3. Drying, sizing, and packing

Drying loft (From Diderot's Encyclopedia)

Drying loft (From Diderot’s Encyclopedia)

Lots of water would be removed by the action of the screw press, but even after that there was too much moisture in the sheets. They would be hung up in a drying loft where they would dry out. The Iowa video attached to Paper making by hand 4, indicates the difficulties in drying the paper, and Professor Bartlett speculates that the drying loft was probably above the paper mill and would receive the moisture from the manufacture of the next batch of paper, preventing the cockling which would result from too much drying. The sheets would be hung in spurs, groups of seven or eight sheets, and the loft would be arranged so that the breeze would hit the sheets side-on not end-on which would have tended to separate the sheets and encourage cockling.

After drying in the loft, the spurs would be sent for sizing. Sizing would strengthen the sheet as well as improving ink hold-out. The principal material used for sizing in Europe was gelatin, taking over from the earlier starch size common in the Muslim world. Processing the “scow” for size was doubtless a stinky procedure. “In the good mills the scrow of chamoisers, tawers and whiteners is used by preference. Since they use only the skins of kids, lambs or sheep it is what is known as the “brochette”; the size made from it is clearer than when supplies are taken from tanners who deal in cow, ox or calf hides. Care must be taken to full and wash them well, to rid them of the lime dust which deteriorates and dulls the size. That which is made from tanners clippings is strong but it diminishes the whiteness of the paper. The clippings of sheep skin that the fellmongers and chamoisers sell, gives a size which is whiter than the other but it is not so strong. For good quality papers parchment clippings are also used.” (Lalande, 1761). The scow would be boiled down for 36 to 48 hours to create the gelatin, which would then be let stand to clarify.

Sizing paper (From Diderot's Encyclopedia)

Sizing paper (From Diderot’s Encyclopedia)

Spurs of up to 50 sheets would be bathed in a vat of gelatin, fanned open at one end, and then at the other. After sizing they would go back to the drying loft where they would be hung to dry as individual sheets.

The paper would finally be packed in quires of 24 (or 25) sheets, twenty of which made up a ream. In the ream were 18 folded quires of paper and 2 “retrees” or seconds which were placed top and bottom as protection. The ream was covered with heavy sheets of coarse paper folded to wrap it. The top wrapper would carry a printed design identifying the type of paper and the maker, or maker’s agent. The pressed and wrapped ream would be tied with rope, and ten or more reams made up a bale for shipping. Few wrappers have survived, and those that did owe their survival to thrifty notaries who would reuse them as file folders. The wrapper design below is from an unidentified Dutch mill, and incorporates at the top the arms of Amsterdam.

Paper wrapper (From Paper in Printing History, Lindenmeyr Paper Corp. 1979)

Paper wrapper (From Paper in Printing History, Lindenmeyr Paper Corp. 1979)