The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 9, Number 1
Feb 1985

A Request for Historical Paper Specimens

Timothy Barrett, hand papermaker of Kalamazoo, Michigan, is an American authority on traditional Japanese papers. He is now engaged in a research project to describe, as accurately as possible, the methods used to make the best of early Western papers. His project, entitled "Early European Papers/ Contemporary Conservation Papers," is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts Museums Program, the Kress Foundation, and Western Michigan University. During a second stage of this study, modern versions of several of the early papermaking techniques will be considered for use in the manufacture of modern conservation papers.

One of the first steps will be to identify and analyze the characteristics of these good early papers, using nondestructive and small-sample tests. For this purpose, he is appealing to conservators and others outside the paper-making community for sample leaves from books. He says: "While limited funds are available for the purchase of especially rare specimens or fragments, outright donations of papers to the research effort will be very much appreciated. Specifications for specimens follow below. My thanks for your consideration of this request."

There are five specifications for the historical paper samples:

  1. This research will attempt to focus on some of the best book papers manufactured between 1400 and 1800. Specimens should be, in the supplier's own opinion, of exceptional quality. Factors worthy of consideration include: apparently superior permanence and durability, light color, even formation, freedom from predominant knots, debris, etc., and a pleasing surface feel and handle.
  2. Specimens must be dated, either by pages bearing publication information from the sane book, or by written documentation from the supplier, noting the title of the book, publication date and place, and publisher when known.
  3. Fragments and single printed sheets are acceptable but whole books, portions of broken books, and any blank sheets will be most helpful.
  4. in the interest of consistency in sampling, bookpapers only are requested; however, due to the rarity of papers produced between 1400 and 1460, any paper from those dates of a book or manuscript paper weight is welcome.
  5. Papers should be in their original condition as far as can be determined, i.e. free from any conservation treatment.

The papers can be sent to him at his papermill (5947 N. 25th St., Kalamazoo, MI 49004) or at Western Michigan University, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Department of Paper Science and Engineering, Kalamazoo, Ml 49008, where the telephone number is 616/383-1804.

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