Categories
printing

Cost of paper in 15th century

Today paper is taken for granted. It is cheap, readily available (despite predictions three decades ago about the ‘paperless office’) and durable – mostly. Not so in the 15th century.

I take these comments from Drawing in Early Renaissance Italy by Francis Ames-Lewis (Yale UP,  1981) who notes that paper had been in production since 1276 at Fabriano (of course paper had been produced in China long before then – during the Han dynasty, c BCE200-200AD), and which by the mid-forteenth century had become one of Europe’s leading centres. images

The invention of printing by moveable type in Europe triggered the expansion of paper making but prices were high since the raw material continued (until the 18th centre) to be cotton. Ames-Lewis observes that ‘in the 15th century good quality paper cost about one-sixth the price of parchment…[and] the cost of paper was a surprisingly high proportion of the total cost of book production. For the edition of 1,025 copies of Ficino’s translation of the complete works of Plato, printed in Florence in 1483, the paper cost between 120-160 florins, whereas all the printing costs came to only 90 florins.’

Her reference is to paper as used by draughtsmen and I would be interested to learn of references to paper and printing in that period.

Categories
Typographic ephemera

New Year’s Quiz 2013 – number one

Simple this. Just deduce what letters are missing from the image. (Taken from an advertisement placed by Grosvenor, Chater & Company Ltd in Book Design and Production, vol 5, number 3, 1962.)

new year quiz 2013

Answer below

new year quiz 2013

Categories
Typographic ephemera

Watermarks – part 2

[The first part can be found here.]

Surely one of the truly hidden joys of reading, the discovery of a watermark. Holding the page up to light to better see and following it through the volume, in the process gaining insight into the size of the paper before it was folded and trimmed.

The process is dated to 1282 and Italy (this information from Dard Hunter’s Papermaking: The History and Technique of an Ancient Craft, first published in 1948; reprinted by Dover, NY, 1978), thereby predating printing from moveable type by some two centuries.

How is it done? By making a ‘picture’ or forming text directly on wire moulds.

In the Gutenberg42-line Bible of c1450 there is a watermark of a bunch of grapes. Later, watermarking was (and still is) used to prevent or hinder forgeries, as in banknotes.

(The illustrations shown here are from Paper and Paper Making by Norris, F.H. 1952. Oxford, OUP.)