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The History of Paper

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Making Paper in China Enlarge

Making Paper in China
(Public domain)

The History of Paper

Paper was invented in China during the 2nd century. In 105 AD, the high-ranking eunuch of the Imperial Court, Cai Lun, later in charge of the manufacture of weapons and paper, described in detail the his production process in which bark and cloth rags were reduced to pulp to produce the fibrous material to make paper.

Until 610, the year of its appearance in Japan, the manufacture of paper was reserved exclusively to China. The process next spread to the Middle East and reached Egypt, which had already long produced rolls of papyrus that grew along the banks of the Nile.

It was the Moors who introduced paper production techniques to the West around 1150. Soon, all Europe sought this precious commodity, then worth its weight in gold. Mass production centers were gradually created, including that of Fabriano, Italy, which long furnished important quantities.

First made by hand, at the end of a long process made up of many stages (reduction into fibers, molding, drying, etc.), paper became industrialized towards the end of the 18th century. Frenchman Nicolas Louis Robert invented the first machine to mechanically produce paper.

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