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Posts Tagged ‘papermaking’

Watermarks

GravellDetailIn a previous post, I discussed a recent book printed in an ink which could only be seen in ultraviolet light. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that many of the books printed in the hand press period also have “hidden artwork” that we can view in normal spectrum light. I’m referring to watermarks – designs, including words, dates, and images, that are created during the papermaking process.

Handmade paper in Europe was made on rectangular wooden molds (or, British spelling, moulds) covered with fine wire. For all the details, I recommend the excellent site European Papermaking Techniques 1300-1800 by Timothy Barrett at the University of Iowa Center for the Book. Additionally, here is a video, made in 1976 at Hayle Mill in England that shows the steps of making paper by hand. The Green family produced paper this way at Hayle Mill from 1813 until 1987. Pay particular attention to the sheets being formed on the molds by the vatman, and removed from them by the coucher (pronounced “coocher”), beginning at the 3:15 mark. Watermarks are explained at 4:30 and again at the 6 minute mark.

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