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Re: Sugar paper and its Origins , old kraft paper

Sugar paper (for those of us old enough to remember!) was used to
wrap 2 lb quantities of sugar here in the UK.    I can recall at home with my parents around the 40s-50s period that the sugar was in blue
paper bags.  I believe it was how the grocers sold the sugar arriving in sacks in the shops.

My old copies of Falkiner's Fine Paper catalogues also list sugar
paper in 1986 and 1996 in various colours; the weight was ca 100 gsm
and the price some 15 pence per sheet.  There is no indication that
these were for book repair and conservation.  It is obviously a cheap and cheerful paper.

I believe it was a similar paper that you will find on old books as
they came from the printer as "publishers' bindings", cheaply made,
which were then sold and the customer had them rebound, etc., to
match his library - I have quite a few at home in this style where
there is a white (originally!) paper spine cover with printed title
label pasted on, and the boards are covered with the blue sugar paper.
 These are "Gentleman's Magazines", etc. from around 1800 and other
examples.  The binding is falling apart, but then that is to be

 I also have another book bound just the same; this 1788 book was
also wrapped in very heavy, thick, dark brown "kraft" paper full of
lumps and bits of material.  As this paper sample is probably quite
rare I have kept this paper and the book in a slip case to show its
original state.  The brown kraft paper I deacidified and the
resulting solution was like tea without the milk!  The outside of this "book jacket" had the owner's signature in copperplate and the date 1802. What was this poor quality paper originally used for - wrapping parcels in those days? Or goods in shops?   Again I can remember at school in the earlier 50s we were expected to wrap any new school books in brown paper to help prolong there lives, perhaps this is an old trick!

 A copy of Udal's "Dorsetshire Folklore", 1922 is also bound in a grey coloured sugar paper wrapped right round the book with a printed paper label.

It is not apparent from these old books that the paper would not last - although they are worn - as the boards are not foxed or discoloured, but of course the paper then was not necessarily made to have much acidity, nor did the publishers provide it with the intention that I would be holding the books 200 years later.

I think French booksellers used to, and may still, sell the books in
this sort of format for the customer to rebind or perhaps throw away
after reading.

Rodney Fry

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