Paper Made From Wood
“What infinite trouble and labour, what a fruitless consumption of time has not been saved by the knowledge of Paper! How many laborious and dangerous experiments have not philosophical projectors been spared! What labour of investigation and study have not been abridged by the events which the experiments of other have handed down to posterity! Thereby affording to the present age a body of information more than adequate to the knowledge any one man could have attained to in a thousand years, with all his faculties.”
This effusive tribute to the importance of paper by Matthias Koops appears in the introduction to his history of papermaking, published in the year 1800. As interesting as the text of this book was, his real purpose was to introduce the public to a new kind of paper made from straw. So confident was Koops in making a departure from the traditional source of papermaking fiber – cotton and linen rags – that he built an enormous new hand-papermaking mill to manufacture a straw paper suitable for book printing. Almost as an afterthought, he includes an appendix at the back of his book printed on a lighter colored paper. This time the fiber source was wood pulp, marking this publication as the first to contain text printed on a kind of paper made from an abundant and renewable resource. As for Koops, the timing of his new mill was disastrous. The invention of the Fourdrinier papermaking machine a few years earlier made handmills obsolete, since it was now possible to make paper on an endless web, much cheaper than by hand.