|The Story of
an account of paper-making from its earliest
known record down to the present time by
J.W. Butler Paper Company 1901
|Early Methods of Paper Making Part 1
|"As far as the East is from the West," so great is the difference
between the methods and processes of the slow-going Orient
and those that prevail in the Occident.
It is fully a century and a half since Berkeley gave expression to
his faith in the high destiny of the West:
“Westward the course of empire takes its way;
The four first acts already past,
A fifth shall close the drama with the day;
Time's noblest offspring is the last."
As the years followed each other swiftly in the past, it became
strikingly evident that the world must look to the Occident for
industrial activity and progress, and for the practical application of
new inventions and discoveries. And yet, through the inevitable
exception that proves the rule, we occasionally find East and
West working along strikingly similar lines. The making of paper by
hand, as carried on in our own country in early days, and to a
limited extent at the present time, furnishes such an exception. In
many respects, the process is not unlike that followed by the
Chinese in making paper from the bark of the mulberry-tree,
|which has already been described in the preceding chapter. In either case, whatever the material employed, the first
step, which was of prime importance, was to remove from the fibers all glutinous, resinous, or other superfluous
matter. The fibers are the slender, elongated cells, the enduring portion of the plant that gives to the paper its
strength, toughness, and elasticity.
Before the science of chemistry had been called upon to furnish its potent aid in the process of paper-making, the
rags used were moistened and piled together in some warm, damp place, often in a cellar, where they were left to
decay for a period-twenty days or more. During this time, the perishable portion, sometimes spoken of as vegetable
gluten, fermented or decayed to such an extent that it could be washed from the fibrine, or long, white elastic
filaments. Before being submitted to the process of decomposition, the rags were of course dusted, and, as far as
possible, cleansed from all mineral, foreign, or indissoluble substances, after which they were cut into small pieces.
When the fermentation engendered by heat and moisture had done its important work, the rags were boiled and
washed, and finally beaten to a smooth pulp by the use of mallets.
In the early days of paper-making, before the discovery of the use of chemical agents to remove the coloring matter,
the color of the paper was determined by that of the rags or other material, modified somewhat by the boiling and
washing. When it was discovered that certain chemicals would dissolve or separate the coloring matter from the
tissue, one great factor in the cost of making white paper was eliminated. Lye, lime, solutions of chlorine and of
chloride of lime were employed for the purpose.
The fibers having been separated, by this slow and tedious method, from all foreign matter, they were placed in a
vat, with a proper admixture of water to form a soft, slightly cohering mass of “pulp." The next step in the process
was the forming of the paper sheets. For this purpose the paper-maker employed a fine wire screen, or cloth, called
the “mold," which was oblong in shape, and supported by a light frame underneath. Above this was placed a very
shallow frame known as the “deckel," which in size and shape corresponded exactly with the mold. Dipping the mold
into the mass of pulp, the operator filled it even with the top of the deckel, the thickness of the paper being
determined by the depth of the deckel-frame. Then as the water from the pulp drained through the wire cloth, the
operator moved the mold back and forth, giving a constant, even, and gentle motion to the mass within.
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