Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Why is it So Hard to Find a Comprehensive History of Blotting Paper?

"A Brief History Of Paper."
Neathery de Safita (Neathery Batsell Fuller), St. Louis (MO) Community College (July 2002)

"True paper is characterized as thin sheets made from fiber that has been macerated until each individual filament is a separate unit. Medieval paper was made of diluted cotton, linen fiber. (Hunter 1943, 117) The fibers are then intermixed with water and by the use of a sieve-like screen, the fibers are lifted from the water leaving a sheet of matted fiber on the screen. The thin layer of intertwined fiber is paper...."

It isn't until near the end of this introduction to the history of paper that we learn anything about blotting paper:

"...Blotting paper is first mentioned in the year 1465. It was a coarse, gray, unsized paper, fragments of which have been found among the leaves of 15th-century accounts, where it had been left after being used for blotting. Blotting is mentioned in W. Horman's Vulgaria, 1519 (p. 8o b):
Blottyng papyr serveth to drye weete wryttynge, lest there be made blottis or blurris ....

Perhaps it is time for devotees of blotting paper to stand up and make themselves heard. We have histories of the automobile, histories of the printing press: where are the histories of blotting paper?

And, for that matter, why is it that so many people don't discuss quill pens? Can it be that there's a conspiracy afoot, to divert attention away from these venerable technologies?

I don't think so: but it might make a good story.

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