Questions & Answers

Archive #4 [2006-2011]

10 September 2011

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VDL watermark #3 question: watermark in an 18th-c. drawing

I saw Mr Pollets VDL watermark #1 question on your website regarding his maps in Chile. I have spent some hours looking at various watermark sites (ie.Gravells etc) as I have a 18th Century drawing with I think has the same indicators. I believe my drawing was executed in Rome around 1757. Its on laid paper with the Watermark I illustrate attached as a pdf. I had got to the Van Der Ley connection. I have read the the Van der Ley paper was produced as early as 1673 or possibly earlier and on the death of GP the father, the family continued to produce laid paper with a variety of Intials. I copy below a drawing of my watermark. (partial)  Sorry its poor quality - I didn’t want to trace as this can leave marks. There are two versions. One Verso.

Can you guide me further. The artist of my drawing may well have bought his paper with him from France to Rome. But I think it was sold all over Europe.

Best Regards

S. Testar

(question received: 03/09/2011)

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VDL watermark #2 question

It is possible to identify the right period of the Van der Ley watermarks of which I do attach a couple of them found in the same paper (where a nice piece of the Giudizio Universale from Michelangelo was engraved)?
Thanking a lot for anything You may provide, I send You my best regards.
Roberto Bonfanti (from Milano, Italy)

(question received: 10/07/2011)

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VDL watermark #1 question: watermark in nautical documents in Chile


We are Chilean researchers from the Instituto de Arqueología Náutica y Subacuática, Santiago. We are currently running a project of nautical historical cartography of the Conception bay (South Chile), and we found many documents that could not be dated. One of the maps was found on the Library of Congress web page and the bibliographic description of the document refers to a watermark “Strasburg fleur-de-lis over the characters VDL”, which might enable to date the document of ca. 1725. Here in Chile we don’t have many paper history bibliographical resources, so it is quite difficult for us to investigate the VDL watermark. That is why we are trying to appeal for some help towards the specialist community. We would need to know more about the VDL paper maker (Van der Leyde?), and above all, about the date range given by the watermark: is it that strongly datable, ca. 1725? What references should we get to learn more about it ?

On the another hand, we have some more documents that contain French watermarks, possibly well dated; nevertheless we know by our readings that there might be a time difference between the purchase of the paper in that time, and its effective use. We could read that the very average of this period was around 5 years maximum and never more than 15 years. Does anybody have some recent information about the current hypothesis and investigations on this matter? Hoping we put your attention on this matter.

With our kind regards,

Christophe Pollet

Investigador Científico Titular
Instituto de Arqueología Náutica y Subacuática
Valle del Maipo Oriente 3543 - Peñalolén
Santiago de Chile

(question received: 09/06/2011)


Dear Albert,

Many thanks for your precisions. To continue with the VDL matter, the reason why I wrote to the you is that I was doubting about the date 1725, for the geographical context of the Conception bay as represented on the map, refers better to the period 1740-1750; by the way it is precisely the period that match with the beginning of the added VDL monogram on papers according to Voorn.
The readings we have made about the datation of papers by the means of watermarks point out that indeed, it is quite uncertain, and could be risky to base on. Do the paper specialists have an estimate for the maximum period between the production of a paper and its use? If we can't use the watermark to date precisely a document, however it seems to us this might be used as a "terminus ante quem" for a no dated document.

Yours sincerely,

Christophe Pollet

(reply received: 16/06/2011)

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The VDL stands for Van der Ley, a papermaking producer from the Zaanstreek, located above Amsterdam in the northern part of Holland. They had several types of watermarks, which you may find described and illustrated in, among other publications, Henk Voorn, De papiermolens in de provincie Noord-Holland (De geschiedenis der Nederlandse papierindustrie I), Haarlem 1960, nos a.o. 37, 40, 47, 72, 74, 102, 110, 123, 164, 178, 189, 193. The Strassburg lily is not among them, so better check in Heawood a.o. handbooks which I have not available at home right now. The Van der Ley started to add the monogram shortly before 1750, according to Voorn (p. 121).


Please don not expect to much from watermarks for dating your maps; indeed paper was often used several years after production and the dates given in the handbooks are the dates found on official documents in archives, not production dates. Moreover: the chance that you will find an identical watermark, from the same paper mill and the same time, is very, very little.


Your hyperlink does not work, by the way. It gives a notification: Temporary file open error. Display failed.


Hopefully, others will send more info.


Albert Elen


(answer received: 15/06/2011)


Dating paper used by the artist Henneberg around 1918

I'm working on a bequest of prints made by the Austrian artist Hugo Henneberg who died in 1918 and was best known for his photographs. A newly found volume of apparently hand printed color woodcuts - each one of a kind - raises new questions about the art production of Henneberg also regarding his collaboration with other artist such as Carl Moll.

The prints in question could be considered as proof prints (they are not signed and the papers trimmed to the edge of the block)  but it would be very useful to know whether they could have been printed by the artist himself or probably only after his death. Three sorts of papers were used as seen in the transmitted light photos. One very thin which shows both chain and laid wires (sample1). One a bit thicker that shows only chain wires and no laid wires are detectable (sample2). And one even thicker that shows no wires at all but a very characteristic profile on the verso side (sample3). (See pics) The question is whether one of those papers could have only been produced  a f t e r  1918 or whether all could have been used by Henneberg himself (thus before 1918) or whether one is especially characteristic for the time between 1900 and 1920.

Herwig Tachezi from Vienna

(question received 24/05/2011) watermark images attached in pdf-file (click to download)

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Identification of watermarks


I have been working on a condition report of a 16th century watercolor album and found some leaves have clear watermarks. I am sending you the images of them. Unfortunately I am not an expert on identifying watermarks so I would like to get your advice on the subject. I don't know where the sheets were made but hope that the watermarks will provide some information about it.


Would it be possible for your to advise me on this subject? If not could you please let me know whom I need to contact? 


Many thanks for your kind help in advance. I am looking forward to hearing from you in the near future.


Thank you,


Best regards,

Hyejung Yum

(Question received 26/04/2011) watermark images attached in pdf-file (click to download)

Dear Hyejung,


Two of the watermarks (#1 and #4) in your pdf-file are crossbow watermarks, one (#3) is an anchor in a circle surmounted by three leaves, another (#2) is difficult to discern, something surmounted by a trefoil, the last is a man walking holding a stick over his shoulders, enclosed in a circle (#5) apparently found in a marbled paper endleaf, probably 18th-c.. or later. I do not have the standard watermark reference books ready to hand, but you can check yourself in a research library, f.i. in a museum or a large library: C.M. Briquet’s Filigranes or Piccard’s Wasserzeichenkartei Stuttgart will probably yield similar watermarks of these types. By the way, watercolours in the sixteenth century is an anachronism, the proper denomination is ‘coloured drawings”. And: is it an album, a drawing-book or a convolute? And who is the artist, from which country (Italian perhaps?) and what is the nature of the drawings?



Albert Elen


(Answer received 18/05/2011)

Identification of a watermark type bell with initial HP

Cher Monsieur, chère Madame,

Je travaille actuellement dans le cadre d'une thèse de doctorat sur le matériel d'orchestre d'un opéra donné pour la première fois à l'Opéra de Paris en Novembre 1836.
Je me permets vous écrire afin que vous m'aidiez à identifier un filigrane présent sur ce matériel d'orchestre. Il s'agit d'une cloche à l'intérieure de laquelle sont placées les initiales HP. Sur certaines pages du même feuillet, on peut voir en filigrane le monogramme de la manufacture de papier Dirk et Cornélius Blauw. Kern Holoman, spécialiste des manuscrits de Berlioz a rencontré cette même association de filigrane dans certains manuscrits de Berlioz. Voici la description qu'il fait de ces filigranes, et l'explication qu'il donne au fait que ces deux filigranes soient réunis sur le même document :

 "Berlioz most frequently used the paper marked with a bell and the letters HP. These initials were associated in the seventeenth century with the merchant H. Pannekoek, whose firm still existed in the nineteenth century. It was the practice of Dutch paper makers to manufacture paper in lots specifically for sale to an important buyer, and is those cases the paper was often watermarked not with the maker's monogram, but that of the merchant. It may be that the Hp paper was also manufactured by Blauw; two manuscripts from Berlioz' tile carry both the Blauw shield and the letters HP". Kern Holoman, Autograph musical documents of Hector Berlioz, p. 147.

          J'aurais voulu savoir si cette explication vous parait plausible. Pour ma part, je suis plutôt sceptique. Sachant qu'il existe de nos jours un papier appelé Hollande Pannekoek, je me demande si les initiales HP ne désignent pas tout simplement ce type de papier. Auriez-vous plus d'informations sur l'histoire du papier de Hollande Pannekoek? Ce papier existait-il déjà au début du XIXe siècle? Y a-t-il un rapport avec H. Pannkoek que cite Kern Holoman?

En vous remerciant pour votre aide,

Matéo Crémades

(question received 19/04/2011)

To Matéo Crémades : Je ne connais pas le papier que vous décrivez, mais
il faut savoir que la contremarque "D & C BLAUW" a été copiée et utilisée
pendant tout le XVIIIe s. et au XIXe par divers fabricants français, le
papier n'a donc pas nécessairement de relation avec la production
hollandaise. Quant aux initiales HP, il est possible qu'elles se réfèrent
ici à Holland Paper, mais l'identification valable au XVIIe est
effectivement peu probable à la fin du XIXes... surtout s'il ne s'agit pas
d'un papier hollandais mais français, qui n'a éventuellement de hollandais
que le "style" du filigrane... je vous invite à vérifier dans l'ouvrage de
Raymond Gaudriault "Filigranes et autres caractéristiques du papier" (CNRS
ed., en usuel dans les bibliothèques), bien que votre période soit un peu
tardive pour cet ouvrage. Je connais par exemple un écu couronné portant
les initiales "HP" associé au nom de lieu "Hallines", papier produit par
Dambricourt Frères, utilisé par V. Hugo plutôt à la fin de sa vie
in English: I am not familiar with the paper you describe but would like
to remind you that the countermark "D & C BLAUW" has been copied and used
by many different French papermakers, mainly all over the XVIIIth c. and
also in the XIXth, so that the connection with Dutch papermakers might be
accurate, but it could also be completely misleading. The initials HP may
also be associated with other references (see Gaudriault); as far as XIXth
C., for instance Dambricourt Frères used it in their watermark on a
crowned shield, with the placename "Hallines", on a paper used by Victor
Hugo 1875-1878.

Claire Bustarret, Paris


(answer received: 22/04/2011

The Radford Family and papermaking in Kent, UK

John Noel Balston writes about the Radford Family and papermaking in Kent in his book, "The elder James Whatman: England's greatest paper maker (1702-1759): a study of eighteenth-century papermaking technology and its effect on a critical phase in the history of English white paper manufacture". Printed in multiple volumes for John Balston by the St. Edmundsbury Press, 1992. He indicates that he discusses the Radfords in more detail in Appendix IV. I am trying to get a copy of that section. Does anyone have access to the Appendix?


I would very much appreciate reading his full commentary and analysis about the Radfords, along with any references.


Thank you.


Richard Alan Nelson

Professor, Louisiana State University


(question received 26/06/2010)

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I am currently researching the mathematics of Vincent Van Gogh’s artwork and have a question of the paper he may have used. His personal letters site his use of Whatman paper. I have also found an article from a professional journal that makes the following statement without a resource: “The Whatman paper that he [Van Gogh] most liked to use is either in full-sized sheets, approximately 48 x 60 centimeters, half-sized sheets, approximately 30 x 48, or quarter-sized sheets, approximately 24 x 3I.”  

My question: Can anyone verity that a “full-sized sheet” of Whatman paper in the late 1800s would be of dimension 48 x 60 centimeters? If so, is there a more precise measurement?  

My follow-up question: Van Gogh also references Harding paper and “papeir de la Forme”. What would the dimension of a full size of these brands had been during the same time period?  

Any other information of paper size during this time period would be helpful.

Thank you,

Pete Anderson

(question received 12/04/2010)

To Pete Anderson (question dated 12.04.2010) : "Papier à la forme"
traditionally just means "handmade paper" ("forme" meaning papermaking
mould), it is not a brand but a technical specification. But it can also
be used commercially to describe a... machine-made paper, made on a
"machine à forme ronde". About Van Gogh's Whatman paper, it could of
course be imported from England, but you also have to be aware that the
"J. Whatman" watermark (with or without a date) has been "copied" and used
by French papermakers all along the XIXth century- this is common in
writing paper found in many manuscripts (for instance Balzac's), I do not
know about drawing paper, but it could be the same. The next issue of the
french association AFHEPP journal, called "PapierS", might provide more
information on this phenomenon (article by Denis Peaucelle).

Claire Bustarret, Paris


(answer received: 22/04/2011



We have worked with paintings by George Stow, a 19th century geologist and rock art copyist in South Africa who did most of his work on Whatman papers. We measured all the works available to us (over 150) so I can report that the papers are approximately 675 x 510 - variable dimensions by a few mm due to the imprecise nature of papermaking, presumably.


Best wishes

Thomas Cartwright


(answer received 05/06/2010)



Holy Michael with sword and scales, Upper Austria?

Dear friends!

I am working with a medical manuscript, written in german, found in Upper Austria ? Steyr. Paper with these watermarks were used in the time between 1650 and 1730 in little variations in Upper Austria. The opinion of me and a good friend is, that these watermarks, because of the Holy Michael and the initials CB, are of the papermill Pettighofen (today region lenzing) bei Seewalchen in Upperaustria. Another sheets has the initials  FFD(B?)

You have seen these watermarks? You know something about the papermill? Please send me an information, thank you

With kind regards,

Eva Maria Mannsberger

(question received 12/04/2010)


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Van Gelder Zonen watermark identification

Hi,my name is Lisa Duncan and I am a paper and photograph conservator in the US. I have been researching Van Gelder Zonen paper as part of a project associated with an early Ansel Adams photographic portfolio. The paper has begun to discolor in interesting ways and I am trying to find out more information about the maker and also about the processes in making the paper. The portfolio I am interested in was printed around 1929 at Grabhorn Press in San Francisco, California. I have attached to this email 2 watermarks on the paper. Can you please forward this to someone who can add my posting/ question to your website? I was unable to get to an area for posting the question as my email is not directly linked to my computer. The button on the website does not provide an actual email name in order to copy and paste into my email.

I am interested in learning more about Van Gelder Zonen paper that was used in a 1929 portfolio by the famous American photographer, Ansel Adams titled "Parmelian Prints of the High Sierras." The paper was used as a folder for each of 18 prints in the portfolio. Currently the paper was discolored in areas in contact with the silver photographic print and I am trying to understand why this particular paper is so susceptible to discoloration. Any information about the processing techniques in the 1920s & 30s of Van Gelder Zonen would be greatly appreciated. Also, any sources about Van Gelder Zonen would be appreciated. Currently there is only one book that seems to address, in depth, Van Gelder Zonen and it is written in Dutch. Unfortunately, I don't read Dutch. The two watermarks embedded in the paper are attached, taken in transmitted light.

Lisa Duncan

(question received 05/04/2009)

I found on the IPH-website, on the page "Questions and Answers", some questions about watermarks/paper of Van Gelder Papier. Before I give answer to the questions at the very bottom of this e-mail, first some history about myself.


First of all: I am a member of the IPH. I attended already the first IPH symposium in 1961 in Oegstgeest Holland, when I was a 16-years old boy. Henk Voorn of course was the president; amongst many others Wolfgang Schlieder, Jadwiga Siniarska-Czaplicka and Theo Gerardy e.g. were there as well. I saw on the IPH website that Henk Voorn was president from 1963 on, I think it has to be from 1961?


When I was 13 years old  I had already a complete outfit for making paper by hand, incl. a small Hollander beater etc., and printed my own etches on that paper. It was just my great hobby and by that time I also started collecting and reading literature which had to do with the history of paper.


I was born in 1944 and grew up on the premises of the Van Gelder Zonen mill in Velsen, where my father was an employee till 1970. When I became 18 years I started working in four shifts at the newsprint papermachine PM 18 in Velsen. A few years later, in 1968, I started working at Customer Services of Van Gelder Zonen at the head quarters in Amsterdam.


In 1970 I became a Product Manager at Van Gelder Papier and was mainly dealing with the products from the mills in Wormer and Apeldoorn. I was involved in the organization of the IPH Symposium 1971 in Arnhem. One of the things I took care of was the syllabus of this symposium. Next to my job at Van Gelder, I studied and graduated in Economics at the University of Amsterdam. I also helped Henk Voorn around 1970 by giving access to and studying the historic archive of Van Gelder for his books about the Dutch paper industry.


I left Van Gelder Papier in 1976 and started my own company, printing heat transfer paper. It was first in Westzaan for 3 years, after 2 years in Wormerveer, and then I moved in 1980 with the company to Melick-Herkenbosch (close to Roermond), sold the company to Hunter-Douglas in 1991, when it had 50 employees, and started in 1995 a similar company in Lodz, Poland. In 1968 Van Gelder Zonen changed its trade name in Van Gelder Papier. Unfortunately in 1980 after a long tradition since 1784, because of bankruptcy, there came an end of what was for a long time the fourth biggest paper conglomerate in Europe.


In 1970/71 I was also involved in setting up a marketing plan for the Van Gelder Zonen plant in Apeldoorn, produced sample books, etc. By that time the mill in Apeldoorn had 5 paper machines.

-Three fourdriniers. Two for producing woodfree uncoated printing and writing and one for woodfree online coated paper;  

-Two mould machines (dutch: rondzeefmachines): PM 3 and PM 13;

The two mould machines were from the very begin of the 20th century, and had replaced paper making by hand in Apeldoorn, both a trimwidth of 130 cms. They were meant to produce an imitation of the hand made paper, for which the Apeldoorn mill had a world wide reputation by that time. 


By the time that I was dealing with the products of these machines, On PM 13 was made white and coloured board (> 180 gr/m2). On PM 3 were made still the socalled oudhollandse papieren, so mainly paper with watermarks. The two watermarks which are shown in the Email of Mrs. Duncan are from paper produced either on PM 3 or PM 13. From the begin of the 20th century on, these were the only Van Gelder machines for paper with watermarks. I still have some of the sample books of paper from PM 3, which I produced in the early seventies in my possession. And that's why I can give pretty accurate info to the questions.


Please find attached a scan of the relevant pages. Scan # 1 shows you the cover of the sample book printed on Zaans Bord of the Schoolmeester in Westzaan.

(By that time I was managing (finance, production, marketing and organization) the Schoolmeester as well). 


Finally the answer to the questions:


The two watermarks are from the quality Oxhead, production code 81.023. It was sold in sheets of 40 x 52., 110 gr/m2, the 52 cms edge parallel to the machine direction and to the vergure wires at a distance of 4 cms.In the attachment # 8 of the Email you can see that the oxhead (watermark # 3) was placed in the left upper corner of the sheet and the name Van Gelder Zonen (watermark # 10) at the right bottom of the sheet, parallel to the 40 cm. edge. The oxhead is standing under an angle of 90 degrees, so vertical towards the name Van Gelder Zonen. The chain wires, at a distance of 4 cms, are in the machine direction.


Met vriendelijke groeten,







  Ton Steijn




   Tel. +48 42 6762767
   Fax. +48 42 6762709

Steijn Paper Sp. z o.o.
Dmosin Drugi nr 89

95-061 Dmosin, Poland
Regon 471634174
VAT: PL7251637767
Nr KRS: 0000001602
Equity: PLN 17.288.800,00




In re: Lisa Duncan’s query of 05/04/2009


I too am looking for more information about Van Gelder Zonen paper.  I am a book conservator, and I am examining a book printed on Van Gelder Zonen paper, which has the same watermarks shown in Ms. Duncan’s photos.  The book is printed on folios measuring 39.8 x 52.1 cm (15-5/8 x 20-1/2 inches) with what appears to be deckle on all four edges.  My question is whether this is the full sheet size.


This book is peculiar because it has been printed and bound ‘wrong grain,’ that is, with the grain running perpendicular to the spine. Ms. Duncan’s sample appears to be printed in the same fashion.  I wonder if this was a paper intended and designed to be printed and bound as quartos, which my book’s designer, and apparently Ansel Adams too, ignored and chose to use as folios.


The book I have was produced in 1931 in Berlin, published by the Soncino Gesellschaft and printed by Officina Serpentis.  I do not know whether the printer was also the binder.


Any information about this paper, and its apparent international popularity at the time, would be greatly appreciated.


Many thanks,


Anne Marigza Conservator, Books and Documents

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Office of Collections
Washington DC

(Answer received 14/04/2010)




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I am looking to indentify the manufacture of  this watermarks.  Early 20th century, white laid paper.  

Rachel Mustalish

(question received 31/01/2010)



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With kind regards

Anna-Grethe Rischel



I came across your site while trying to figure out where this paper is from and how old it may be. I am curious as to what this watermark is and where it is from. My friend purchased this picture at an estate sale.vIt looks to be quite old and has a other stamp in the right hand corner. Any information you may have would be very helpful. I looked around the internet and I was unable to find anything close to this water mark. There is a name written on the back of the picture but I am unable to make it out. Could this paper be German or Dutch? If you need any other pictures please do not hesitate to contact me.

Thank you for your time and energy.




Gregory Sullivan


(question received 11/01/2010)






Dear mr. Sullivan,


your watermark is of the Fortuna type, which is relatively rare and found in archival documents of around 1810-15 (cf. Churchill 193; Voorn, De papiermolens in de provincie Noord-Holland, 1960, p 141 no 193, ill p 224 and cover ill.). It was probably produced in the Zaanstreek area above Amsterdam, Holland. It is just a part of the watermark, which possibly had the initials VDL just below it (Van der Ley firm, Zaandijk). The drawing (of a seated woman) in which the watermark is found, is therefore probably by a Dutch, possibly Amsterdam artist of that time. The oval shaped blind-stamp at bottom right is difficult to distinguish, but seems to represent a human nude with an eagle, possibly the mythological figure Ganymedes. It may be a collector’s mark, yet unknown to me.


With kind regards,

Albert Elen


(reply received 11/01/2009)



I am researching for a book about the Chromolithographic edition of Audubon's birds of America printed by Julius Bien 1858-1860. I am interested in identifying where his paper came from and whether it contained a wood pulp content and if so what proportion of wood pulp to rag content. Did the nineteenth century lithographers in America use paper from
American mills?

Any information is very appreciated.

Joel Oppenheimer, President
Joel Oppenheimer, Inc
Oppenheimer Editions, LLC

(question received 20/12/2009)


Dear Joel Oppenheimer,

you have many questions and they are not easy to answer. To establish the content of wood pulp/rags one needs a sample of the paper from the edition to be analyzed and to find the provenance of the paper is even more complicated. I will send your question to the web-site of IPH.

With kind regards
Anna-Grethe Rischel 

(reply received 23/12/2009)


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With kind regards

Anna-Grethe Rischel


I am working with a 18th century manuscript from Vienna (1760-1765). There is trace of chain lines. This paper is 17, 5 x23,5. Who will say what is the caracteristic of the watermark and the countermark ?

With kind regards,



(question received 10/11/2009)

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With kind regards

Anna-Grethe Rischel

Dear Sirs and Madams,

I am working with a small German manuscript, a prayer-book. The only date on the book is a hand-written inscription, 1729. The paper it is written on, however, I had taken to be wove paper - there is absolutely no trace of chain lines, while the watermark ("OHL" with a crown or flame on the "O") is very clearly visible. (The paper appears to be 40cm wide by about 35cm tall with the "OHL" watermark appearing twice along the centre of the bottom edge of the paper.)

Is it possible that this is laid paper, even without chain lines? I am also having some difficulty tracing the watermark - if you could point me in the direction of a more relevant resource that would be wonderful!

Charlotte Ashley

(question received 30/09/2009)


Dear Charlotte,

Judging from the dimensions your book is not small at all. Are they the dimensions of the bookblock (i.e. a single page) or the openings (i.e. two opposite pages)? Are you sure it is a manuscript and not a printed book, or even a facsimile? It would help when you send reduced jpeg images of the opened book and the watermark.

Albert Elen

(answer received 22/10/2009)


Dear Charlotte,

Your description indicates that it is laid paper, papier vélin, but it does not correspond with the year, written in the book. The first book that was printed on paper from a woven mould was John Baskerville's book Publii Virgilii Maronis Bucolica, Georgica, et Aeneis from 1757, according to my information.
Hopefully other people can give you a more clear explanation and tell about the origin of the watermark.

With kind regards,

Anna-Grethe Rischel

(answer received 17/10/2009)



Perhaps someone can be of assistance.  I am researching a letter written in France by a priest or rector of a seminary in the 1850s.


The "Bath" watermark appears on the upper left hand corner of the paper.  I have attached images of the front and verso of the watermark.


I would greatly appreciate it if anyone could provide further information about the history of the watermark, or refer me to any references.


Thanks for any assistance.


Mark Grossman, USA

(question received 07/07/2009)


Dear Mark,

This is not a watermark but a blind pressed (embossed) mark, which is not part of the papermaking process.

Albert Elen, Leiden


(answer received 31/07/2009)


If anyone could shed some light on this watermark, it would be greatly appreciated. The paper has a drawing on one side, 18th century I have been told, and another drawing on verso, 17th or 16th century.
Again, your expertise is very much anticipated and appreciated.
With kind regards,

Reldon Coffey

(question received 20/05/2009)

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I've found a beautiful ink drawing in which paper features a watermark that could be a Van Gelder watermark: a female figure standing on a globe, the so called 'fortune' figure.

I would like to know how old could it be, and some information about general dating of this watermark.


Many thanks,


Alessandro Querci

(question received 22/06/2009)



This does sound to me like the Fortuna watermark. I have found it in a Malay manuscript (no. Or. 57) dated 1824 in the Koningklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde in Leiden. It is accompanied by the ‘Van der Ley’ mark. I have a note that it occurs in H Voorn (1960) De Papiermolens in de Provincie Noord-Holland, no. 193, acompanied by the same mark (VDL), and also no. (?or page) 224.  Heawood (1950) nos. 1364, 1365 seem to be this mark, specimens both dated c. 1769, Amsterdam. For a full discussion of the watermark, see  Papier Geschichte XXIX 1976 pp 53-55.  I have the two-volume The Little Red Book of Bristol (1900)  by F B Bickley, published in Bristol, which is printed on fine large laid sheets with the Fortuna watermark alternating with Van Gelder Zonen, on more than 500 pages. It may be relevant that Van Gelder had a papermill called ‘Het Fortuin’ (illustrated in Van Gelder Zonen 1784-1934, by Jane de Iongh, 1934, Haarlem, p 98). Hope this is the right one.

Russell Jones 

(answer received 31/07/2009)




What is the difference between Steinbach sheets and Fabriano sheets? and what is the difference between hot pressed sheets and cold pressed sheets?



(question received 11/05/2009)


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watermark on aid paper circa 1860

I am trying to identify the manufacturer of a laid paper which was used to print a block of nine 10 cent Jefferson Davies stamps circa 1860 to 1870. I can make out part of the watermark of the manufacturer, it starts with a L and has 5 letters namely L-ti-.

Thank you in advance

Fred Rigo

(question received 01/03/2009)

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Unicorn watermarks in British paper c. 1800

Dear Sir or Madam,

I understand from various publications (such as Papermaking by Dard Hunter and others) that the Unicorn was widely used as a watermark from the 15th to the 17th centuries inclusive. According to Hunter one person, M.Briquet, has recorded over 1100 different renderings of this used as a device for marking paper. But it was less used from the early 18th century onwards. But can you please say if you are aware of any quality paper being manufactures in England which still uses the Unicorn watermark form around, say, the year 1800 or just before? The reason I’m interested is because the only example I’m aware of from around that time seems to have been produced in the Austro/Hungarian Empire. But the document in which I’m interested appears to have been produced in England around the early 19th century. Does anyone know of Unicorn paper being made from England at around this time and, possibly, where it may have been manufactures in England? The writing on the paper in question is English and was almost certainly made not later than 1810.

Many thanks for any assistance.

Robert Newman

(question received 28/02/2009)

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wove paper

Hi, I am a hand made paper maker from India and currently making acid free water colour paper. I use woollen felts to make water colour paper. i use cotton rags as raw material. I want to develop drawing paper. This paper will be used for pencil and charcoal sketching. I tried using cotton felts but in spite of doing heavy calendring the marks of cotton felts do not go and we do not get smooth paper ideally suited for smooth pencil work.

can any one guide me in suggesting a felt which can give a smooth finish?

Sundaram Srikkanth

(question received 20/02/2009)

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Blue lined note paper

I would like to know how long blue lined note paper has been commercially available. I have well aged 140mm x 225mm loose sheets of blue lined paper and am curious how old it could be.

Thank you

Roy Rantilla

(question received 07/02/2009)

Dear Roy Rantilla

Thank you for your question and interest in paper production. I will send your question to paper historians with archival knowledge about the actual production of the paper mills, but according to my own sample of a folio sheet of handmade paper from Lessebo in Sweden with blue lines it was common in the 19th century.

With kind regards

Anna-Grethe Rischel

(answer received 07/02/2009)

Fabriano watermark dating

I am curious whether these are Fabriano watermarks of late 1500’s – they were from the same blank book. I would be especially grateful to find where I can contact or view a database that may confirm or show it with relative date.

Thank you

Ron Bodoh

(question received 02/02/2009)

Thank you for your question about the watermark added to your mail. There are various data bases of watermarks and there are also a number of catalogues to check, but maybe you have already done that. I suggest that you contact Paola Franca Munafò at Istituto centrale per la patologia del libro in Rome (Paolafranca.munafo @ and Emanuel Wenger at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna (emanuel.wenger @

With kind regards

Anna-Grethe Rischel

(answer received 04/02/2009)

Dear colleagues

The question concerning the two watermarks came up to me. Although we are concentrated on watermarks of the middleages I looked up the repertories available at our commission – unfortunately without results. If there’s the opportunity they are from Fabriano perhaps it shows more promise to contact the papermuseum there.

With kind regards

Maria Stieglecker

(answer received 13/02/2009)

Paper based filling system (#2)

Hi Anna

Thank you for your quick response. The word “a paper based filing system” means the way a person or an organisation stores its files [paper or electronically]. This could be in the form of a file or on the computer. We as a team have to argue that keeping paper documents in cabinets is the right thing to do. We have to motivate this starting from when paper was first used stating the following:
Which year?
By whom were the uses of paper discovered?
The history of paper and filling?


Mphakamisi Mzamo


Mphakamisi Mzamo

(question received 16/01/2009)

Dear Mphakamisi Mzamo

Thank you for more information of your questions. You have put a lot of questions and in my opinion you will get the most precise answers from Dr. Józef Dabrowski who is the most distinguished paper historian and specialist in pulp and paper technology. I will forward your questions to his e-mail address.

With kind regards

Anna-Grethe Rischel

(answer received 07/02/2009)

Paper based filling system (#1)

Please assist with the following question. Team A must prepare a report giving arguments in favour of a paper based filing system. In your debate, you must link your current change control process to the management of your filing system. You must motivate its strengths and why this process should not change. Convince the other team to maintain the status quo.


Mphakamisi Mzamo

(question received 14/01/2009)

Thank you for your question that I want to be sure that I understand correctly before I send it to a colleague with special knowledge in this field. Please let me know if the word “a paper based filling system” means a pulp machine filling out tears and missing areas with new fibres with the combination of vacuum?

With kind regards

Anna-Grethe Rischel

(answer received 16/01/2009)


Dear Sir/Madam
I have a 2 page beautifully written manuscript dated circa 1750. It has a very prominent bookmark that I would like help to identify. I live in London NW3 and would appreciate an experienced watermark specialist to look at it.

Can someone help please.

Robert Hendry

(question received 08/01/2009)

Dear Robert Hendry
Thank you for your question. I can recommend you to search for the watermark in Edward Heawood’s Watermarks mainly of the 17th and 18th centuries, published as the first edition of The Paper Publication Society Monumenta Chartæ papyraceæ. If you already have studied that fine book I would suggest that you write to Dr. Richard Hills, Stanford Cottage, 47 Old Road Mottram/Hyde, Ceshire SK 146L W, G.B. and send him a copy of the watermark
With kind regards

Anna-Grethe Rischel

(answer received 16/01/2009)

Black paper, 1847

I have been inspecting a silhouette that is credited to 1847. The black paper from which it was cut, when louped (watched) with a 16x loupe (magnifying glass), shows a very distinctive patterns (and a very clear white on the back of the black paper). The pattern is uniform in both directions and looks exactly like the thread count in cotton material of today, and the lines are about the same density in number as would be threads in cotton. From what I can find on “laid lines” in hand set paper in that period of the 1840s, there should not be exactly the same spread in the lines both horizontally and vertically. Is that the case? Is there some other factor that would explain a black paper of 1847 that appeared to have very fine black threads melded on its surface?

S. Anderson

(question received 29/12/2008)

Hello, Mrs. Rischel: Thank you so much for your prompt response. The black paper making up the front surface of the silhouette is glued onto cardboard similar to that which was used on old albumen photographs. The white side of the paper is down, being the side glued to the board. Only a tiny edge of the black paper shows the white backing so we cannot be sure that the whole of the black paper is backed by the same very white backing, but it is probably safe to assume that there is white backing of the black paper. The very even, tiny mesh lines are on the face of the black paper. Due to the gluing, I cannot tell whether the white paper has similar lines. I should give you a bit more detail on my inquiry. A study has been made of the black paper used by some of the early, famous, 19th century silhouettists. That study showed that, at least the silhouettes studied, were cut from paper made by applying a black compound onto white paper, with the chemical structure of the compound varying from one cutter to the next. I have found advertisements for black paper in newspapers in the early 1840s, but have not been able to find advertisements for paper made for silhouettes, nor did the study. The knowledge I lack is whether a less skilled silhouettists might have been able, in 1847, to have purchased a pre-made, finely and evenly meshed black paper with a white reverse side. The authenticity of the particular silhouette I am inquiring about is some what in question unless a black paper with a fine mesh surface and backed with white was likely to have been produced in the 1840s. If a black compound over white paper was generally used by most silhouettists to make their black paper, then the compound would likely cover over any mesh as fine as that which appears on the surface of our black paper; or if the black paper with a fine mesh on its surface and backed by white was an unlikely production of the 1840s, then the paper of this particular silhouette would appear to be an anomaly and make the 1840s date an unlikely one. What would your opinion be?

Again, thank you so much for the time you have taken on this inquiry.
Susan Anderson

(reaction received 02/01/2009)

Thank you for your question concerning black silhouette paper. I understand on your description that only the front of the paper is coloured with black and that you can observe a structure similar to a woven textile on the white reverse. The structure of the reverse side of the paper is most often the impression of the material on which the paper has been made; in handmade paper you will therefore not find any impression of the laid lines and the chain lines of the metal wire in the mould, if it has been covered with a woven material as is the case in Whatman paper. In handmade Oriental paper made with a floating mould with a fixed bottom of woven textiles the impression of the woven structure is to be found on the reverse of the paper, if not a heavy polishing has taken place. The structure that you observe in the paper from 1847 could indicate that it was machine made paper and not handmade Whatman paper and that the woven structure was the impression from the endless woven material of the paper machine or that it was a pattern that was pressed into the paper as an after treatment. I know from my studies of Japanese paper from the end of the 19th century how any structure and surface could be added to the paper to imitate embossed leather and there are many examples of modern machinemade writing paper with textile structure and chain lines and laid lines. I hope that my suggestions to your question can help you and I will look for woven structure in machinemade paper from that period.

Anna-Grethe Rischel

(answer received 02/01/2009)

Pope Reel


J'aimerais savoir à quoi correspond la technique du « pope reel » ?

Pouvez-vous m'illustrer le fonctionnement du machine du type « pope reel » ?



Jean-Hugues Le-Gallou

(question received 21/01/2008)

Dear colleague,

In this surface–driven type of the reel (or reeler), the peripheral speed of paper web during its reeling is constant and not influenced by the diameter of wound rolls. So this type of the reel is used on papermaking machines, and also on some converting machines, where large diameter tightly wound rolls are desired and where the product is not particularly sensitive to tension or pressure. In American English, it is frequently written as ‘pope reel’, in spite of the fact that the name commemorates its inventor, a certain Pope. It is also called drum reel, see Fig. 17-38, taken from G.A. Smook: Handbook for Pulp and Paper Technologists, Vancouver 1989: G.A. Smook in his “Handbook for Pulp and Paper Terminology” (Vancouver 1990, p. 171) writes: DRUM REEL: Typical equipment for reeling the product at the end of the paper machine in which the web wraps around a motor-driven drum and feeds into the nip formed by a spool contacting the drum and driven by the drum. The paper wraps the spool and builds up into a reel. Syn. Pope Reel. I have not found any information about Pope, an inventor of this reel. R.H. Clapperton in his “The Paper-making Machine, Its Invention, Evolution, and Development” (Oxford 1967) do not mention this invention when writing about standardization of the paper-making machines in 1870-90. Probably it is a twentieth-century invention. In attachment I am adding information about the Pope reel in German, i.e. about ‘Poperoller’. It was taken from the book entitled “ Das Papierbuch. Handbuch der Papierherstellung“ (Houten 1999, p. 314) by J.H. Bos, P. Veenstra, H. Verhoeven, P.D. de Vos. This is a German version of the fifth edition of their handbook originally published in Dutch and entitled „Het Papierboek“. However, I do not possess any book in French about paper-making machinery. I am sorry about that. Nevertheless, I do hope that my explanations will satisfy your thirst of knowledge.

Friendly regards,

Dr. Józef Dabrowski, Poland (answer received 03/02/2008)

Pfaffenweiler Blumenmacherin

Hi, my ancestor, Johanna Keifer, immigrated from Pfaffenweiler, Baden, Germany (very near to Freiburg) to Jasper, Indiana (USA) in 1847. In a history book for Pfaffenwieler her occupation is described as blumenmacherin. Flower maker? Would this only refer to one who made flowers from paper? Was this just a cottage industry? Or could this term also be used for a fresh flower arranger (florist)? My memory was that she was called a blumenbender but doesn't recognize that word and asks if I mean Blumenbinden which translates as "flower bandage" which REALLY doesn't make sense, unless it means someone who gathers flowers in a field and binds them into bunches to be taken to market. Any reply would be appreciated. I am told that paper flowers were used for funerals when fresh flowers could not be obtained. She did later work for a funeral home in Washington, Indiana making funeral wreaths.

Linda Wolff

(question received 01/07/2006)

I know Freiburg well and Pfaffenweiler too. In my opinion a "Blumenmacherin" has produced artificial flowers. For imitation a flower-maker used dyed paper as well as silk. Usually it was a cottage industry. The wife of our famous poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Christiane Vulpius from Weimar, also had been a "Blumenmacherin". She was active as a so called "Putzmacherin" (a milliner) in a factory for hats as a young girl. Christiane produced silk flowers.

A play for children: TEM_TYPE=0&MENU_ID=10272
: tells Bumenmacherin = flower-maker = fleurist

Dr. Frieder Schmidt, Leipzig

(answer received 04/07/2006)


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