The Alkaline Paper Advocate

Volume 10, Number 2
Oct 1997

The Introduction of Wood Pulp to Papermaking after 1844

Reprinted from p. 57-59 of The Manufacture of Paper: Description of the Various Processes for the Fabrication, Coloring, and Finishing of Every Kind of Paper [etc. etc.], by Charles Thomas Davis. Philadelphia and London: Henry Carey Baird & Co., 1886.

In 1844 there was patented in Germany a machine for grinding wood for the manufacture of pulp. The inventor, Keller, sold the patent to the firm of Henry Voelter's Sons, who afterwards used the pulp in the manufacture of news paper.

The Voelters made numerous improvements in Keller's invention, and a quarter of a century after it was patented in Germany by Keller this wood-pulp machine was destined to play an important part in the United States, when in response to the demand for the rapid printing of daily newspapers the web press was to come into use. The Voelters, Christian and Henry, made numerous improvements in the machine, Christian Voelter obtaining patents in various European countries, in France even as early as April 11, 1847. Henry Voelter patented his improvement on the pulp machine in Wurtemburg, Germany, August 29, 1856, and in the United States, August 10, 1858.

Pearson C. Chenney, ex-governor of New Hampshire, has described the difficulty of introducing paper made from wood. In his testimony before the Senate Committee on Education and Labor, Mr. Chenney said: "When Mr. Russell built his mill at Franklin, those of us who were engaged in the manufacture of paper and had no knowledge of what could be done with wood supposed that his enterprise would ruin him. We supposed that his material would be more like sawdust or clay. Mr. Russell completed his mills at Franklin, but after manufacturing the pulp, he could not find a paper manufacturer who would buy a pound of his wood pulp, because they did not believe in it--they had no faith in it, and he was compelled to buy a paper-mill in order to make a good test of it, which he did in Franklin, right beside his pulp-mill, and made the test, and a successful test, and showed a very good paper.

"After the paper was made he found great difficulty in selling it. The printers felt that they could not use it; they were afraid to use paper made from raw wood; they were afraid it would injure their type or ruin it, and they declined to use it.

"His selling agents were the firm of Rice & Kendall, of Boston. They resorted to all sorts of devices to get this paper used, but they were finally obliged to resort to something that did not appear on the surface, but seemed to be necessary in order to secure the introduction of the paper into use. They had an order from, I think the 'Boston Herald' for about 500 reams of paper. They were supplying that journal regularly from month to month, and, without saying anything as to the nature of the paper, they sent paper made from this wood; the paper passed, and was used, and when the next order came and they delivered the regular paper which they had been in the habit of sending before, the 'Herald' people came to Mr. Rice in some displeasure, and asked him why he could not send such paper as he had sent the month previous. He told them that he could do so if they preferred it, and they said they did. They said that it worked very well--very much better than the other. So he told them that the next order they gave him he would send some of that paper. The next month he again delivered 500 reams of the wood paper, and that was used and gave great satisfaction. But I think they were using it for six months before they knew that it was wood paper.

"That established the use of that class of paper, and there was no trouble after that in selling it. The fact is that it absorbs the ink better and works much better for printing than other paper does, and works particularly well in rapid presses."

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