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Re: Letterpress printing Question



Quoting Charles on the Paper vs Vellum discussion:

>From:    Charles Mohr <libros@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
>Subject: Re: Letterpress Printing Question
>

...great info about printing on vellum snipped...

I wrote:
>>Of course, there's a philosophical issue here, in that trying to make
>>paper look/feel/behave like parchment/vellum may be like hammering a
>>square peg into a round hole.
>>
>#####
>
>Depends, as there is a simple economical question at hands.

I'm all too familiar with the economic question.  It comes up whenever
someone asks about my prices ;).

My point was simply that in many cases, people try very hard to make paper
be like parchment/vellum, when perhaps they might be better served by
letting paper be paper, and appreciate it for its own beauty.  I guess
it would be analagous to trying to make cloth look/feel like leather.

>Therefore, paper or to be specific a "Fibermaterial" has been created which
>provides the feel, touch and stiffnes of real vellum.
>(One might have a loke at the Books of Faksimile Edition in England, which
>have one of the best ""Vellum simile "" on the market, as very often a high
>gloss coated paper is used and the apearance printed upon in offset.

If someone has produced a decent vegetable substitute that has reasonable longevity
(unlike some of the old 'parchment papers'), then I guess that's a good thing.
Most of the imitation parchments I've seen have been rather nasty, or not very
parchment like at all.  Of course, I haven't been looking for a substitute.

>>The first question that comes to my mind is 'What *kind* of vellum do
>>you want this paper to look like?'
>>
>### Depends what you're up to - there is no general rule, especially as the
>real vellum is a natural product and has slight differences from sheet to sheet.

Now there's a concept I often have to explain to people!
But aside from variations from skin to skin of the same type, there are also
many types of parchment (different treatment, different animals, etc.).

>####
>>(ignoring, for the moment, the fact that no two people seem to agree
>>on a precise definition of the word 'vellum')
>>####
>One should have a look in the Ethrington Dictionary on Bookbinder's Terms
>which is available on-line through Book Arts_L link.
>

Not everyone would accept this as the last word (nor should they).

>In Italian it is interesting to see that vellum is referd to as pergamena fine,
>vellum is a split skin which doesn't show a surface grain on is prepared in
>the finest manner for the use of scribes.

There are those who would maintain the exact opposite: that parchment is the product
made from sheepskin splits (a low grade product), and vellum is everything else.
(ie. vellum is the term reserved for a 'better grade' product)

There are those who would maintain that only the product made from calfskin should
be designated as 'vellum', while everything else is 'parchment'.

I've read one author who maintained that 'parchment' refers to skin where the grain
was removed, and anything which has the grain intact, and is thus suitable for
'vellum binding', can be called 'vellum' (without regard to the species involved).

The impression I have is that authorities in the field recognize the ambiguity,
and seem to use 'parchment' as the generic term, and avoid the term 'vellum'.

Reed (in _The_Nature_and_Making_of_Parchment_), makes a case for the two terms
being used interchangeably as far back as medieval times.

I understand that this ambiguity does not exist in other languages (eg. German).

Note: My understanding is that only sheepskins are routinely split for parchment
making (their pelt structure makes this relatively easy).  Other skins like goat
and calf usually have their grain removed by shaving with the semilunar knife
when the skin is stretched taut on the herse.  That's how I do it, and I've seen
photos of this being done at Cowley's in England and Wildbrett's in Germany.

Cheers, Rick C.


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