Category Archives: Paper

Spreadsheet to watermarks

As we previously posted, the Graphic Arts Collection holds a unique volume of nearly 400 specimens of European papers with different watermarks (1377-1840), acquired at the suggestion of Elmer Adler with a fund turned over to the Library by the Friends of the Princeton University Library. Adler must have been a good negotiator, talking rare book dealer Philip Duschnes down from $350 to $300.

Recently, the album was not only digitized: (Permanent Link), but we have also created an excel sheet so the watermarks can be searched with words:

The spreadsheet is large but useful if you want to see whether “grapes” are used in watermarks over many years or what type of animals, such as unicorns, turn up.

Originally in the collection of Dawson Turner (1775–1858), the auction catalogue description reads: ’Watermarks on Paper. A very curious collection of upwards of three hundred and seventy specimens of paper with various Watermarks, for A.D. 1377 to A. D. 1842, collected with a view to assist in ascertaining the age of undated manuscripts, and of verifying that of dated ones, by Dawson Turner, Esq. and bound in 1 vol. half calf.’

See also: Catalogue of the Remaining Portion of the Library of Dawson Turner, Esq., M.A., F.R.S., F.S.A., F.L.S., etc., etc. formerly of Yarmouth: which will be sold by auction by Messrs. Puttick and Simpson … Leicester Square … on Monday, May 16th, 1859, and seven following days (Sunday excepted). [London, 1859], item 1523.

Specimens of Paper with Different Water Marks, 1377-1840. 1 v. (unpaged); 40 cm. 371 specimens of watermarked paper, together with brief descriptions of each in a mid-nineteenth century ms. hand. The specimens are mainly blank leaves, though some leaves feature writing and letterpress. Specimen 334 is stamped sheet addressed to Dawson Turner (1775-1858), Yarmouth. Purchased with funds from the Friends of the Princeton University Library. Graphic Arts: Reference Collection (GARF) Oversize Z237 .S632f

DIY: Be the first to own this 1673 book

Title page


The Graphic Arts Collection holds this uncut, unpublished single sheet imposition* for two copies of a 24 page 1673 miniature book. Below are the recto and verso as single pages that you can print double-sided and cut off the excess paper on the side. Then fold and cut to create your own copy of this Italian devotional. Extra credit is given for hand coloring the plate.

*Imposition: Process of arranging the pages for each side of a sheet by placing them on a flat surface, surrounding them with wooden spacing pieces (the furniture) of less than type height, and locking them into the chase with long and short wedges, thus creating the forme.

Laude spirituale nella quale si contengono le parti principali della dottrina christiana (Roma, 1674). Held by the Biblioteca Casanatense.

Laude spirituale: nella quale si contengono le parti principali, della dottrina christiana. Parte prima (Torino: Per Bartolomeo Zapatta, 1632). Original printer’s sheet, designed to be cut in half; each half, when folded, would form a 24 page booklet (11 cm., 12 mo). Apparently the booklet was never issued. Held by the University of California Berkeley Library.

John Smith (active 1755), The printer’s grammar: containing a concise history of the origin of printing; also, an examination of the superficies, gradation, and properties of the different sizes of types … tables of calculations; models of letter cases; schemes for casting off copy, and imposing; … with directions to authors, compilers, &c. how to prepare copy, and to correct their own proofs. Chiefly collected from Smith’s edition. To which are added directions for pressmen, &c. (London, Printed by L. Wayland and sold by T. Evans, 1787). Princeton copy is from the library of P. J. Conkwright. Graphic Arts Collection Z244.A2 S7

Paper made from straw (rye, wheat, barley, oats, peas, beans, lentils, and corn)

Louis Piette (1803-1862), Die Fabrikation des Papieres aus Stroh und vielen andern Substanzen: im Grossen nach zahlreichen Versuchen beschrieben und mit 160 Mustern von verschiedenen Papiersorten beweisen: nebst einer Beschreibung der neuesten Erfindungen in der Papierfabrikation, für Fabrikanten und alle Freunde der Forschritte in Cultur und Industrie (Cologne: Dümont-Schauberg, 1838). Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2018- in process

The Graphic Arts Collection has a number of early sources on papermaking, often with paper samples tipped in. This volume, recently acquired, is not the earliest but certainly is one of the rarest of all papermaking books, with 25 more samples than most other recorded copies (ok, yes, the copy at the University of Amsterdam apparently has 192 samples but who’s counting).

The papers are chiefly from various kinds of straw (rye, wheat, barley, oats, peas, beans, lentils, and corn), singly or in combination; some mixed with hay and/or rags; and some bleached or colored. There are also five samples of cardboard made from straw and other fibers and ten non-straw papers (hay, oakum, wood, linden bark; some with rags).

In 1827, Louis Piette, a native of Belgium, took over the paper making factory started by his father in Dillingen and performed many experiments using different materials to produce various suitable kinds of paper, operating the mill from 1819 to 1854.  Note in particular leaves 203-33 are themselves made of various straw papers.

“Louis Piette followed in the footsteps of noted papermaking researchers of the 18th century…These early attempts, however, were not as successful as the finished papers made by Louis Piette. The significance of Piette’s investigations is very simple: his papers made from straw remain clean and almost as pliable as comparable papers made from rag…Piette’s papers, moreover, really are straw papers, without mixing in small amounts of flax fibers. Piette’s experiments showed a great understanding of papermaking from a production standpoint, and, with the increase use of the fourdrinier machine, his work led directly into the use of esparto grass prior to the discovery of chemical bleaching for soft- and hardwood paper manufacture…By the 1860‘s, the age of modern machine papermaking was at hand, and Piette’s earlier papermaking experiment showed how well he understood the future of papermaking.“–The Paper Trail. Quarterly Newsletter of the Robert C. Williams American Museum of Papermaking (Vol. 2, Nos. 1 & 2, January- March & April-June 2004). In these two articles the author states there are only four known copies of this book.

Of particular importance in this volume, found on pages 246-91 is the second printing of Moritz Illig’s Anleitung auf eine sichere, einfache und wohlfeile Art Papier in der Masses zu leimen (first edition 1806). According to Leonard Schlosser’s 1971exhibition catalogue, only two copies are known of the first edition. This text describes Illig’s “momentous” (Schlosser) invention of rosin-alum sizing. The addition of this mixture aided in making the paper take writing ink with less necessity for sizing with glue, as had been the vogue for five hundred years. It provided a simple, sure method for sizing paper more rapidly with non-putrescible materials. Illig’s book was literally consumed in use and only two copies are known.–Special thanks to Yoshi Hill for his research on this volume.

Some of the other early papermaking sources in the Graphic Arts Collection include:

Papeterie: contenant quatorze planches, dont une double ([A Paris: Chez Briasson … David … Le Breton …, 1767]. Graphic Arts Collection Oversize 2011-0013F

Louis-Charles Desnos (1725-1805), Dissertation historique sur l’invention des lettres, ou caracteres d’écriture: sur les instrumens dont les anciens se sont servi pour écrire; & sur les matières qu’ils ont employées: suivie d’une Instruction raisonnée sur le papier nouveau que le sieur Desnos annonce au public: & dont on trouvera à la fin une suite de feuillets pour écrire & dessiner dans tel genre que ce soit avec un stylet ou pointe d’un métal composé pour cet usage (Paris: Chez Desnos, ingénieur-géographe & libraire de Sa Majesté danoise … , 1771). The 52 blank leaves at end are samples of Denos’ paper, intended for use as a notebook; cf. p. 3 (2nd group). Graphic Arts Collection 2009-0605N

Charles-Michel, marquis de, Villette (1736-1793), Œuvres du marquis de Villette (Londres. [i.e. Langlée, France: P. A. Léorier Delisle], M. DCC. LXXXVI. [1786]). “Ce volume est imprimé sur le papier d’écorce de tilleul.”–Verso of half title. Based on the 18mo format, the sheet size is ca. 48 x 36 cm. (crown), though Hunter reported his copy as 16 x 10 cm. (thus ca. 60 x 48 cm, royal, calculated from the same format). Issued also on rose-colored paper and on paper made from marshmallow. Includes 20 sample leaves of Léorier Delisle’s experimental paper made from various plant materials: marshmallow, nettles, hops, moss, reeds, conferva (3 kinds), burdock, burdock-colt’s foot, and thistles; quack-grass root; hazel wood and spindle wood; and bark of willow, spindle tree, oak, poplar, osier and elm. Each leaf includes printed identification of the material used: papier de guimauve, d’ortie, de houblon, de mousse, de roseaux, de conferva (première / seconde / troisième espèce), de racines de chiendent, de bois de coudrier, de bois de fusain, d’écorce de fusain avec son épiderme ou croûte, d’écorce de chéne, d’écorce de peuplier, d’écorce d’osier, d’écorce d’orme, d’écorce de saule, de bardanne, de bardanne et de pas-d’ane, de chardons. Graphic Arts Collection 2004-0061S

Matthias Koops, Historical account of the substances which have been used to describe events, and to convey ideas, from the earliest date to the invention of paper (London: Printed by T. Burton …, 1800). “Printed on the first useful paper manufactured soley [sic] from straw.” Appendix (p. [85]-91) printed on “paper made from wood alone … without any intermixture of rags, waste paper, bark, straw, or any other vegetable substance.” Laid in: sample blank folded sheet of straw paper, 35 x 43 cm. folded to 18 x 12 cm. Watermark: “Neckinger Mill.” Graphic Arts Collection Oversize TS1090 .K66q

The Sister arts, or, A concise and interesting view of the nature and history of paper-making, printing, and bookbinding: being designed to unite entertainment with information concerning those arts, with which the cause of literature is peculiarly connected: embellished with three engravings ([Lewes]: Sussex Press, Lewes: Printed and published by J. Baxter, and sold by the principal booksellers in London, 1809). GAX copy: From the library of P. J. Conkwright. Graphic Arts Collection 2003-0052N

Newspapers weigh in on cost of newsprint,541418

Tuckenhay Paper Mill

Peter Thomas, The Tuckenhay Mill: People and Paper (Santa Cruz: Peter and Donna Thomas, 2016). Housed in clamshell box. Graphic Arts Collection GAX in process.

All copies have: Introductory pamphlet, letterpress printed, 1.They Made the Paper in Tuckenhay Mill, interviews with retired hand paper makers, a 100-page digitally printed book with the text of the interviews; 2.Flash drive with audio files, transcriptions and videos from original interviews; 3.Vintage handmade paper samples and printed ephemera from Tuckenhay Mill. Princeton’s copy has an additional pamphlet titled Handmade Paper in Tuckenhay Devon, pamphlet titled Three Hundred Years of Paper Making, and 22 paper samples with additional booklets.

In the 1830s, Richard Turner started manufacturing paper by hand in the Tuckenhay Mill, and paper was continuously made by hand there until 1962. From then until 1970, the Mill produced pulp (half-stuff) until the business went bankrupt. The equipment was scrapped and the building was sold and converted into vacation cottages, remaining so today.

A self-taught hand papermaker, Peter Thomas became interested in knowing how apprentice-trained hand papermakers working in production hand papermills made paper. He especially wanted to learn the “vatman’s shake,” the series of motions that papermakers used to form their sheets of paper. This desire circuitously led him and Donna to Tuckenhay, near Totnes, Devon, in England, where beginning in 1988, they recorded several hand papermakers, returning to make others in 1990 and 1994.




Papier du guimauve

Marshmallow [plant] paper

Charles-Michel, Marquis de Villette (1736-1793), Œuvres du marquis de Villette (Londres. [i.e. Langlée, France: P. A. Léorier Delisle], M. DCC. LXXXVI. [1786]). Together with 20 samples of leaves. From the printing collection of Elmer Adler. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) 2004-0061S.

In 18th century Paris, there was a shortage of linen and cotton rags for making paper and so, Pierre Alexandre Léorier Delisle (1744-1826), director of the paper mill at Langlée, near Montargis, began experimenting with various vegetable materials. His tried marshmallow (plant) paper, nettle paper, as well as hops, moss, reeds, sponge, couch root, linden and willow bark, thistle leaves and more.

Charles-Michel Villette had his writings published by Léorier Delisle using his vegetable paper. A note on the verso of the half title page notes, “Ce volume est imprimé sur le papier d’écorce de tilleul” [This volume is printed on linden bark paper]. It was Leorier Delisle’s second attempt at using non-rag paper. Two years earlier, he published Les loisirs des bords du Loing, ou Recueil de pièces fugitives, poems by Marie-Joseph-Hippolyte Pelée de Varennes (1741-1794), not held by Princeton.

At the back of each book, various paper samples are bound in. At the back of the Graphic Arts Collection copy are bound in twenty sample leaves, each one identified:

papier de guimauve
papier d’ortie
papier de houblon
papier de mousse
papier de roseaux
papier de conferva (première / seconde / troisième espèce)
papier de racines
papier de chiendent
papier de bois de coudrier
papier de bois de fusain
papier d’écorce de fusain avec son épiderme ou croûte
papier d’écorce de chéne
papier d’écorce de peuplier
papier d’écorce d’osier
papier d’écorce d’orme
papier d’écorce de saule
papier de bardanne
papier de bardanne et de pas-d’ane
papier de chardons.

Reed paper [above] and Nettle paper [below]

Marshmallow plant

Where to study wall paper design

If you are in Paris and want to borrow an art book, one of the only options is the Bibliothèque Forney on rue du Figuier in the Marais. Inaugurated in 1886, the library bears the name of the industrialist Samuel-Aimé Forney, who gave the City of Paris a legacy for the education of craftsmen. Today, it remains a free lending library.

Originally located in the heart of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, the Forney became so successful that in 1961, it was transferred to the renovated Hotel de Sens, one of the few examples of medieval civil architecture still found in Paris. Built from 1475 to 1519 on the order of Tristan de Salazar, Archbishop of Sens, the building has had many residents over the years. In the 19th century, for instance, there was a rolling company, a laundry, a canning factory, a hair hairdresser, and so on. In 1911, the city of Paris bought the building, which was extremely dilapidated. Restoration work begun in 1929 did not end until 1961, when the library moved in.

The restoration was very sympathetic. Architectural ornaments throughout the building honor of the draftsmen, bronziers, cabinetmakers, and other craftsmen who came to work here and borrow books.

The wall paper collection at the Forney is extensive, both woodblock printed and hand painted. This case holds samples that not only show the final design but also the colors and the sequence of the woodblocks used to create that design.

Rare and modern source material is available to the general public, but to artists and artisans in particular. Workshops and demonstrations are held on a regular basis, with an exhibition gallery on the first floor.

If you can’t get to the Forney itself, you can read about it:
Jacqueline Viaux, Bibliographie du meuble: (mobilier civil français) (Paris: Société des amis de la Bibliothèque Forney, 1966). Marquand (SA) Z5995.3.F7 V5
Bibliothèque Forney. Catalogue matières: arts-décoratifs, beaux-arts, métiers, techniques (Paris: Sociéte des amis de la Bibliothèque Forney, 1970-75). Marquand (SA) Oversize Z5939 .P225q
Bibliotheque Forney. Hôtel de Sens, Bibliothèque Forney (Paris: La Bibliothèque, 19830. Marquand (SA) Z798.B54 B53 1983

Les vapeurs ou le jour des memoires

Les Arts Décoratifs has three locations in Paris, but we chose to visit the collections and documentation at 107, rue de Rivoli. Windows there offer a view of the Louvre on one side and the Eiffel tower on the other.

The collections of the decorative arts are among the largest in France, comprised of thousands of pieces from the various fields of the decorative and applied arts. Many new donations, purchases and bequests are added to the collections every year.

The library and documentation center house a wide range of materials including books, manuscripts, prints, engravings, photographs, archives of artists and professionals, and ephemera. Established in 1864 by the founding members of the UCAD (Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs), it was their hope to provide artists with a store of forms and images for their inspiration. One of the most extraordinary resource is the volumes of the Maciet collection, a bound selection of reproductions and original works on paper organized by topic. In these volumes, one might find a 19th-century photograph by Henri Le Secq (1818-1882) documenting a Paris street pasted next to a printed menu of a restaurant on that street.

The organization’s documentation notes, “When art lover and collector Jules Maciet (1846-1911) crossed the threshold of the library of decorative arts in 1885, he understood that books alone could not satisfy the demands of artists and artisans: It would take images, lots of images. …Thus, from 1885 to 1911, the date of his death, Jules Maciet became an image hunter, bringing together hundreds of thousands of prints, photographs, documents from all sources from catalogs, books and magazines. He slices, sorts, and sticks them in great albums and imagines a methodical classification in the encyclopaedic spirit of the nineteenth century.”

We pulled the volume on Japanese pochoir and found a complete rare book reproducing stencil color disbound and pasted in. Happily, a box of original Katagami (Japanese paper) stencils were brought out to compliment the research.

Also on the table was a stunning volume of pochoir colored caricatures from the series Le Bon Genre, which we recognized from Princeton’s Charles Rahn Fry Pochoir Collection. Here’s a plate that seems to fit the visit: “Les vapeurs ou le jour des memoires” (The Vapors or the Day of Memories).

Le Bon genre; réimpression du recueil de 1827; comprenant les “Observations…” et les 115 gravures. Préface de Leon Moussinac (Paris: Les Éditions Albert Lévy [1931]). “Les planches ont étés gravées par E. Doistau, imprimées par R. Tanburro, et coloriées par J. Saudé … Il en a été tiré 750 exemplaires”–Verso of p. preceding t.p. Princeton’s copy is no. 444, from the Charles Rahn Fry Pochoir Collection. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize 2004-0020F


Musée du quai Branly

The Musée du quai Branly holds almost 370,000 works of art and 700,000 iconographical images (photographs) originating in Africa, the Near East, Asia, Oceania and the Americas. The work is considered for its aesthetic value, not its ethnographic appeal (that work is currently at the Musée de l’Homme). The walk up to the front door is made through a dense forest of trees and grasses, with the Eiffel Tower seen around the corner of the building.
The Jacques Kerchache Reading Room on the top floor of the museum holds over 100 researchers at one time, tempting them with a view as far as the Sacré-Cœur Basilica. Public spaces throughout the building are decorated with pieces from the museum collection.

The collection offers examples of printing and drawing on many different surfaces, including this piece of Masi or Tapa cloth from the Bismarck archipelago, off New Guinea in the southwest Pacific Ocean. The work of art was made in the early twentieth century and is shown in comparison with Pablo Picasso’s painting made around the same time.

“Generally, to make bark cloth, a woman would harvest the inner bark of the paper mulberry (a flowering tree). The inner bark is then pounded flat, with a wooden beater or ike, on an anvil, usually made of wood. In Eastern Polynesia (Hawai’i), bark cloth was created with a felting technique and designs were pounded into the cloth with a carved beater. In Samoa, designs were sometimes stained or rubbed on with wooden or fiber design tablets. In Hawai’i patterns could be applied with stamps made out of bamboo, whereas stencils of banana leaves or other suitable materials were used in Fiji. Bark cloth can also be undecorated, hand decorated, or smoked as is seen in Fiji. Design illustrations involved geometric motifs in an overall ordered and abstract patterns.”–Dr. Caroline Klarr

See an example: Sara Featherstone Robinson, Hina-Malama, moon-goddess of the Polynesian Islands: a tapa story woven from ravelings of old Polynesian myths and chants (Berkeley, Calif. [1926]). Binding note:    Illus tapa cloth wrap. Brown title and illus. Cotsen Children’s Library (CTSN) Pams / Eng 20 / Box 37 31533

A Practical Guide to the Varieties & Relative Values of Paper

The study of paper is not virtual. You hold it in your hand and feel the weigh of the sheet. You bend it to see which direction the paper fibers are running. You place it over a light and search for a watermark, then shine the light at an angle to see the texture of the surface. Are there chain lines? How big was the sheet originally and how many times was it cut to make the present page?

It is an intimate investigation best learned with paper samples that have already been identified and documented and yet, finding such rare samples is, of course, difficult.


Among the earliest encyclopedic gatherings of different types of paper is Richard Herring’s A Practical Guide to the Varieties & Relative Values of Paper, first published in London in 1860. The Graphic Arts Collection now owns a copy of this very rare volume.

Herring’s Guide was and is the most comprehensive published paper specimen book issued in the nineteenth century up to 1860. Herring calls for 246 samples but the copy recently acquired by Princeton has 244. Copies in the British Library and St. Bride’s Library each have only 242 samples. Undoubtedly, these volumes were each unique, hand bound treasures.

“The object of this work,” writes Herring, “is to furnish similar assistance to the stationer to that which afforded to the bookseller by the London catalogue. It is so arranged that by a very simple mode of reference to two hundred and forty-six samples of paper, which are appended to the work, no fewer than six hundred and eighty-one distinct kinds, with the relative prices of each affixed, are represented . . . Nearly every variety of paper, with its characteristic technicalities, dimensions, and weight, has been accurately given . . . .” –preface.

Antiquarian Charles Wood III writes, “The range and variety of papers is astonishing and endlessly fascinating; there are writing papers, printing papers, cartridge papers, wove papers, filtering paper, drawing papers, glazed boards, milled boards, etc. etc. The author was a in a unique position to produce this work; he was stock-taker to Her Majesty’s Stationery Office.”


Here is one of the original advertisements in Bookseller: The Organ of the Book Trade and Many Other Trade Publications, in which Herring wrote:

A Practical Guide to the Varieties and Relative Values of Paper by Richard Herring, in a convenient quarto Guinea volume. Prefixed is a very able history of the Art of Paper Making, full of interesting facts this had previously been contributed by the author to the new edition of Lire’s Dictionary. Next, we have a list of the Varieties and Relative Values of Paper with the sizes of every description and the prices per ream, all the references being to actual specimens of paper contained in the latter portion of the volume. The samples embrace nearly every kind of paper made, together with some of glazed and milled and bag-cap boards. The work, altogether, is so useful that we have little doubt a large number of Stationers will be glad to avail themselves of it.—Bookseller. [The Maker’s price for each sort, including the duty of three halfpence per pound, was exactly two-thirds of the price quoted in this list when the Paper Duty was repealed.—R.H.]

Richard Herring (born 1829), A Practical Guide to the Varieties and Relative Values of Paper: Illustrated with Samples of Nearly Every Description and Specially Adapted to the Use of Merchants, Shippers, and the Trade: To Which Is Added, a History of the Art of Paper Making (London: Longman, Green, Longman, and Roberts, 1860). Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2017- in process.

Thank you to everyone who helped make this acquisition possible.

Bookplates inside front cover:

See also Herring’s earlier catalogue with only 25 samples, from the collection of Elmer Adler:
Richard Herring (1829-18 ), Paper & Paper Making, Ancient and Modern; with an Introduction by the Rev. George Croly (London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1855). xvi, 125, 24 p., [5], 25 leaves of plates (2 folded) : ill., 25 samples (some col.); 23 cm. “Founded upon lectures recently delivered at the London Institution”–Preface. Samples comprise 8 sheets with watermarks (3 line, 3 light and shade, 2 impressed), 5 of writing paper (2 laid, 3 wove), 4 of wrapping paper, 2 of paper made from 80% straw and 20% rope, 1 made almost entirely from wheat straw, 1 of printing paper and 1 sample each of water leaf, unsized, sized and glazed paper. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) TS1090 .H477 1855