated and available only on the net, is the description of the watermarks – mostly exported Italian and French paper – in the manuscripts of the Refaiya library, originally in Damascus, purchased for the University Library in Leipzig in the Nineteenth century. See Beate Wiesmüller, ‘The Watermarks from the Refaiya Library’, pdf. on the uni-leipzig site (just google).

[m] United Kingdom. Paper arrived late in England and for a long time quality paper was imported from elsewhere, from Italy, and subsequently from France and Holland.

A pioneering and still interesting attempt to document the papers used in England was conducted by historian and erudite, Sir John Fenn, in his edition of the famous Paston letters, documenting the life of an English family in the late Middle ages. As well as imitations of signatures, texts, and seals, the copperplate illustrations include examples of the watermarks, see Original letters, Written during the Reigns of Henry VI, Edward IV, Edward V, Richard III, and Henry VII, by Various Persons of Rank and Consequence, Containing Many Curious Anecdotes … Digested in Chronological Order, with Notes, Historical and Explanatory, and Authenticated by Engravings of Autographs, Fac-similes, Paper Marks, and Seals, London, printed for G.G.J. and J. Robinson, 1787-89, in four volumes, with a fifth published by John Murray added in 1823. On the history of the Paston Letters, see David Stoker, '"Innumerable Letters of Good Consequence in History'. The Discovery and First Publication of the Paston Letters’, The Library, s. VI, vol. 17 (1995), pp. 107-155. After many vicissitudes, the bulk of the collection is now at the British Library and a modern revisitation of the watermarks in the paper would be a fascinating project.

An outstanding analysis of the paper supplies imported from abroad and used in Fifteenth-century English printing is provided by Paul Needham, ‘The Paper of English Incunabula’, in the Catalogue of Books printed in the XVth-century now in the British Library. XI. England, ’t Goy-Houten, Hes & De Graaf, 2007, pp. 311-334. In a more general fashion, still useful, if somewhat antiquated, are the three articles by geographer, Edward Heawood, who also authored one of the better-known watermark repertories, see: ‘Sources of Early English Paper Supply’, The Library, s. IV, vol. 10 (1929-30), pp. 282-307, 427-454; ‘Papers used in England after 1600’, The Library, s. IV, vol. 11 (1930-31), pp. 263-299, 466-498; and ‘Further Notes on Paper used in England after 1600’, The Library, s. V, vol. 2 (1947-48), pp. 119-149.

The home-grown industry established itself gradually, and over time produced some of the most significant innovations in papermaking history, such as the introduction of the wove mould [15] and the development of the Fourdrinier machine, invented in France, but made a genuine reality in Britain [16]. This supremacy, especially of the Whatman firm, meant that by the end of the Eighteenth-century English paper was not only exported, but also widely counterfeited on the Continent. For an overall survey, see Richard L. Hills, Papermaking in Britain. A Short History, London, Athlone Press, 1988, as well as the more dated D.C. Coleman, The British Paper Industry, 1495-1860. A Study in Industrial Growth, Oxford, at the Clarendon Press, 1958. The history of the same is expertly discussed also in the two collections of conference acts published by the British Association of Paper Historians, see Oxford Papers. Studies in British Paper History. I. Proceedings of the British Association of Paper Historians Fourth Annual Conference, held at St. Edmund Hall, Oxford, 17-19 September 1993, edited by Peter Bower, London, 1996, and The Exeter Papers. Studies in British Paper History. II. Proceedings of the British Association of Paper Historians Fifth Annual Conference, held at Hope Hall, University of Exeter, Exeter, 23-26 September 1994, Oxford, 2000. An earlier study, focusing on England, is Alfred H. Shorter, Paper Mills and Paper Makers in England 1495-1800, Hilversum, The Paper Publications Society, 1957, while the myriad of short articles by the same author are brought together in his Studies on the History of Papermaking in Britain, edited by Richard L. Hills, Aldershot, Variorum, 1993. Scotland, as ever, receives separate treatment in Alistair G. Thomson, The Paper Industry in Scotland, 1590-1861, Edinburgh, Scottish Academic Press, 1974, while Wales is treated in A.E. Davies, ‘Paper-Mills and Paper-Makers in Wales 1700-1900’, National Library of Wales Journal, vol. 15 (1967), 30 p. (available on line).

Information about the subsequent British paper industry can be gleaned from the pages of Harry Dagnall, The Taxation of Paper in Great Britain 1643-1861. A History and Documentation, published by the Author (30, Turner Road, Queensbury, Edgware, Middlesex HA8 6AY, UK), in collaboration with The British Association of Paper Historians, 1998, distributed by The British Association of Paper Historians (see website). By the same author, in synthesis, see: ‘The Taxes on Knowledge: Excise Duty on Paper’, The Library, s. VI, vol. 20 (1998), pp. 347-366.

In-depth studies of specific mills are less common. One example, interesting due to the link with Oxford University Press, is Harry Carter, Wolvercote Mill. A Study in Paper Making at Oxford, Oxford, for the Society at the University Press, 1957.


Interesting documentation about the figure of the German papermaker, Remigius Guidon, is provided by Benjamin Pohl-Leah Tether, ‘Remigius Guidon, Cambridge’s Old Paper Mill and the Beginnings of Cambridge University Press, c. 1550-1559’, Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society, vol. 15 (2013), pp. 177-227.


Maidstone. For the history of the Whatman Turkey mill, see [15] below.


A deserving portrait of an industry that disappeared is Hugh Nott, Papermaking in Lincolnshire 1600-1900, Lincoln, Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology, 2008, with an update by Daven Chamberlain, ‘Updated Notes on 'Papermaking in Lincolnshire 1600-1900’, The Quarterly, n. 81, January 2012.

[n] United States, Mexico, and South America. For the history of watermarks in the United States, see the titles by Thomas Gravell cited below [23]. A comprehensive study of early American papermaking is now available in John Bidwell, American Paper Mills, 1690-1832. A Directory of the Paper Trade, with Notes on Products, Watermarks, Distribution Methods, and Manufacturing Techniques, Worcester, Massachusetts, 2013, which also provides an ample bibliography.

Bark paper made by the indigenous peoples of South America is described in Victor Wolfgang von Hagen, The Aztec and Maya Papermakers, New York, J.J. Augustin, 1944, reprinted Mineola, Dover Publications, 1999. Extremely interesting, since it also includes samples of handmade paper, is Hans Lenz, El papel indigena mexicano. Historia y supervivencia, Mexico, Editorial cultura, 1950, trans. English as Mexican Indian Paper. Its History and Survival, Mexico, Editorial libros de Mexico, 1961.


Sheet-sizes and the Text of the Bologna Stone

The original manuscript of the statute of Bologna of 1389 is held at the State Archive of Bologna, Comune governo, Statuti del Comune, vol. 14, with the passage concerned at f. 368v. The text is excerpted in Andrea F. Gasparinetti, ‘Documenti inediti sulla fabbricazione della carta in Emilia’, Rivista Industria della carta (1963), pp. 5-39 (misleadingly he speaks of a “lastra di marmo dell’anno 1389”, whereas, as we point out above, the material is limestone and is not dated). The obscurity both of the original document and of his article has led to some misciting, in which the date of the statutes is given as “1308”, see Tschudin’s Grundzüge der Papiergeschichte, cit., 2002, pp. 95, 100 or “1398”, see, for instance, the pamphlet by Arthur D. Dunn, Notes on the Standardization of Paper Sizes, Ottawa 1972. In the subsequent statutes of 1454 the two smaller sizes are designated “meçana” and “minuta”, see Carmen C. Bambach, ‘The Purchases of Cartoon Paper for Leonardo’s “Battle of Anghiari” and Michelangelo’s “Battle of Cascina”’, I Tatti Studies in the Italian Renaissance, vol. 8 (1999), pp. 105-133: 112.

The differing measurements for the stone, based on indications provided by Luigi Balsamo and Jan Tschihold, are summarized with intelligence and a welcome touch of irony by J. Peter Gumbert, ‘Sizes and Formats’, in Ancient and Medieval Book Materials and Techniques, cit., 1993, I, pp. 227-263: 240. Detailed measurements are also provided in Bambach, ‘The Purchases of Cartoon Paper for Leonardo's “Battle of Anghiari” and Michelangelo’s “Battle of Cascina”’, cit., 1999, who also reproduces the original (Fig. 6). A good photograph, which clearly shows the texture of the limestone, appears in Conor Fahy, ‘La carta nelle edizioni aldine del 1527 e del 1528’, La Bibliofilìa, vol. 103 (2001), pp. 263-289: 270. The Medieval Italian practice of placing stones with official measures on public buildings is briefly described in Evelyn Welch, Shopping in the Renaissance. Consumer Cultures in Italy, 1400-1600, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, pp. 79-81, with a reproduction of the tiles from Assisi.

The fact that Medieval paper did not contain cotton fibres was established with exemplary clarity by Charles-Moïse Briquet, ‘La légende paléographique du papier de coton’, first published in the Journal de Genève, 29 October 1884, but also circulated widely at the time as an offprint: Genève, Imprimerie Charles Schuchardt, 1884. The text was reprinted in Briquet’s Opuscula, cit., 1955, pp. 112-115. He returned to the subject in ‘Recherches sur les premiers papiers employés en Occident et en Orient du Xe au XIVe siècle’, Mémoires de la Société Nationale des Antiquaires de France, vol. 46 (1886), issued also as a offprint: Paris 1886, reprinted in Briquet's Opuscula, cit., 1955, pp. 129-158. Parallel German research, scientifically more solidly-founded, by botanist Julius von Wiesner (1838-1916), is described in his ‘Die mikroskopische Untersuchung des Papiers mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der ältesten orientalischen und europäischen Papiere’, Mittheilungen aus der Sammlung der Papyrus Erzherzog Rainer, vols. 2-3 (Vienna 1887), issued also as a separate offprint: Wien, Verlag d. K. K. Hof- u. Staatsdruckerei, 1887. For a more recent analysis, see Thomas Collings-Derek Milner, ‘The Nature and Identification of Cotton Paper-making Fibres in Paper’, The Paper Conservator, vol. 8 (1984), pp. 59-71.

One early, but still useful, discussion of “bombicina” and analogous terms in early papermaking is Edward Maunde Thompson, An Introduction to Greek and Latin Palaeography, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1912, pp. 35-36. More recent information, especially relating to Medieval Italian documents, is found in Kirsten Schröter, Die Terminologie der italienischen Buchdrucker im 15. und 16. Jahrhundert, cit., 1998, pp. 29-33, as well as in the online Lessico etimologico italiano, see entry Bambyce/Bambycius, while the inventories of the Estense Library in Ferrara (not considered by Schröter), which contain numerous references to “carta bombicina” or “charta di bambaso”, are published in Giulio Bertoni, La biblioteca estense e la coltura ferrarese ai tempi di duca Ercole I (1471-1505), Torino, Ermanno Loescher, 1903, appendice I [Borso d’Este, 1467, pp. 211-225], appendice II [Eleonora d’Aragona, 1493, pp. 227-233]. The association of the word with the Syrian city of Manbij, known to the Byzantines as Bambyce, and consequent linguistic confusion, was suggested by Karabacek, ‘Das arabische Papier’, cit., 1887, p. 129, and is repeated by other scholars, including Bloom, Paper before Print, cit., 2001, p. 57; but the hypothesis is challenged by Tschudin, Grundzüge der Papiergeschichte, cit., 2002, p. 89. By the by, though no fibres have been found in the relatively small number of samples of Medieval paper so far analysed, Italy did have a cotton-growing industry at an early stage, see Maureen Fennell Mazzaoui, The Italian Cotton Industry in the Later Middle Ages, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1981.

The probable meaning of the term reçute on the Bologna stone is suggested by Andrea F. Gasparinetti, ‘Ein altes Statut von Bologna über die Herstellung und Handel von Papier’, Papiergeschichte, vol. 6 (1956), pp. 45-47. See also his subsequent article: ‘Eine Bestellung von Wasserzeichenpapier in alter Zeit’, Papiergeschichte, vol. 8 (1958), pp. 40-43. References to “Riciute reali di Fabriano”, “Charte riciute di Pioracho”, “Charte riciute tonde di Fabriano”, etc. appear in a list of products on sale in Avignon communicated in a letter of 6 April 1384 in the archive of the Medieval merchant, Francesco Datini, at Prato, see Emanuela di Stefano, ‘Proiezione europea e mediterranea della carta di Camerino-Pioraco e di Fabriano all’apogeo dello sviluppo medievale (secoli XIV-XV)’, in Alle origini della carta occidentale, cit., 2014, pp. 35-62: 45. A letter sent by two Florentine merchants to Fabriano on 13 May 1389 (it took 14 days to get there!), in order to request bales of “charte riciute”, “charte grandi”, and “charte tonde”, is discussed by A.F. Gasparinetti, ‘Eine Bestellung von Wasserzeichenpapier in alter Zeit”, Papiergeschichte, vol. 6 (1956), pp. 40-43. Four sheet-sizes, specifically “fogli reali”, “meçani”, “comuni”, and “picholi” are listed in the inventory of the stationer and bookseller, Gherardo di Giovanni, in Florence in 1478, see Giuseppe Sergio Martini, ‘La bottega di un cartolaio fiorentino della seconda metà del Quattrocento: nuovi contributi biografici intorno a Gherardo e Monte di Giovanni’, special number of La Bibliofilìa, Firenze, Olschki, 1956 (also issued as a separate book, but if your library has the journal, it should have this number).

A still pertinent article applied to sheet sizes in English Renaissance and invaluable starting point for further reading is Graham Pollard, ‘Notes on the Size of the Sheet’, The Library, s. IV, vol. 22 (1941), pp. 105-137. The great Allan Stevenson was also aware that new sizes with different proportions were introduced into the paper system by the beginning of the Sixteenth century, though he does not appear to have expressed this intuition in writing, see however Gaskell, A New Introduction to Bibliography, cit., 1972, p. 67.

Paul Needham’s several articles on sheet sizes and formats in the Fifteenth-century and early Sixteenth-century printed book are obligatory reading for anyone trying to get their head round the subject. At the same time, they represent an evolution of his thought over more than a decade and so manifest a growing awareness of the complexity of the problem. The best thing is to read them all together. The importance of correctly identifying sheet-size in the cataloguing of incunabula is expounded with exemplary clarity in: ‘ISTC as a Tool for Analytical Bibliography’, in Bibliography and the Study of 15th-century Civilization. Papers presented at a Colloquium at the British Library, 26-28 September 1984, edited by Lotte Hellinga and John Goldfinch, London, The British Library, 1987, pp. 39-54. In this, as yet, early contribution Needham makes reference in his examples only to the four sizes present on the Bologna stone. Following on from this first ground-breaking article, Needham published: ‘Res Papirea: Sizes and Formats of the Late Medieval Book’, in Rationalisierung der Buchherstellung im Mittelalter und in der frühen Neuzeit. Eines buchgeschichtelichen Seminars der Herzog August Bibliothek (Wolfenbüttel 12.-14. November 1990), herausgegeben von Peter Rück, Marburg an der Lahn, Institut für historische Hilfwissenschaften, 1994, pp. 123-145, and followed it with ‘Concepts of Paper Study’, in Puzzles in Paper, cit., 2000, pp. 1-36. Needham has the sometimes frustrating habit (at least for his admirers) of publishing important articles in out-of-the-way places, some of them so out of the way that they are difficult to find even in today’s obsessively global village. This is especially true for the important and fascinating essay, in which he shows Aldus ordering and obtaining sheets of paper – defined as a sort of “narrow Median” – which depart from the norm of the invariant rectangle and instead employ a ratio of 1 : 1.25, so that, on foldings, folio and octavo formats become a ratio of 1 : 1.6, see ‘Aldus Manutius’ Paper Stocks: The Evidence of Two Uncut Books’, Princeton Library Chronicle, vol. 55 (1994), pp. 287-307, issued also with the title:The Same Purposeful Instinct: Essays in Honour of William H. Scheide, edited by William P. Stoneman, Princeton, Princeton University Library, 1994, pp. 135-155. 

In his most recent article, ‘Format and Paper Size in Fifteenth-century Printing’, in Materielle Aspekte in der Inkunabelforschung, herausgegeben von Christoph Reske und Wolfgang Schmitz, Wiesbaden, Harrassowitz, 2017, pp. 59-107, Needham has coagulated his various thoughts about incunabula sheet-sizes and formats in a single item that is absolutely indispensable reading for anyone interested in paper studies. In it he defines in particular the five additional sizes that entered the paper market by the end of the Fifteenth century and are recognisable in the incunabula editions of the age. The one weakness that should be noted about the article is that the measures Needham discusses for the rectangles on the Bologna stone are those available in Briquet, not the more accurate measurements, especially of the inner frame, supplied in more recent scholarship.

As a result of Needham’s 1987 article, the Incunabula Short Title Catalogue (ISTC) did commit itself to including sheet-sizes in its descriptions, but quite naturally such things are easier said than done and at the time of writing the map is very incomplete. As matters stand, the only incunabula for which the sheet-sizes are regularly identified are those in Hebrew, for which the information derives from excellent descriptions in BMC XIII Hebraica by Adrian K. Offenberg, see therein the summary at pp. XIX-XXI. A discussion about establishing Fifteenth-century sheet-sizes, in order to introduce them into the ISTC, is in course as part of the ERC-financed 15cBooktrade project hosted by the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages of the University of Oxford. The project also includes an edition of the Zornale of the bookseller, Francesco de Madiis, wherein, in order to understand the bookpricing system in Renaissance Venice, sheet-sizes will be determined for the editions identified as sold through this shop in the Rialto district, see Cristina Dondi-Neil Harris, ‘Exporting Books from Milan to Venice in the 15th century: Evidence from the Zornale of Francesco de Madiis’, La Bibliofilìa, vol. 116 (2014) [containing the acts of the conference: Incunabula. Printing, Trading, Collecting, Cataloguing. Milano, 10-12 settembre 2013, a cura di Alessandro Ledda], pp. 121-148.

A good introduction, written in a friendly and easily comprehensible fashion, to the process that led to the introduction of the DIN and ISO standards is Robin Kinross, A4 and Before. Towards a Long History of Paper Sizes, Wassenaar, Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study, 2009 (available online, also in a Dutch translation), while an engaging history of the square-root of two in the history of civilisation, including a mention of its role in paper, has been written by French mathematician Benoît Rittaud, Le fabuleux destin de √2, Paris, Éditions Le Pommier, 2006. See also the website curated by Markus Kuhn, International Standard Paper Sizes, hosted on a Cambridge University website.


Tables of Sheet-sizes

While at the end of the Fourteenth century the Bologna stone displays only four sheet-sizes, as time goes by, especially after the advent of printing, the varieties and the nomenclatures multiply exponentially.

An important and much cited document, taken from Bodleian manuscript Rawlinson D. 398, f. 156, is published by R.W. Chapman, ‘An Inventory of Paper, 1674’, The Library, s. IV, vol. 7 (1926-27), pp. 402-408. He describes it as “a report, rendered to Bishop Fell in 1674, of a number of lots of paper, offered, it should seem, by the two merchants whose names are given” (p. 402). In fact, the document is not dated and more likely belongs to c. 1671-73; the handwriting is that of Fell’s principal collaborator, Thomas Yate, who presumably viewed the stocks of paper in London; and John Fell was consecrated Bishop of Oxford only in 1676. The 67 paper stocks in the original undated document have been tabulated in a graph by John Lane, see Chapter 4. The paper supply to Oxford University Press, including the document published by Chapman, is analysed in detail by Martyn Ould, Printing at the University Press, 1660-1780. Volume 1. Resources: Premises, People, & Paper, Seaton, the Old School Press, 2015, pp. 76-142 (this impressive work is issued in both an ordinary and a de-luxe version: the latter comes with a further pamphlet entitled Correspondence on Paper, publishing the text of several letters from London paper dealers to Thomas Yate).

For Great Britain, in terms of original sources, rather curiously, the best lists of sheet-sizes with attached names are furnished by official legislation. In England the Customs and Excise Act of 1711 (10 Anne c. 19), sections 32 and 38, established different rates of duty payable on imported paper and home-made paper, necessarily calibrated to the different sheet-sizes. The said legislation was summarized by a number of pamphlets printed for the use of the officers in Excise service, in particular the Instructions to be Observed by the Officers Employ’d in the Duties on Paper, London, s.n., 1713 (ESTC T505495), reprinted in 1720 (ESTC N505412), 1729 (ESTC N47492) and in 1744 (ESTC T179774). Tables of paper sizes also appear in more general helpmeets for Excise officials, such as The Royal Gauger, or, Gauging made Easy, as it is actually practiced by the Officers of His Majesty’s Revenue of Excise, by Charles Leadbetter, first published in 1739, with numerous successive editions, see Rupert C. Jarvis, ‘The Paper-makers and the Excise in the Eighteenth Century’, The Library, s. V, vol. 14 (1959), pp. 100–116; Dagnall, The Taxation of Paper in Great Britain 1643-1861, cit., 1998, p. 17. Later British legislation also crops up in the volume Anno Regni Georgii III. Regis Magnae Britanniae, Franciae, & Hiberniae, vicesimo primo. At the Parliament begun and holden at Westminster, the thirty-first day of October, anno Domini 1780, being the First Session of the Fifteenth Parliament of Great Britain, London, printed by Charles Eyre and William Strahan, 1781, in folio, containing a total of 1907, [21] p. (ESTC N58103). The act on paper (21 Geo. III. c. 24), with the title An Act for Repealing the Present Duties upon Paper, Pasteboards, Millboards, and Scale-boards, made in Great Britain, and for Granting Other Duties in Lieu Thereof, taking up pp. 975-1010, was issued as a separate offprint (ESTC N58103). Further useful contemporary texts, produced as helpmeets for excise purposes, are the short pamphlets by John Paine junior, The Paper-Maker’s and Stationer’s Assistant, being a Correct List of All the Different Papers, Their Tables, Rates, and Sizes, with the New and Additional Duties, London, sold by H.D. Symonds, 1784 (ESTC T93515), and by Richard Johnson, New Duty on Paper. The Paper-maker and Stationers Assistant, Containing I. The Average Weight of Paper. II. The Quantity of Reams in a Day’s Work. III. The Dimensions. IV. The Old Duty. V. The Advance Duty. VI. The Whole Duty as Altered by the Late Act of Parliament, London, sold by Debrett, Piccadilly; Johnson, St. Paul’s Churchyard; and Bladon and Symonds, Pater-noster Row, 1794 (ESTC N120896). The consequent lists of sheet-sizes in all these sources are usefully summarized and discussed in Dagnall, The Taxation of Paper in Great Britain 1643-1861, cit., 1998.

As regards France, Briquet, Les filigranes, cit., 1907, vol. I, pp. 5-6, includes a listing of the Tarifs des Formats et Poids des Papiers, fin, moyen, bulle, variant ou gros bon, fixés par arrest du Conseil d’Etat du 18 Septembre 1741, which go from Grand-aigle (670×988 mm) down to Petit-Jésus (257×358 mm). The full original text of the same, which includes the previous Arrest du Conseil d’Etat … du 27 Janvier 1739, is published in Lalande, L’Art de faire le papier, cit., 1761, pp. 89-102, obviously with the original non-metric measurements.

Another potential source for information about paper types and sizes, albeit not necessarily including the measurements, are the stock-books and inventories of printers. Those of the Eighteenth-century London printers, William Bowyer and William Strahan, now respectively in the Bodleian and in the British Library, are described in Herbert Davis, ‘Bowyer’s Paper Stock Ledger’, The Library, s. V, vol. 6 (1951), pp. 73-87, and in Patricia Hernlund, ‘William Strahan’s Ledgers, II: Charges for Papers, 1738–1785’, Studies in Bibliography, vol. 22 (1969), pp. 179-195. In the same fashion, the archive of the Société Typographique de Neuchâtel, covering the period 1769-89, now in the city library, includes a stock-book for paper and correspondence with paper suppliers, see Jacques Rychner, ‘Running a Printing House in Eighteenth-century Switzerland. The Workshop of the Société Typographique de Neuchâtel’, The Library, s. VI, vol. 1 (1979), pp. 1-24. Likewise, the 1811 inventory of the printing shop of Nicolò Bettoni in Padua provides a long list of the different sorts of paper size in stock, given in reams, and the value per ream calculated in Italian lire. The prices go from a maximum of 70 lire for “Imperial fioretto uso Olanda” and 60 lire for “Imperial fina Galvani” down to a minimum of 4.25 lire for “Corsiva quadra” and 4.60 lire for “Scriver senza cola”, see Marco Callegari, Stampatori e librai a Padova nella prima metà dell’Ottocento, Saonara (Padua), Il Prato, 2013, pp. 40-41. The sheet-sizes recorded in the business activity of an American papermaking firm from about 1790 to 1830 are analysed and described by John Bidwell, ‘The Size of the Sheet in America: Paper-moulds Manufactured by N. & D. Sellers of Philadelphia’, Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, vol. 87 (1978), pp. 299-342.

Another potential source for sheet-sizes are printers’ manuals, for instance Émile Leclerc, Nouveau manuel complet de typographie, Paris, L. Mulo, libraire-éditeur, 1897, p. 286, lists 18 sizes from “Pot (papier écolier) 31×40” to “Grand-monde 90×120”.

As for the critical discussion, a round up is provided by E.J. Labarre, ‘The Sizes of Paper: their Names, Origin and History’, in Buch und Papier. Buchkundliche und papiergeschichtliche Arbeiten: Hans H. Bockwitz zum 65. Geburtstag dargebracht, Herausgeber Horst Kunze, Leipzig, Harrassowitz, 1949, pp. 35–54. A summary is also available in Gaskell, A New Introduction to Bibliography, cit., 1972, pp. 72-75, where the table of paper sizes and watermarks at pp. 72-75 brings together Chapman, the English legislation of 1711 and 1781, and the French legislation of 1741. The same scholar also has illuminating remarks in an earlier article, ‘Notes on Eighteenth-century British Paper’, The Library, s. V, vol. 12 (1957), pp. 34-42. In his short treatise on the history of the printer John Baskerville, Gaskell further provides a landmark example of how to integrate paper evidence and information about sheet sizes in the bibliographical description of individual editions, see John Baskerville. A Bibliography, Cambridge, at the University Press, 1959. Gaskell also published the history of the Eighteenth-Century Foulis Press in Glasgow, an academically inclined publisher and printer, that made great play on the varieties of paper within the same edition, to all intents and purposes creating distinct issues, sometimes in differing formats, all of which required attention on the part of the bibliographer, see A Bibliography of the Foulis Press, London, Rupert Hart-Davis, 1964, reprinted Winchester, St. Paul's Bibliographies, 1986. The other great example of paper analysis in the description of individual books is the extraordinary Catalogue of Botanical Books in the Library of Rachel McMasters Miller Hunt, Pittsburgh, Hunt Botanical Library, 1958-61, 2 vols., where the entries are by Allan Stevenson.


Knowing Formats

It should be noted that the problem of determining format antedates paper, since books in parchment also require a format to be established on the basis of the way the skin of the animal – in which the dorsal stripe has the same role as the wirelines in a sheet of paper – has been folded and cut; see the very clear synthesis by J. Peter Gumbert, ‘Sizes and Formats’, in Ancient and Medieval Book Materials and Techniques, cit., 1993, I, pp. 227-263.

The bibliographical discussion, fittingly, has its beginning in the first volume of a journal that appeared monthly and only later became the mouthpiece of the Bibliographical Society, see William Blades, ‘On Paper and Papermakers’, The Library, vol. 1, n. 7, July 1889, pp. 217-223, where he insists, in opposition to the measurement system, that “Truly the natural system is the only way”. Otherwise, another potential starting point is Charles Mortet, Le format des livres. Notions pratiques suivifs de recerches historiques, Paris, Champion, 1925, which brings together two articles published in the Revue des bibliothèques in 1894 and in 1924. Although the idea of a progressive discussion of how formats developed in the history of printing is a good one, Mortet is often inaccurate and is by now very dated. Theoretical aspects of the problem are expounded by G. Thomas Tanselle, ‘The Concept of Format’, Studies in Bibliography, vol. 53 (2000), pp. 67-115, and in a more practical fashion, applied in particular to the period in which mechanical paper first came onto the market, by Brian J. McMullin, ‘Watermarks and the Determination of Format in British Paper, 1794-circa 1830’, Studies in Bibliography, vol. 56 (2003-2004), pp. 295-315.

The earliest diagrams of format layouts are in the Orthotypographia, hoc est Instructio operas typographicas correcturiis by Hieronymus Hornschuch, printed in Leipzig in 1608, and generally considered the first printing manual (see the 1983 reprint edited by Martin Boghardt). The woodcut diagrams are for Quarto, Octavo, Duodecimo and, curiously, Decimooctavo. The practice expands hugely in subsequent printing manuals, including the entry ‘Imprimerie’ in the Encyclopédie des arts et métiers, and culminating in the extravagance of the oft-pillaged, and rarely acknowledged, entry ‘Imposing’ by William Savage, A Dictionary of the Art of Printing, London, Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans, 1841 (available online in Google books). A summary of the most common lay-outs are provided also in various manuals of bibliography, most helpfully and thoroughly in that by Philip Gaskell, A New Introduction to Bibliography, cit., 1972, pp. 84-107, which also includes a helpful note about ‘The Identification of Format’.

The language with which formats and impositions are described sometimes requires elucidation. Gaskell’s manual defines as “common octavo” a lay-out in which, after folding, the four corner leaves of the sheet become the first half of the gathering (p. 92); its opposite, “inverted octavo”, places the same leaves in the second half of the gathering (p. 93). Gaskell’s lexis here is in debt to D.F. Cook, ‘Inverted Imposition’, The Library, s. V, vol. 12 (1957), pp. 193-196. An alternative terminology, first suggested in German by Martin Boghardt in the just-mentioned introduction to the reprint of Hornschuch, subsequently promoted in English and Italian by Conor Fahy [11], describes the first imposition as “centripetal” (i.e. the leaves in the second half of the gathering form the centre of the sheet) and the second as “centrifugal”.

As Needham warns in ‘Res Papirea’, cit., 1994, unless you are certain that the person describing a manuscript or an early printed book knows what they are about, indications relating to any format lesser than 16° in a bibliography or catalogue should be treated with extreme caution. One salutatory episode in the misdescription of an early Sixteenth-century edition, in which carelessness led to a stern correction, is dealt with in Conor Fahy, ‘Il formato in 24° di Alessandro Paganino’, La Bibliofilìa, vol. 98 (1996), pp. 59-63. The complexities of imposition in very small formats are briefly handled in Oliver Lee Steele, ‘Half-sheet Imposition of Eight-leaf Quires in Formes of Thirty-two and Sixty-four Pages’, Studies in Bibliography, vol. 11 (1962), pp. 274-278. The smallest format known to have been used in a Renaissance book, and indeed for a long time afterwards, is 128°, employed by Christopher Plantin to print a Kalendarium in Antwerp in 1570. Quite remarkably and very fortunately, one copy has survived in unbound form in the archive of the Plantin-Moretus Museum, see Frans A. Janssen, ‘The Smallest Format Reinstated’, Quarendo, vol. 12 (1982), pp. 80-81, reprinted with the title: ‘The Smallest Format Reinstated (Plantin 1570)’, in Idem, Technique and Design in the History of Printing, ’t Goy Houten, Hes & De Graaf, 2004, pp. 141-144.

A short article that illustrates the problem of establishing the format in incunabula printed on sheets of different sizes is Curt F. Bühler, ‘Chainlines versus Imposition in Incunabula’, Studies in Bibliography, vol. 23 (1970), pp. 141-145. Mixed formats are usually indicated in repertories of incunabula, among which the BMC is punctilious in giving the make up of the copies it describes. An analysis of the mixed format editions in the collection of the Franciscan library in Florence, including a copy of the extremely complicated 1480 Renner Bible, in which Needham identifies “Half-median” sheets, appears in Neil Harris, ‘Né pesce né carne. Ritratto dell’incunabolo come un libro bifronte’, in Gli incunaboli della Biblioteca Provinciale dei Frati Minori di Firenze, a cura di Chiara Razzolini, Elisa di Renzo, Irene Zanella, Firenze, Regione Toscana-Pisa, Pacini editore, 2012, pp. 11-46. The specific problem posed by Fifteenth-century broadsides is discussed by Paul Needham, ‘The Formats of Incunable Broadsides’, in Buch-Bibliothek-Region. Wolfgang Schmitz zum 65. Geburtstag, herausgegeben Christine Haug und Rolf Thiele, Wiesbaden, Harrassowitz, 2014, pp. 127-144.

From the late Seventeenth century, beginning in Holland, mills constructed and employed side-by-side twin-sheet moulds, generally intended as good-quality writing paper. The particularity of the construction required a reversal of the normal lay-out, so that in sheets of paper made on such moulds the wire-lines are parallel to the short edge and the chain-lines to the long edge, see Allen T. Hazen, ‘Eighteenth-Century Quartos with Vertical Chain-lines’, The Library, s. IV, vol. 16 (1935-36), pp. 337-342; K. Povey-I.J.C. Foster, ‘Turned chain lines’, The Library, s. V, vol. 5 (1950), pp. 184-200. In dealing with such cases, which remain rareish, a certain bibliographical circumlocution is required in explaining the format. Alternatively the two sheets could be made in end-to-end moulds, leaving the determination of the format unchanged, see the diagram in Gaskell, A New Introduction to Bibliography, cit., 1972, p. 65. For the difficulties posed by the identification of such “quadruplet” watermarks in the correspondence of Ludwig van Beethoven, see Alan Tyson, ‘Prolegomena to a Future Edition of Beethoven’s Letters’, in Beethoven Studies 2, edited by Alan Tyson, London, Oxford University Press, 1977, pp. 1-32: 9-12.

The very bad, indeed abominable, library practice of assigning formats purely on the basis of the height of the copy, which seems to derive from a failure earlier in the century to think through the consequences of the introduction of mechanical papermaking, was denounced by Henry Bradshaw in 1882 in his ‘Address at the Opening of the Fifth Annual Meeting of the Library Association’, Cambridge 1882, appendix III, pp. 36 sqq., reprinted with the title ‘A Word on Size-notation as distinguished from Form-notation’ in his Collected Papers, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1889, republished 2011, pp. 406-409. It is enjoyable to dwell en passant on his somewhat scathing observations about the competence of contemporary librarianship: “It may perhaps have been thought superfluous for me to define the meaning of the term ‘quarto,’ a definition which mutatis mutandis applies to all such terms. But the truth is that, although Frenchmen seem to be generally taught these things as elementary facts, I am bound to say that I have not found, during the last twenty years, five Englishmen, either librarians or booksellers, who knew how to distinguish a folio from a quarto, or an octavo from a 12° or a 16°. It is surely high time then, that we should make a serious effort to arrive at some common understanding as to a matter of such purely practical concern; seeing that we are all agreed that it is desirable to convey some idea of the size of a book by the notation we use to describe it” (p. 409). See also the remarks by Needham, ‘ISTC as a Tool for Analytical Bibliography’, cit., 1987, p. 46. It has still taken over a hundred years for the practice to disappear and one still finds cases in which lazy, incompetent, and useless cataloguers copy the format indication off an old catalogue card rather than actually look at the book.


Papermaking Moulds, Watermark Patterns, and Twin Watermarks

The passage cited from Briquet in Chapter 5, which includes the indication of not more than two years as the lifetime for a mould in regular use, is excerpted from: ‘De la valeur des filigranes de papier comme moyen de déterminer l’âge et la provenance de documents non datés’, Bulletin de la Société d’Histoire et Archéologie de Genève, tome I, livre 2 (1892), pp. 192-202, reprinted in Briquet’s Opuscula, cit., 1955, pp. 235-240.

A detailed analysis of how moulds were made and structured, with lengthy comparisons of Oriental and Occidental practice, can be found in E.G. Loeber, Paper Mould and Mouldmaker, Amsterdam, The Paper Publications Society, 1982. Watermark patterns, i.e. the blocks of wood with nails, on which watermarks were first drawn and then shaped by bending the copper wire, have rarely impinged on the consciousness of watermark scholars, but a single pattern obviously not only served to shape the twin watermarks on a pair of moulds, but it could be employed again and again to make a series of more or less identical watermarks. Some observations based on an early Twentieth-century Dutch account appear in Allan Stevenson, The Problem of the Missale Speciale, London, The Bibliographical Society, 1967, Excursus III, ‘The Watermark Maker’, pp. 245-247. In 1964 in his in-depth study of watermarks in Berne [6k], Johann Lindt argued that the durability of some watermarks appeared superior to that of the moulds: “The watermarks were used until they were completely worn out and useless. After being used on old moulds they were transferred to new moulds and this often happened more than once. In the process of renewed sewing-on it happened that the watermark assumed a somewhat divergent shape, for – when necessary – it also underwent some repair during this operation and so was further altered” (p. 146). I suspect that what might really be described here are different marks from the same pattern being attached to successive moulds over the course of time, a possibility to which Lindt makes no reference, but the truth can only be established by a fresh examination of the original evidence.

The one article that must be read if one is going to attempt serious scholarship through paper is Allan H. Stevenson, ‘Watermarks are Twins’, Studies in Bibliography, vol. 4 (1951-52), pp. 57-92, with further information available in Idem, ‘Paper as Bibliographical Evidence’, The Library, s. V, vol. 17 (1962), pp. 197-212. On the figure of Stevenson and his enormous contribution to the history of paper scholarship, see Paul Needham, ‘Allan H. Stevenson and the Bibliographical Uses of Paper’, Studies in Bibliography, vol. 47 (1994), pp. 23-64, which also provides an abbreviated listing of Stevenson’s writings.

Not centred on the question of twins, but still very much about physical paper evidence and ways of establishing a comparative chronology is the pamphlet by Roberto Ridolfi, Le filigrane dei paleotipi, cit., 1957. The originality of this Italian’s scholar’s contribution is underlined by Conor Fahy, ‘Roberto Ridolfi, Italian Bibliographical Scholar’, Studies in Bibliography, vol. 51 (1998), pp. 26-47, of which an Italian version appeared with the title ‘Roberto Ridolfi e lo studio bibliologico della carta’, La Bibliofilìa, vol. 97 (1995), pp. 35-57.

One promising sounding, but disappointing, title, since all it does is lead the reader into a strange maze of diagrams, mostly about how watermarks arrange themselves in the fascicules of manuscripts (but does the blindingly obvious have to be so needlessly complicated?), is Monique Zerdoun Bat-Yehouda, Les papiers filigranés médiévaux. Essai de méthodologie descriptive, Turnhout, Brepols, 1989, 2 vols. But it does have nice β-radiographs, so one can always look at the pictures.

Rather surprisingly, or perhaps not surprisingly at all, relatively few photographic images of twin watermarks are reproduced in the critical literature relating to paper studies, with the exception of Stevenson’s fundamental 1951 article and the tour de force of The Problem of the Missale Speciale (1967). The same scholar includes a couple of graceful unicorns among the β-radiographs he adds to the 1968 edition of Briquet, see the Tables following p. *36. Otherwise, in chronological order of the original document, here are some examples you can look at. Two full sheets from Basle in 1446, each with a horn watermark, respectively in the right and left halves are shown as backlit images in Tschudin, Grundzüge der Papiergeschichte, cit., 2002, fig. 71 (p. 198 in the Italian version, though in both instances the quality of the image leaves something to be desired). A selection of β-radiographs of the twin watermarks in the Gutenberg Bible, taken from the Pierpont Morgan Library copy, are reproduced by Paul Needham, ‘The Paper Supply of the Gutenberg Bible’, The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, vol. 79 (1985), pp. 303-374; the same Needham illustrates, again with β-radiographs, the twin watermarks, in different states, in the three impressions of the Mainz Catholicon, see ‘Johann Gutenberg and the Catholicon press’, Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, vol. 76 (1982), pp. 395-456: 445-451. Two graceful mermaids from Venetian Sixteenth-century maps printed around 1570, baptised Mary and Martha, are reproduced in β-radiograph by David Woodward in his 1996 catalogue [26], though they are not explicitly identified as twins (nn. 91-92, pp. 68-69). Quite a few other watermarks in this repertory are plausibly twins, but the nature of the material makes it difficult to be certain. Six pairs of watermarks from Sixteenth and Seventeenth-century literary manuscripts are reproduced by Mark Bland, A Guide to Early Books and Manuscripts, cit., pp. 28, 33, 42-44, 47: in four cases these are taken from the Bodleian’s archive of β-radiograph images going back to 1987. Conor Fahy, Printing a Book at Verona in 1622. The Account Book of Francesco Calzolari Junior, Paris, Fondation Custodia, 1993, figg. x-xii, reproduces with backlit photographs, not entirely distinctly, the twin Eagle, Anchor, and Lion watermarks, with their respective countermarks, found in the Musaeum Francisci Calceolarii. Otherwise, find your own twin watermarks. It is not difficult!

The issue of how to label the watermarks produced by a pair of twin moulds has been treated primarily by scholars in the German-speaking world. As part of the lengthy debate on the “1460” Mainz Catholicon [30], Theo Gerardy, ‘Wann wurde das Catholicon mit der Schuss-Schrift von 1460 (GW 3182) wirklicht gedruckt?’, Gutenberg Jahrbuch (1973), pp. 105-125, applies a system in which the watermark in the sheet, viewed from the mould side, if on the left, is denominated zugewandt, i.e. “turned towards”, or “Z”, and the opposite twin mark, on the other side of its respective sheet, is abgewandt, i.e. “turned away”, or “A”. Gerardy has expounded the same nomenclature in other writings, in particular in ‘Die Beschreibung des in Manuskripten und Drucken vorkommenden Papiers’, Codicologia, vol. 5 (1980), pp. 37-51, and in the important monograph: Das Papier der Seckelmeisterrechnungen von Freiburg i. Ue, 1402-1465, cit., 1980, pp. 72-88. In this latter study, in which many pairs of watermarks are placed in the same half of the mould, he employs the further distinction of A I and A II, or Z I and Z II. What this method signifies in practical terms is that Z marks are traced and reproduced from the mould side of the sheet and A marks are taken from the felt side, an inconsistency that other scholars tendentiously dislike (and, at least as far as I am concerned, the method is not always easy to remember). Gerardy’s method has enjoyed the public approval of R.J. Lyall, ‘Materials. The Paper Revolution’, in Book Production and Publishing in Britain, 1375-1475, edited by Jeremy Griffiths and Derek Pearsall, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1989, pp. 11-29, with the addition of an asterisk to signify when the watermark is upside-down. Still in the context of the Catholicon, Eva Ziesche and Dierk Schnitger, ‘Elektronen radiographische Untersuchungen der Wasserzeichen des Mainzer Catholicon von 1460’, Archiv für Geschichte des Buchwesens, vol. 21 (1980), cols. 1303-1360, employ “a” when the original watermark in the mould was in the left-hand side and “b” when in the right-hand side. Last but not least, and still with reference to the Catholicon, Paul Needham has employed a simple and self-explanatory system: the sheet is viewed from the mould side and the watermark, the right-way up, is designated “mould-side left”, abbreviated as mL, or “mould-side right”, abbreviated as mR, see ‘Johann Gutenberg and the Catholicon press’, cit. (1982), p. 453, where he surveys also the methods of Gerardy and Ziesche-Schnitger. In more recent publications Needham has adopted the alternative abbreviations MsL and MsR. Although this nomenclature works well for straight-forward designation purposes, not all scholars are comfortable with a terminology that reverses the positions of the watermarks on the original moulds. In my own work, therefore, I cite watermarks as they were placed in the original mould as L (i.e. left) and R (i.e. right), adding however a specification about how appear they appear on the mould-side of the sheet, as in Needham’s diction, so “L (MsR)” and “R (MsL)”. If both watermarks are in the same half of their respective moulds, as is common up to the second half of the Fifteenth century, the letters double up, i.e. L and LL, and R and RR.



A word of warning. Traditional watermark repertories cannot always be relied on to reproduce countermarks (astonishingly, since in many ways they are more distinctive than the principal watermarks). At one extreme Briquet generally includes them and acknowledges their importance, at the other Piccard’s sequence of Findbuch systematically ignores them and thus renders his tracings almost useless. So be careful!

On the whole, the discussion of countermarks has been somewhat muted, possibly due to the fact that they are considered primarily an Northern Italian phenomenon (which is true, but that does not make them any less important), possibly also due to the fact that they represent a code that has generally proved impervious to scholarship. Leonardo Mazzoldi, Filigrane di cartiere bresciane, cit., 1990-91, who is scrupulous about recording their presence, offers the most likely interpretation, i.e. that they designate the “titolari delle cartiere”. See further Paola F. Munafò-Maria Speranza Storace, ‘Countermarks in 15th Century Italian Paper’, in Paper as a Medium of Cultural Heritage. Archaeology and Conservation. 26th Congress IPH. Rome-Verona, August 30-September 6th, 2002, edited by Rossella Graziaplena, with the assistance of Mark Livesey, Roma, Istituto Centrale per la Patologia del Libro, 2004, pp. 311-321. Examples of countermarks placed in the centre of the half of the sheet opposite to the mark from the late 1640s can be found in the watermark repertories of Churchill, Heawood, and Mošin [18].

Observations pointing out the helpfulness of countermarks in order to determine imposition appear in Conor Fahy, ‘Notes on Centrifugal Octavo Imposition in Sixteenth-century Italian Printing’, Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society, vol. 10 (1994), pp. 489-504; ‘Centripetal and Centrifugal Imposition in Aldine Octavos’, vol. 10 (1995), pp. 591-602. Their utility in separating twin moulds is mentioned also by the same author, see ‘La carta nelle edizioni aldine del 1527 e del 1528’, La Bibliofilìa, vol. 103 (2001), pp. 263-289.


Names and Dates in Watermarks

The fact that paper-makers at Fabriano at the beginning of the Fourteenth century for a brief period placed their names in the moulds was known to early gatherers of watermark information, such as the Zonghi brothers and Briquet. The latter discusses the practice in his pioneering article on the watermarks of Genoa (1888) and subsequently, in Les filigranes, under the heading ‘Noms’ provides a series of examples, such as “ANDRUZO A” (nn. 12005, 12028), “BARTOLI P” (n. 12006), “BENE” (n. 12007), “CICCO V” (n. 12008), “CRESSCE M” (n. 12009), “FILIPO Z” (n. 12010), “FILIPVZO Z” (n. 12011), and so on and so forth. These indications were followed up by Andrea F. Gasparinetti, ‘Über die Namen alter italienischer Papiermacher’, Papiergeschichte, vol. 2 (1952), pp. 13-16, also in his Aspetti particolari della filigranologia, cit., 1964, p. 27, where he drew attention to an amusing misreading by Briquet, who transcribed a back-to-front “PINTAVOZ” (n. 12020), instead of a correct “ZOVAGNI G” (which he had registered correctly at n. 12027, but evidently the penny didn’t drop). In more recent times the subject has been expertly discussed by the French paleographer, Jean Irigoin; see his ‘Les filigranes de Fabriano (noms de papetiers) dans les manuscrits grecs du début du XIVe siècle’, Scriptorium, vol. 12 (1958), pp. 44-50, 281-282; Idem, ‘Une série de filigranes remarquable: les noms de papetiers de Fabriano (début du XIVe siècle)’, in Le papier au Moyen Âge, cit., 1999, pp. 139-147. Irigoin establishes an arc of time for the practice running from 1305 to 1312 for archive documents and from 1309 to 1314 for manuscripts, in which the way paper was acquired and consumed was evidently slower. The whole phenomenon is remarkable in that the names are in the vernacular and surnames or patronymics, given the period, are abbreviated. Why the fashion suddenly appeared and why it equally suddenly disappeared remains mysterious, but it provides a delightful example of the pioneering use of watermarks in the Middle Ages.

The inclusion of the name of the paper-maker – usually in a cartouche underneath the watermark – resurfaces in France during the second half of the Sixteenth century as a consequence of legislation in 1567 and 1582, see Briquet, Les filigranes, cit., 1907, vol. I, p. 9. The shape of the phenomenon is clear from a leisurely stroll through the pages of the same repertory, where Briquet’s discussion of “Raisin” (vol. IV, p. 646) includes examples for names of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth centuries. Otherwise the phenomenon is relatively little charted, but see the examples in the repertories by Churchill, Heawood, and Gaudriault [18].

Dated watermarks in the same period are extremely rare and linked to heraldry. The earliest examples in Briquet, who surveys the 95 examples in his repertory in the entry for ‘Millésimes’ (p. 587), are for the arms of a Troyes papermaker: see nn. 1181-1183, dated respectively 1545, 1546 and 1549 (the identification of the owner is provided by Stevenson in his notes to the 1968 edition). At a later stage dates in watermark become commonplace as a consequence of excise legislation, see the excellent study by Harry Dagnall, The Taxation of Paper in Great Britain 1643-1861, cit., 1998.



In the critical literature there is some confusion about what exactly constitutes a tranchefile. It is not just a chainline that happens to seem to be closer to the edge of the mould, since this is often an illusion (the said effect can obviously be caused by trimming, but deckles were often made so that they slightly overlapped the mould and thus cut off a few millimetres in the moment in which the sheet is formed). A tranchefile is instead a thickish brass wire attached to the underside of the sieve, normally at about 18 mm from the penultimate chain-line on the extremities of the mould and at about 10 mm from the edge of the same (obviously the distance is difficult to establish since the sheet has usually been trimmed). It is sewn into position by having a chain-line formed above it, to which it is attached (see the illustrations of mould making both in Lalande, who also provides a useful account of its placing and purpose, and in the entry ‘Papeterie’ in the Encyclopédie, which both show tranchefiles as an intrinsic part of the mould), and is recognisable by the fact that the same chain-line (which is obviously the outermost) is visibly closer to the penultimate chain-line. Its peculiarity is that it does not have a supporting rib underneath, since its closeness to the border of the mould would have impeded the flow of the liquid. Its purpose evidently was to strengthen the short edges, which were the most vulnerable part of the mould, given that there was no way of fixing the ends of the wires. It has been pointed out (Gilbert and Ransom) that tranchefile perhaps is a misnomer, since this is really a bookbinder’s term signifying the ‘headband’ in the binding and that the correct term should be transfil (good point, but, apart from the fact that the term goes back at least to the Eighteenth century, it is probably too late in the day to do anything about it).

Tranchefiles are very explicitly and very specifically a feature of paper made North of the Alps, especially in France, beginning in the Auvergne, and gradually expanding Northwards to Holland, although an exception can be made for Piedmont in North Eastern Italy in the Fifteenth century. Evidence points to the three varieties of royal paper employed in the printing of the Gutenberg Bible, watermarked with a grape, a bull’s head or a bull, as imported from paper factories working in the neighbourhood of Turin, with moulds distinguished by the presence of tranchefiles, see A.W. Kazmeier, ‘Wasserzeichen und Papier der zweiundvierzigzeiligen Bibel’, Gutenberg Jahrbuch, 1952, pp. 21-29; Paul Needham, ‘The Paper Supply of the Gutenberg Bible’, Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, vol. 79 (1985), pp. 303-374. Stevenson, The Problem of the Missale Speciale, cit., 1967, also provides a useful discussion of the tranchefiles in the papermoulds used in Basle.

The only exception to the rule that Italian moulds do not have tranchefiles, that I have personally encountered, involves the printing of the Gospels in Arabic in Rome in 1590-91 by the Medici Oriental Press. This edition, which appeared in two seemingly different issues, one with only the Arabic text and one with a Latin interlinear gloss [30], employs for the most part Median sheets watermarked with a crown and clearly visible tranchefiles, see Neil Harris, ‘Printing the Gospels in Arabic in Rome in 1590’, in A Concise Companion to the Study of Manuscripts, Printed Books, and the Production of Early Modern Texts, edited by Edward Jones, Chichester, Wiley-Blackwell, 2015, pp. 131-149. I add that I have found the same crown watermark and tranchefiles in a manuscript of Daniele Barbaro in the Marciana Library, so it almost certainly came from an Italian mill.

The placing of tranchefiles can be extremely useful, not just in recognising the parts of a sheet that are not watermarked, but also in deceiphering complex imposition problems; see David F. Foxon, ‘Some Notes on Agenda Format’, The Library, s. V, vol. 8 (1953), pp. 163-173; Annemie Gilbert and Silvia Ransom, ‘The Imposition of Eighteenmos in Sixes, with Special Reference to Tranchefiles’, Bulletin of the Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand, no. 17 (1980), pp. 269-275.


Telling Mould Side/Felt Side Apart

In the discussion following the paper by Richard Hills at the Paris conference Le papier au Moyen Âge in 1998, a scholar of the stature of Conor Fahy admits that “I am incidentally glad that somebody else has difficulty in deciding which is the felt side and the mould side” (p. 162); and in my own conversations with him Conor was always rather sceptical about whether this could be done in a reliable fashion. It is also a skill that relatively few scholars, even those who work a lot on paper evidence seem to have in their repertoire. The only article I know on the subject is Allan Stevenson, ‘Chain-indentations in Paper as Evidence’, Studies in Bibliography, vol. 6 (1954), pp. 181-197, with useful remarks about how this technique can be employed to detect cancels.

It has to be admitted that it is not always easy, especially in dealing with volumes that have been much handled, as well as rebound and heavily pressed. Nevertheless telling felt side/mould side apart is a fundamental skill in the analysis of paper, since it is also the preliminary step to identifying the twin watermarks that should emerge in every paper supply.

The basic difference is that the wirelines, chainlines and the watermark(s) on the mould side leave a deeper indentation in the finished sheet. The easiest way to distinguish them is with a raking light in a darkened room, but of course ideal conditions are often not possible in libraries and so the solution is incessant practice. If you are a novice, start with paper in manuscripts or in archive documents that have not been heavily used and get into the habit of doing it all the time. Outside the library, an excellent device is an overhead projector: turn it on in a darkened room, find the chain-lines, hold the sheet flat along the line of the beam with the chain-lines at right angles, and it works beautifully (so don’t let technonerds discard these very useful machines as obsolete). Otherwise God’s good sun pouring through a window, if you can obtain a narrow ray of light, will serve the same purpose, and the new variety of rechargeable LED cycling lights can be very handy (unless you leave them on the bicycle, that is).


Wove Paper

Technically, Oriental papers made on a floating mould covered with cloth are “wove”, as can be seen by the imprint left by the fabric on the surface of the sheet. Otherwise, in terms of Western papermaking, “wove”, applied to a metal mesh, first appeared in England in 1757. In the first half century or so of wove, traces of chain and wirelines are often still apparent and so can be helpful in determining format (the problem was obviated by putting a layer of rougher, more widely-spaced mesh, between the supports and the wove surface itself). On the biography of its inventor, or at least of the person who commissioned the moulds, see John N. Balston, The Elder James Whatman, England’s Greatest Paper Maker, West Farleigh, [published by the author], 1992. The third, follow-up volume, with the title The Whatmans and Wove (Velin) Paper: Its Invention and Development in the West, West Farleigh, John Balston, 1998, looks at the material evidence. (These books are not easy to obtain, though copies do appear in Abebooks and in other used book selling sites. Alternatively order them directly from the Whatman firm, which still exists, albeit no longer as a papermaking business: contact Whatman House, St. Leonard’s Road 20, Maidstone, Kent ME16 0LS, England). Worthwhile biographical summaries of the lives of James Whatman senior (1702-59) and junior (1741-98) by Anne Pimlott Baker are available in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford, vol. 58 (2004), pp. 402-403.

Bibliographical information about the first edition printed employing wove paper, or Publii Virgilii Maronis Bucolica, Georgica, et Aeneis, Birminghamiae, typis Johannis Baskerville, 1757, is available in Philip Gaskell, John Baskerville. A Bibliography, cit., pp. 19-23. A word of warning: it is necessary to distinguish the 1757 editio princeps from its later, deceptively and sneakily identical, reprint, which was probably done in about 1773.


Mechanical Paper

The early history of the Fourdrinier machine is described in a chapter in Hunter, Papermaking, cit., 2nd ed., 1947, pp. 341-373, but a much more detailed account is Robert H. Clapperton, The Paper-making Machine. Its Invention, Evolution and Development, Oxford, Pergamon Press, 1967. A useful summary is also provided by Gaskell, A New Introduction to Bibliography, cit., 1972, pp. 214-230, including a β-radiograph of the trace left by a sewing seam. A short, but expensive, biography of the first inventor is Henry Morris, Nicolas Louis Robert and his Endless Wire Papermaking Machine, Newtown, Bird & Bull Press, 2000. A facsimile of Robert’s original “brevet d’invention” for a “Machine à fabriquer le papier d’une très grande étendue”, presented on 18 January 1799, was published in 2000 by the Institut National de la Propriété Industrielle in Paris, including a reproduction of the original drawings. Useful biographical and bibliographical indications are available in the entry on Bryan Donkin (1768-1855) by Roger Lloyd Jones in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004), vol. 16, pp. 402-403, and in that on Henry Fourdrinier (1766-1854) by Anita McConnell, vol. 20, pp. 559-560.

An important study on the history of the paper-industry in France as a consequence of the mechanisation of the process is Louis André, Machines à papier. Innovation et transformations de l'industrie papetière en France, 1798-1860, Paris, Éditions de l’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, 1996. See also, by the same author, ‘Une révolution de papier. Le papier et la seconde révolution du livre’, Revue française d’histoire du livre, n. 106-109 (2000), pp. 219-230. Three books that describe its impact on the paper making industry in Britain and in the United States are Joan Evans, The Endless Web. John Dickinson & Co. Ltd, 1804-1954, London, Jonathan Cape, 1955; Judith A. McGaw, A Most Wonderful Machine. Mechanization and Social Change in Berkshire Paper Making, 1801-1885, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1987; and by the biographer of Dard Hunter, Cathleen A. Baker, From the Hand to the Machine. Nineteenth-century American Paper and Mediums: Technologies, Materials, and Conservation, Ann Arbor, The Legacy Press, 2010.

Gaskell, A New Introduction to Bibliography, cit., 1972, pp. 226-228, lists a series of tests, some of them destructive, that identify mechanical paper, while an excellent description of how damage and repairs to the web of a Fourdrinier machine provide evidence is provided in Brian J. McMullin, ‘Machine-made Paper, Seam Marks and Bibliographical Analysis’, The Library, s. VII, vol. 9 (2008), pp. 62-88.


Papermaking Terminology

Lexis can be a problem, given the multilingual nature of paper studies. A helpfully polyglot volume therefore is E.J. Labarre, Dictionary and Encyclopaedia of Paper and Paper-making with Equivalents of the Technical Terms in French, German, Dutch, Italian, Spanish & Swedish, 2nd ed., rev. and enlarged, Amsterdam, Swets & Zeitlinger, 1952, integrated by E.J. Labarre-E.G. Loeber, Dictionary and Encyclopaedia of Paper and Paper-making: Supplement, Amsterdam, Swets and Zeitlinger, 1967. I have not had more than a chance to glance at Jean-Claude Perrin, Glossaire du papetier: dictionnaire des mots et des expressions usités par le papetier, depuis l’invention du papier à ce jour, ... 124 illustrations de l’auteur, ainsi qu’une bibliographie sélective complètent l’ouvrage, Marcq-en-Baroeul, Vergeures & Pontuseaux associés, 2003, but it appears helpful.

For older, or historically established, vocabulary, for English and French, the obvious sources are Chamber’s Cyclopedia and the Encyclopédie [5]. For Italian, the problem is more complex, due to the circumstance that a source such as the Dizionario delle arti e de’ mestieri by Francesco Griselini, published from 1768 to 1778, models its vocabulary on the Encyclopédie, rather than trying to discover the correct Italian equivalents. Better and more reliable is the Prontuario di vocaboli attenenti a parecchie arti, ad alcuni mestieri, a cose domestiche e altre di uso comune, by Giacinto Carena, published in three volumes at Turin from 1846 to 1860, with successive reprints, which includes a useful section on the ‘Cartajo’.


Watermarks, Briquet and Other Repertories

There is no way of avoiding, nor should one even desire to, the four weighty tomes of Charles-Moïse Briquet, Les filigranes. Dictionnaire historique des marques de papier dès leur apparition vers 1282 jusqu’en 1600, published in his home city of Geneva in 1907. The title-page of the first edition is more elaborate than most subsequent catalogue entries reveal, since the list and addresses of some seven publishers, aka distributors, shows the interest with which the work, announced by a prospectus in 1902, was expected by the specialist market, i.e. in the first column: Paris, Alphonse Picard & fils, 82 Rue Bonaparte; Londres, B. Quaritch, 15, Piccadilly; Leipzig, Karl W. Hiersemann, 3, Konigsstrasse; and in the second column: Amsterdam, Feikema, Caarelsen & Cie, N.Z., Voorburgwal; Rome, Fratelli Bocca, Corso; Madrid, José Ruiz, Plaza de Sta Ana, 13; rounded off at the bottom by what has traditionally been taken as the main publisher: Genève, A. Jullien, 32, Bourg-de-Four. Although the title gives 1600 as the cut-off point, the limit is not rigidly adhered to: some seventy odd images belong to the Seventeenth century, mostly the first decade, but even afterwards, for instance 1611 for nn. 4442 and 13216, 1612 for n. 13212, 1628 for n. 934, and 1630 for n. 13206 (the presumption of course is that this is older paper used at a subsequent date). The second edition published in Leipzig in 1923 adds a ‘Notice sur la vie et les travaux’ of the author, written by his nephew, John Isaac Briquet (1870-1931), who at the time was director of Geneva’s Botanical Garden and a well-known scholar in his own right. Since the donation of Briquet’s papers to the same city’s library did not include personal material, this biography is the main source for Briquet’s life and career (it is a pity therefore that it is not included in the 1968 reprint). It also provides a listing of Briquet’s writings, including his articles on Alpinism and mountaineering, and the obituaries. Though there are other modern reprints, the one which it is very necessary to have to hand is the so-called ‘Jubilee edition’, published for the fiftieth anniversary of Briquet’s death, see Les Filigranes ... a Facsimile of the 1907 Edition with Supplementary Material contributed by a Number of Scholars, edited by Allan Stevenson, Amsterdam, The Paper Publications Society, 1968, including, among other additions, an index of the libraries and archives visited by Briquet, pp. *87-*92. Take note that the 1968 edition reorganizes the structure of the original, by concentrating the text in the first two volumes and the illustrations in the latter two, an improvement that makes consultation much more practical. Briquet’s other writings are brought together in Briquet’s Opuscula. The Complete Works of Dr. C.M. Briquet without “Les filigranes”, cit., 1955, which repays thoughtful study. The largely eulogative 1952 Briquet Album provides a short biography of Briquet by Armin Renker, with versions both in German and English, but otherwise is not as useful as it could have been.

One small problem, that can prove annoying, is what precisely is the man’s name? The surname is straightforward enough, but should we call him Charles-Moïse, Charles Moïse, Charles-Moise, Charles Moise, or just Charles M., since various scholars cite him in a whole variety of ways? The simple answer is that there is no answer, unless somebody produces a birth certificate, since Briquet himself unhelpfully signs his original publications with his initials, either “C.-M.”, mostly in the articles, but “C.M.” on the 1907 titlepage of Les filigranes. In the present work, the name gets the full Monty, both the hyphen and the diaeresis, but if you want to do it differently, feel free.

For the Briquet archive at Geneva, see Daniel W. Mosser, ‘The Charles-Moïse Briquet Watermark Archive in Geneva’, in Looking at Paper: Evidence & Interpretation, cit., 2001, pp. 122-127, and also the material coming on line in the Gravell Watermark Archive. The website also includes a transcription of the inventory of the contents of the Briquet Archive, which lists Briquet’s working papers, the tracings of the watermarks, and the diaries relating to his journeys. For all his fame, and with the centenary of his death looming, not enough is done or known about Briquet and his method. For instance, hardly any of his correspondence has been collected and published. The only exception I know is a collection of 23 interesting letters, since they include explanations of how he transferred his tracings into lithography, sent from Briquet to Aurelio Zonghi between 1881 and 1888, see Nora Lipparoni, ‘Il rapporto di collaborazione Zonghi-Briquet da un epistolario inedito’, in Produzione e uso delle carte filigranate, cit., 1996, pp. 79-121 (rather surprisingly, this article does not include the letter from Briquet, dated 1 December 1884, reproduced photographically in the introduction to Zonghi’s Watermarks, cit., 1953, p. x).

Very much a continuation of Briquet, both in method and in content, since about 40% of the contents are from the archive of unpublished tracings in Geneva, are the two volumes by Vladimir A. Mošin-Seid M. Traljic, Vodeni znakovi XIII. i XIV. vijeka = Filigranes des XIIIe et XIVe ss., Zagreb, Jugoslavenska Akad. Znanosti i Umjetnosti, Historijski Inst. = Académie Yougoslave des Sciences et des Beaux Arts, Institut d’histoire, 1957. Mošin subsequently published, co-signed with Mira Grozdanović-Pajić: Agneau pascal, Belgrade, Editions Prosveta, 1967, and on his own: Anchor Watermarks, edited and translated by J.S.G. Simmons and B.J. Van Ginneken-Van de Kasteele, Amsterdam, The Paper Publications Society, 1973.

Still along the same lines as the great Swiss scholar are the seventeen Findbuch, in 25 tomes, by Gerhard Piccard (1909-89), published by Kohlhammer in Stuttgart between 1964 and 1997. They are organized thematically, as follows: vol. 1: Die Kronenwasserzeichen [crown watermarks from 1385 to 1695] (1961); vol. 2: Die Ochsenkopfwasserzeichen [bull’s head watermarks from 1327-1660], 3 parts (1966); vol. 3: Die Turmwasserzeichen [tower watermarks from 1313 to 1758] (1970); vol. 4: Wasserzeichen Buchstabe P [gothic P watermarks from 1300 to 1695], 3 parts (1977); vol. 5: Wasserzeichen Waage [scales watermarks from 1336 to 1604] (1978); vol. 6: Wasserzeichen Anker [anchor watermarks from 1315 to 1623, with a supplement for some designs up to 1816] (1978); vol. 7: Wasserzeichen Horn [horn watermarks from 1322 to 1680, with a supplement for some designs up to 1821] (1979); vol. 8: Wasserzeichen Schlüssel [key watermarks from 1297 to 1680] (1979); vol. 9: Wasserzeichen Werkzeug und Waffen [working tools, i.e. arm, spade, hammer, clippers, knife, axe, sickle, scissors, compass, anvil; and weapons, i.e. shield, sword, arrow, dart, crossbow, from 1312 to 1743], 2 parts (1980); vol. 10: Wasserzeichen Fabeltiere: Greif, Drache, Einhorn [watermarks of mythical creatures: griffons, dragons, unicorns, from 1332 to 1728] (1980); vol. 11: Wasserzeichen Kreuz [cross watermarks from 1294 to 1733] (1981); vol. 12: Wasserzeichen Blatt, Blume, Baum [watermarks of leaves, flowers, trees, from 1300 to 1818] (1982); vol. 13: Wasserzeichen Lilie [flower or lily watermarks from 1299 to 1837] (1983); vol. 14: Wasserzeichen Frucht [watermarks of grapes from 1420 to 1730; watermarks of other fruit from 1316 to 1592] (1983); vol. 15: Wasserzeichen Vierfüßler [animal watermarks], 3 parts, subdivided into: Wasserzeichen Hirsch [deer or stag watermarks from 1337 to 1782], Wasserzeichen Raubtiere [watermarks of bear, leopard, lion, from 1347 to 1723], and Wasserzeichen Verschiedene Vierfüßler [watermarks of other animals from 1328 to 1709, with a supplement for some designs up to 1862] (1987); vol. 16: Wasserzeichen Dreiberg [three hill watermarks from 1312 to 1666], 2 parts (1996); vol. 17: Wasserzeichen Hand und Handschuh [hand and glove watermarks from 1375 to 1688].

In its paper version the project got no further. It is excellent news, therefore, that Piccard’s archive has taken on new being in one of the most important and innovative projects in the field of watermark studies on the website of the State Archives in Stuttgart, with the title Wasserzeichen-Informationssystem, which can also be viewed through the portal of the Bernstein ‘Memory of Paper’ project [35]. The baptism of the online version was accompanied by the publication of a volume, containing the papers delivered on occasion of the launch in November 2004, see: Piccard-Online. Digitale Präsentationen von Wasserzeichen und ihre Nutzung, herausgegeben von Peter Rückert, Jeannette Godau, und Gerald Maier, Stuttgart, Kohlhammer, 2007, while a volume of conference acts for the centenary of Piccard’s birth is: Wasserzeichen und Filigranologie. Beiträge einer Tagung zum 100. Geburtstag von Gerhard Piccard (1909-1989), herausgegeben von Peter Rückert und Erwin Frauenknecht, Stuttgart, Kohlhammer, 2011. A critical study that makes extensive use of the data in Piccard to establish the movement of paper in European commerce is Maria Zaar-Görgens, Champagne-Bar-Lothringen. Papierproduktion und Papierabsatz vom 14. bis zum Ende des 16. Jahrhunderts, Trier, Porta-Alba-Verlag, 2004.

A different sort of repertory describes the watermarks found in a particular corpus of manuscripts. One cleverly conceived example is Dieter und Johanna Harlfinger, Wasserzeichen aus griechischen Handschriften, Berlin, Verlag Nikolaus Mielke, 1974-80, 2 vols., which – in some copies – has the unusual characteristic of being distributed in ring binders, thus facilitating comparison, but also making it easy to lose leaves. The project is continued in Mark L. Sosower, Signa officinarum chartariarum in codicibus graecis saeculo sexto decimo fabricatis in bibliothecis Hispaniae, Amsterdam, Adolf M. Hakkert, 2004. Importantly, these two repertories describe, trace, and present to the reader the watermarks in the corpus as twins. It is perhaps unfortunate therefore that they are not more widely known, outside specialist reading rooms.

Another example of a genre-based repertory is Monique Zerdoun Bat-Yehouda, Les papiers filigranés des manuscrits hebreux datés jusqu'à 1450 conservés en France et en Israel, Turnhout, Brepols, 1997, in two volumes, one dedicated to the description of the paper and the other to the watermarks.

Further down the chronological scale, but also conscious epigones of Briquet, are two volumes that take his method and repertory into subsequent centuries: W.A. Churchill, Watermarks in Paper in Holland, England, France, etc., in the XVII and XVIII Centuries and their Interconnection, cit., 1935, and Edward Heawood, Watermarks, mainly of the 17th and 18th Centuries, Hilversum, The Paper Publications Society, 1950. A further extension of Briquet, this time limited to France in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth centuries, is Raymond Gaudriault, Filigranes et autres caractéristiques des papiers fabriqués en France aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles, cit., 1995. At one level this is a invaluable piece of historical research, especially in its assembly of the secondary bibliography, including numerous archive and manuscript sources; at another the tracings are mostly recopied from previous repertories, without any indication of wire or chainlines (even when they are present in the source), and thus are only helpful in a very general sort of way.

Numerous repertories, including all the more important ones, have been converted into digital format and are consultable on the Bernstein ‘Memory of Paper’ project [35].


Claims and Controversies about the Earliest Known Watermark

As well as in Les filigranes, n. 5410, Briquet included the tracing of the watermark attributed, with a question mark, to 1282 among the items on display at the Paris Exhibition of 1900, see Musée rétrospectif de la classe 88 Fabrication du papier, cit., 1900, pp. 48-49, where attention is drawn to a similar mark, on a piece of paper dated 1293, in the Zonghi collection (p. 16), subsequently cited also as a secondary reference in Les filigranes, n. 5412 (with the date, however, “1294”). It might have slipped Briquet’s mind that in his early article ‘Recherches sur les premiers papiers’, cit., 1886, he had cited and reproduced a similar Greek cross (n. 39), with the date 1294, found in the archive at Fabriano, for which he had provided a reference to the source.

A further curiosity about the earliest recorded watermark is that, though it was certainly discovered in his Italian journey of 1889-90, in none of his writings previous to 1900 does Briquet himself make reference to it, nor is it cited in his diary for that particular journey. It is plausible, therefore, that he himself remained doubtful about the reliability of the date. In his ‘Addenda and corrigenda’ to the 1968 edition, p. *68, Stevenson remarks that the 1282 date was contested by Piccard, who had discovered the same design in a document dated 1294, see Gerhard Piccard, ‘Carta bombycina, carta papyri, pergamena graeca: ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Beschreibstoffe im Mittelalter’, Archivalische Zeitschrift, vol. 61 (1965), pp. 46-75. On the so far unsuccessful search for the original document seen by Briquet in the State Archive at Bologna, see Nicoloangelo Scianna, ‘Le filigrane bolognesi di Charles Moïse Briquet’, in Belle le contrade della memoria. Studi su documenti e libri in onore di Maria Gioia Tavoni, a cura di Federica Rossi, Paolo Tinti, Bologna, Pàtron editore, 2009, pp. 365-378.

The unconvincing and unwise claim relating to a watermark dated “1271” can be found in ‘La più antica filigrana conosciuta (non posteriore al 1271) e una Rima volgare inedita del XIV sec. (“Rima lombarda de vallore”)’, pubblicate a cura di Ubaldo Meroni, commento alla Rima e glossario di Concetta Meroni-Zanghi, Cremona, Biblioteca Governativa e Libreria Civica di Cremona, 1953 (Annali della Biblioteca Governativa e Libreria Civica di Cremona, 5, fasc. 1, 1952; Monumenta cremonensia, 1). The manuscript in question (ms. A.1), which in 1952-53 was in the archive of the Ospedale Maggiore at Cremona, has since been deposited, together with the rest of the hospital’s Medieval archive, at the State Archive in Cremona.


Seeing Watermarks

To see a watermark, you need a source of light. Traditionally this has been a window on a sunny day; more recently, with artificial lighting, it has been possible to position a light behind a sheet (anglepoise lights are particularly helpful from this point of view). Bibliographers have, however, got into the habit of travelling with their own light sources: Conor Fahy often carried a rechargeable camping light, which actually worked very well. Highly recommended, from any decent sports or bicycle shop, are the new generation of cycling lamps with Led technology. Not only are they very cheap (approximately € 8), they are also light and easy to handle, so that I use them out of preference when conducting rapid searches through the watermarks of a book, rather than a more cumbersome lightsheet. They have the additional advantage that they can be used as well to generate an on-the-spot raking light, which is invaluable in distinguishing mould/felt side of the sheet. Led technology means that they are also rechargeable from a computer or from a cell-phone charger, which saves one the grief of a battery dying halfway through the scrutiny of a document, as once happened to me in Berlin (but that is another story). Otherwise remember that the latest generation of cellphones incorporate a torch device.

With bound volumes, on the other hand, matters are more complex and technologies have been developed to make the task of viewing easier. From the mid-1990s various companies have marketed light-boxes or, more recently, thin optic-fibre light-sheets, which have applications in much wider fields than just looking at paper. Some are however conceived and presented specifically for applications to books and documents. While early versions of these products, which require a converter, were fairly bulky and heavy, and also hideously expensive, the latest products are much lighter, can easily be carried around, and, being ultra-thin, get right into the margin of even tightly-bound books, so that serious paper scholars need to add them to their working luggage (if they have not already done so). On the matter of prices, a word of caution. The market place includes a number of small firms, specialising in conservation and restoration, also with reference to the field of art history, who offer this equipment at prices that are sometimes rather high (or, more simply, exorbitant). So shop around!

In what follows, I have tried to keep my information as up-to-date as possible, including pricewise, but, as ever, in the commercial market products come and go. One firm is Preservation Equipment, which has a base at Diss, Norfolk (GB). In 2016 it is offering a basic A4-sized light-sheet for £ 107, and a top of the market fibre-optic light-sheet of the same size for £ 762, where the price seems a trifle steep; it also offers portable light-boxes at a variety of prices, and their catalogue is certainly worth perusal. The Italian firm CTS (no idea what the acronym stands for) specialises in supplies and know-how in the field of art history, which is now very big business, but they do a side-line in archive and book conservation. The headquarters is near Vicenza, with subsidiaries in Italy at Milan, Florence, Rome, Naples, and elsewhere in France, India, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, and Turkey. In their 2016 catalogue, section 11.8, they offer an A4-sized light-sheet, together with a robust carrying case (total weight 2 kil.). The price does not appear, but I am reliably informed that it is € 200; a query about availability made directly to the firm in 2016, however, established that at present no light-sheets are in stock. In England the firm Earlypaper, owned by Ian Christie-Miller, offers an A4 lightsheet for £ 400 and an A3 for £ 600, excluding VAT ( As matters stand, therefore, decidedly the best option is the truly excellent selection of light-sheets available from the American firm CPD Lighting in Colmar, Pennsylvania, a spin-off from the larger firm Ceelite, which was marketing them several years ago. On enquiry, I received a courteous reply from Don Sowers (don[at]cpdlighting[dot]com) with a list of several sizes: just to give an idea of the prices, in 2016 an A4 panel with converter was $ 82, A3 $ 146, and A2 $ 339. Obviously, shipping costs have to be added, but a discount is offered for a bulk purchase. If any library conservator is perusing this paragraph (by mistake), these devices are invaluable also for the wear and tear they save on the books, unless you sadistically enjoy the spectacle of scholars waltzing around and holding priceless manuscripts or printed artefacts up to the sunbeam coming through the window. So please, please buy at least a couple and, as well as the basic A4 size, think about getting a larger A3 which makes it possible to photograph a leaf of Royal paper or a whole sheet of Chancery.

Light-sheets also make it much easier to photograph watermarks, even with a hand-held cellphone, a procedure nowadays accepted in most libraries and archives. (Who says technology is entirely bad?)


Naming and Describing Watermarks

The earliest extensive list of watermark names, as well as references to different sheet sizes, appears in the ledgers of the firm established by the Fabriano paper merchant, Ambrogio di Bonaventura, and carried on by his son, Lodovico d’Ambrogio. It is a chance survival, since the Medieval archive of Fabriano was destroyed in the Sixteenth century, in one of Italy’s innumerable local wars, and in any case these are commercial papers. Fourteen registers relating to this particular firm have survived and reached the Fabriano city archive from the local Foundling hospital (something not uncommon in the history of Italian documents): the earliest covers the years 1363-66; the next the years 1395-1416, and about half of them relate to the activity of the cialandratore, or paper-polisher. Although their contents are summarized by Zonghi, they are still unpublished (and this is a pity and a nuisance). For a fuller description, see Giancarlo Castagnari-Nora Lipparoni, ‘Arte e commercio della carta bambagina nei libri dei mercanti fabrianesi tra XIV e XV secolo’, in Atti e Memorie della Deputazione di Storia Patria per le Marche, vol. 87 (1982), pp. 185-222. A transcription of the contents of one of the registers, pressmark n. 1354, covering the years 1398-1414, is available, however, in the M.A. thesis of Elisabetta Graziosi, ‘Il registro contabile di Lodovico di Ambrogio, mercante di carta: un’edizione’, Venezia, Università Ca’ Foscari, Corso di laurea magistrale in Storia dal Medioevo all’età contemporanea, relatore prof. Marco Pozza, 2013-14 (available through the website of the University of Venice), which also provides an extensive introduction to the figure of Lodovico d’Ambrogio. This one example whets the appetite to know the contents of the rest. 

Another important Renaissance source, containing references to watermark names and sheet sizes, is the so-called Ripoli Diary, recording the activity of a press in the Dominican female convent in Florence, see Melissa Conway, The Diario of the Printing Press of San Jacopo di Ripoli (1476-1484). Commentary and Transcription, Firenze, Olschki, 1999, which includes an index 'Listing the types and sources of paper used' (pp. 327-331). This index, however ,contains numerous omissions and imprecisions, while the present writer has expressed doubts about the quality and accuracy of the edition in general, see Neil Harris, ‘A Review of the Diario’, The Book Collector, vol. 50 (2001), pp. 10-32, which is followed by a reply by the author of the book (pp. 33-41).

A detailed descriptive procedure for the description of watermarks is expounded by G. Thomas Tanselle, ‘The Bibliographical Description of Paper’, Studies in Bibliography, vol. 24 (1971), pp. 27-67, republished in Readings in Descriptive Bibliography, edited by John Bush Jones, Kent (Ohio), Kent State University, 1974, pp. 71-115, and in Tanselle, Selected Studies in Bibliography, Charlottesville, Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia, 1979, pp. 203-243. Though this article is much cited, I have rarely seen its prescriptions applied.

Indications about how palaeographers approach the problem of describing paper can be found in Denis Muzerelle, Vocabulaire codicologique. Répertoire méthodique des termes français relatifs aux manuscrits, Paris, CEMI, 1985. The expanded Italian and somewhat cuckoo-like version of the same is Marilena Maniaci, Terminologia del libro manoscritto, Milano, Editrice bibliografica, 1996 (but, at least on the subject of paper, this last work is sadly misleading and inaccurate, as is pointed out by self in a review in The Library, s. VI, vol. 20, 1998, pp. 145-147). A similar operation has also been conducted in Spain, see Pilar Ostos, Maria Luisa Pardo, Elena E. Rodriguez, Vocabulario de codicologia, version espanola revisada y aumentada del Vocabulaire codicologique de Denis Muzerelle, Madrid, Arco, 1997. A hypertextual version, which brings together French, Italian, Spanish, and provisionally English versions, is available on the site, but seems stuck in 2002. A useful survey of the problems posed by a polyglot lexis for palaeographers approaching paper is Nigel F. Palmer, ‘Verbalizing Watermarks. The Question of a Multilingual Database’, in Piccard-Online. Digitale Präsentationen von Wasserzeichen und ihre Nutzung, cit., 2007, pp. 73-90.

Otherwise, the issue of standardising the vocabulary and constructing a thesaurus of descriptive terms is complicated by the instinctive polyglottism of paper and watermark scholarship (though it is nice working with such an erudite bunch of people). Just to cast an eye at how the problem posed itself in the pre-computer era, see in Italian: Andrea F. Gasparinetti, ‘Per l’adozione di una terminologia generale delle filigrane’, in The Briquet Album, cit., 1953, pp. 119-121, and in German: Wisso Weiss, ‘Zur Terminologie der Wasserzeichenkunde’, Papiergeschichte, vol. 12 (1962), pp. 9-17; while a new era is heralded by Denis Muzerelle-Ezio Ornato-Monique Zerdoun, ‘Un protocole de description des papiers filigranés’, Gazette du livre médiéval, vol. 14 (1989), pp. 16-24. The Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries, itself a division of the American Library Association, has published, as part of its series of controlled vocabularies, Paper Terms. A Thesaurus for Use in Rare Book and Special Collections Cataloguing, prepared by the Bibliographic Standards Committee of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (ACRL/ALA), Chicago, Association of College and Research Libraries, 1990. In its original draft it is mostly the work of Sidney E. Berger, who brought his enormous experience as a book and papermaker to the task, and it is now available as an online source on the RBMS website. It can be consulted both as an Alphabetical list and as a Hierarchical list, although its usefulness is restricted primarly to the field of rare book cataloguing. Most importantly, it steers well away from the Scylla and Charybdis of nomenclatures for watermarks.

For more general purposes, therefore, the best place to go is to the International Standard for the Registration of Papers with or without Watermarks = Internationale Norm für die Erfassung von Papieren mit oder ohne Wasserzeichen = Norme internationale d`enregistrement des papiers avec ou sans filigrane, issued by the International Association of Paper Historians and mostly the work of the fertile genius of Peter F. Tschudin, with the purpose of establishing a Thesaurus and standard procedure for electronic cataloguing and retrieval. Their proposals were first issued in 1992 (IPH Standard 1.0), reissued in 1997 (IPH Standard 2.0), further revised in 2013 (IPH Standard 2.1.1), and are available for download on the IPH website. Four languages are available: English, German, French and Italian (the 1997 standard has Spanish instead of Italian), while Appendix 1A ‘Index of Watermark Classes and Subclasses, Illustrated’, also includes the terminology in Russian and Spanish. They are well worth looking at, although scholars puzzling over the watermarks in a single manuscript or printed book might decide that they are a bit too much of a headache. In terms of a practical application, the multiple lexis – English, French, German, Italian, Russian, and Spanish – of the Bernstein ‘Memory of Paper’ project provides an excellent example of how intricate harnessing the vocabulary of paper can be.


Describing Unwatermarked Paper

A bit like the seamy, but ever-delightful, joke about the Oxford don sunbathing in the nude at Parson’s Pleasure (look it up!), seasoned paper scholars do sometimes assert that sheets of paper should be studied in their entirety rather than relying on the sometimes unreliable watermarks. This recommendation is something of a necessity when the sheets are devoid of watermarks, but, unless distinctive features such as tranchefiles or chain-lines are broken or have slipped out of position, like most homely prescriptions, it is easier said than done. The two essential features that should be noted, however, are the sheet-size (even if trimming renders the measurement approximate) and the distances between chain-lines. The spacing of wirelines can also be useful. Some useful tips about procedures that can be followed, albeit with reference to Eighteenth-century examples, are to be found in David Vander Meulen, ‘The Identification of Paper without Watermarks. The Example of Pope’s Dunciad’, Studies in Bibliography, vol. 37 (1984), pp. 58-81.

One related problem is when a manuscript or printed document, in a medium or small format, contains unwatermarked parts of sheets, which have to be related to the larger original entity. Here, the finest example of how to go about the problem is Alan Tyson’s work on the paper of Mozart [25].


Reproducing Watermarks

Watermarks can be reproduced by freehand drawing, tracing, rubbing, photography with an ordinary light behind the sheet, β-radiography, soft x-ray radiography, electron-radiography, infra-red imaging, DYLUX, digital imaging, and various other cutting-edge methods that I struggle to comprehend. As far as the more advanced technologies go, in their application to a field which falls essentially in the poverty-stricken parish of the humanities, the sensation as ever is of one step forwards and two or three backwards. The main problem, rather perplexingly, has proved to be obsolescence, which translates itself into difficult to find and expensive when you do find it. Procedures such as β-radiography and DYLUX paper were spin-offs from other procedures and therefore have mostly disappeared, together with their original applications. Where they have been kept available, the costs are onerous, especially considering the shoestring budgets paper scholars commonly work on. In this paragraph therefore I have sought not only to determine what has been and can achieved by each and every method, but also the present-day availability and cost-effectiveness.

Comparisons are invidious, so it is very difficult for an outsider to decide which is the “best” method. One excellent and very useful article therefore is Manfred Werner-Helmgard Wallner-Holle, ‘Determination of Watermarks by Non-destructive Techniques. Comparative Studies’, in Paper as a Medium of Cultural Heritage,  cit., 2004, pp. 142-152, see also the slides displaying the same material from a 2009 lecture by Manfred Schreiner, ‘Technical Studies of of Watermarks at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna’, on the Bernstein ‘Memory of Paper’ site. The said study takes four essential technologies, i.e. simple backlighting with a light-panel and a digital photo, DYLUX paper, β-radiography, and Soft x-ray radiography, and applies them to the same three test cases (all of them rather awkward). As a spoiler, Soft x-ray radiography gets home by a nose compared to β-radiography, while DYLUX paper does badly, and backlighting cannot even see the watermark. It would be very useful to see a fuller study along these lines, with perhaps some more average samples, and including the full range of procedures described here below, including an assessment of availability and cost-effectiveness. An analogous comparative study in the field of art-history is Peter Meinlschmidt-Volker Märgner, ‘Advantages and Disadvantages of Various Techniques for the Visualization of Watermarks’, Restaurator, vol. 30 (2009), pp. 222-243, which extends the evaluation to consider infra-red and phosphorescence techniques.

To get back to practicalities, it is inevitably important to distinguish between the mere reproduction of watermarks, usually in manuscript, and publication of the same, which requires a specific, and sometimes complex, printing technology (it is worth remembering that among Briquet’s interests was a small publishing house that specialised in photolithographic images of the Swiss scenery, so when you look at the skilful layout of the images in Les filigranes, remember that it is the outcome of long-standing expertise).

One thing the field requires as a starting point for future work is a thorough, up-to-date survey of early publications containing reproductions of watermarks, in which the method is specified, together with details such as accurate sheet measurements, the identification of twin watermarks, and recognition of the felt/mould side of the sheet. Briquet himself starts the ball rolling with a preliminary picture in ‘Papiers et filigranes des Archives de Gênes 1154 à 1700’, cit., 1888, pp. 57-61, and adds a fuller listing in his ‘Bibliographie. Liste des principals publications relatives aux filigranes' in the magnum opus (I, pp. viii-x), including notes on the number of watermarks reproduced in each item. More recently, Phillip Pulsiano, ‘A Checklist of Books and Articles containing Reproductions of Watermarks’, in Essays in Paper Analysis, cit., 1987, pp. 115-153, has given an intelligent listing of 534 titles, ordered alphabetically by author, including an indication of the number of watermarks in each item. Unfortunately, he does not specify the technique of reproduction concerned, which might have been helpful. Indications are provided as well by David Schoonover, ‘Techniques of Reproducing Watermarks. A Practical Introduction’, also in Essays in Paper Analysis, cit., 1987, pp. 154-167. But, certainly, more could be done.

The earliest published reproduction of a watermark is in the collective work of Gerard Meerman and others, De Chartae Vulgaris seu Lineae Origine, cit., 1767, wherein the observations of Johann Samuel Heringen are accompanied by highly-stylised woodcut reproductions of a crown watermark (p. 110) and a bull’s head watermark (p. 125) [5]. Subsequent early publications employ copperplates or, as in Briquet, lithographs to reproduce freehand drawings or tracings. In his introduction to Les filigranes Briquet provides a brief description of his method of tracing watermarks, while other basic systems, such as rubbing, require relatively little explanation [see Chapter 6].

In a more scientific mode, the best known technique is radiography, in some form or other. In terms of the general principles and procedures, see Radiography of Cultural Material, edited by Janet Lang and Andrew Middleton, 2nd edition, Oxford, Butterworth-Heinemann, 2005 (1st edition: 1997), which includes an essay by Vincent Daniels-Janet Lang, ‘X-rays and Paper’, pp. 96-111.

Historically the earliest of the various techniques to be applied to paper, the use of β-radiographs, was announced in the West by J.S.G. Simmons, ‘The Leningrad Method of Watermark Reproduction’, The Book Collector, vol. 10 (1961), pp. 329-332, which provides bibliographical information about early Russian experiments and related publications; see also Allan Stevenson, ‘Beta-radiography and Paper Research’, in International Congress of Paper Historians, vol. 7, edited by J.S.G. Simmons, Oxford 1967, pp. 159-168. Also pioneering is Charles F. Bridgman, ‘Radiography of Paper’, Studies in Conservation, vol. 10 (1965), pp. 8-17. The earliest published example, at least in a Western book, may be the example of a passport watermark in John Laban Putnam, Isotopes, Harmondsworth, Penguin Books, 1960, plate 15. In the materials added to the 1968 reprint of Briquet, Alan Stevenson includes twelve examples, some of them twins, of ‘Watermark Beta-radiographs’ (plates *A-*C), together with a commentary, and β-radiographs feature also in The Problem of the Missale Speciale, cit., 1967. A good pair of illustrations, showing the same watermark, photographed once with ordinary light and once with a β-radiograph, from a 1477 incunable appear in Gaskell, A New Introduction to Bibliography, cit., 1972, p. 64 (unfortunately we are not told whether the image is from the mould or the felt side, or anything about the twin). Two pages of ‘Bibliography of Works dealing with Beta-radiography of Watermarks, 1960-1972’ are provided by Frederick Hudson at the end of his article in Essays in Paper Analysis, cit., 1987, pp. 59-60.

Further applications of β-radiography in the field of the Fifteenth-century book are described in Dierk Schnitger, Eva Ziesche and Eberhard Mundry, ‘Elektronenradiographie als Hilfsmittel für die Identifizierung schwer oder nicht erkennbarer Wasserzeichen’, Gutenberg Jahrbuch, 1983, pp. 49-67, while its utility in the field of music manuscripts and printing is expounded in Frederick Hudson, ‘The Study of Watermarks as a Research Factor in Undated Manuscripts and Prints: Beta-radiography with Carbon 14 Sources’, in International Musicological Society, Report of the Eleventh Congress, Copenhagen 1972, Copenhagen 1974, I, pp. 447-453. In the field of art history, β-radiography has been applied to the reproduction and description of the paper used by Rembrandt’s prints, see Nancy Ash and Shelley Fletcher, Watermarks in Rembrandt’s Prints, Washington, The National Gallery of Art, 1998, with a resumé by the same authors, ‘Watermarks in Rembrandt’s Prints: The Use of Watermarks to Study the Prints of an Artist’, in Puzzles in Paper, cit., 2000, pp. 57-65. As far as collections of drawings are concerned, the Louvre has been pioneering in this field, making extensive use of β-radiography, see the trilingual pamphlet by Ariane de la Chapelle-André Le Prat, Les relevés de filigranes = Watermark Records = I rilievi di filigrane, Paris, La Documentation Française, 1996, defining the ground-rules for their activity, including some very nice illustrations, and, more specifically, Ariane de la Chapelle, ‘La bêtaradiographie et l’étude des papiers: beaucoup plus qu’une belle image’, Gazette du livre médiéval, n. 34 (1999), pp. 13-24. The Louvre has also been active in the Bernstein project. For the application of β-radiography to Renaissance copper-plate maps, see David Woodward, Catalogue of Watermarks in Italian Printed Maps ca 1540-1600, Firenze, Olschki, 1996 (and the titles listed in [26] below). An ample selection of β-radiographs can be viewed and downloaded on the project, masterminded by David L. Gants, ‘A Digital Catalogue of Watermarks and Type Ornaments used by William Stansby in the Printing of The Works of Beniamin Jonson (London 1616)’, on the website of the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia, though the images were actually obtained by James Riddell from the Huntington in the 1990s (I thank David Gants for this information). The various imaging services in major institutions contacted by myself informed that there has been very little request for β-radiographs in the last decade or so, to which have to be added the increasing restrictions about the use of radioactive sources and difficulties in obtaining the right sort of paper for the negative image. In 2016 I established by correspondence that the imaging services of some major research libraries, such as the Huntington Library (possibly) and the Bodleian Library (very hypothetically), might still be willing to produce β-radiographs, but the cost would be (in their own words) “onerous”. Otherwise, and it is a big otherwise, the only structure where the technique is still being used is the Institut für Mittelalterforschung in Vienna, as part of the ongoing research project on the watermarks in Medieval manuscripts in Austrian libraries (contact dr. Emanuel Wenger).

For a description and examples of the images obtained by electron radiography, see the website of the Watermarks in the Low Countries project hosted by the Koninklije Bibliothek in The Hague. The same website, however, fails to explain that the technology is no longer being applied to the project and has to be considered no longer available. Which is a pity!

In the mid-1980s Soft x-ray radiography was applied by former professor of dental radiology at the University of Utrecht, Jan van Aken, to the technical problem of imaging watermarks (no dentist jokes, please!). Albeit essentially the same principle as β-radiographs, the x-rays are imparted from a tube through a layer of helium. The procedure is described by its inventor in Jan van Aken, ‘An Improvement in Grenz Radiography of Paper to Record Watermarks, Chain and Laid Lines’, Studies in Conservation, vol. 48 (2003), pp. 103-110, as well as more recently in Laurentius & Laurentius, Italian Watermarks 1750-1800, cit., 2016, pp. 7-9. At an early stage the procedure was applied with success to the study of the paper used by Rembrandt, who was something of a fanatic about paper and the first European artist to use Japanese paper, for his prints, see Theo Laurentius, Harry M.M. van Hugten, Erik Hinterding and Jan Piet Filedt Kok, ‘Het Amsterdamse Onderzoek naar Rembrandts Papier: Radiografie van de Watermerken in de Etsen van Rembrandt’, Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum, vol. 40 (1992), pp. 353-384. One small problem: it’s in Dutch, but one can always look at the etchings. Subsequent applications have been by Theo and Frans Laurentius to their studies of Dutch watermarks in the Seventeenth century [6f] and to the same authors’ study of Italian watermarks of the modern period [6e]. Personal consultation with Frans Laurentius in 2016 has established that the method is available to outsiders at the Laurentius’ laboratory in Middleburg, and likewise, after consultation with Manfred Scheiner, could be made available at the Akademie der Bildenden Kunste in Vienna, though in the latter case the procedure has been in abeyance for several years. Digital radiography is being developed in medicine and dentistry, with a knock-on effect for cultural artefacts in several different fields. One insightful introductory page is ‘Digital Radiography for Cultural Heritage Professionals’, with indications about the technical bibliography, on the website of the Smithsonian.

Turning to alternative procedures, DYLUX Instant Access Imaging Paper was developed in the early 1960s and put on the market as a product for the graphic arts industry in 1969, where it was employed as a proofing medium for lithographic negatives, allowing a user to generate an immediately accessible image. The philatelist and paper historian, Thomas Gravell (1913-2004), applied DYLUX paper to obtain prints, as from negatives, of the watermarks in stamps, before enlarging the application to watermarks in a more traditional fashion. Essentially the method consists of shining fluorescent light through the sheet of paper containing a watermark to an underlying piece of DYLUX 503 for a period, depending on the thickness of the paper, of between one to five minutes. Where the paper is thinner, in correspondence with the watermark and chain-lines, more light passes through and thus “nullifies” the yellow dye coating on the surface of the DYLUX paper. Afterwards the DYLUX paper is exposed to a long-wave ultra-violet light, which causes the less-exposed dye to turn sky-blue, while the watermark and the chainlines appear as white. As a technology, it was at the time both cheap and easy to use, once the basic procedures had been mastered. Gravell described the method in ‘A New Method of Reproducing Watermarks for Study’, Restaurator, vol. 2 (1975), pp. 95-104, and also published a series of articles on the method in philately journals, see the listing in Puzzles in Paper, cit., 2000, pp. 247-248. See also the images provided on-line in the site of the Thomas L. Gravell Watermark Archive at the University of Delaware. He subsequently expanded his interests and applications of the technique to more traditional watermarked materials, which led him to publish, with George Miller, A Catalogue of American Watermarks, 1690-1835, New York, Garland, 1979, which includes 734 images of watermarks, reproduced with DYLUX and printed in black and white. A second edition has subsequently appeared, see Thomas Gravell, George Miller, Elizabeth Walsh, American Watermarks, 1690-1835, New Castle, Oak Knoll Press, 2002, in which the number of watermarks documented rises to 1,057. This first work was followed by Thomas L. Gravell-George Miller, A Catalogue of Foreign Watermarks found on Paper used in America, 1700-1835, New York, Garland, 1983. A brief description of Gravell’s method is provided in Rolf Dessauer, ‘DYLUX, Thomas L. Gravell, and Watermarks of Stamps and Papers’, in Puzzles in Paper, cit., 2000, pp. 183-185. Unfortunately, the graphic arts have since shifted into the realm of digital technology: the original makers of DYLUX, Du Pont, sold the rights to the product to Graphec LLC in 2008 and the fabrication of DYLUX paper as a brand has since been discontinued. Scouring around on the internet, at the time of writing some sources still had DYLUX paper in their catalogues, but the material does have an expiry date. Otherwise, in the trade, the material is more generically known as “Blue proofing paper” and can be obtained from specialist suppliers, such as the GWJ Company (see website).

As an alternative method, phosphorescence and infra-red imaging have been experimented in the field of art history. The first technique involves a mixture of ultra-violet and infra-red light derived from a phosphorescent pigment embedded in a plate, see Carol Ann Small, ‘Phosphorescence Watermark Imaging’, in Puzzles in Paper, cit., 2000, pp. 169-181. The second consists in placing a source of heat, normally a copper plate or panel heated to a temperature of about 40°C, behind a leaf or sheet of paper. Since the paper is thinner in coincidence with chainlines and watermarks, the warmth penetrates more easily and quickly in these point and can be photographed with an infra-red camera, see Meinlschmidt-Märgner, ‘Advantages and Disadvantages of Various Techniques for the Visualization of Watermarks’, cit., 2009.

Digital methods were pioneered in the 1990s with exciting, and even extraordinary, results by a private firm, Fotoscientifica in Parma, Italy, owned by photographer and publicist Daniele Broia (1944-2013), which published a short pamphlet, available in either English or Italian, describing the method, see La marca d’acqua, [Parma, Fotoscientifica, 1997]. A parallel account in English is also available in Daniela Moschini, ‘La Marca d’Acqua: A System for the Digital Recording of Watermarks’, in Puzzles in Paper, cit., 2000, pp. 187-192. A superb set of the images obtained with this technique is visible in Conor Fahy, ‘La carta dell’esemplare veronese del Furioso 1532’, La Bibliofilìa, vol. 100 (1998), pp. 283-300, also issued as part of the periodical’s centenary in the volume: Anatomie bibliologiche: saggi di storia del libro per il centenario de «La Bibliofilìa», a cura di Luigi Balsamo e Pierangelo Bellettini, Firenze, Olschki, 1999 (same paging). The firm has also worked on the digital imaging of the ‘Corpus chartarum Italiae’, but Daniele’s untimely death in November 2013 meant that he took the secrets of his method to the grave and put an end to his fascinating endeavour. Similar techniques have obviously been attempted elsewhere, see David L. Gants, ‘The Application of Digital Image Processing to the Analysis of Watermarked Paper and Printers’ Ornament Usage in Early Printed Books’, in New Ways of Looking at Old Texts II. Papers of the Renaissance English Text Society, 1992-1996, edited by W. Speed Hill, Tempe, Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 1998, pp. 133-147. An Advanced Paper Imaging System (APIS) was developed in 2003 by the firm Solar Imaging Systems in Rochester, Kent, in which, relying on the principle that overprinting differs from leaf to leaf, a image of the watermark is constructed by superimposing different shots and obtaining a composite, see Ian Christie-Miller, ‘The Paper of the Grete Herball, 1526’, The Quarterly, n. 53, January 2005, pp. 26-29. In this last instance the research, based primarily on the unicorn watermarks in five copies of this book, makes no reference to the existence of twin watermarks nor to the necessity of distinguishing felt/mould sides of the sheet.

Advanced digital imaging is being experimented at the British Library by Christina Duffy, who also curates a lively blog at In a rather daunting display of digital expertise, she identifies an Eighteenth-century posthorn watermark on a piece of paper glued to the inner board of St. Cuthbert’s Gospel at the British Library, see ‘The ‘Discovery of a Watermark on the St Cuthbert Gospel using Colour Space Analysis’, Electronic British Library Journal, 2014, article 2 (online journal). Otherwise, a “kit” to assist with the digital imaging of watermarks can be downloaded from the Bernstein website, but requires the user to obtain particular softwares before it can be employed.


Artists, Artists’ Papers, and Copperplate Printing

Something of a problem here: the study of the paper used by artists for sketches from the Renaissance to modern times is hampered by the poor survival rate, to which should be added the fact that paper was often acquired in special sizes or formats and at times was coloured. We also have to bear in mind that artists will often draw on anything that happens to hand, since as a profession they were rarely flush with money and inspiration could happen on the spur of the moment.

The other more modern difficulty is that framed sketches make it difficult to see watermarks. Some work has nevertheless been done, with a useful overview provided in Albert J. Elen, ‘Paper Analysis in Italian Drawing Books of the 15th and 16th Centuries’, in Le papier au Moyen Âge, cit., 1999, pp. 193-202. A pioneering effort, in which the watermarks have been lit with a retro-light and nicely reproduced, is Jane Roberts, A Dictionary of Michelangelo’s Watermarks, Milan, Olivetti, 1988, now continued in a project at the Dutch University Institute for Art History in Florence, see Henryk van Hugten, ‘Watermarks in the Drawings and Manuscripts of Michelangelo Buonarroti’, in Paper as a Medium of Cultural Heritage, cit., 2004, pp. 401-408. The watermarks present in the corpus of drawings of the Renaissance Italian artist Pisanello at the Louvre are described in Ariane de la Chapelle, ‘Les papiers et les filigranes des dessins du corpus pisanellien du Musée du Louvre: état des recherches’, in Pisanello. Actes du colloque organisé au Musée du Louvre par le Service Culturel les 26, 27 et 28 juin 1996, établis par Dominique Cordellier et Bernadette Py, Paris, La Documentation Française, 1998, pp. 711-745.

As far as England is concerned, a well-informed and attractively illustrated overview is provided in John Krill, English Artists’ paper: Renaissance to Regency, New Castle, Oak Knoll Press; Winterthur, Winterthur Museum, 2002. A specific case study on a major artist by a very knowledgeable scholar is Peter Bower, Turner’s Papers: A Study of the Manufacture, Selection and Use of his Drawing Papers, 1787-1820, London, Tate Gallery, 1990, followed by Idem, Turner’s Later Papers. A Study of the Manufacture, Selection and Use of his Drawing Papers, 1820-1851, London, Tate Gallery publishing; New Castle, Oak Knoll press, 1999. The same author has produced numerous short articles on the paper used by British artists, mostly published in The Quarterly.

Copperplate printing, like blockbook printing, is a bibliographical rather than a paper matter, in which it is necessary to understand the interaction between two technologies. Letterpress printing with moveable type required formes to be set, printed off, and the type distributed back into the case, so the whole pressrun had to take place at the same moment. Copperplates, on the other hand, once engraved, could be kept for an infinite period of time. Since the metal wore quite quickly in printing, the plates had to be retouched, or sometimes corrected, generating different states, an expensive process; and likewise copperplate printing called for a thick, high-quality paper, especially wove, once it was available. All these factors ensured that publishers of large copperplate editions, such as the Microcosm of London (1808-10) or Audubon’s Birds of America (1827-38), printed the letterpress in a single moment, but ran the plates off in a series of lots over time. Paper evidence therefore is invaluable in distinguishing these successive chronological layers, and scholars of prints have always been aware of its importance, as well as the many parallels with the technology of map-printing [26]. A good synthesis is the chapter on ‘Paper’ by Marie Christine Enshaian in the collective volume Old Master Prints and Drawings. A Guide to Preservation and Conservation, Amsterdam, Amsterdam University Press, 1997, pp. 37-60. A specific instance is the truly excellent catalogue of the images of Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-78), which includes ample information about the watermarks as part of the distinction between the successive impressions, see Andrew Robinson, Piranesi: Early Architectural Fantasies. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Etchings, Washington, National Gallery of Art-Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1986.


Music and Musicology

Musicologists have often been pioneering in their exploitation of paper evidence in the study of composers’ manuscripts. Specific applications in this field are Stephen Shearon, ‘Watermarks and Rastra in Neapolitan Music Manuscripts, 1700-1815’, in Puzzles in Paper, cit., 2000, pp. 107-124; Steven Zohn, ‘Music Paper at the Dresden Court and the Chronology of Telemann’s Instrumental Music’, in Puzzles in Paper, cit., 2000, pp. 125-168. As far as individual composers are concerned, extensive work has been done on the manuscripts of Johann Sebastian Bach by Alfred Dürr, ‘Zur Chronologie der Leipziger Vokalwerke J.S. Bachs’, Bach Jahrbuch, vol. 44 (1957), pp. 5-162; by Georg von Dadelsen, Bemerkungen zur Handschrift Johann Sebastian Bachs, seiner Familie und seines Kreises, Trossingen, Hohner, 1957; and Idem, Beiträge zur Chronologie der Werke Johann Sebastian Bachs, Trossingen, Hohner, 1958; and more recently, with specific reference to the watermarks, by Wisso Weiss, Katalog der Wasserzeichen in Bachs Originalhandschriften, unter musikwissenschaftlicher Mitarbeit von Yoshitake Kobayashi, Kassel, Bärenreiter, 1985, 2 vols.

The musicologist, who has had an enormous importance in showing the value of watermark evidence, properly collected and applied, to the study of composers’ manuscripts, is Alan Tyson (1926-2000). His extremely important collection of essays, which brings together eighteen articles and lectures published or delivered between 1975 and 1986, is: Mozart. Studies of the Autograph Scores, Cambridge (Mass.), Harvard University Press, 1987, where he makes extensive use of paper evidence to date the music scores of an important and prolific composer. It is a volume that should be on the workshelf of any serious watermark scholar. A full-scale realisation of his research is available in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Neue Ausgabe sämtlicher Werke, Serie X: Supplement. Werkgruppe 33: Dokumentation der Autographen Überlieferung Abteilung 2: Wasserzeichen-Katalog von Alan Tyson, Basel-London-New York-Prag, Bärenreiter Kassel, 1992. If you can reach the end of this bibliographical rainbow and get your hands on this double volume, divided into Textband and Abbildungen, it is a genuine pot of gold, comprising one of the most exhaustive and exemplary pieces of watermark research ever realised. One part describes 107 pairs of formes, albeit with some singletons, and their watermarks found in Mozart’s autograph scores from 1761 to 1791; the other is formed entirely of large-scale draftman’s reproductions of the layout of the said formes and their watermarks, making it possible to identify quarter-sheets and even smaller fragments. An extraordinary achievement! the only pity is that in its present version it is accessible only to specialists. The other objection is that it makes all other watermark scholars seem like dabbling amateurs!

Tyson applies the same method to the study of sketch-books of Ludwig van Beethoven, which were divided and dispersed shortly after his death, see Douglas Johnson, Alan Tyson and Robert Winter, The Beethoven Sketchbooks. History, Reconstruction and Inventory, Oxford, Clarendon Press; Berkeley, University of California Press, 1985. The watermarks in Beethoven’s autograph letters are described in Joseph Schmidt-Görg, ‘Wasserzeichen in Beethoven-Briefen’, Beethoven Jahrbuch, 1966, pp. 7-74; see also Alan Tyson, ‘Prolegomena to a Future Edition of Beethoven’s Letters’, cit., 1977.

In the field of music printing, watermark evidence is used as a key to separating look-alike reprints in the output of the Elizabethan and Jacobean printer, Thomas East, see Jeremy L. Smith, ‘Watermark Evidence and the Hidden Editions of Thomas East’, in Puzzles in Paper, cit., 2000, pp. 67-80. An engaging and thoroughly documented study relating to the English music book trade, which makes an ample use of paper-evidence, is Robert Thompson, ‘Some Late Sources’, in John Jenkins and his Time. Studies in English Consort Music, edited by Andrew Ashbee and Peter Holman, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1996, pp. 271-298.

On the other hand, musicologists have a poor to bad record in communicating with other disciplines and also in comparing their methods with those in other fields. Signs that attempts are being made to overcome this barrier can be found in round-ups by Frederick Hudson, ‘Musicology and Paper Study: A Survey and Evaluation’, in Essays in Paper Analysis, cit., 1987, pp. 34-60; Ulrich Konrad, ‘The Use of Watermarks in Musicology’, in Puzzles in Paper, cit., 2000, pp. 93-106; and Jan LaRue, ‘Watermarks and Musicology’, The Journal of Musicology, vol. 18 (2001), pp. 313-343.


Maps and Cartography

The real interest for paper studies in this field has been in its application to copper-plate printing, when the watermarks can often separate different states of the plates and also establish the probable date of the impression. A pioneering article is that by Edward Heawood, ‘The Use of Watermarks in Dating Old Maps and Documents’, Geographical Journal, vol. 63 (1924), pp. 391-412.

The scholar who has applied watermark analysis to the study of maps in a continuous and convincing fashion, especially in the use of β-radiographs to acquire images, has been David Woodward, professor of geography at the University of Chicago up to his premature death, known also as the conceiver and inspirer of the immense six-volume History of Cartography (1987-2015). For a bibliography of his output, see Matthew H. Edney, ‘David Alfred Woodward (1942-2004)’, Imago Mundi, vol. 57 (2005), pp. 75-83, while, for writings specifically relating to watermarks and watermark evidence, see ‘Watermark Radiography at the Newberry Library’, Mapline, n. 15, (1979), pp. 1-2; ‘New Tools for the Study of Watermarks on Sixteenth-Century Italian Printed Maps: Beta Radiography and Scanning Densitometry’, in Imago et mensura mundi. Atti del IX Congresso Internazionale di Storia della Cartografia, a cura di Carla Clivio Marzoli, Roma, Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, 1985, II, pp. 541-552; ‘The Analysis of Paper and Ink in Early Maps: Opportunities and Realities’, in Essays in Paper Analysis, cit., 1987, pp. 200-221; ‘The Correlation of Watermark and Paper Chemistry in Sixteenth Century Italian Printed Maps’, Imago mundi, vol. 42 (1990), pp. 84-93; and ‘Martha and Mary, 1568-70. The Use of a Pair of Watermarks in Reconstructing the Venetian Map Trade’, in Looking at Paper: Evidence & Interpretation, cit., 2001, pp. 134-138. A must for any bookshelf relating to paper is his 1996 catalogue of the watermarks – organized on the basis of the IPH classification – in the Italian printed maps 1540-1600 held in the Newberry Library at Chicago, in which the images of the watermarks are reproduced with β-radiography and as a result provide some high-quality images (see above [23]). One small regret about this study is the unwillingness to discuss some cases of twinship among watermarks, in particular two charming and graceful mermaids, whom in the previous articles, of 1987 and 2001 he had baptized Mary and Martha (pp. 68-69).


Codicological and Manuscript Studies

Palaeographers and manuscript scholars, on the whole, know that paper has watermarks and quite often, especially in more recent, technologically orientated research, they describe them. And go no further. One agrees that it isn’t easy, but it is possible to do better.

There are exceptions. The principle of paper-flow has been applied successfully to the analysis of Medieval as well as of early modern and contemporary authors’ manuscripts. Discussions of method and examples are provided in Jean Irigoin, ‘La datation par les filigranes du papier’, in Les matériaux du livre manuscrit, Leiden, Brill, 1980, pp. 9-36; Paola Busonero, ‘Le filigrane come supporto per la datazione: problemi e verifiche su un campione di codici greci datati’, Nuovi annali della Scuola Speciale per Archivisti e Bibliotecari, vol. 7 (1993), pp. 297-323; and Alois Haidinger, ‘Datieren mittelalterlicher Handschriften mittels ihrer Wasserzeichen’, Anzeiger der phil.-hist. Klasse der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, vol. 139 (2004), pp. 5–30. Another valuable general survey based on English and Scottish manuscripts, but appliable in a general sense, albeit maybe with too much faith in the dates supplied by Briquet and Piccard, is R.J. Lyall, ‘Materials. The Paper Revolution’, in Book Production and Publishing in Britain, 1375-1475, cit., 1989, pp. 11-29.

Moving to practical examples. The survey of watermarks containing papermakers’ names by Jean Irigoin, ‘Une série de filigranes remarquable’, in Le papier au Moyen Âge, cit., 1999, p. 145, in which the practice is circumscribed to a short period beginning in 1305, allows him to demonstrate the impossibility of the date 1291-92 (given as the year 6800 since the creation of the world) declared by its Greek scribe in the colophon of Vatican Ms. Gr. 29 [12]. Paleographers are always terribly unwilling to believe that copyists sometimes tell lies or might have reasons for wanting to antedate a colophon, whereas bibliographers tend to have less faith in the morality of printers (I wonder why). In this case the most economical supposition is that the manuscript is a faithful copy, colophon and all, of an earlier codex, which has not survived.

An interesting instance of a scholar competently pursuing watermarks through the corpus of manuscripts of the same work is provided by William E. Coleman, Watermarks in the Manuscripts of Boccaccio’s Il Teseida. A Catalogue, Codicological Study and Album, Firenze, Olschki, 1997. As with the Decameron, the Teseida, written around 1339-41, has a high percentage of manuscripts on paper, from which just over a hundred watermark-designs are reproduced with Briquet-style tracings, with however the indication that they are always taken from the mould side and, where possible, twins are identified (so we approve). The book is the offshoot of work towards a new critical text of the poem, edited by Edvige Agostinelli, which appeared in 2015 and is based on what has only been recently recognised as a Boccaccio autograph copy in the Laurentian Library in Florence (ironically, it is one of the few manuscripts of the poem written on parchment). I remain puzzled by the purpose of this volume, but, like high-quality figure skating, it is an art unto itself.

An intriguing early Sixteenth-century example is provided by ms. It. IX.369 of the Marciana Library in Venice, in the last gathering of which Marin Sanudo wrote out bibliographical descriptions of 31 printed chivalric romances. The paper employed is the same as that used inside his famous diaries between 1527 and 1530, but mostly in 1528, which makes it possible to assign the latter date to the document, see Neil Harris, ‘Marin Sanudo, Forerunner of Melzi’, La Bibliofilìa, vol. 95 (1993), pp. 1-37, 101-145, vol. 96 (1994), pp. 15-42, in particular pp. 103-104.

In France in the Eighteenth century the manuscripts of Denis Diderot provide a good test case, see Paul Vernière, Diderot, ses manuscrits et ses copistes. Essai d’introduction à une edition moderne de ses oeuvres, Paris, Klincksieck, 1967, as in the Nineteenth century does the manuscript of Victor Hugo’s Les misérables, see René Journet-Guy Robert, Le manuscrit des Misérables, Paris, Les Belles Lettres, 1963. Perceptive analysis of the importance of paper in the authors of French manuscripts of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries is provided by Claire Bustarret, see in particular ‘Paper Evidence and the Interpretation of the Creative Process in Modern Literary Manuscripts’, in Looking at Paper, cit., pp. 88-94, also on the author’s personal page on the Institut des Textes & Manuscrits Modernes (ITEM), which has a fuller bibliographical listing. 

An absolutely splendid example of analysis, which should be studied by anybody working on a modern writer, is that of the manuscript of Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence, first published in 1913. While writing the several drafts of the novel Lawrence used the same sequences of paper for his correspondence and thus makes it possible to establish a precise stratification of the different stages of his manuscript, see Helen Baron, ‘Sons and Lovers: The Surviving Manuscripts from Three Drafts dated by Paper Analysis’, Studies in Bibliography, vol. 38 (1985), pp. 289-328.


Blockbooks, Incunabula, and the One-pull Press

The most primitive form of printing, the wooden blockbook, certainly preceded Gutenberg, and for a long time the few surviving examples were believed to be mostly anterior to the invention of moveable type in the West. Watermark evidence, however, proved fundamental in showing that what survives belongs generally to the 1460s. A further complication involves the fact that, once cut, the blocks were kept and used to make subsequent impressions, sometimes distant in time, and again watermark evidence provides an important differential for the chronological stratification. Fundamental research done by Allan Stevenson in 1965-66 remained in an unpublished typescript after his death, but happily since has been made available: see ‘The Problem of the Blockbooks’, in Blockbücher des Mittelalters. Bilderfolgen al Lektüre, herausgegeben von Gutenberg-Gesellschaft und Gutenberg-Museum, Mainz, Verlag Philipp von Zabern, 1991, pp. 229-262.

With respect to manuscripts, Fifteenth-century printing represents the first, massive, industrial-style consumption of paper, and so the question of the identification of watermarks therein is a fundamental issue. Some early catalogues of incunabula provide copperplate tracings of the watermarks in the collection, for instance Eduard Bodemann, Xylographische und typographische Incunabeln königlichen öffentlichen Bibliothek zu Hannover, Hannover, Hahn’sche Hof-Buch-Handlung, 1866, describing three blockbooks and 243 incunabula, with 16 pages of tracings of the watermarks at the end of the volume (which become the source for Briquet 3749). Otherwise, despite pious declarations, with the exception of the two most recent volumes of the BMC, comprising Adrian K. Offenberg’s analysis of Hebraica and Paul Needham’s comprehensive survey for England (a mere backwater, however, in the history of Fifteenth-century printing), and with the further exception of the specific case studies discussed below [30], watermark research and incunabula studies have largely gone their own separate ways.

In one interesting application, paper evidence, looking at whether sheets in quarto editions were cut in half before printing, plays a large part in the study by Lotte Hellinga, ‘Press and Text in the First Decades of Printing’, in Libri tipografi biblioteche. Ricerche storiche dedicate a Luigi Balsamo, Firenze, Olschki, 1997, I, pp. 1-23, available also in Italian with the title ‘Torchi e testi nel primo decennio della stampa’ in the same author’s Fare un libro nel Quattrocento. Problemi tecnici e questioni metologiche, a cura di Elena Gatti, Udine, Forum, 2015, pp. 73-100. A new, and much revised, English version is included in Lotte Hellinga’s collected essays: Texts in Transit. Manuscripts in Proof and Print in the Fifteenth Century, Boston-Leiden, Brill, 2015, pp. 8-36. A one-pull press is also the key to a curious feature in the printing of the 1472 Venetian edition of Boccaccio’s Filocolo, where the paper stocks show how the edition was divided in two parts and printed simultaneously on two presses, see Neil Harris, ‘Una pagina capovolta nel Filocolo veneziano del 1472’, La Bibliofilìa, vol. 98 (1996), pp. 1-21, reprinted in Dalla textual bibliography alla filologia dei testi italiani a stampa, a cura di Antonio Sorella, Pescara, Libreria dell'Università editrice, 1998, pp. 67-96 [see Chapter 7].

The detailed analysis of one incunable printed in Rome in 1475 shows, however, that a one-pull press was still being used, although the sheets were not divided before printing, see Neil Harris, ‘Le Epistolae in cardinalatu editae del 1475: ritratto di una edizione’, in Pio II (Enea Silvio Piccolomini), Lettere scritte durante il cardinalato, a cura di Ettore Malnati e Ilaria Romanzin, Brescia, Marco Serra Tarantola, 2007, pp. 59-85, of which an abbreviated version is available with the title ‘Profilo di un incunabolo: le Epistolae in cardinalatu editae di Enea Silvio Piccolomini (Roma 1475)’, Ecdotica, vol. 3 (2006), pp. 7-33.


The ‘Runs and Remnants’ Principle

This principle is so important it gets a separate paragraph.

It is expounded by Allan Stevenson in Observations on Paper as Evidence, cit., 1961, pp. 19-24; in more condensed form in ‘Paper as Bibliographical Evidence’, The Library, s. V, vol. 17 (1962), pp. 197-212: 201-202; and finally in The Problem of the Missale Speciale, cit., 1967, pp. 71-99.

An example of the ‘runs and remnants’ principle from my own casebook occurs with some sheets in the 1499 Aldine Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, which were reset to make up for some short-falls in the original print run. Although the edition is dated December 1499, the paper in the reset sheets belongs to a supply employed by Aldus in the late spring and early summer of the same year, which, if we were to take the evidence on its face value, would lead us to argue that the reset sheets were printed before the rest of the edition, something contradicted in any case by typographical evidence. It is more sensible to believe that, since the reset sheets were needed to make up imperfect copies, the printers of the make-up sheets, given the relative unimportance of the task, were told to make shift with the stray sheets lying round the workshop. See Neil Harris, ‘Nine reset sheets in the Aldine Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (1499)’, Gutenberg Jahrbuch, 2006, pp. 245-275.


Analytical Bibliography and Case Studies (Somewhat Autoreferential)

One distinctly promising sounding title, done by a scholar who has been establishing new standards for the application of paper evidence in the field of early English printing and Shakespearian bibliography, is R. Carter Hailey, On Paper. The Description and Analysis of Handmade Laid Paper, London, Pickering and Chatto, whose publication has been announced several times, even with a ghost publication date on 30 December 2012, but still has not appeared (well, if you are going to study paper, you have to do it properly, so we approve). Therefore keep an eye open for when it does. For the author’s ongoing work, see the remarks about the Shakespeare Pavier quartos below.

A printed book, which employs a standard Sixteenth century print-run of  1, 000 copies, counting waste, will use more than two reams of paper for the impression of each and every sheet. A press therefore is a consumer of paper on a large scale. In early Renaissance printing, when the cost of work was low and the quality of paper was high, it is plausible that quite often the purchase of the paper represented anything between 50% and 70% of the total expense for printing a book. The analysis of 471 entries in the ledgers of William Strahan shows that, even in the Eighteenth century, on average half the cost of printing was still represented by the paper, see Patricia Hernlund, ‘William Strahan’s Ledgers, II: Charges for Papers, 1738–1785’, cit. (1969). It can be assumed therefore in principle (exclusively and only in principle) that a printer planned his paper purchases with care and exhausted one stock almost in its entirety before acquiring another (but take note of Stevenson’s definition of the ‘runs and remnants’ rule, see [29]). Since paper was rarely purchased directly from a mill, but came through the offices of a paper merchant, who generally had several sources of supply, the new stock will probably be watermarked in a different fashion. Analysis of the paper flow in an edition, or (much better) in a group of editions printed contemporaneously in the same shop, can provide important information about the order of printing. Following on from his 1985 article on the Gutenberg Bible (see below), examples of such reconstructions are provided by Paul Needham, ‘Concepts of Paper Study’, in Puzzles in Paper, cit., 2000, pp. 1-36, looking at the test-cases of Pliny’s Historia naturalis (1476) with 11 stocks of paper, Bruni’s Historia populi florentini (1476) with four stocks, and Cessolis’ The Game and Play of Chess (1474) with one stock. A similar operation, with perhaps a less convincing outcome, is provided by Paul F. Gehl, ‘Watermark Evidence for the Competitive Practices of Antonio Miscomini’, The Library, s. VI, vol. 15 (1993), pp. 281-305.

A word of warning however: Italian Renaissance printers, especially in the Fifteenth century, might well have applied the bibliographically felicitous principle of acquiring a high-quality, clearly watermarked paper-stock and exhausting it before buying in another (except possibly for Aldus, but he always has to be different, doesn’t he?). In the much later English Renaissance, i.e. the one which only started when Italy had already finished, on the other hand, stocks of French paper were muddled by the paper merchant and further muddled in the printing shop, so that the analysis of the same makes about as much sense as the Mad Hatter’s tea party, which might explain the coolness of the McKerrow-Greg-Bowers school of bibliography towards paper evidence. In order to run off what Thomas Bodley described as “baggage-books” (the quartos of Shakespeare and other sit-com writers of the age), London printers used the cheapest paper they could get their hands on, including remnants of older runs and flawed sheets excluded from more prestigious books. It is hardly surprising therefore that very little of it makes sense and therefore, to paraphrase Douglas Adams, the principle of analysing the paper-flow is always right, it is the reality provided by the evidence that is wrong.

Important examples of research relating to printed texts, in which an especial emphasis falls on the paper evidence are the following, in approximate chronological order of the document or printed book studied:

● 1454. Not unsurprisingly, the example that has attracted most attention and been the object of exemplary research has been the Gutenberg Bible, which was printed both on vellum and paper. The watermark evidence breaks the paper supply into four separate supplies, formed by an oxhead with a simple cross, two varieties of grape, and a full ox. The oxhead supply, however, shows a series of diverging states, since over a fairly short period of time the twin watermarks were removed from their respective moulds, presumably for cleaning or maintenance, and reattached, but exchanged in the process and in one case turned back to front. These alterations in state therefore permit a much more precise and detailed stratification. The paper evidence, together with textual analysis and information provided by the recipe of the ink, shows how the copy for the Bible was divided between as many as six compositorial units, which were worked on more or less simultaneously. Work on the paper evidence in the Gutenberg Bible is brought together and summarised by Paul Needham, ‘The Paper Supply of the Gutenberg Bible’, cit. (1985), which also includes some high-quality β-radiograph images of the watermarks, including the different states of the oxhead twins. Needham’s work acknowledges his debt to the essay by Paul Schwenke written to accompany the 1923 Leipzig facsimile (Johannes Gutenberg zweiundvierzigzeilige Bibel: Ergänzungsband zur Faksimile-Ausgabe), while the analysis of the varying states of the bull’s head watermarks had been significantly developed in the work on the Mainz Catholicon by Eva Ziesche and Dierk Schnitger (see below). In the mid-1980s the ink evidence of the Gutenberg Bible, obtained by a cyclotron milliprobe, was the object of a large number of articles, but most of it is brought together in Richard N. Schwab, Thomas A. Cahill, Robert A. Eldred, Bruce H. Kusko, and Daniel L. Wick, ‘New Evidence on the Printing of the Gutenberg Bible: The Inks in the Doheny Copy’, Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, vol. 79 (1985), pp. 375-410, followed by a further contribution by Needham, ‘Division of Copy in the Gutenberg Bible: Three Glosses on the Ink Evidence’, pp. 411-426. On the source of the royal-size sheets employed for the edition, the long-standing opinion, going back to the Nineteenth century, is that they were made at Caselle, near Turin in Piedmont, and brought to Mainz by mule-train over the Alps and by barge down the Rhine. This interpretation has been challenged, however, by Isabel Feder McCarthy, ‘Ad fontes. A New Look at the Watermarks on Paper Copies of the Gutenberg Bible’, The Library, s. VII, vol. 17 (2016), pp. 115-137, who argues that the paper was made either on the French side of the Alps and/or in Basle. As has been noted above, the fact that the moulds employed tranchefiles favours this explanation.

● 1460. Much discussion has been occasioned about the three impressions of the “1460” Mainz Catholicon, beginning with an article by Theo Gerardy, ‘Wann wurde das Catholicon mit der Schuss-Schrift von 1460 (GW 3182) wirklicht gedruckt?’, cit. (1973), followed by Eva Ziesche and Dierk Schnitger, ‘Elektronen radiographische Untersuchungen der Wasserzeichen des Mainzer Catholicon von 1460’, cit. (1980), where the argument derives in large part from the watermarks and the paper. Twin watermarks with different states, detached and resewn to their moulds, are brilliantly identified and tracked through a series of editions from the 1460s and early 1470s. Copies exist on three different paper-stocks. Of these one is compatible with the date in the colophon, i.e. 1460; the other two however were not extant at the time and the impressions thereon are now assigned to 1469 and 1472-73. The printing technique behind the Catholicon, which entailed keeping intact the type settings for some 700 folio pages, has been the object of an extended incunabulistic ping-pong match, initiated with the article by Paul Needham, ‘Johann Gutenberg and the Catholicon press’, Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, vol. 76 (1982), pp. 395-456, which hypothesised a printing process involving two-line slugs. It was followed in: Walter J. Partridge, ‘The Type-setting and Printing of the Mainz Catholicon’, The Book Collector, vol. 35 (1986), pp. 21-52; Paul Needham, ‘The Type-setting of the Mainz Catholicon: A Reply to W.J. Partridge’, ibid., pp. 293-304; Idem: ‘The Catholicon Press of Johann Gutenberg: A Hidden Chapter in the Invention of Printing’, Wolfenbüttler Notizen zur Buchgeschichte, vol. 13 (1988), pp. 199-230; Martin Boghardt, ‘Die bibliographische Erforschung der ersten Catholicon-Ausgabe(n)’, Wolfenbütteler Notizen zur Buchgeschichte, vol. 13 (1988), pp. 138-178, repr. in Idem, Archäologie des gedruckten Buches, herausgegeben von Paul Needham in Verbindung mit Julie Boghardt, Wiesbaden, Harrassowitz, 2008, pp. 394-425; Lotte Hellinga, ‘Analytical Bibliography and the Study of Early Printed Books with a Case-study of the Mainz Catholicon’, Gutenberg Jahrbuch, 1989, pp. 47-96; Paul Needham, ‘Corrective Notes on the Date of the Catholicon Press’, Gutenberg Jahrbuch, 1990, pp. 46-64; Idem, ‘Further Corrective Notes on the Date of the Catholicon Press’, Gutenberg Jahrbuch, 1991, pp. 101-126; Lotte Hellinga, Slipped Lines and Fallen Type in the Mainz Catholicon’, Gutenberg Jahrbuch, 1992, pp. 35-40; Paul Needham: ‘Mainz and Eltville: The True Tale of Three Compositors’, Bulletin du bibliophile, 1992, pp. 257-304; Idem, ‘Slipped Lines in the Mainz Catholicon: A Second Opinion’, Gutenberg Jahrbuch, 1993, pp. 25-29; James Mosley: ‘The Enigma of the Early Lyonnaise Printing Types’, in La Lumitype-Photon. René Higonnet, Louis Moyroud et l’invention de la photocomposition moderne. Actes du colloque, Musée de l’Imprimerie et de la Banque, Lyon, le 20, 21 octobre 1994, textes réunis et présentés par Alan Marshall, Lyon, Musée de l’Imprimerie et de la Banque, 1995, pp. 13-28. It takes a while to read through this extended debate, and even longer to understand it, but it is illuminating.

● 1473. Allan Stevenson, The Problem of the Missale Speciale, cit., 1967, which could also be called the confessions of a paper scholar. The tone is sometimes whimsical and anecdotal, impregnated with situational irony, but underneath the purpose is steely. Nevertheless it is the one book that any novice bibliographer venturing into paper studies and wanting to learn how you should go about the business must read. The problem was posed by the Constance Missale, or the Missale Speciale, an undated edition obviously printed in the Fifteenth century, employing a version of the smaller fount used in the Mainz Psalter of 1457. Scholars had therefore argued that it might even predate the Gutenberg Bible and thus be by default the earliest European printed book produced with moveable type. Stevenson’s research began when the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York acquired a copy of the Missale Speciale in 1954 and, on examining the same, he understood immediately on the basis of the paper evidence that the book must belong to the early 1470s. As Archimedes necessarily realised after jumping out of his bath, the basic intuition of a discovery is one thing, amassing and presenting the proof, while not even wearing a towel, is quite another. In 1960, two German scholars, both major experts on paper evidence, arrived at a similar conclusion, arguing with reference to the watermarks found in archive documents that the Missale Speciale belonged to the early 1470s, see Gerhard Piccard, ‘Die Datierung des Missale Speciale (Constantiense) durch seine Papiermarken’, Archiv für Geschichte des Buchwesens, vol. 2, nn. 7-9 (1960), pp. 571-584; Theo Gerardy, ‘Die Wasserzeichen des mit Gutenbergs kleiner Psaltertype gedruckten Missale Speciale’, Papiergeschichte, vol. 10, n. 2 (1960), pp. 13-22. What Stevenson provided in 1967 was, however, the full picture, based not only on the recognition of the pairs of twin watermarks, but also how each watermark in its time played many parts, aging through a series of different states that made it possible to provide a very precise date, i.e. 1473, and a probable location, i.e. Basle. An extraordinary achievement.

● 1483. Two printed collections of Sacre rappresentazioni by Antonia Pulci, unsigned and undated, attributed to Antonio Miscomini in Florence have long been known to incunabulists. Although the incipit of the first volume has the date 1483, it was taken as the year of composition and in the standard repertories one collection was assigned to c. 1490-95 and the other to c. 1495 (which is incunable speak for “I don’t really know”). Miscomini was active in Florence from 1481 to 1494, albeit with a seeming break from 1487 to 1489 when he appears in Modena; more importantly, the version of his 112R used these two collections of sacred dramas was extant only up to the end of 1491. Comparison of the watermarks is not conclusive, but their order and presence strongly suggest that the two collections went through the press more or less in parallel and so have the same date, which is likely to be close to the 1483 of the incipit, see Nerida Newbigin, ‘Antonia Pulci and the First Anthology of Sacre Rappresentazioni (1483?)’, La Bibliofilía, vol. 118 (2016), pp. 337-361.

● 1491-92. A classic example of the application of watermark evidence to establish the date and place of production of an unsigned incunable is Adri K. Offenberg, ‘The Dating of the Kol Bô. Watermarks and Hebrew Bibliography’, in Idem, A Choice of Corals. Facets of Fifteenth-century Hebrew Printing, Nieuwkoop, De Graaf, 1992, pp. 59-88.

● 1494-1515. Although it appears an obvious thing to do, charting the paper stocks in the output of a printer over a long period of time is a huge task and involves numerous practical difficulties. In fact, outside case studies aimed at resolving specific bibliographical problems, I know only one instance of the kind, not unsurprisingly, for Aldus Manutius the elder, in the catalogue of Aldines at the University of California, see: The Aldine Press. Catalogue of the Ahmanson-Murphy Collection of Books by or relating to the Press in the Library of the University of California Los Angeles, incorporating Works recorded Elsewhere, Berkeley, University of California press, 2001. Paper stocks are discussed in the ‘Prolegomena’, pp. 29-33; tracings of watermarks, keyed to the editions in which they are found and relating only to the first period of the press, are reproduced at pp. 575-635. Although there are no attempts to enter into the real intricacies of the watermark identification, or to distinguish twins, it is a useful general survey.

● 1510. Sara Centi-Neil Harris, ‘Per il De cardinalatu di Paolo Cortesi: la copia “ideale”, gli esemplari e i messaggi occulti’, in Catalogo degli incunaboli e delle cinquecentine della Biblioteca Comunale di San Gimignano, a cura di Neil Harris, San Gimignano, Città di San Gimignano, 2007, vol. 2, pp. 29-50, use paper evidence to discover the structure and what happened in the printing of this strange book [see Chapter 7].

● 1539. Neil Harris, Bibliografia dell’«Orlando innamorato», Modena, Panini, 1988-91, I, p. 143, II, pp. 113-115, 225-234, describes the paper of all the editions printed by the Calvo brothers in Milan (1539-42) in order to reach the truth about the real date of the printing of the Rifacimento of Francesco Berni [see Chapter 7].

● 1551. Neil Harris, ‘Per la storia bibliografica de Le cose volgari et latine di Agostino Beaziano’, in Suave mari magno ... Studi offerti dai colleghi udinesi ad Ernesto Berti, a cura di Claudio Griggio e Fabio Vendruscolo, Udine, Forum, 2008, pp. 161-181, also published in Tipofilologia, vol. 1 (2008), pp. 17-29, reconstructs the reissue of this small Italian octavo, using watermark and countermark evidence to show that the two half-sheet cancellantia were printed together on the same sheet [see Chapter 7].

● 1590. Whether the date 1 January 1591 in the dedication to Spenser’s Daphnaida should be taken as Old style (i.e. 1592) or New style is analysed on the basis of the paper flow in the editions printed in 1590-91 by Thomas Orwin, see Adrian Weiss, ‘Watermark Evidence and Inference: New Style Dates of Edmund Spenser’s Complaints and Daphnaida’, Studies in Bibliography, vol. 52 (1999), pp. 129-154. The article is worth perusing also for the discussion of the method applied to the breakdown of complex job-lots of paper.

● 1590. The publication of the Gospels in Arabic by the Medici Oriental Press in Rome in 1590-91 involved a double issue, one only with the Arabic text and one with an interlinear Latin gloss. Bibliographical analysis shows, however, that, with exception of the very first sheet, a single setting of the Arab type was employed throughout, first to print the Arab only version and reset to print the bilingual text. As well as the typography, proof of the simultaneous printing of the two issues comes from the paper: most of the supply is on sheets watermarked with a crown, but some intrusions of other supplies take place in parallel, see Harris, ‘Printing the Gospels in Arabic in Rome in 1590’, cit., 2015.

● 1600. The edition of the Vaticinia by Girolamo Giovannini, published in Venice in 1600, which presents a complicated situation of variants in the first gathering, is described by Neil Harris, ‘Un ammiraglio, un cane e i Vaticinia’, in Il libro italiano del XVI secolo: conferme e novità in Edit16. Atti della giornata di studi, 8 giugno 2006, a cura di Rosaria Maria Servello, Roma, ICCU, 2007, pp. 43-92.

● 1610. The publication of Galileo’s Sidereus Nuncius in Venice in 1610 changed forever the way man looks at the stars. An in-depth study of the complex internal history of the edition is Galileo’s O, edited by Horste Bredekamp and published in Berlin, Akademie Verlag, 2011: volume one is Galileo’s Sidereus Nuncius: A Comparison of the Proof Copy (New York) with other Paradigmatic copies, edited by Irene Brückle and Oliver Hahn, comprising essays by various hands, in particular one on ‘The Paper’ by Irene Brückle, Manfred Mayer, and Theresa Smith, pp. 127-142, and another on ‘Watermark Distribution in Selected Copies’, by the same three authors, with an inversion of Brückle and Mayer, in the credits, pp. 149-151, while volume two is entirely the work of Paul Needham, Galileo Makes a Book: the First Edition of Sidereus Nuncius, Venice 1610. The catalyst for the project was the discovery of what for a period was considered the “proof copy”, in 2005 purchased by the Martayan Lan Bookshop in New York, containing, instead of the usual copper-plate illustrations, drawings, thought to be from the hand of Galileo himself. Doubts about this copy nevertheless began to circulate in the years following its discovery, especially in an article of 2009 by Copernicus scholar, Owen Gingerich, who initially had authenticated and considered genuine the Martayan Lan copy. Some of these reservations derived from the seller of the book, the notorious bibliokleptophile, Massimo De Caro, whose despoiling of the Girolamini Library in Naples before too long would become public knowledge. In particular, Nick Wilding, a British historian teaching in the United States, became convinced that the item was a forgery and, while the publication was in press, pointed to some details that quickly convinced Needham. The outcome is an originally unforeseen and unintended, third volume: A Galileo Forgery. Unmasking the New York Sidereus Nuncius, edited by Horst Bredekamp, Irene Brückle, and Paul Needham, Berlin-Boston, Walter De Gruyter, 2014, which is a masterful apologia for the deception at the hands of De Caro, who remains the nastiest thing to have happened in book history and bibliography since Guglielmo Libri. For a very readable summing up of the whole affaire, see also Nicholas Schmidle, ‘A Very Rare Book. The Mystery Surrounding a Copy of Galileo’s Pivotal Treatise’, The New Yorker, December 16, 2013 (available online). The stature of the scholars, the clarity of the analysis, and the pain of the apology make this book something that has to be read and shared. Within the new scheme of things, paper evidence plays a major part in unmasking the fraud. Microscope analysis, in particular, revealed that the paper of the forgery was formed of cotton linters (i.e. not just cotton, which at the beginning of the Seventeenth century would already be unusual, but highly refined cotton fibres, what we generally know as cotton wool), whereas the genuine paper is from bast fibre, i.e. the linen and hemp, made from the outer stalks of the plants involved, but as recycled rags. In the forgery the watermarks had been recognised as being similar to those of the original, but not the same: or rather they were made on separate half-sheets, with marks imitating the original. More importantly, a single mould was used for each half-sheet, rather than an alternation of twin moulds. For a final judgement on the affair, well, time will tell. Personally, I am relieved that this particular item never ended up on my desk, and I am full of admiration for the honesty and sincerity with which this group of scholars admitted how and why they were conned.

● 1616. For a massive analysis of the paper supply making up the 1616 folio of Ben Jonson's plays, see James A. Riddell, ‘The Concluding Pages of the Jonson Folio of 1616’, Studies in Bibliography, vol. 47 (1994), pp. 147-154.

● 1619. On the Shakespearian ‘Pavier Quartos’, which provided a pioneering test-case for the use of watermarks in analytical bibliography, see Walter W. Greg, ‘On Certain False Dates in Shakespearian Quartos’, The Library, n.s., vol. 9 (1908), pp. 113-131, 381-409; Allan H. Stevenson, ‘Shakespearian Dated Watermarks’, Studies in Bibliography, vol. 4 (1951-52), pp. 159-164. The research of Greg and Stevenson has now been redone ab origine in an exhaustive article by R. Carter Hailey, ‘The Shakespearian Pavier Quartos Revisited’, Studies in Bibliography, vol. 57 (2005-2006), pp. 151-195, to which should be added the electronic piece ‘A Catalog of Paperstocks in the Shakespearian Pavier Quartos (1619)’, available on the website of the Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia. The same author has also applied watermark analysis to other problems of Shakespearean bibliography, in particular to establish the dates of the only two quarto editions devoid of titlepage dates, albeit assigned to the first half of the 1620s on textual and typographic evidence, see ‘The Dating Game. New Evidence for the Dates of Q4 Romeo and Juliet and Q4 Hamlet’, Shakespeare Quarterly, 58 (2007), pp. 367-387.

● 1827. The first edition of Manzoni’s Promessi sposi, Milano, Ferrario, 1825-26, but actually published in June 1827, in octavo format, provides an interesting case-study, in which the placing of the watermarks makes it possible to identify fifteen otherwise invisible quarter-leaf cancellantia, see Neil Harris-Emanuela Sartorelli, ‘La Ventisettana dei Promessi sposi: la collazione e i cancellantia’, Annali manzoniani, n.s., 7-8 (2010-2015 [but 2016]), pp. 3-95, with an English-language synthesis by Neil Harris, ‘The Manzoni Identity: Cancellantia and Final Authorial Intention in the First Edition of I Promessi Sposi (1825-1826)’, in Questioni filologiche: la critica testuale attraverso i secoli. Atti della conferenza internazionale della Graduate Students’ Association of Italian Studies (GSAIS), University of Toronto, Department of Italian Studies, 2-4 maggio 2013, a cura di Pamela Arancibia, Johnny L. Bertolio, Joanne Granata, Giovanna Licata, Erika Papagni, Matteo Ugolini, Firenze, Franco Cesati editore, 2016, pp. 41-69 [see Chapter 7].

● 1827. The edition on sheets of double-elephant paper (69×102 cm) of Audubon’s Birds of America (1827-38) contains 435 copperplates with variants of state. The bibliography of Waldemar H. Fries, Double Elephant Folio. The story of Audubon’s Birds of America, Chicago, American Library Association, 1973; new edition: Amherst, Zenaida Publishing, 2006, shows how successive impressions from the plates are identifiable through the dates in the Whatman watermarks (1830, 1831, 1832, etc.), see chapter 25, ‘Questions of Internal Evidence’, pp. 209-224, and Appendix K, ‘Additional Variants found in Plate Legenda and Watermarks’ (pp. 421-439). Contrary to what Audubon himself affirmed, the edition is not in a folio format; technically it is a full-sheet or broadside, i.e. the sheet has not been folded at all.

● 1894. In 1894 copies began to appear in London of a previously unknown edition of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnets from the Portughese, dated 1847 with Reading as the place of publication. This was the most important of a string of forgeries, some three hundred titles, produced by literary scholar, Harry Buxton Foreman (1842-1917), and book-collector and bibliographer, Thomas James Wise (1859-1937). The demonstration by John Carter and Graham Pollard that these editions were forgeries, which was made public in their 1934 An Enquiry into the Nature of Certain Nineteenth Century Pamphlets, rested in part on the paper evidence. The paper used for the false pamphlets contained substances such as esparto grass and reconstituted wood pulp which were not available at the time of their supposed publication. Since Wise was still alive and considered a distinguished literary figure when the exposure took place, so as not to risk litigation, the real culprits were not named. Subsequent work has been done to reveal the full extent both of the forgeries and the scandal, see Nicolas Barker-John Collins, A Sequel to “An Enquiry into the Nature of Certain Nineteenth Century Pamphlets”, London, Scolar Press, 1983; John Collins, The Two Forgers. A Biography of Harry Buxton Forman and Thomas James Wise, New Castle, Oak Knoll Press, 1992. As above with the much more recent Galileo episode, the need to overcome forgery, and the bitterness of the lessons learnt, ensured giant strides in the scholarship.


Dedicated Collections of Paper, Watermarks, and Tracings of Watermarks

A feature common to a number of museums, libraries and archives, is a collection formed by one or more scholars, who recovered samples of paper, or taken tracings of the same, and organised them on the basis of their watermarks. In the Nineteenth century, in particular, when watermark study was fashionable and led, among other things, to Briquet, a fair number of collections were formed, some of them considerable. For anyone actually involved in teaching the history of paper and of watermarks, a collection of antique sheets of paper, assembled by searching through bric-à-brac or disbinding unwanted printed books, is a valuable working tool. I freely admit to having put together a filigranoteca comprising several hundred items, mostly Tuscan paper from the Eighteenth and Nineteenth, for my own sublimely didactic purposes, as anyone who takes the course in Lyon will find out to their cost. Mind you, this is nothing compared to Peter Bower, whose collection, by his own admission, is in the order of 200,000 samples, see Looking at Paper: Evidence & Interpretation, cit., p. 12.

But, there is a difference between this modern operation, essentially conservative (or at least taken from archives that no longer exist), and some of the operations described here, which were akin to vandalism. No matter how much esteem one might have for pioneering paper scholars, often they removed, sometimes with the active connivance of librarians and archivists, blank leaves from Medieval and Renaissance volumes. Most of these bits of paper are half-sheets and therefore incomplete, while I still have to find an instance (apart from my own virtuous self), in which, where possible, the collector has sought out and arranged the collection on the basis of the twin watermarks. The nuisance is often compounded by the fact that no proper record is supplied about the date or location of the document that furnished the watermarked leaf. In general terms, to my knowledge, no in-depth census has been conducted of such collections and little is known about them. There is an additional disadvantage in the fact that, since they often consist in blank loose leaves of paper, cataloguers and librarians are at a loss about what to do with them. When I sought to track down some of the collections mentioned either by Briquet or elsewhere in the literature, in several instances I was told that the collection had no shelfmark and/or had not been properly catalogued. Random digging on my part has nevertheless assembled a sort of list, which can certainly be amplified.

Briquet himself, in the introduction to Les filigranes, mentions a number of instances, with praise for the collection formed by the Archives publiques in Bruxelles: “Le recueil … preparé en vue de l’exposition internationale de Londres, en 1872, et qui forme 6 volumes contenant les spécimens de papier usités de 1326 à 1795, est un modèle du genre” (vol. 1, pp. xiv-xv). Within the repertory, and also in the unpublished watermarks in the Geneva archive, there are numerous references to this collection. Despite inquiries on my part, its present whereabouts are not known.

The most advertised of such collections in the critical literature, comprising some 300 items from 1293 to 1600, was that assembled by bishop Aurelio Zonghi in Fabriano in the latter half of the Nineteenth century, which was exhibited in Milan in 1881. He left it to Fabriano and parts of it are now on display in the city’s paper museum. The same 300 items are described also in the subsequent catalogue of 1884, which lists 1,887 watermarks, obliging Labarre, when he reprinted the catalogues and added the tracings of the watermarks in 1953, to employ a double numbering [6e. Marches]. The watermarks belonging to the larger nucleus, which remained in possession of Augusto Zonghi, passed to his descendants in the Baravelli family. For a long time the whole collection was inaccessible to scholars: the owners made several attempts to sell the material, at an exorbitant price, which in 1951 led to the Italian state notifying the collection as not exportable. In May 2016, however, it was announced that the collection has been purchased by the Gianfranco Fedrigoni Foundation in Fabriano (for future developments, see the website of the same). A third collection, this time on a small scale, comprising 171 watermarks belonging to Andrea Gasparinetti and donated to Fabriano is the only one that has been the object of a published catalogue, see Le marche d’acqua. Il fondo di filigrane di A.F. Gasparinetti, Fabriano, Comune di Fabriano, 2001 (the initiative deserves applause, but the photographs are terrible and spoil the whole result). Digital copies of the watermarks in the smaller Zonghi collection and in the Gasparinetti collection are now available on line in the ‘Corpus chartarum Italiae’ project (see below); it is planned that the larger Zonghi collection will join them in due course.

An impressive, at least in terms of the physical scale, archive of tracings and watermarks is that assembled by the antiquarian Samuel Sotheby (1771-1842), founder of the famous auction house, and his son, Samuel Leigh Sotheby (1805-1861). The father’s research into Fifteenth-century printing and into blockbooks, which included extensive work on watermarks, was edited by the son in two pioneering publications: The Typography of the Fifteenth Century, being Specimens of the Productions of the Early Continental Printers, exemplified in a Collection of Facsimiles from One Hundred Works, together with the Water-marks, London, Thomas Rodd, 1845, and the subsequent Principia Typographica. The Block-books, or Xylographic Delineations of Scripture History, issued in Holland, Flanders and Germany, during the Fifteenth Century, Exemplified and Considered in Connexion with the Origin of Printing, to which is added an Attempt to Elucidate the Character of the Paper-marks of the Period, London, printed for the Author by W. McDowall, 1858. Donated to the Library of the British Museum, subsequently British Library, the full assemblage contains 31 volumes and boxes. Although much of the material comprises tracings, there are also many single leaves containing watermarks. Unfortunately, no in-depth study of the collection has been undertaken.

The collection assembled by Friedrich Anton Reuss (1810-1868), mentioned by Briquet (vol. 1, p. xv), is held in the manuscript department of the Universitätsbibliothek in Würzburg (no pressmark). It was acquired while Reuss worked at the library, probably in 1842, and is contained in five large boxes. As well as in Briquet (vol. 1, p. xv), it received a few fleeting mentions in the Nineteenth century, but otherwise has not been an object of study.

The Deutsche Buch- und Schrift Museum, which is an internal structure of the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek in Leipzig, now holds the collection of watermarks formerly at the Börsenverein der Deutschen Buchhändler zu Leipzig, including those of Gerard Van Hasselt and Albrecht Kirchhoff mentioned by Briquet (vol. 1, p. xv). It is made up of six boxes, the first two organised chronologically, the latter four geographically. The Museum owns further dedicated collections of paper and watermarks, which are described on the ‘Historical Paper Collection’ page of its website. 

The Istituto Centrale per il Restauro e la Conservazione del Patrimonio Archivistico e Librario (the former Istituto Centrale di Patologia del Libro, but what’s in a name?) in Rome a few years ago discovered that it owned a collection of a little over 4,000 watermarks. The precise source of the collection nor the identity of the original collector are not known, though large part of it came from the antiquarian bookseller, Pio Amori, in March 1940. They are held in 35 boxes with the grandiose title Corpus Chartarum Italicarum printed on the labels on the outside. The project seems to have dropped out of sight during the Second World War and remained so up to its recent rediscovery (confirming the old adage that the best place to hide a book is a library), see Paola F. Munafò-Viviana Elisa Nicoletti, ‘La collezione di carte filigranate dell’Istituto Centrale per la Patologia del Libro’, in Gli itinerari della carta, cit., 2010, pp. 175-184. After several attempts, in 2017, the catalogue of the collection, including very nicely executed digital images, went on line and can also be viewed through the Bernstein site. The virtual catalogue has been extended to include small collections of Zonghi and Gasparinetti at Fabriano.

In his well-known repertory of watermarks mainly from the Seventeenth and Eighteenth centuries [18], Frank Algernon Churchill frequently makes reference to items in his own personal collection. Unfortunately, it is not known whether this survives.

The Département des Estampes at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (site Richelieu) has a collection of ‘Papier – Marques de Fabriques’, assembled by former curator, Achille Devéria (1800-1857), at pressmark LI.41-4° (note that the indication provided by Gaudriault, Les filigranes, cit., p. 312, which is my source for this notice, wrongly gives the pressmark as “LI.41-petit folio” and describes it as a collection of tracings). The paper is mostly French, from the Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries, with in most cases the watermark cut out and mounted on some three hundred unnumbered sheets, some of which contain more than one mark. In general the shape of the watermark has been tipped in by pencil, which helps visibility, but also obscures the original lines. There are also a few instances of tracings and of decorated papers. Gaudriault further makes reference to collections of tracings made by two other former curators, Françoise Gardey and Maxime Préaud, but, despite inquiries on my part, it has not been possible to identify them.

The Réserve of the Département des Imprimés at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (site Tolbiac) holds 18 boxes of watermarked paper (Rés. Atlas Q-31), which were purchased at the instance of former curator and paper scholar, Anne Basanoff, in the 1990s from an anonymous source. The collection is in some disorder and has not been worked on by the library at all, apart from working notes by Basanoff kept in the boxes, which (inconveniently) are not individually numbered. Most of it consists of unwritten half-sheets, in the main French from the Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries, that have been ripped out of bound registers, without any indication of the origin or the date. So there is a great deal of duplication, though this could be helpful in identifying eventual twin watermarks.

The papermill and museum Richard de Bas [33], in the hills above Ambert, has a collection of 21 files of watermarked paper, mostly from the Eighteenth century. On request, the museum kindly furnished a copy of their handwritten inventory, containing drawings, as well as on the cover the useful annotation that “certains chercheurs indélicats ont omis d’en rendre certains” (which is a problem with many such collections).

The Bibliothèque municipale at Besançon owns two collections of watermarked paper related to production in the Franche-Compté, the first assembled by schoolteacher, Louis Borne (1872-1958), organised chronologically from 1560 to 1796, gifted to the library in 1960, and held at pressmark ms. Z 829; the second from doctor François Roland (1859-1926), organised by place of production, purchased from the family in 1970, and held at pressmark ms. Z 830. 

Another interesting example is the collection of mainly Seventeenth-century watermarks in English documents and printed items assembled by Hove bookseller E. Williams and sold to Henry Folger between 1924 and 1927. They comprise 1,058 items dated between c. 1570 and 1699, now catalogued as Folger Shakespeare Library, ms. L.f.1-1058; see the description in the library’s blog by Nadia Seiler, ‘Watermarks & hidden collections’, November 1, 2011.

Just in case anybody is interested in following it up, the Municipal archive at San Gimignano has a file with a small collection of watermarks, mainly Seventeenth and Eighteenth century, obviously put together with an intent to document the local industry (Colle Val d’Elsa is almost a next-door neighbour).

The Deutsches Museum in Munich has several important collections of paper samples, including a collection of some 15,000 items of coloured paper put together by Felix Huebel and the watermark collection of artist Ernst Kirchner (1880-1938). The latter is mentioned by Karl Theodor Weiss, Handbuch der Wasserzeichenkunde, cit., 1962, p. 311, while some specimens in the collection are described by Richard L. Hills, ‘The Importance of Laid and Chain Line Spacing’, in Le papier au Moyen Âge, cit., 1999, pp. 149-163. The holdings of the Deutsches Museum are described in a more general fashion in a brief article by Eva A. Mayring, ‘Papierhistorische Resources and Collections: the Archives of the Deutsches Museum’, IPH Paper History, n. 11 (2001), pp. 17-19.

A collection of some 7,300 samples of paper of industrial watermarks, i.e. printed with a dandyroll on a Fourdrinier machine (or something similar), has been assembled by Stefan Feyerabend and can be viewed on the website Maschinen Wasserzeichen: Sammlung Feyerabend.

A modern collection, comprising mainly some 2,000 sample books and other sorts of artists’ paper, is held by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, see Judith Walsh-Marian Peck Dirda, ‘An Introduction to the National Gallery of Art’s Paper Sample Collection’, in Looking at Paper: Evidence & Interpretation, cit., 2001, pp. 76-81. Likewise in Washington, but this time at the Library of Congress, is the study collection of Harrison G. Elliott (1879-1954), comprising some 4,500 specimens, mostly modern, but with approximately 300 early American examples. The collection also includes memorabilia and correspondence relating to Dard Hunter, who was a close friend of Elliott’s.

The National Paper Museum Trust is held by the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester and was curated for many years by Richard L. Hills. It comprises some 1,700 samples of paper, advertising, brochures, and other items relating to the trade. The catalogue of the same is not easily identified in the Museum's online database and the descriptions are decidedly skimpy.

As well as dedicated collections of watermarks, an increasingly modern phenomenon is archives of tracings and other material assembled by watermark and paper scholars. Above I have discussed (at length) the two largest and best known archive collections of tracings of watermarks, also for the scholars who created them, i.e. Briquet at Geneva and Piccard at Stuttgart. It is worth adding a third one, as yet relatively little exploited, or the The Loeber Collection of the Dutch Foundation for Paper History, housed at the Municipal Archives, Apeldoorn. As well as a huge amount of other material – 7,000 technical drawings, 15,000 photographs, etc. – gathered in forty years of travelling and research by Edo G. Loeber (1902-88), it also includes 18,000 tracings of watermarks. A microfiche catalogue was issued in 1992; it might be a good idea if this were reissued in some more up-to-date technology. A parallel collection, again on an impressive scale, is that of some 10,000 tracings left by Theo Gerardy to the Konijnklike Bibliotheek at The Hague, see Albert Elen, ‘Die Wasserzeichensammlung Dr. Ing. Theo Gerardy’, IPH-Information, n. 22 (1988), pp. 160–165.

In ‘Papiers et filigranes des Archives de Gênes 1154 à 1700’, cit., 1888, p. 28, Briquet mentions a collection of 115 tracings belonging to “M.r. Villa, antiquaire bien connu de Gênes et membre de la Société d’histoire de cette ville”. In entry n. 3912 of Les filigranes, cit., 1907, he makes reference to the same collection, which seems however to have disappeared. An inquiry to the Archivio di Stato di Genova in March 2010 obtained the reply that there is no record of it today.

Another repertory, which has remained unpublished, but which is known to codicologists and occasionally cited in the literature, for instance by Heawood in his articles in The Library [6m], is the collection of tracings from the manuscripts in the library of Canterbury Cathedral assembled by Michael Beazeley to be found in British Library, Add. Mss. 38637 and 38638 (‘Tracings of Watermarks (1322-1667) from MSS. in the Library of Canterbury Cathedral, made 17 July, 1896-24 May, 1900, by Michael Beazeley, F.R.G.S., Hon. Librarian to the Dean and Chapter’), together with four notebooks of observations made during the research held at Add. Mss. 38639-38642.

Seven files of tracings of watermarks by Edward Heawood, most of them used for his well-known book of 1950 [18], were donated in 1944 to the Bodleian Library, Oxford (Ms. Eng. misc. c. 272/1-7).

Three boxes containing the tracings made by Pierre Delaunay for his 1997 book on the watermarks of the Auvergne [6c] were gifted by him to the Bibliothèque du Patrimoine at Clermont-Ferrand.


Other Sorts of Paper and Other Uses of Paper

Paper was of course born as a wrapping material, rather than as a writing or printing surface, while over the centuries the industry has constantly recycled used documents, indiscriminately pulping books and archive records. It has also developed special kinds of paper, which in turn have generated narrowly specialist bibliographies and scholarship. This section crys out for expansion, but here are some starters.

Blue Paper. Used mostly for wrapping and packaging, but also popular with Renaissance artists, such as Vittore Carpaccio, see Wisso Weiss, ‘Blaues Papier für Druckzwecke’, Gutenberg Jahrbuch, 1959, pp. 26-35; Irene Brückle, ‘Historical Manufacture and Use of Blue Paper’, Book and Paper Group Annual, vol. 12 (1993) (available on line), and Idem, ‘The Historical Manufacture of Blue-coloured Paper’, The Paper Conservator, 17 (1993), pp. 20-31. From 1514, however, Aldus introduced the practice of printing a few copies in some print runs on blue paper, see Conor Fahy, ‘Esemplari su carta reale di edizioni aldine, 1494-1550’, cit., 2004, with an English version in ‘Royal-paper Copies of Aldine Editions, 1494–1550’, cit., 2005-06. The earliest of these editions appears to be the Libri de re rustica, dated May 1514, of which a copy in blue paper is held by the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York, see the illustration in the exhibition catalogue Aldo Manuzio. Il Rinascimento di Venezia, Venezia, Marsilio, 2016, pp. 290-291. For the two known copies on blue paper of the October 1514 Aldine Virgil, see H. George Fletcher, ‘Jean Grolier’s 1514 Aldine Virgil on Blue Paper’, in G. Scott Clemons-H. George Fletcher, Aldus Manutius. A Legacy More Lasting than Bronze, New York, The Grolier Club, pp. 27-31. The other Renaissance Venetian printer who occasionally produced copies of his editions on blue paper was Gabriele Giolito, in particular of Ariosto’s Orlando furioso in 1543 (copy at the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze) and 1553 (copy at the Houghton Library, Harvard).

Coloured Paper (see also Blue Paper). Printing on different types and colours of paper became a fad between the end of the Eighteenth and the beginning of the Nineteenth centuries, although modern cataloguing and bibliographies tend to pay little cognizance to the fact. One useful early list can be found in Thomas Hartwell Horne, An Introduction to the Study of Bibliography, to which is prefixed a Memoir on the Public Libraries of the Antients, London, for T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1814, vol. 2, Appendix II ‘Brief Notice of Works Printed on Paper of Different Colours’, pp. xiv-xx.

Cartoon Paper. The vast paper sheets used to pattern Renaissance frescoes had to be assembled from much smaller pieces and required skilled workers for the task, see Carmen Bambach, ‘The Purchases of Cartoon Paper for Leonardo’s “Battle of Anghiari” and Michelangelo’s “Battle of Cascina”’, cit., 1999, pp. 105-133.

Decorated paper. The problem here perhaps involves definition, since catalogues and other descriptions of decorated papers take as their prime source the coloured end-papers in books. In many cases the colour is acquired by marbling, brushing, sponging, or sprinkling the paper, rather than by a printing process, usually involving woodblocks, which can include gauffering or embossing. A useful trilingual guide is Susanne Krause-Julia Rinck, Bunt Papier: ein Bestimmungsbuch; Decorated Paper: a Guide Book; Sier Papier: een Gids, 2nd revised and extended edition, Stuttgart, Hauswedell, 2016 (1st edition: 2009). Otherwise the field is dominated by French writings on the subject see Marie-Ange Doizy, De la dominoterie à la marbrure: histoire des techniques traditionnelles de la décoration du papier, préface de Geneviève Guilleminot-Chrétien, Paris, Art et métiers du livre, 1996; André Jammes, Papiers dominotés: trait d’union entre l’imagerie populaire et les papiers peints (France 1750-1820), Paris, Éditions des Cendres, 2010; Marc Kopylov, Papiers dominotés français ou l’art de revêtir d’éphémères couvertures colorées livres & brochures entre 1750 et 1820, Paris, Éditions des Cendres, 2012; Idem, Papiers dominotés italiens. Un univers de couleurs, de fantaisie et d’invention, 1750-1850, Paris, Éditions des Cendres, 2012. A useful English-language round up is: Decorated Book Papers, being an Account of their Designs and Fashions, edited by Hope Mayo, 4th edition, Cambridge, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, 2007, while in Italy important studies taken from the collections of the Casanatense Library in Rome have been produced by Piccarda Quilici, see her Carte decorate nella legatoria del ’700 dalle raccolte della Biblioteca Casanatense, Roma, Istituto poligrafico e Zecca dello stato, 1988. A small catalogue for the exhibition of decorated papers in the Achille Bertarelli collection in Milano is: Le carte decorate della Raccolta Bertarelli, a cura di Alberto Milano, Elena Villani, Milano, A. Mondadori arte, 1991.

Another attractive tome, for the Musei civici in Modena, is by Michela Gani, Carte decorate, Modena, Franco Cosimo Panini, 1993. The Italian decorated paper industry was dominated by the Remondini family in Bassano, see for a general picture of the firm’s history: Infelise, I Remondini di Bassano, cit.,1990. Specifically about decorated paper, with some nice images, is the the tri-lingual tome Guziranje. Dalla Schiavonia veneta all’Ongheria con le stampe dei Remondini = z Beneškega na Ogrsko s tiskovianami Remondini = from Venetian Schiavonia to Hungary with the Remondini Prints, Stregna, Comune di Stregna-Passariano, Regione autonoma Friuli Venezia Giulia, Centro di catalogazione e restauro dei beni culturali, 2009. A large number of woodblocks and related matrices, also for printing wallpaper, are on display in the small, but engaging, Remondini museum in Bassano, just up the road from the famous bridge. Otherwise, most producers have remained anonymous, except for an instance in which a warp in the record, or the survival of the sample book of Carlo Vittorio Bertinazzi (1731-1801), has created the opportunity for the extensive study of Gianna Paola Tomasina, “All’uso di Francia” dalla moda all’industria. Carte decorate, papier peint e tessile stampato nel sec. XVIII. La bottega Bertinazzi (Bologna 1760-1896), Bologna, Pàtron, 2001. The sample book is also reproduced in Kopylov, Papiers dominotés italiens, cit., 2012.

Techniques of printing in gold were a speciality of Germany, in particular Augsburg, and are described in Christiane F. Kopylov, Papiers dorés d’Allemagne au siècle des Lumières, suivis de quelques autres papiers décorés: Bilderbogen, Kattunpapiere & Herrnhutpapiere (1680-1830), Paris, Éditions des Cendres, 2012, again, as with the other volumes in this series, splendidly illustrated.

Forgeries. Watermarks are a very good way of uncovering (or preventing) forgeries, as anybody who has tried printing their own banknotes may have discovered to their cost. But of course watermarks in their turn can be forged, mainly by professional rivals. Large quantities of paper signed “Whatman” were turned out by German, Austrian,and Italian mills at the end of the Eighteenth and beginning of the Nineteenth centuries, see Peter Bower, ‘The White Art: The Importance of Interpretation in the Analysis of Paper’, in Looking at Paper: Evidence & Interpretation, cit., 2001, pp. 5-16: 12-14. For a more forensic approach, see the same author’s ‘Beating the Forger: Case Studies in Forensic Paper Investigation’, ibid., pp. 154-170.

Large Paper. While it is well known that early printers, beginning with the Gutenberg Bible, often produced part of a run on parchment, it is less certain when the fashion of executing part of a press-run, often for dedication purposes or for copies reserved for the author, on a different sized sheet began. Not unexpectedly, the Aldine shop proved pioneering in this practice. The earliest documented instance, so far, is the 1499 Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, for which three copies have so far been recognised as being on a larger and thicker paper. For that held by the Archbishop’s Library at Udine, which also presents unusual set-offs, see Neil Harris, ‘L’Hypnerotomachia Poliphili e le contrastampe’, La Bibliofilìa, vol. 100 (1998), pp. 201-251, issued also in the volume: Anatomie bibliologiche. Saggi di storia del libro per il centenario de «La Bibliofilìa», a cura di Luigi Balsamo and Pierangelo Bellettini, Firenze, Olschki, 1999 (same paging). The other two copies are at the the Museo Poldi Pezzoli in Milan and at the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York (this last with only the first book on large paper). There are however reasons for thinking, like so much to do with the Hypneromachia Poliphili, that the episode is somewhat strange and should be considered anomalous. From a little before the death of the great Aldus himself, large-paper and blue-paper copies became a standard feature in the Aldine catalogue, see the description of the phenomenon by Conor Fahy, ‘Esemplari su carta reale di edizioni aldine, 1494-1550’, La Bibliofilìa, vol. 106 (2004), pp. 135-172, with a slightly different English version in ‘Royal-paper Copies of Aldine Editions, 1494–1550’, Studies in Bibliography, vol. 57 (2005-2006), pp. 85-113, with a list of identified copies and their distinguishing watermarks. Excepting the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, the earliest edition, so far identified, which has a separate run on large paper is the Arcadia of Jacopo Sannazaro in 1514: the same is remarkable also for having copies printed on vellum and on blue paper. The importance of the large paper copies for textual purposes in a masterpiece of Italian literature, Ariosto’s 1532 Orlando Furioso, which also has a separate run on parchment, is brilliantly explained by the same author, see: L’Orlando furioso del 1532: profilo di una edizione, Milano, Vita e pensiero, 1989, pp. 119-123.

In most cases, the identification of large-paper, as distinct from ordinary paper, copies rests on the bibliographer’s eye, experience, and judgement. Occasionally, however, archive documents reveal the existence of separate runs and sometimes even the number of copies: for instance, the 1542 Blado edition of Theophylactus in Greek (Edit16 CNCE 24534) had a print-run of 100 copies in “carta mezana”, 1,205 copies in “carta bastarda”, and four copies in parchment, see Leon Dorez, ‘Le cardinal Marcello Cervini et l’imprimerie à Rome’, Melanges d’archeologie et d’histoire, vol. 12 (1892), pp. 280-303. Although the parchment copies are known, no modern work has been done to distinguish the other paper types.

Running off a small number of copies on larger sheets sometimes led Renaissance printers to find rather unusual imposition solutions, as is shown by the occasional survival of the point-holes in otherwise unexplainable positions, see Jean-François Gilmont, ‘Une édition aldine sur grand papier: à propos de l’ancien exemplaire de Renouard d’un commentaire de Paul Manuce (1547)’, in Calames et cahiers. Mélanges de codicologie et de paléographie offerts à Leon Gilissen, sous la direction scientifique de Jacques Lemaire et Emile van Balberghe, Bruxelles, Centre d’étude des manuscrits, 1985, pp. 49-54, revised and reprinted with the title ‘Une édition de Paul Manuce sur grand papier’, in Idem, Le livre & ses secrets, Genève, Librairie Droz; Louvain-la-Neuve, Université catholique de Louvain, Faculté de Philolsophie et Lettres, 2003, pp. 140-150.

In the late Seventeenth and Eighteenth centuries, different paper sheet-sizes or qualities are sometimes signified in printed books, in which the distinction is advertised by including an asterisk or a dagger in the direction line of the first recto of each sheet, see Brian McMullin, ‘Paper-quality Marks and the Oxford Bible Press 1682-1717’, The Library, s. VI, vol. 6 (1984), pp. 39-49; Wallace Kirsop, ‘Paper-quality Marks in Eighteenth-century France’, in An Index of Civilisation. Studies of Printing and Publishing History in honour of Keith Maslen, edited by R. Harvey, W. Kirsop and Brian J. McMullin, Melbourne, Centre for Bibliographical and Textual Studies, Monash University, 1993, pp. 55-66. Pioneering bibliographers of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries were also much better than nowadays at noticing a different support on large paper, so it is worth keeping an eye on their writings.

Marbled Paper (see also Decorated Paper). Like many other things mentioned here, the art of marbling paper was first discovered in China, spread to the Arab world, and eventually reached Europe. True marbled paper involves capturing the pattern created by a resinous gum on the surface of a vat of water, but in modern times industrial reproductions abound. See Marie-Ange Doizy-Stéphane Ipert, Le papier marbré: son histoire et sa fabrication, Paris, Éditions Technorama, 1985; Richard James Wolfe, Marbled Paper: its History, Techniques and Patterns, with Special Reference to the Relationship of Marbling to Bookbinding in Europe and the Western World, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1990.

Packaging and Wrapping. According to Dard Hunter, the oldest testimony of paper used for packaging purposes goes back to the Cairo market in 1036. A good, non-specialist summary is Diana Twede, ‘The Origins of Paper-based Packaging’, Conference on Historical Analysis & Research in Marketing Proceedings, vol. 12 (2005), pp. 288–300 (available on-line). Every time one strips the wrapping off a ream of A4, it goes into the bin by the photocopying machine. But reflect. In five centuries time that wrapping will be a rare and precious historical object. Wrappings from reams of paper are recorded from the late Sixteenth century: some examples are reproduced in Churchill, Watermarks in Paper, cit.; a total of 52 items, covering the period 1570-1864, are listed in Tschudin, The Ancient Paper-mills of Basle and their Marks, cit., 1958; eight more are reproduced in Lindt, The Paper-mills of Berne, cit., plates 1-8; while a couple of Milanese examples held at the John M. Wing Foundation in Chicago are described in Stevens-Gehl, ‘Giovanni Battista Bossi and the Paper Trade in Late Sixteenth-Century Milan’, cit., 1994. Not easy to find, but with lots of attractive illustrations, is Henk Voorn, Old Ream Wrappers. An Essay on Early Ream Wrappers of Antiquarian Interest, North Hills, Bird & Bull Press, 1969. And just in case you wanted a completely different sort of wrapping, have you ever thought about the bits of paper around oranges and lemons in the fruit shop or in the market? They have a long history, see Antonino Buttitta, Salvatore Lupo, Sergio Troisi, From Palermo to America. L'iconografia commerciale dei limoni di Sicilia, Palermo, Sellerio. 2007. They come no juicier!

Papercuts. The more trivial the theme, the more serious the book! Felicitas Oehler, Querschnitt. Schweizer Scherenschnitte aus fünf Jahrhunderten, Berne-Stuttgart, Haupt, 2013, available also in a French translation: L’Art du papier découpé. Cinq siècles d’histoire, Lausanne, Ides et Calendes, 2013, albeit only dealing with Switzerland, is authoritative and comprehensive. And some of the material illustrated is quite remarkable!

Stationery. Geeky and passionate is James Ward, Adventures in Stationery. A Journey through your Pencil Case, London, Profile Books, 2014.

Wallpaper. Wallpaper can be handpainted, washed with a colour, or printed or stencilled. Young ladies who stuck the equivalent of Donny Osmond posters to the wall of the house goes back to the Renaissance and accounts for the poor survival of many pre-Gutenberg prints. The industry was revolutionised at the beginning of the Nineteenth century by the invention of the Fourdrinier machine, which allowed wallpaper to be fabricated on long rolls. For a general history, a useful introduction is Alan Victor Sugden-John Ludlam Edmondson, A History of English Wallpaper, 1509-1914, London, B.T. Batsford, 1926; otherwise the literature is inevitably vast. One highly recommended source is the website of the Musée du Papier Peint in Rixheim.


Paper History and Paper Museums

Just throwing the terms “paper” and “museum” into Google will throw up some intriguing results. As has happened with the printing industry, the rapid disappearance of long-standing manufacturing procedures has led people to try and save the memory of the same by establishing specialist museums or maintaining old factories in their former condition. From this point of view paper has the disadvantage that former mills were generally sited out of town, sometimes in very remote spots indeed (as in Richard De Bas), and thus can be reached only through a long car or coach ride. Some of the smaller structures have a somewhat virtual existence and therefore the precise state of affairs should be checked with a telephone call or pre-booking before undertaking a long journey. In other cases, most notably Fabriano, a town with a papermaking tradition has created a facility in a building that has nothing to do with paper, but which is at least conveniently placed (the museum, not Fabriano itself, which is in the middle of nowhere).

Modern paper factories, sometimes on the site of a much older mill, occasionally have a historical section and can be visited, though usually booking has to be made well in advance and is only available to groups. A list of these can be found on the website; in more general terms a list of paper collections and museums, including contact details, can be found on the well-maintained site of the Association of International Paper Historians (which is excellent in this respect and to which I defer). On the other hand, the IPH tends to ignore the fact that sections dedicated to paper feature often in printing museums, such as the Gutenberg Museum at Mainz, which dedicates a whole room to the history of paper, or in museums dedicated more generally to the history of science and technology. Major libraries with museum sections for visitors also tend to have items dedicated to paper and the history of paper.

Are paper museums worth visiting? Generally, yes, though what one gets told should be treated cum grano salis. Do-it-yourself papermaking at the vat, which some of them offer as an experience, generally employs a porridge-like pulp which makes it easier for a tourist to get a whole sheet out and onto the felt; also these displays rarely employ two moulds in tandem.

In terms of priority, not only for the scale of the operation, but also as centres for documentation and research, the three best destinations are Basel, Capellades, and Fabriano, but many of the smaller set-ups are in exquisitely beautiful locations. In this listing, I restrict the indication to paper museums or mills pure and simple, or at least those centres where the paper element seems dominant. I should add that I have managed to visit relatively few of these museums, although most of them have websites that provide further information and allow you to decide whether they are worth seeing or not.


Steyrermühl, Österreicheische Papiermacher Museum. A bit far from everywhere, but in a beautiful bit of Austria. Displays papermaking at the vat; also has sections dedicated to printing and the history of the local fire brigade.


Alsemberg, Herisem Paper Mill. Former paper mill going back to 1536, later a cardboard factory, not too far from Bruxelles.

Malmedy, Musée National du Papier. Small town on the edge of the Ardennes. Not much on the website, but the gastronomy is probably good.


Velke Losiny, Paper Mill. Apparently the only structure of its kind in Eastern Europe. The mill goes back to 1591, while the museum was founded in 1987. Offers papermaking at the vat and has a museum section.


Quite a few ongoing paper mills have museum sections and can be visited, usually by booking in advance.

Jaala, Verla Groundwood and Board Mill. Industrial structure, transformed into a museum in 1972 and placed on the Unesco World Heritage List in 1996.


The various mills that maintain hand papermaking are concentrated in the South and South-West and need a car.

Ambert, Richard de Bas. Really in the hills above Ambert, the only survivor of the once impressive Auvergne paper industry, activity on the site goes back to the Fourteenth century and the building has conserved its original stamping mill. Papermaking at the vat is demonstrated, though visitors do not get to try their hand. Good website and well worth a visit; also boasts a large shop with paper-related souvenirs, which should keep the family happy.

Angoulême, Musée du Papier d’Angoulême. Definitely the largest and most impressive French set-up. Founded in 1988, the museum is in an industrial complex, which was formerly a paper-making mill, subsequently transformed into a factory specialised in making cigarette papers. As well as providing many insights into the history of industrial papermaking, it has its own publication and exhibition programme.

Annonay, Musée des Papeteries Canson & Montgolfier. Two great names of the papermaking tradition. The museum, however, has had a somewhat chequered existence, so verify opening times and what is available before going.

Couze, Moulin de Larroque. The only survivor of a traditional paper-making area.

Esquerdes (Saint-Omer), Maison du Papier.

Fontaine de Vaucluse (Avignon), Moulin Vallis Clausa. Traditional paper mill on the river Sorgue, attached to a working factory, restored and reopened in 1973, with a large shop. See website.

Nersac (Charente, not too far from Angoulême), Moulin de Fleurac. Former wheat mill transformed into the reconstruction of a traditional paper mill.

Paris. The Musée des Arts et Métiers has a section dedicated to the history of papermaking with some interesting scale models.

Puymoyen (Angoulême), Moulin du Verger. Activity on the site goes back to the Sixteenth century, but the present-day mill – created by Jacques Brejoux – has a modern set of imitation Medieval stampers. From 2007 it has organized practical paper-making courses held in September.

Rixheim (outskirts of Mulhouse), Musée du Papier Peint. The museum, opened in 1983, is in the building of a former wallpaper factory established at the end of the Eighteenth century. Not about paper in the strictest sense of the term, but still a fascinating collection with frequent temporary exhibitions, and an inviting website.


Düren, Papiermuseum. Part of the larger Leopold Hoesch Museum and opened in 1990. Has a new building, but no real website at the time of writing.

Mainz, Gutenberg Museum. Albeit dedicated principally to the history of printing, a significant section describes the history of paper.


Amalfi, Museo della Carta. The tradition of paper-making in Amalfi goes back to the very beginnings of the industry in the West. The last mill there closed in 1969, but through the obstinacy of Nicola Milano was transformed into the present-day museum. It is small, but in one of the most beautiful places in Italy. Worth a visit, and don’t forget to sample the limoncello.

Fabriano, Museo della Carta e della Filigrana, established in 1984. Together with Basel, this museum is among the largest and most impressive of its kind and is well worth a visit. The website, which has photographs of city employees dressed in Medieval costume making paper, is also worth exploration. Much more recent is the archive and museum of the Miliani papermill, slightly out of centre on the South-west side of the city: the factory has recovered and restored a lot of its disused machinery, including its original stamping mills, and has a huge collection of papermaking moulds on display (visitable only by appointment).

Mele, Il Museo della Carta di Mele. Founded in 1997 in a former papermill, 30 minutes from the centre of Genoa. It is a small set-up, which has had a somewhat erratic existence, but now seems to be on a more stable footing. The surrounding scenery is absolutely beautiful.

Pescia, Museo della Carta. Actually at Pietrabuona, some miles up the valley from Pescia, this small museum is in a former paper mill. Activities are fairly limited.

Toscolano. The Museo della Carta di Toscolano Maderno was founded in 2007 and is housed in a former papermill in the hauntingly beautiful Valle delle cartiere. Though the set-up is small, and has few genuinely original items, it has a Fourdrinier machine and a nice section on the history of printing. Also, leave yourself time for a long, reflective walk.

Valstagna, Museo delle cartiere di Oliero. Once rented by the Remondini family in nearby Bassano; also possible to visit the caves just round the corner.


Mino, near Nagoya in central Japan, the Mino Washi Paper Museum (Japanese Paper Museum).

Tokyo, The Paper Museum, Asakayuma Park, Tokyo. Founded sixty years ago, obviously with an emphasis on Oriental techniques, but also in possession of an impressive library.


Capellades, Museu Moli Paperer. Some 60 south-west of Barcellona, the former Eighteenth-century paper-mill is now part of a larger museum dedicated to the history of science and technology. The complex still has a working water wheel and stampers.


Basel, Schweizerisches Papiermuseum. Sited in a former papermill on the bank of the Rhine, this museum is a must for anyone interested in paper-history, also for tradition of Tschudin scholarship it represents. For an introduction, see Peter Tschudin, Basler Papiermühle. Schweizerisches Museum für Papier, Schrift und Druck, Basel, Basler Papiermühle, 2002.

United Kingdom.

Frogmore Paper Mill, Apsley, Hemel Hempstead. Famous as the first place to have installed a working Fourdrinier machine, thus the address in Fourdrinier Way. Still a working mill with a no-longer-active 1895 Fourdrinier machine and a well-conceived visitor centre. Allows visitors to try their hand at making paper at the vat.

Maidstone, Kent. No longer a paper mill after its closure in 1976, and not even a museum, but the site of Whatman’s Turkey Mill still stands at a ten-minute walk from the centre of Maidstone, as a part of an industrial complex that also organises receptions, meetings and even weddings. See website at

United States.

Atlanta, Georgia Tech, Robert C. Williams Paper Museum, which includes as a (large) part of its holdings the Dard Hunter collection of instruments, samples and books about the history of paper and papermaking. Also Margaret Mitchell’s house is only a block or so away (“Tomorrow is another day”, even for scholars of watermarks).

Brookline, Massachussetts. International Paper Museum at the Carriage House. The collections and tools of Elaine and Donna Koretsky. Opening times are fairly restricted.

Chillicote, Ohio. The Mountain House and the Dard Hunter Studios are still running and can be visited.


Learned Societies and Associations

Paper studies always suffer from the handicap that, unless somebody actually gets into the archive or wherever, in order to measure sheet-sizes and classify watermarks, what is produced is of little worth. Apart from the great exceptions of Briquet and Stevenson, both of whom were exceptionally mobile, the best work has been done by scholars working on a local basis, trawling through the contents of archives or libraries in a more restricted area, of which the most celebrated example is Piccard. In other words it’s the individual that counts.

Nevertheless, a good deal has been achieved by free, and freewheeling, associations of scholars with a common interest in paper who meet to talk (and eat and drink). The International Association of Paper Historians (IPH), albeit with ups and downs, has proved particularly effective in bringing people together and its conferences are well worth attending (although they do require one to be rigorously polyglot, but, as such events go, the sheer variety of participants makes them infinitely less boring than most academic conventions). It also coordinates a number of national associations, about which more information can be found on their website.

Among the latter the British Association of Paper Historians has been particularly active and publishes its own attractive and highly recommended journal, The Quarterly. Almost a hundred numbers have so far been produced from 1989 to 2016, with a penchant for recovering engaging snippets of historical information. For a full contents list, see the website.

Not exactly a learned association, since it was really a publishing enterprise, but of extraordinary importance in the history of paper studies was the Paper Publications Society. Founded by Émile Joseph Labarre (1883-1965), its best-known series, the Monumenta chartae papyraceae historiam illustrantia, even in the era of internet has a stable place on rare-book room shelves and without it … well, no Zonghi, no Heawood, no Jubilee edition of Briquet. Paper studies would be back in the dark ages! In particular the collaboration of the Oxford Slavonic scholar, John Simon Gabriel Simmons (1915-2005), was instrumental in obtaining the translation of works in Russian and other Eastern European languages, most importantly the books of Vladimir Mošin, which were published in the series. On its history, intimately woven up with the life of its founder, see Bé J. van Ginneken van de Kasteele, ‘A History of the Paper Publications Society (Labarre Foundation)’, in IPH-Yearbook, vol. 4, (1983-84) pp. 207–228, and on the figure of Labarre: J.S.G. Simmons, Émile Joseph Labarre, 1883–1965, Hilversum, The Paper Publications Society, 1965; Richard L. Hills, ‘É. J. Labarre, 8 December 1883-10 June 1965’, in IPH-Information, n. 17 (1983), pp. 134–135.


The World-wide Web (If you can find it)

The WWW is of course paper’s main competitor and intended replacement. And so it is dangerous for paper historians to venture therein, given the ambiguity of certain items of terminology. I was delighted, not so long ago, to find on one authoritative website dedicated to paper studies (I’ll be nice for once, and won’t name it), in the bibliography section, the description of a “Robust 3D DFT video watermarking”, which sounds interesting, except that when one looks at the contents relating to “Security and Watermarking of Multimedia Contents”, well, it ain’t about paper at all, not by the remotest stretch of the imagination.

Of course one can dream of roaming through an electronic universe populated by gorgeous genuine watermarks, but in the present state of affairs the situation is unsatisfactory. Websites dedicated to paper and to watermarks mushroom at an alarming rate and, as is the rule of the net, connect up (and also disappear without the slightest warning). But attempts to harness them to some serious purpose come with a word of warning.

For the most part watermark catalogues and electronic resources do not always marry together. The very high-quality images and the rigorous cataloguing procedures that should be the basis of any such project act as a deterrent, while the knowledge of the secondary bibliography in many cases appears limited to Briquet, not always cited correctly, and a few other randomly selected items. It is perhaps unfair to pick out one instance, when there are so many others crying out to be slated, but it is a nice project, with enormous potential, which has failed to grasp the issue. Take a look, therefore, at the website of the Archives Municipales in Toulouse [link to: <www.archives.mairie-toulouse, archives-en-ligne, les filigranes anciens>]. The digital images are very pretty, but that is about all that can be said. Otherwise some promising initial work needs to be backed up by fuller technical information, i.e. sheet-size, identification of the twin watermark (which in an archive of this sort must always be possible), felt or mould-side recognition, and whether the watermark is located in the left or right-hand side of the mould. A quick glance at the online Briquet shows 178 entries from Toulouse, apparently almost all from the Archives Municipales. Briquet did not live in a parallel universe; he looked at the same documents we still have. Why not do something about those?

However, to every bad general rule, there is a wonderful exception. In this particular case it is the Watermarks in Incunabula printed in the Low Countries project conceived and transformed into electronic substance by Gerard van Thienen (1939-2015), on whose personality and achievements see Paul Needham, ‘IDL, ILC, WILC: Gerard van Thienen’s Contributions to the Study of Incunabula’, Quaerendo, vol. 36 (2006), pp. 3-24. This resource might have been missed by many scholars interested in paper and watermarks, since the idea of learning about Dutch Fifteenth-century printed books is quite understandably greeted with underwhelming enthusiasm. The site is hosted by the Koninklijke Bibliotheek, The Hague, and provides in real terms perhaps the biggest single step forward since Briquet. It is exemplary not only for the quality of its images (many of them obtained by electron radiography), but also for the bibliographical work preceding the same, i.e. the images are taken from the mould side, we are told whether they are ‘left’ or ‘right’, and twin marks are regularly identified. So worth a visit, even if you don’t like Dutch books (or mayonnaise on your chips).

Other web sites? Well, the list could be endless, but I am going to limit myself to a few suggestions, after which you are free to fend for yourself.

First, in terms of its ability to interact with the user, the site of the International Association of Paper Historians is chatty and friendly (see [34]). It has a questions and answers page, where help can be sought about weird problems concerning paper, that get sensible answers, or sometimes weird answers, and it provides ample information about recent publications and ongoing events in the world of paper studies, including its important annual congress. It also acts as a jumping-off point for the several national associations, where the amount of activity and the quality of the websites are very variable, but all certainly worth looking at. I particularly recommend that of the British Association of Paper Historians (BAPH), which has a lot of interesting material, as well as the index of its journal, The Quarterly.

Second, is the site of the Bernstein ‘Memory of Paper’ consortium (‘Bernstein’ is not a name, but the German term for ‘amber’, or an allusion to the capacity of paper to conserve information in time. Nice idea, but googling the project invariably throws up Leonard Bernstein of West Side Story fame). This impressive, mainly German and Dutch, project involves nine partners, i.e. the Austrian Academy of Sciences as lead partner, together with the Archives of the State of Baden-Württemberg in Stuttgart (for the Piccard archive); the Graz University of Technology; the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique, University of Paris I (for the online Briquet project); the Deutsche Bucherei in Leipzig (for the secondary bibliography on the history of paper); the Dutch University Institute for Art History in Florence (for research on artists’ papers); the Delft University of Technology; the Koninklijke Bibliotheek in The Hague (for the paper in Dutch incunabula project described above); and the University of Liverpool. As ever in European research projects in the humanities, these various bodies make strange bedfellows, and some omissions are regrettable, such as the absence of significant Italian or Spanish partners. Although a huge amount of material is available, the database has to be examined with care, since there are considerable differences in the way the material is being collected and presented. Just to give two examples: Stuttgart has put on line the enormous archive of tracings collected by Gerhard Piccard, while The Hague, as has just been mentioned, is applying electron radiography to the charting of watermarks in Dutch incunabula, so methods and the quality of those methods are in contrast. These defects are to some extent inevitable, since the watermark search-engine acts as a meta-opac, which, with a sophisticated software, interrogates numerous databases, not all of them directly involved in the project. In 2009 I remarked that “since the prosecution of the project depends on EEC funding, at the time of writing activity seems to be in abeyance”; checking the site ab initio in 2016, the impression that there has been little activity seems confirmed: for example, the bibliography of the secondary literature has not been updated in the last six years (see [0] above). An inquiry to the project manager received a courteous reply that the project is still ongoing, in particular in adding new watermark sites to its portal, and that the partners meet on a biannual basis, most recently in 2016. The conference papers and presentations published on the site are worth a browse, though, as ever, it is difficult to find any reference to the fact that watermarks are twins.

An important, and praiseworthy, feature of the Bernstein project is the way in which it has sought to reach a wider, less specialist public with an attractive travelling exhibition (with visits between 2006 and 2014 to Stuttgart, Vienna, Fabriano, Rome, Milan, Turin, Bergish Gladbach, Vercelli, Varallo, Horn, Baden bei Wien, and Steyrermühl). The enterprise has also given rise to a catalogue Ochsenkopf und Meerjungfrau. Wasserzeichen des Mittelalters, edited by Peter Rückert, Stuttgart, Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg, Hauptstaatsarchiv, 2006 (72 p.), updated with a new version in 2009 (128 p.). This first edition was followed by a second in Italian in 2007: Testa di bue e sirena. La memoria della carta e delle filigrane dal Medioevo al Seicento, Stuttgart 2007 (96 p.); by a third in English in 2009: Bull’s Head and Mermaid. The History of Paper and Watermarks from the Middle Ages to the Modern Period, Stuttgart and Vienna 2009 (128 p.); and by a fourth in Spanish: Cabeza de buey y sirena. La historia del papel y las filigranas desde el Medievo hasta la Modernidad, Stuttgart-Valencia-Vienna, The Bernstein Project, 2011 (165 p.). As the number of pages shows, the work has almost tripled in size in its jaunts around Europe. The Turin stage in the spring of 2009 gave rise to a spin-off version of the Italian catalogue, with the title Cartiere e filigrane piemontesi; prospettive di ricerca (38 p.), available in pdf. on the Bernstein website. Above all as an introduction to the study of paper and watermarks, these beautifully illustrated friendly volumes come highly recommended. One useful feature of the more recent versions is potted biographies of eminent scholars of paper and watermarks. In the Spanish edition, these are: Carlos Antonio de Laserna Santander, Vinzenz Franz Werl, Manuel Rico y Sinobas, Aurelio Zonghi, Friedrich Keinz, Charles-Moïse Briquet, Francisco Bofarull y Sanz, Nikolai Petrovich Likhachev, William Algernon Churchill-Edward Heawood, Karl Theodor Weiß, Wisso Weiß, Theo Gerardy, Gerhard Piccard, Gonzalo Gayoso Carreira, Oriol Valls y Subirá, Gerard van Thienen, Alois Haidinger. Of course this list is rather incomplete, lacking Philip Gaskell, Andrea F. Gasparinetti, Dard Hunter, Jean Irigoin, Émile Labarre, Allan Stevenson … to name but a few. However, watermark studies are so dispersive that it is a good start. Having praised the catalogue, its defects should be noted: there are glaring discrepancies in the various approaches and the essays are very variable in quality: most troublingly, to my mind, the text contains only fleeting references to the fact that watermarks are twins (is this an enduring criticism on my part?).

Third on my list, for the quality of the first-hand research involved, as well as the extremely helpful didactic approach, including several links to videos [36], some dating back in time, showing paper being made at the vat, is the website at the University of Iowa: ‘Paper through Time. Nondestructive Analysis of 14th- through 19th-Century Papers’, where the principal investigator is Timothy Barrett, see <http ://>. Although the approach is formidably technical, the project wears its learning lightly.

Fourth, and truly last, if you have an idle moment, have a look at “Carta a mano nelle Ande Onlus”, founded in 2008 at Chimbote in Peru, whose story is told in a book by Angelo Moncini, La cartiera nel deserto, Como, Progetto Chimbote-Carta a mano nelle Ande Onlus, 2010, and reprints. Nice photos, a wonderful story, and a deserving cause.


Films, Videos, and Youtube

Plenty of films, videos, and other items showing the papermaking process have been made over the years, some with a serious academic purpose, also with the desire to document a dying process; others for fun, and yet others to promote paper museums and paper-related tourism. Some have been thrown into Youtube, and thus usefully link up with each other (it is just a matter of finding the right vein). So, here, in approximate order of antiquity, are some of the more professionally produced and historically important items I know about.

● ‘Nella città dei maestri cartai di Fabriano’. A film documentary made for Italian state television (RAI) in 1958 by Armando Pizza and Adriano Maestrelli, showing papermaking in the Miliani factory in Fabriano. What is remarkable is that it shows the traditional stampers and work at the vat. The first Youtube upload also has input from Fabriano identifying the people who appear in the video. Uploaded 2 September 2012; 35 minutes.; or, with English subtitles: <>

● ‘Papermaking at Hayle Mill, England, in 1976’. Recovers a film made for Anglia TV, as part of a series entitled Bygones, showing the Barcham Green papermaking factory in Maidstone, Kent, the last in England, which has since closed. An exceptionally interesting document, also for the 1976 haircuts and the polyester shirts with wide collars. Uploaded 5 January 2011; 15 minutes.

● ‘Fabriano antica capitale europea della carta’, a cura di Giancarlo Castagnari; fotografia e montaggio di Angelo Rossi, 1994. Touristy, but nicely turned out video, in Italian, produced at the time to promote the city’s new Museo della carta e della filigrana, and published as a VHS. Uploaded 6 September 2012; 30 mins.

● Marco Haage, ‘Il genio nella carta’. Short film, made for the Italian state television (RAI), in about 2005, and published at the time as a DVD containing also a short booklet. It describes the basic process of papermaking, filmed at the Museo della carta e della filigrana in Fabriano. Uploaded 12 September 2007; 17 minutes.

● ‘La carta ritrovata’ by Marco Ciomei. Film made in Italian in 2006 in the ruined papermills of Villa Basilica, near Pescia in Tuscany, with the testimonies of the former employees. Uploaded 5 December 2015; 25 minutes.

● ‘How Paper is Made’. Nicely confectioned video showing Oriental-style papermaking with interesting footage of Elaine and Donna Koretsky of Carriage House Paper, as well as of the Jang Paper Mill in South Korea. Made in 2011; uploaded 24 March 2015; 20 minutes.

● ‘Fare la carta a Mele. Papè pestou’. Promotional video in Italian for the Museo della carta at Aquasanta, near Genoa, founded in a former paper mill in 1997. Uploaded 23 July 2011; 8 minutes.

● Ray Tomasso, ‘Papermaking and the History of Paper’. Well-produced academic video, a bit slow-paced at times, made for the Colorado University at Boulder Libraries. Published 28 November 2011; 57 minutes.

● ‘Traditional Papermaking Process’. Short video showing papermaking at the Richard de Bas mill in the hills above Ambert in France. Uploaded 25 May 2012; 2 minutes.

● Stephen Mann, ‘Introduction to Papermaking. History of Papermaking’. Rather academic lecture on the papermaking process and its history, possibly a bit short of pretty pictures. Uploaded 14 July 2012; 20 minutes.

● Avi Michael, ‘Chancery Papermaking’. Shows the papermaking activity at the University of Iowa’s Center for the Book directed by Timothy Barrett (the one with the gray hair). Serious demonstration of the proper use of twin moulds at the vat. Uploaded 28 May 2013; 12 minutes.

● ‘Archivio Storico Cartiere Miliani. Il racconto’. Film made in Italian in 2014, by the local independent television company Marche TV, to promote the newly created Fondazione Gianfranco Fedrigoni Istocarta, consisting in a lengthy interview with curator, Livia Faggioni. 27 minutes.

And that is that.


(About time too … )