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The Story of Paper-making An account of paper-making from its earliest known record down to the present time

The Story of Paper-making
An account of paper-making from its earliest known record
down to the present time
Title: The Story of Paper-making An account of paper-making from its earliest known record down to the present time
Release Date: 2018-11-21
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
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Transcriber’s Note

In formats of this eBook that cannot display them in the margin,Sidenotes are indicated by diamonds: ♦text♦, either preceding theirparagraphs or within them.







January, 1901




I. Articles Supplanted by Paper 1
II. Papyrus and Parchment 12
III. Origin and Early History of Paper 20
IV. Early Methods of Paper-Making 49
V. Modern Paper-Making 55
VI. Water-Marks and Varieties of Paper 95
VII. Extent of the Business in the United States 123



It is a rare privilege to stand as we do at themeeting-point of the centuries, bidding a reluctantfarewell to the old, while simultaneously we cry“All hail!” to the new; first looking back overthe open book of the past, then straining eagereyes for a glimpse of the mysteries that the futureholds hidden, and which are to be revealed onlymoment by moment, hour by hour, and day byday.

The nineteenth century, so preëminently oneof progress in almost every line of mental andmaterial activity, has witnessed a marvelous growthin the paper industry. It was in the early yearsof the century that crude old methods, with theirmeager machinery, began yielding to the pressureof advanced thought, and the development sincehas kept full pace with the flying years. Thehundred years that have written the modern historyof paper-making mark also the period duringwhich the J. W. Butler Paper Company, or itsimmediate predecessors, have been associated withviiithe industry in this country. It has thereforeseemed to the present representatives of the companythat the closing year of the century was anespecially fitting time to put into story form thehistory of the wonderful and valuable productevolved almost wholly from seemingly uselessmaterials, and they consider it their privilege, aswell as the fulfillment of a pleasant obligation, topresent this account to their friends and associatesin the paper, printing, and auxiliary trades. We

“Know not what the future hath
Of marvel and surprise,”

but we feel confident that the incoming centurywill bring changes and improvements as wonderfulas any the past has wrought, and we hope that itmay be our good fortune to in some measure beinstrumental in promoting whatever tends to agreater development of the industry with whichour name has been so long associated.

J. W. Butler Paper Company.



Full of dignity, significance, and truth is thenoble conception which finds expression in Tennyson’sverse, that we are the heirs of the ages, theinheritors of all that has gone before us.

We are the heirs of the ages

Through countless cycles of time men havebeen struggling and aspiring; now “mounting upwith wings, as eagles,” now thrown back to earthby the crushing weight of defeat, but always risingagain, undaunted and determined. “The fathershave wrought, and we have entered into the rewardof their labors.” We have profited by theirstriving and aspiration. All the wisdom of thepast, garnered by patient toil and effort, all thewealth of experience gained by generations ofmen through alternating defeat and triumph,belongs to us by right of inheritance. It hasbeen truly said, “We are what the past has madeus. The results of the past are ourselves.”

Tradition untrustworthy

But to what agency do we owe the preservationof our inheritance? What conservator has2kept our rich estate from being scattered to thefour winds of heaven? For the wealth that isours to-day we are indebted in large measure toman’s instinctive desire, manifested in all ages,to perpetuate his knowledge and achievements.Before the thought of a permanent record hadbegun to take shape in men’s minds, oral tradition,passing from father to son, and fromgeneration to generation, sought to keep alive thememory of great achievements and valorousdeeds. But tradition proved itself untrustworthy.Reports were often imperfect, misleading, exaggerated.Through dull ears, the spoken wordswere received into minds beclouded by ignorance,and passed on into the keeping of treacherousmemories. As the races advanced in learning andcivilization, they realized that something morepermanent and accurate was necessary; that withoutwritten records of some sort there could belittle, if any, progress, since each generation mustbegin practically where the preceding one hadbegun, and pass through the same stages of ignoranceand inexperience.

Hieroglyphic records

In this strait, men sought help from Nature,and found in the huge rocks and bowlders shapedby her mighty forces a means of perpetuating3notable events in the histories of nations and thelives of individuals. From the setting up ofstones to commemorate great deeds and solemncovenants, it was but a step to the hewing of obelisks,upon which the early races carved theirhieroglyphs, rude pictures of birds and men, ofbeasts and plants. As early as four thousandyears before Christ, these slender shafts of stonewere reared against the deep blue of the Egyptiansky, and for ages their shadows passed withthe sun over the restless, shifting sands of thedesert. Most of the ancient obelisks havecrumbled to dust beneath Time’s unsparing hand,but a few fragmentary specimens are still inexistence, while the British Museum is so fortunateas to be in possession of one shaft of blackbasalt that is in perfect condition. A part of itis covered with writing, a part with bas-reliefs. InEgypt these hieroglyphs were employed almostexclusively for religious writings—a purpose suggestedby the derivation of the word itself, whichcomes from the Greek, ieros, a priest, and glypha,a carving.

Inscriptions on stone and clay

As the obelisk had taken the place of the rudestones and unwieldy bowlders which markedman’s first effort to solve an ever-recurring problem,4so it in turn was superseded. The templeswere sacred places, and especially fitted to becomethe repositories of the records that were to preservefor coming generations the deeds of kingsand priests. Accordingly, the pictured stories ofgreat events were graven on stone panels in thetemple walls, or on slabs or tablets of the sameenduring material. Then came a forward step tothe easier and cheaper method of writing on softclay. The monarchs, not being obliged to takeinto consideration questions of ease or economy,continued to make use of the stone tablets, butprivate individuals usually employed clay, notonly for literary and scientific writings, but in theirbusiness transactions as well. A careful baking,either by artificial heat or in the burning rays ofa tropic sun, rendered the clay tablets very enduring,so that many which have been dug fromancient ruins are now in a remarkable state ofpreservation, bearing letters and figures as clear asany of the inscriptions on marble, stone, or metalthat have come to us from the splendid daysof Greece or Rome. The people of Assyriaand Chaldea recorded almost every transaction,whether public or private in character, upon tabletsof clay, forming thus a faithful transcript of5their daily lives and occupations, which may beread to-day by those who hold the key; thusit is we bridge the gulf of centuries. Fromthe ruins of ancient Nineveh and Babylon,records of almost every sort have been unearthed,all inscribed on indestructible terra-cotta. Thereare bank-notes and notes of hand, deeds of property,public records, statements of private negotiations,and memoranda of astronomical observations.The life in which they played a part haspassed into history; the once proud and mightycities lie prostrate, and upon their ruins othercities have risen, only to fall as they fell. Theterra-cotta to which they committed their recordsis all that is left, and the tablets that were fashionedand inscribed so long ago give to us thebest histories of Chaldea, Babylonia, and Assyria.

Assyrian, Babylonian and Chaldean records

One of the largest collections of these clay-writingsis now in the British Museum and wastaken from a great edifice in Assyria, which wasprobably the residence of Sennacherib. Severalseries of narratives are comprehended in the collection;one referring to the language, legends, andmythology of the Assyrians; another recording thestory of creation, in which “Water-deep” is saidto be the creator of all forms of life then in existence,6while a third relates to the deluge and thestory of the Assyrian Moses. But however interestingthese facts may be in themselves, werefer to them only by way of illustration, sincewe are dealing not so much with the writing itselfas with the material on which writing was done.

Inscriptions on prisms

Another form of tablet, a somewhat singularvariation it may seem, was in use among theAssyrians at a very early date. This was a prism,having either six or eight sides, and made of exceedinglyfine terra-cotta. Such prisms were frequentlydeposited by the Assyrian kings at thecorners of temples, after having been inscribedwith accounts of the notable events in their lives,interspersed with numerous invocations. Apparentlythe custom was similar to that followed atthe present day, and the ancient Assyrian tabletsno doubt served the same purpose as the records,newspapers, and documents that are now depositedin the corner-stones of public or otherimportant buildings. The prisms used as tabletsvaried in length from a foot and a half tothree feet, and were covered very closely withsmall writing. That the writers’ endeavor was tomake the most of the space at their disposal issuggested by the fact that upon a prism found in7the ruins of the ancient city of Ashur the inscriptionsare so crowded that there are thirty lines inthe space of six inches, or five lines to the inch.The prism recites the valiant deeds of Tiglath-PileserI., who reigned from 1120 to 1100 B. C.,and undertook campaigns against forty-two othernations and their kings. He was a monarchwhose very name inspired terror among the surroundingpeoples, and his reign was filled withstirring events and brilliant achievements.Economy of spaceSmallwonder that it was necessary to crowd the inscriptionsupon the prism! Rawlinson’s “AncientMonarchies,” in an account of the writingsthat have come down to us from the earliestdays of the world’s recorded history, has this tosay: “The clay tablets are both numerous andcurious. They are of various sizes, rangingfrom nine inches long by six and a half wide toan inch and a half long by an inch wide, or evenless. Sometimes they are entirely covered bywritings, while at others they exhibit on a portionof their surface impressions of seals, mythologicalemblems, and the like. Some thousandshave been recovered. Many are historical, andstill more are mythological.” Their use in writingand drawing was almost universal, and we read8that the prophet Ezekiel, when dwelling with“them of the captivity at Telabib, that dwelt bythe river of Chebar,” was commanded, “Takethee a tile and lay it before thee, and portray uponit the city, even Jerusalem.” (Ezekiel iv. 1.)

We get a glimpse of another side of that ancientlife in a tablet of Nile clay, preserved in the BritishMuseum, which is one of the

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