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History of Paper Making


Papermaking is known to have been traced back to China about 105 CE, when Cai Lun, an official attached to the Imperial court during the Han Dynasty (202 BCE-220 CE), created a sheet of paper using mulberry and other bast fibres along with fishnets, old rags, and hemp waste. However a recent archaeological discovery has been reported from Gansu province of paper with legible Chinese writings on it dating from 8 BCE,while paper had been used in China for wrapping and padding since the 2nd century BCE.
Paper used as a writing medium became widespread by the 3rd century,and by the 6th century toilet paper was starting to be used in China as well, During the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE) paper was folded and sewn into square bags to preserve the flavor of tea,while the later Song Dynasty (960-1279 CE) was the first government on Earth to issue paper-printed money.

In the 8th century, paper spread to the Islamic world, where the rudimentary and laborious process of papermaking was refined and machinery was designed for bulk manufacturing of paper. Production began in Baghdad under the supervision of the Grand Vizier Ja'far ibn Yahya, they invented a method to make a thicker sheet of paper. This helped transform papermaking from an art into a major industry.

The earliest use of water-powered mills in paper production, specifically the use of pulp mills for preparing the pulp for papermaking, dates back to Samarkand in the 8th century.The earliest references to paper mills also come from the medieval Islamic world, where they were first noted in the 9th century by Arabic geographers in Damascus.Papermaking was diffused across the Islamic world, from where it was diffused further west into Europe.

Paper is recorded as being manufactured in Italy by 1220 and Germany by 1400, just about the time when the woodcut printmaking technique was transferred from fabric to paper in the old master print and popular prints.Modern papermaking began in the early 19th century in Europe with the development of the Fourdrinier machine, which produces a continuous roll of paper rather than individual sheets.

These machines have become very large, up to 500 feet (~150 m) in length, producing a sheet 400 inches (~10 m) wide, and operating at speeds of over 60 mph (100 km/h). In 1844, both Canadian inventor Charles Fenerty and German inventor F.G. Keller had invented the machine and process for pulping wood for the use in papermaking.

This would end the nearly 2000-year use of pulped rags and start a new era for the production of newsprint and eventually almost all paper was made out of pulped wood.

Hemp wrapping paper, China, circa 100 BCE.