Permanence of Early European Hand-Made Papers

Permanence of Early European Hand-Made Papers

Jozef Dabrowski and John S.G. Simmons

Fibres and Textiles in Eastern Europe (2003)

Hand made paper – photo by Goran Anđelić / Wikimedia Commons

Abstract: An investigation into (and explanation for) the remarkable permanence of early European papers made by hand in accordance with Italian practice is presented. The use of added lime (“addita calce”) during the beating process (referred to by F.M. Grapaldo in his description of the Italian technique, c.1494, and in the late sixteenth-century Regensburg Regulations) is shown to be the responsible cause. The early Italian technology is described and comparisons are made with modern machine-production of permanent papers.

Introduction: In his 1996 paper, presented at the 23rd IPH Congress in Leipzig, Timothy Barrett summarised previously-published data by the author and his colleagues. Using a modern and chiefly non-destructive method of analysis, Barrett was able to demonstrate the important role played by the amount and condition of the gelatine in gelatine-sized papers (1400-1799) in relation to their strength and permanence.

Barrett also showed that the oldest (fifteenth-century) papers, still in good condition, had levels of magnesium, calcium, manganese and zinc that were higher than those in younger papers.

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