No. II.


THE PLAIN PAPER.--In the former article I endeavoured to show that albumenised prints depended for their character and tone mainly upon the original plain paper. I pointed out that, although there are English, French, and German papers at command, the two latter are principally used, and I promised to discuss in detail their particulars. In resuming; I wish it to be understood that my remarks apply only to their fitness for. albumen prints.

Plain paper may be spoken of as composed of two distinct substances, pulp and size. The pulp--chemically speaking cellulose--when examined under the microscope is seen to be a mass of fibres interlacing in every direction. In this form--blotting-paper is a good example--from its soft, spongy, absorbent nature, it is obviously unfitted for printing upon; but when the "sizing" is added, binding together and cementing this loose vegetable felt, the material the,; properly becomes piper. If this distinction be borne in mind, that paper is formed of "pulp "and "size," and that each of these is subject to defects, its nature can be more readily examined, for it may happen that. a given paper may be good in one respect and bad in another.

The "'pulp" is derived in all countries from the same sources--cotton and linen rags-and it probably does not vary much in its nature. I do not conceive it plays any in forming the photographic image. I consider it acts only mechanically as supporting the albumen film, and retaining the sensitive solutions within its fibres.

The "sizing," however, performs a chemical as well as a mechanical part; for not only does it cement the fibres together, but it unites with the silver and gold salts, and materially determines the nature of the picture obtained.

Although the paper makers of England, France, and Germany, are fully, agreed that linen and cotton rags are the right materials for the "pulp," they are by no means unanimous as to the proper composition of the "sizing." In our own country gelatine is used; in Germany, starch; while the French are supposed to employ a mixture of starch and resin; but it really is not exactly known what is used, for the manufacturers do not allow their trade mysteries to be penetrated. It is sufficient that, while there is not much difference in the pulp, the sizings vary very much:indeed, and communicate their character to the paper.

In judging of the pulp the paper must be examined by holding it to the light and looking through: a good paper will show a uniform texture; with very few spots and irregularities. Estimated in this manner, the English papers are generally very good, their principal faults being iron spots; the German or Saxe papers are also very good, scarcely so uniform in their texture as the English, having a mottled appearance, which, however, never shows in printing; while the French papers, especially those known as "Rive," are found to be extremely defective. The whole paper has more or less a honeycombed, speckled appearance, numerous holes, and no end of transparent and opaque spots. Canson used to make paper comparatively free from these faults; but he does; not now, his new make being about the very worst in use. A great number of the defects seen in these Rive papers, however, do not show in printing, but then a great many do; and any photographer who uses this paper must be very lenient and patient, for there is no possibility of obtaining it without these objectionable peculiarities.

Perhaps this will be the proper place to correct a very prevalent error among photographers, who imagine that "Rive" is the name of a maker of paper like Canson. The fact is, Rive is the name of a small town in France, where, water-power being abundant, there are a few paper mills, the largest of which is Blanchet, Fréres and Kleber's." These makers sometimes have their initials in the water-mark, "B.F.K;." In one batch the word "Rive" will also be there, in the next absent. Sometimes only the word "Rive"` will be found, and occasionally only a few sheets in a ream have any water-mark. I mention this in explanation, for I have known photographers declare the paper to be entirely different, though coming from the same mill, because the customary water-mark was absent. "Rive" means therefore, like "Saxe," not; a. makers name, but a small district producing paper of a particular character

In the French papers the "size" employed, whatever it be, gives them an extraordinary hardness. The fibres are cemented together very closely, so that the surface is very hard and fine, When this paper is laid on albumen it seems of a repellent nature, is inclined to curl, and finally, when taken off and dried, retains the albumen almost entirely on the surface, giving the highest; glaze of any papers. Those persons who wish the very highest gloss must always ask for Rive, for no other paper can be had, all other things being equal, which so readily takes the highest gloss; but they must remember that there exists a greater quantity of spots and marks, as already mentioned.

In the German or Saxe paper the sizing is not nearly so hard as in the Rive. The surface therefore is not so fine, and, when albumenised, the albumen seems to sink into the paper. It never receives so high a gloss as the Rive. On the other:hand, those defects so common in Rive are almost absent in the Saxe. The greatest care appears to be taken in the preparation of the pulp, and very few defects are to be found in it.

Judged by the standard of the other two papers, the English sizing seems very indifferent. The surface of the paper is never so fine as the French, and seldom quite so good as the German The albumen sinks into it more even than in the German, and when immersed in the solutions this paper more than any other gets woolly and soft, thickens, and becomes porous. The peculiarities spoken of are quite independent of the hot pressing or glazing, and is entirely due to the sizing.

The above papers all act differently in toning. The English ones print red in the pressure frame and tone very reluctantly, adhering very much to some shade of reddish brown. They can be got to deeper colours, but not so easily. The Sage papers print a dark colour, and are readily toned, passing quickly from the red tint they assume when they are washed. There. are no papers, however, which have given so much trouble in toning by the alkaline gold as this Saxe. There seems a tendency with it, in many persons hands, to get a disagreeable, inky, mealy; granulated appearance. There is no real reason why this paper should give these unpleasant tones, and those who have experience know how to avoid them; but as the matter will be more fully entered into when "toning" is considered, the subject will now be waived.

The highly-glazed Rive paper is difficult to tone; and with a gold and hypo. bath it is almost impossible to get a deep purple black without the whites being yellow; but with the alkaline gold it can easily be done. To my mind the richest of all tones are obtained on this paper. The gold seems to enter into union with the albumen; and a singularly rich colour can be produced. To all who are troubled with grey and mealy blacks with the Saxe paper I recommend a trial of the highest-glazed Rive, and I think they will get rid of their troubles.

In forming a comparison between the three kinds of papers, it is seen that if that paper be judged to be the best that gives the highest glaze and allows the most perfect surface definition, the Rive stands the first; if the absence from defects and readiness of toning be the standard, then the Saxe is the highest. Thus, while something may be said in favour of both French and German papers, the English remains behindhand, for it has not the fine surface of the one or the rapid toning properties of the other; but while, unfortunately, it has neither of the merits of its rivals, it in some degree possesses both their defects--the soft porosity of the Saxe and the metal spots and reluctant toning of the Rive. Can it; therefore, be wondered at that English paper is not in general use?

The subject of albumenising is far too important to be commenced here, and must be deferred till next number.