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Joseph Jerome de la Lande, Art de faire le papier. (Paris: Academie de Sciences, 1761)

La Lande's Art of Papermaking was the first real technical account of the manufacture of this indispensible bookmaking material. Trained as a scientist, La Lande set about to compile accurate information about every detail in the papermaking process, which had changed little since its introduction into Europe in the 12th century. The copperplate-engraved illustrations are vivid and technically accurate. In the first illustration, water power drives the mill wheel which is connected to the stamping mechanism.

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Up to the nineteenth century, the primary source of cellulose fiber for papermaking was rags. Linen and cotton rags were collected, sorted, and cut into small pieces. From the sorting room, the rag pieces went to the rettery, where they were allowed to rot or decompose in a basin of water.

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Detail of the stamper.

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Perspective and top view of the stamping mechanism of a paper mill. Here the decomposed rags are further disintegrated by the pounding action of large hammers acting in troughs or basins.

Keywords: papermaking

16th Century | Cary Collection