Jeremy writes to tell me that parliament is rumored to have found funds for this self-evidently essential archive material. We are all no doubt still puzzling over how it can be that any government anywhere in the world can manage to function without the use of parchment! The Guardian has a report that the Cabinet Office may be going to cough up the money to preserve the parchment regime.
Here’s a link to the manufacturer, William Cowley & Co. Ltd, of Newport Pagnell, who are unsurprisingly keen that tradition should be upheld in this area at least. The possible loss of an annual order worth £47,000 might also have an understandable part in their attitude. They have a little video showing part of the manufacturing process:
There’s a video with a more thorough examination of the process at the same factory at my earlier post on Parchment.
Here is Parliament’s own take on the subject. Looks like they are running behind in their revision process, as there’s no mention of any change to archival paper. Their headline is a bit misleading: what they really meant to say I think is “From manuscript to print” — their note is determinedly historical and only deals with the switch in 1850 from hand writing on parchment rolls, to printing in parchment codices. Their real problem would seem to me to be printing a sizable book in an edition of two, rather than printing on this or that substrate.
Maybe I should admit that my use of the word vellum in the heading of my recent post may have been inaccurate. I think what we are talking about in the case of parliament is actually parchment, though the whole situation remains a little murky. Calf is mentioned in the video, but so is sheep skin. But maybe the calf skins are what’s used for the parliamentary order. Who knows?