Papermaking Book List

BG Watson

"Of making many books, there is no end"
(Ecclesiastes, Chapter 12, Verse 12)

This list of books about paper and papermaking is arranged alphabetically by author, and ranges in date of publication from 1934 to 1988.

Many books on the subject were written during the fifty years between 1880 and 1930. Most of these are very out dated, and more importantly, are not to be found in libraries. Since 1930 a steady stream of paper books has continued, both in the UK and overseas. Most of the books here listed are UK publications and contain references and bibliographies.

Within the modern industry, forestry and wood pulping, as well as the treatment and use of secondary fibre (waste paper) play important roles. No books specifically devoted to these topics have been included. However a recent publication* (written by an Association member) is a valuable survey.

*Bolton, T, The International Paper Trade, (Woodhead Publishing Ltd, 1998).

It is hoped that the comments about each book will indicate its potential usefulness.

ARMITAGE, FD, Atlas of Commoner Papermaking Fibres, (Guildhall Publishing Co. Ltd, 1957).

This is a comprehensive guide to the optical and chemical examination of paper and board of most types, including those containing synthetic fibres.

Although a specialist publication, its value is much enhanced by the many micrographs which accompany the text. To anyone dealing with the industry's products this book contains much useful information.


BRITT, KW, (edited by), Handbook of Pulp and Paper Technology, (Chapman and Hall Ltd, 1964).

Although published over 40 years ago, this compilation presents a helpful survey of the essential facts about the theory and practice of pulp and paper manufacture. Under Britt's editorship, 11 outstanding American authorities wrote chapters which cover in depth surveys of specific subjects, from raw materials (both fibrous and non-fibrous) and forestry, to wood pulping operations and stock preparation. The construction and operation of paper machines and auxiliary finishing equipment is fully surveyed. The book concludes with sections on paper properties and testing, as well as the application of process instrumentation before the advent of computers.

Each chapter is well illustrated by photographs and line diagrams, as well as references to other publications.



The author of the following two books had over 50 years practical experience of the paper industry, as a papermaker and mill manager. Over this period he collected a large archive, much of which he used in these two publications, both classics of their subject. He was also a writer of a standard practical textbook Modern Papermaking (Basil Blackwell) which went through several editions between 1934 and 1952.

(a) Paper: An Historical Account of its Making by Hand from the Earliest Times Down to the Present Day, (Oxford, 1934)

This book describes the origin and development of early papermaking in China, and its progress over a millennium. The structure and use of the Eastern flexible and Western rigid moulds are contrasted, and illustrations from both manuscript, printed, and photographic sources are shown to explain the two techniques. Micrographs and discussion of the plant fibres used in ancient papers allows practical papermaking problems to be introduced.

The role of early Japanese papermaking is commented on, with illustrations from Kunisaki's book of 1798. Photographs of Kashmiri papermakers leads to a chapter on the Indian hand-made industry. A survey of the gradual migration of paper to the Eastern Arab Empire is followed by an assessment of papermaking in mediaeval Spain. The major European papermaking countries are surveyed, before John Tate is introduced. The early development of the industry in England is fully covered, and a chapter about early papermills in North America concludes the volume.

(b) The Papermaking Machine. Its Invention, Evolution and Development, (Pergamon Press, 1967).

Since its publication, several other books have been written on the history of the paper machine. Clapperton's was a pioneering volume, and is still important.

The work of the early inventors and machine builders is introduced, followed by a detailed review of the Fourdrinier's efforts which saw the first paper machine in operation at Two Waters Mill in Hertfordshire. John Dickinson's part in later modifications and improvements is assessed, and the invention of the suction couch and dandy rolls is fully covered.

A chapter about Brian Donkin and his work, and the engineering firm which he founded, includes unique extracts from his diary. During the latter half of the nineteenth century, the Fourdrinier machine (named after the two brothers who largely financed its first introduction) became standardised into today's giants, and Clapperton brings his vast experience in summarising these changes.

Several appendices detail, with original illustrations, other improvements connected with paper machine production, including of course, the use of steam heated paper drying cylinders.

The final section provides short biographies of 14 men who were early paper-machine manufacturers. They include Louis Robert, the Didot family, John Hall, the Bertrams, and George Tidcombe, founder of the Watford Engineering Works.

Throughout, the book is illustrated with many photographs and drawings, which all help to make the technical development of this unique machine intelligible. The volume is indexed, but there is no bibliography.


COLEMAN, DC, The British Paper Industry 1495-1860, (The Clarendon Press, 1958).

This is an informative economic and industrial survey of the development of the paper industry in the UK, from its inception in the late fifteenth century to the mid-nineteenth century industrial revolution.

Working conditions, the impact of the paper machine, the introduction of wood pulp and other non-rag fibres, and the developing roles of science and technology, are all discussed and evaluated.

Valuable surveys of economic trends are highlighted by charts, and as an economic historian Dr. Coleman gives a valuable overall picture of the growth of the UK industry throughout the period by referring to the part which various mills played.


COTTRALL, LG, Stuff Preparation for Papermaking, (Griffin, 1952).

Written by a practicing scientist working in the industry, this is a useful survey of mid-twentieth century fibre science, and the equipment used in paper mills for producing paper stock (stuff) by subjecting various pulps to a range of mechanical treatments. The equipment used is illustrated. Reviews of paper fibre properties are followed by basic pulping information, and some consideration is then given to the physical and chemical structure of wood. The importance of water during beating and refining is stressed, and a review of mechanical equipment used in mid twentieth century mills follows. The development of paper properties by using a range of variables such as pulp, consistency, energy input, and temperature, are considered, with comparisons. The selection of equipment and comparison of their action is enhanced by diagrams and microphotographs.


EMERTON, HW, Fundamentals of the Beating Process, (British Paper and Board Industry Research Association, 1957).

This volume complements Cottrall's book. The author worked in paper research laboratories at a time when new techniques and equipment were unravelling the secrets of cellulose and plant fibre structure. The work would later improve the practical production of paper and board.

The book initially considers the chemistry and structure of the main paper fibres, with consideration on coniferous and deciduous woods, their distribution in the tree, and their similarities and differences. Natural non-wood fibres such as cotton, linen (flax), esparto grass and cereal straws are likewise analysed.

In the second part of the book, the beating process is reviewed. The theory and practice of the operation is considered, and its effect on fibres is discussed. The progress of beating treatment in the mill, and how this can be measured and controlled, is explained.

Finally a section looks at the development of paper properties, eg. strength, density, opacity, dimensional stability, greaseproofness etc, during beating.

This book is well illustrated, with diagrams and pictures enhancing the understanding of the text.


GRANT, G, YOUNG, JH, WATSON, BG, (Joint Editors), Paper and Board Manufacture. A General Account of its History, Processes and Applications, (Technical Division, The British Paper and Board Industry Federation, 1978).

This is a fully revised and enlarge edition of Papermaking - a basic textbook written by Dr. Julius Grant and published in 1949.

Following a brief historical introduction and survey of hand-made paper, this book has 14 chapters on the main materials and processes used in the industry - each written by an acknowledged specialist working within the industry. Two chapters on 'Mill Location and Services' and 'Testing and Control Methods' are followed by a glossary and reading list. Short relevant book lists are printed at the end of each chapter.


HILLS, RL, Papermaking in Britain 1488-1988. A Short History, (The Athlone Press, 1988).

The title explains the book, which was published to record 500 years of papermaking in Britain. A well researched survey of the main facts, it includes both economic and technical developments. Chapter 1 summarises the early history of the craft in the Far East, and then concentrates on the first paper mill in Britain, owned by John Tate in the late fifteenth century. Comments are made on Tate's watermark.

In chapter 2 a detailed description of hand-made papermaking equipment and methods used, including stampers for beating, and rigid moulds introduced from the continent.

Watermarking, and the mould makers' craft, are discussed, including the production of bank note papers (chapter 3). A succinct survey of the formative years (1500-1800) (Chapter 4 - 'A New Industry') - is followed by consideration of the Whatmans and their production of wove paper, which was to play a big part in the manufacture of quality printing grades.

The history of wall paper production (ideally requiring continuous webs of paper) is reviewed in Chapter 6, and indicates how papermakers and wallpaper manufacturers worked together to each other's benefit. Chapters 7 and 8 survey papermaking equipment developed during the nineteenth century. This change from hand-made sheets to continuous machine made reels, on an ever larger scale, led to a crisis in rag supplies.

Chapter 10 explains how the shortage of rags was overcome by the introduction of esparto grass and other pulps.

The mechanical introductions resulting in great changes during the same period are explained in Chapter 11, with the papermaking machine taking pride of place. The following chapter discusses the watermarking of machine made papers, using dandy rolls of various designs.

The final chapter (13) is a useful survey of the paper industry in 20th century Britain. This includes helpful statistics, and surveys of stock preparation and papermaking machines. Board and M.G. machines are introduced, and the increasing importance of computer applications is noted. The part played by waste paper (secondary fibre) is stressed, and the large-scale production of lightweight hygienic tissues bring major products of the industry to the fore.

A two-page bibliography includes several mill histories, and there is a glossary. Each chapter is provided with extensive notes and references, and the book is well indexed.


HUNTER, D, Papermaking. The History and Technique of an Ancient Craft, (1st Ed New York, 1942; 2nd Ed revised and enlarged Pleiades Bodes, London, 1947. Reprint paperback Dover New York, 1978).

This book, for which there is, as yet, no comparable publication, is a complete and authoritative survey. However, developments and dates only go to 1945.

All the basic processes from raw material to final product are reviewed. Stock preparation from stampers to high-speed refiners; production of paper by hand in the Far East and Europe; the development of the paper-making machine and finishing operations are all reviewed. The book is comprehensive in its detail, and is illustrated by over 300 pictures, all relevant to the text.

Pre-paper writing materials are surveyed, and the invention of paper (well before 105AD) is discussed. A chapter on classic western hand-made papermaking is followed by the invention and development of the 'Fourdrinier'. The production of watermarks from hand moulds and machine driven dandy rolls is comprehensively covered. Each chapter in the book has extensive notes and references. A 120 page chronology of paper is followed by an extensive bibliography and index. Every paper historian should have a copy!



The author, an academic geographer, who did pioneer research on the history the UK paper industry over 50 years ago, wrote the classic Paper Mills and Paper Makers in England 1495 to 1800 in the Paper Publications series, which was published in Hilversum in 1957.

At the time of his death in 1970 he was engaged in compiling material for a more popular publication entitled Papermaking in the British Isles. An Historical and Geographical Study. His wife collated the original script, assisted by the late Mr. G.T. Mandl.

The book was published in 1971. The first 3 chapters survey the early English paper industry, and its growth to the end of the eighteenth century. Two chapters then consider the impact of mechanisation, and the emergence of a geographical patern within the industry during the nineteenth century.

Chapter 6 is devoted to twentieth century trends, and covers such topics as water supplies and effluent treatment in mills. The pulping of esparto grass is then surveyed, and its non-availability during the second world war is assessed. References to particular mills and their specific paper grade production, is important from an historic standpoint. This chapter includes charts which summarise some economic trends of the period. Following chapters review the industry in Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

Additional notes to each chapter are followed by an appendix about watermarks, with some printed examples. A bibliography and selection of references completes the book.

During his productive years Dr. Shorter wrote many articles about papermaking in the UK, which were published in a range of trade and academic journals. These were collated together and edited by Richard Hills in a book entitled Studies on the History of Papermaking in Britain (Variorum, 1993). This will provide a valuable source of information for paper historians.


THOMSON, AG, The Paper Industry in Scotland 1590-1861, (Scottish Academic Press, 1974).

The establishment of a paper industry in Scotland occurred a hundred years later than in England. This book is complimentary to Shorter's volumes, and is a detailed and interesting account. Chapter 2 is a succinct survey of European and English papermaking, and the reasons why Scotland was "late in the field". Economic and governmental factors played important roles in this. The volume and types of paper produced during this period are considered.

Chapter 2 is a review of hand made papermaking in Scotland in the eighteenth century, with an explanation of the process from raw material to finished paper. The importance of Excise Taxation on paper was an important economic factor in preventing the paper industry's rapid growth. This is analysed in Chapter 3, with supporting tables and graphs.

Chapter 4 is a fascinating account of the financial aspects of the Scottish paper industry in the period under review. It includes sections on mill classification (by number of vats or beaters). Figures for mill capital costs and sources of finances are reviewed in detail, as are the effects of ownership changes, mill failures, and returns on finances employed.

Chapter 5 considers geographical distribution of the industry in detail, with tables and location maps to clarify the subject.

Endless papermaking (ie. using a papermaking machine) is introduced in the last chapter. The reasons for and effects of mechanisation are considered in detail, reinforced with much interesting information.

Eight appendices follow the main text, giving detailed lists of mills at various dates, showing economic changes. Appendix G lists contemporary printed sources, and a comprehensive index is available.

Each chapter is supplied with detailed notes, and the book contains a wide selection of relevant illustrations.



The Dictionary of Paper, (American Pulp and Paper Association, 3rd Ed 1965. (Note - there are probably later editions.)

This compilation, of which several editions have been published since the first in 1940, has been rewritten and revised over the years by a committee made up of members of the Association. They have all had practical experience of working in the industry over many years and are therefore eminently suited as authors of the dictionary.

Being of American origin some spellings and definitions may differ from those generally accepted in the UK. However the majority of terms will be found intelligible to most people.

The main problem with any technical dictionary is that industrial practice generally moves rapidly into new areas, with modifications of existing technology, thus making terms and methods obsolete.

However, this dictionary will be most useful where an understanding of specific terms used in the pulp and paper industries require defining.


LABARRE, EJ, Dictionary and Encyclopaedia of Paper and Papermaking, (OUP 1952, 2nd Ed.)

First published in 1937 as Dictionary of Paper, and containing a selection of various paper samples bound in, the second edition (1952 with later reprints) is an enlarged revision of the original, and includes terms and information which are not readily found elsewhere.

The equivalent for each term listed is given in English and six other languages (French, German, Dutch, Italian, Spanish and Swedish) - thus increasing the potential value of the dictionary.

Detailed lists of sources used to compile the book are given, and there is an index of bibliographic abbreviations. Indexes are available for all the terms in both English and the 6 other languages.

Each term listed from 'Abrasive Paper' to 'Zone Test' (relating to the absorbency of blotting paper) is explained in clear, concise and accurate language.

Among several extended entries are 16 pages about 'Watermarks' (including many illustrations), their history and use in dating papers. Sizes of paper and board are exhaustively surveyed, with detailed lists of names and dimensions, many of which are of historic interest.

The history and production of wallpaper is another fascinating and enlightening article. There are several others including 'Marbled Paper', 'Philately', 'Photographic Papers' and 'Printings'.

A Dutchman, initially unconnected with papermaking, Emile Labarre's original intention was an exercise in comparative philology. In this he undoubtedly succeeded, and this book is quite unique (in the writer's experience.)

Beg, borrow, steal, (or better, buy) a copy. It will prove invaluable.