Papermaking 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
Papyrus and Parchment Part 2
These were separated with a pointed instrument, or needle,
arranged side by side on a hard, smooth table, crossed at
right-angles with another set of slips placed above, and then
dampened. After pressure had been applied for a number of
hours, the sheets were taken out and rubbed with a piece of
ivory, or with a smooth stone or shell, until the desired surface
was obtained, when the process was complete, except for drying
in the sun. The inner layers of the plant furnished the best
product, the outer ones being coarse and suitable only the
making of cordage. Single sheets made is this way were fastened
together, as many as might be required, to form the papyrus rolls,
of which hundreds have been discovered in recent years. It is
said that the Romans, when they undertook the manufacture of
papyrus, made a great improvement in the sheets by sizing them
with flour, to which a few drops of vinegar were added, and then
beating the surface smooth. The Chinese, far j away to the East,
also learned some of the secrets of paper-making. . I t is believed
that in early times they used silk as their basis, but later on they
made the so-called rice-paper by a method similar to that
employed in the manufacture of papyrus, deftly
cutting a continuous slice from the pith of the
From the reed, and the process of manufacture
through which it passed, the English language has
gained a number of words. The plant itself, called
papyrus in the Latin tongue, byblos in the Greek,
has given us the two words paper and bible. It is
claimed further that the process of furrowing off the
different layers of the pith gave us, through the
Greek word charasso xapal1l1W, to furrow, and the
Greek and Latin charta, a piece of paper, our
several words chart, card, carte blanche, and, of
course, the "charta" of that famous document,
Magna Charta, the great sheet-anchor of English
liberties. In the course of manufacture, twenty
sheets of papyrus were glued together into a
scapus by the glutinatorie, the first known
bookbinders, and then into a roll known as a
volumer, from which we get or word volume. The
city of Paris boasts a volumer of this sort, a
papyrus manuscript, well preserved, which is thirty
Paper Bail
feet in length.
The rolls, or papyri, are said to have become known in Europe through the French expedition into Egypt in 1798, and
specimens were reproduced in print by one Cadet in 1805. The making of papyrus is mentioned by Philostratus as a
staple manufacture of Alexandria in A.D. 244, and it continued to be used in Italy until the twelfth century. The extent
to which it was employed may be judged by the fact that nearly 1,800 rolls were unearthed in the ruins of
Herculaneum, about the year 1753. The durability of this substance added greatly to its value, and it is claimed that
the ancient papyrus manuscripts that have been properly preserved are almost as serviceable to-day as when first
made. It is doubtful whether a similar statement can be made four thousand or even two thousand years hence in
regard to many of the books printed on nineteenth century paper. Chicago has the largest collection of ancient papyri
west of the Atlantic, consisting of three hundred complete pieces and hundreds of fragments, which were discovered
by an Arab sheik while digging along the banks of the Nile.
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