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First use of FLAX paper



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> Any answers to the following questions would be gratefully received. =
> What and when was the first Western book printed on paper made =
> exclusively from flax? How long and how widespread was its use as a =
> papermaking fibre?
>
    I can't tell whether this is a general question or a specific one.
If it is specific, I can't imagine anyone could answer it--Luigi di
Miaggioni in Villa di Sancti grew a field of flax that he sold to Johann
Flummux who made it into paper used by Pieter Von Hutz at his press in
Sitzburg to print an edition of the Nuremburg Calender at 7:45 a.m. on
August 8, 1482?   No, not likely.
  My understanding is that flax, i.e. crude flax plant fibers obtained
with minimal processing, makes for rather weak paper if used
exclusively.  The paper makers on the list might speak to that with
better authority than I.  It is my understanding that the paper makers
of the near east (ca.800) found that linen rag made good paper, and this
knowledge passed to the west via the Islamic contacts with Spain and
Italy in the early medieval period.  Paper did not become cheaper than
vellum until much later (paper records are not common in England until
after 1500), however, and printing takes us to Gutenberg and Mainz in
1446.  Gutenberg printed his Bible partly on vellum and partly on paper,
30 vellum copies and 180 on paper to be exact.  Letterpress printing on
vellum is a very tricky business, by the way, and I doubt mechanical
printing would ever have caught on if vellum had remained the cheaper
material.  As to the physical components of the paper of the surviving
incunnabula, my guess would be they are primarily linen rag papers, with
fillers of flax, hemp, and various floor sweepings, depending on
quality. Wood pulp paper replaced rag paper as the dominate material
about the time of the Civil War (1840-1870) in the US.  I am not sure
about the chronology for Europe. I leave it to the paper experts on the
list to correct and refine the chronology of the development of letter
press printing papers.  I would be glad to read their comments.
  Dorothy Africa


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