9--A History of Papermaking
This page is still under construction--please check back again later
Return to Gallery of Graphics Stamps Page
Return to Home Page
For a brief history of papermaking as represented on postage stamps, click HERE.
Republic of China, Scott #2935-2939: This set of 5 stamps depicts the process of making paper from
bamboo: cutting bamboo (#2935); cooking bamboo (#2936); pouring the cooked bamboo—“stuff” or
syrup—onto the papermaking form (#2937); making a pile or “post” of the sheets of bamboo (#2938);
hanging paper out to dry (#2939).
To commemorate the Finnish
paper industry and the 150th
anniversary of Tervakoski, its
oldest paper mill, Finland
issued this 45-pennia stamp
on 12 March 1968; it features
a wooden relief sculpture by
Hannes Autere entitled
“Papermaking.” The paper
used to print the stamp
carries a Tervakoski mill
watermark (Finland, Scott
One value in a set of 12 stamps
depicting occupations in Japan is
this 6-yen stamp showing a female
printer carrying a pile of paper,
bound for a sheet-fed press (Japan,
Scott #429).
The 2500–zloty stamp affixed to this FDC
commemorates the 500th anniversary of the
Polish paper industry. Issued on 8 July 1991,
the stamp depicts a vatman standing before a
vat of paper pulp, or “stuff,” and dipping a
paper mold into the vat to begin making a
sheet of paper. Sheets of paper hung to dry are
visible in the background to the left, and a
paper press is to the right. The cache depicts a
watermark as it appears on a sheet of paper
held up to a light source, and the postmark
shows a web of paper being wound on a roll
after leaving a papermaking machine (Poland,
Scott #3044).
The 300th anniversary of the
Finnish paper industry was
commemorated on 6
September 1967 by this
40-pennia stamp depicting
the watermark of
Thomasböle Paper Mill,
established in 1667 near
Tammisaari. It was a small
paper mill, where the
process of paper
manufacture was a series of
manual operations. The
owner of the paper mill was
bishop Johan Gezelius, Sr.,
and the first paper master
was Bertil Obenher, who was
recruited from a paper mill
in Uppsala, Sweden. The
paper mill was in operation
until 1713 (Finland, Scot
Hungary marked the bicentennial
of the Diósgyõr Paper Mill on 27
May 1982 by issuing a 2-forint
commemorative stamp featuring
the mill’s watermark. It’s the only
company in Hungary that is
involved in producing security
papers. Built in 1782 in accordance
with European models, Diósgyõr
was incorporated in 1926, was
nationalized in 1948, and made a
subsidiary of Banknote Printing
Corporation in 1993. Today,
Diósgyõr is noted for its
production of base paper for bank
notes, certificates, shares and
bonds, public transport tickets,
and watermarked printing papers
and cardboard (Hungary, Scott
The stained glass window depicted in this souvenir sheet stands in the main stairway of
the papermaking factory in Burgos, an operation that belongs to the Spanish National
Mint. Most simply, handmade paper is created by making a dilute suspension of raw
materials in water (called “stuff”) and allowing this suspension to drain through a
screen on a mold so that a mat of randomly interwoven fibers is laid down. Excess water
is drained through the screen and further removed from the sheet of fibers by pressing
and drying, resulting in paper. The four window panels depicted in the souvenir sheet
depict (
upper left) the vatman dipping the paper mold into the stuff, then letting the
water drain away; he shakes the mold to “lock” the fibers together; (
upper right) the
coucher turning the mold over to allow the newly made paper to fall from the mold onto
a piece of felt; gradually the coucher builds up a “pile,” which is later pressed to remove
excess water, then dried; (
lower left) preparing the sizing—a sizing cooker is in the
background, and a worker is pouring the gelatin sizing through a cloth to filter out
particulate matter, bone, etc.; (
lower right) sizing the paper—the sizer is grabbing a
spur of sheets and passing it through the sizing. After being sized, the sheets were
dried again, then, depending upon the intended use, were “finished,” which usually
included burnishing them with a sleek stone, and calendaring them for writing or
printing purposes. The paper would also be cured for a time, allowing it to accept the
variations in humidity. After a while, the sheets would be more stable and less likely to
cockle unpredictably. The actual €2.70 stamp is of the coucher (upper right). Printed
offset and intaglio by Fabrica Nacional de Moneda y Timbre, Madrid (Spain, 29 May 2009,
Scott #TBD).
For information about the World Forestry Congress (WFC), the largest gathering of the
world’s forestry sector, held every six years since 1926 under the auspices of the Food and
Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), click
The second of two stamps
nationalized industries in
Argentina is a 65-centavo
value depicting a tree being
converted into paper;
issued on 16 October 1961
(Argentina, Scott #967).
To celebrate the centennial of
two of its newspapers, Belgium
issued a two-value set on 4
November 1991. The first
10-franc value honors
Van Antwerpen
. The stamp
depicts a web of paper
representing the manner in
which paper is supplied to the
high-speed presses used to
print the modern newspaper
(Belgium, Scott #1422).
Forestry is the most important export industry in Sweden, and in August 1990 Sweden issued a booklet of four stamps
that captures many important aspects of paper production and use. Czeslaw Slania and Lars Sjööblom engraved the
stamps, based upon original drawings by Eva Ede. The
first stamp shows hand papermaking—the booklet cover
illustration carries the same image, only in reverse. The wooden beaters of a stamping mill are visible in the
background. The vat man stands in front of the vat of slurry, holding a paper mold; he has just dipped the mold and is
shaking it as the water drains out through the sieve. The coucher has a second mold in hand and is tipping out a sheet
of new paper onto a felt, creating a pile. The layer stands next to the coucher, separating the partially dried sheets of
paper from the felts. The
second stamp shows a watermark used by Klippan AB, one of the oldest paper mills in
Sweden and manufacturer of specialty paper for the graphics industry. Klippen AB has supplied Sweden Post with stamp
paper for more than a century. The
third stamp depicts several newspapers being printed on Swedish-made paper in
1990, including German, French, and English titles. More than 75% of Swedish paper is exported. The
fourth stamp
shows the final stage of modern paper production, as the web of finished paper is being wound on a roll; a second roll is
near the top of the stamp (Sweden, Scott #1837-1840; Booklet 1840a).
Issued in October 1968, this 4-value issue neatly summarizes paper
production in a modern paper mill. Going clockwise from the upper-left,
the stamps depict (a) a set of wood-aging containers, (b) the boiling
plant, (c) the papermaking machine, and (d), and the paper dryer
(Norway, Scott #B69a-d).
On 13 March 1990 the USPS issued a postal card honoring 300 years of papermaking in the United States.  The “indicium”
(the printed indication of postage paid) on the card is an artist’s rendition of the third paper mill operated by the
Rittenhouse family of papermakers.  Their first mill, built by William Rittenhouse in 1690, was the earliest paper mill
operating in British North America.  The cachet in the lower left corner of the card compliments the indicium by showing
the “watermark” of this pioneer mill, comparable to a corporate logo in 21st century terms.
As printing spread in the 15th century, printers needed an inexpensive product on which to imprint text and
illustrations.  Fortunately, paper was already available in Europe. Paper mills were built in most of the colonies soon
after their earliest presses were established.  In preparation for his History of Printing in America (1810), Isaiah Thomas
identified about 195 mills employing approximately 2,500 workers.  All told they manufactured nearly 700 tons of paper a
year, used mostly to print school books and newspapers.
The original Rittenhouse mill was a smaller, simpler affair than the mill depicted on the postal card.  It was built on the
banks of Monoshone Creek near Germantown, Pennsylvania, but was swept away by flood waters in 1701.  The next year
a new mill was constructed, but it was destroyed by fire. A third mill was built on the same spot, and it stood late into
1800s.  The postal card depicts the third mill.  The Rittenhouse family carried on the business for 109 years, making
improvements in their buildings and papermaking processes, thereby laying the foundation for today’s industry (United
States, Scott #UX145).  
Last Updated: 24 August 2009