Walnutts FAQ’s: Laid Paper

Walnutts FAQ’s is a series of common questions… and their answers.

Q. Fairly frequently, I see you post about “laid” paper. What is that?

A. All paper made before about 1800 was “laid paper.” The name comes from a ribbed texture imparted to the sheet by the manufacturing process. In the 19th century, its use diminished as it was largely supplanted by “wove paper.”

In pre-mechanical papermaking (from the 12th century into the 1800s), the laid pattern was produced by the wire sieve in the rectangular mold used to produce single sheets of paper. A worker would dip the mold into a vat containing diluted linen pulp, then lift it out, tilt it to spread the pulp evenly over the sieve, and, as the water drained out between the wires, shake the mold to lock the fibers together. In the process, the pattern of the wires in the sieve was imparted to the sheet of paper. Any authentic paper document or manuscript dated before 1800 will be executed on “laid paper” – when held up to a light source, a pattern of crosshatch lines will be visible within the structure of the paper sheet.

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