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History of Paper

Paper is believed to have originated in China sometime around A.D. 105. Its invention is credited to a Chinese artisan by the name of Tsai-Lun. Tsai Lun created the first type of paper by mixing macerated cellulose fiber with water. His method was simple. He beat rags to a pulp and diluted this with lots of water. He then drained the resultant mixture through a form of a sieve. The fibers matted together and, when it dried, formed what we know now as paper!

This papermaking process was kept secret in China for several centuries. However, in the eighth century, Arab invaders were able to learn of the technique from Chinese prisoners. In the eleventh century, the Moors brought the craft to Europe through Spain. At about the same time, returning Crusaders introduced papermaking to Italy.

Over the years, various refinements were added to the papermaking techniques. In the early 1800's, manufacturing paper became mechanized thanks to a machine invented by the Fourdrinier brothers. Also at this time, there was an increased demand in printed matter. The demand for pulp likewise grew but the sources of rags diminished. There was now a need for an alternative source of abundant and cheap cellulose fiber. In 1800, an Englishman named Koops started producing paper made entirely from wood fibers. Paper made from wood came into full swing in 1839 when a German named Keller invented a machine which efficiently ground wood to a pulp. The use of woodpulp was further popularized when another Englishman named Burgess, invented a chemical method of producing wood fiber by boiling in soda. These advancements made paper manufacturing more efficient and cost-effective and readily available to just about anyone!

Today, increasing technology allows for the availability of paper is different shapes, sizes, weights, colors and textures. Paper is now used for a variety of things -- from writing, printing and packaging to creating innovative art decors and crafts.

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