This section is from the "A Complete Dictionary of Dry Goods" book, by George S. Cole. Also available from Amazon: A complete dictionary of dry goods and history of silk, cotton, linen, wool and other fibrous substances,: Including a full explanation of the modern processes ... together with various useful tables.
Paper. A material consisting of a compacted web or felting of vegetable fibers, commonly in the form of a thin flexible sheet. The fibers most used for writing-papers are those of linen and cotton rags, and for printing-papers those of straw, wood, waste-paper and selected grasses. These fibers are prepared by grinding, bleaching and boiling until they are reduced to a fluid pulp, in which state they readily mat and felt together when freed from the water with which they have been saturated. More than 400 fibers usable for this purpose are known. Paper was formerly made wholly by hand. Some fine grades of writing-paper are still made by hand, but the larger portion of the paper, for whatever use, is now made by machinery. The production of paper is perhaps more closely regulated by the law of supply and demand than any other manufactured product. In the earlier days of paper-making there was little demand for it, as then it was necessary either to write books by hand, or to print them from hand-engraved plates. The invention of the printing-press created the first demand for paper which caused its manufacture to become a profitable industry. The hand method of paper-making was only discontinued upon the invention of the cylinder printing.press. This invention gave such an impetus to the distributing of printed matter that hand paper-makers were unable to supply the demand; hence anew order of things was inaugurated and machinery for the making of paper was perfected with great rapidity. Inventive ingenuity of the highest order is constantly at work to discover new uses for paper, such as building materials, domes for churches, boats, vessels, barrels, car wheels, railroad ties, pails, tubs, etc., in all of which light-ness is combined with strength.
Wood forms the basis of all news and common paper. Almost any kind can be used, but spruce is regarded by manufacturers as the most serviceable in the long run. Other kinds which may be used to a greater or less degree, are white pine, Norway pine, white fir, birch, cypress, tamarack, poplar, sweet gum and hemlock. The best shape for the wood is in logs 4 to 10 inches in diameter, free from knots and used as soon after felling as possible. A great deal depends on the quality of the wood. If the wood is poor and lacking in fiber, then the paper made from it will be weak and lacking in toughness. The wood which can be used for paper-making costs all the way from $7.50 to $10 a cord in the East, and as low as $3.50 a cord in the West. In Michigan the lowest prices of all prevail.
There are three ways of making paper : First by mixing wood pulp with rags; second, by mixing wood pulp with the so-called "sulphite wood-pulp," or sulphite; third by using sulphite alone. The first process is rapidly becoming obsolete, having been superseded in the last decade by the sulphite process, which is, in the main, the ordinary method. The third process is something of an experiment, and the resulting paper is apt to be too transparent. The groundwork of the first two processes is wood-pulp. This is made in the following manner: After the logs have been freed from all knots and bark they are cut in blocks. Then the blocks are placed in the pulping machine. This consists of a big grindstone, 4 or 5 feet in diameter, with a 12-inch fall. The prepared blocks are fastened down against the surface of the swiftly revolving stone by automatic screws, which keep the wood constantly in contact with it. A heavy stream of water forces the resulting pulp over screens which catch all slivers, chips and other impurities. The pulverized pulp is then run over a cylinder and forced out on a wet piece of felt, where it-is dried for convenience in handling. The remaining water is then pressed out. All paper manufacturers do not make their own wood-pulp, but buy it. It costs them from 5/8 of a cent a pound upward, according to the quality of wood used. The dried wood-pulp is put up in paper bundles for shipment to the paper manufacturers. This wood, to make paper, must be mixed with the sulphite pulp - so called because the wood is chemically reduced by means of sulphurous acid.
The method of making the sulphite is very interesting, and is quite recent. Up to a few years ago it was difficult, because there were no good boilers in which to prepare the pulp. This has been obviated, and now sulphite has almost entirely taken the place of rags in the manufacture of paper. Black or white spruce is the wood generally used for making sulphite. It is not ground after the manner of wood-pulp, but is prepared in machines called chippers. In these, the wood is cut up into even chips 5/8 to 7/8 of an inch long, 1/2 to 5/8 of an inch wide, 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch thick Then these chips are put into a digester and boiled from 12 to 18 hours, under a pressure of 75 to 80 pounds. Plenty of water is added, and the whole mixture is treated with sulphurous acid and a little chloride of lime.
Thorough boiling reduces it to a pulp. This is washed and bleached and is ready for the machinery. The pulp in a watery form is passed over a wire netting of fine mesh which is moving under rollers. Gradually the water is forced out, and by the time the pulp reaches the end of the long line of rollers under which it passes, it is dried and pressed out into flat sheets. After this it is cut into sheets baled, and is ready for shipment to the proper factory.
Sulphite looks like ordinary cardboard. It is very tough and of light color. It varies in quality, costing all the way from two and a half to five cents a pound. Sulphite has many good qualities in the eyes of the manufacturer. It is cheap compared to rags, for which it is substituted. It is clean, has great strength and toughness and makes hard stock. It is easily bleached and comes in a form easy for shipment and storage. Although sulphite is a recent invention $7,000,000 is now invested in its manufacture and 7,500 tons turned out monthly.
After the wood pulp and the sulphite is made, the paper-making proper comes in. The wood pulp and the sulphite are mixed in a proportion of one part sulphite to four of wood pulp. After a thorough mixing the two are soaked and beaten together in a machine for the purpose. When linen or cotton rags are used they are thoroughly soaked and cleaned, and boiled in a mass in the same manner. The resulting mass of pulpy material in either case is moistened until it assumes a thin, watery aspect. Then it is passed through a machine on a moving wire net which is constantly shaken so that all the moisture percolates out. Then the fibers gradually lock together and are passed under hot rollers, all the time on netting, until the material reaches the end of the machine, when it comes out in a long roll of paper. While the paper is passing through the rollers the watermark is put in if any is to be used. It is done by means of a roller called a " dandy." This roller is made of fine wire, and whatever markings and letters are to be put in the paper, are worked in the wire. Then, while the paper is still soft and wet, it receives the impress of the whole, which makes the markings a trifle thinner than the rest of the paper and hence more transparent and visible. Laid paper, so called from the dim, narrow lines warer-marked in it, is made with a dandy-roller in the same way. Paper which has no water-is called plain wove. After the paper is water-marked, if it is of good quality it is calendered, after the manner of calendering cotton cloth. This process gives it a smooth finish, varying with the number of times it is put through the series of polished rollers, which are the essential parts of the calendering machine. The rollers are very heavy and highly burnished. The roll of paper is passed through them under pressure and comes out with a smooth, shining surface. This process can be repeated any number of times, and each time the paper receives a higher polish. After this the paper is ready to be cut, which is done by machines with knives that can be set to any width. The paper is then ready for counting and making into quires and reams and bundles. This is all done by hand. The ordinary counts of paper are the quire of twenty-four sheets, the ream of twenty quires, (two of which are always inferior to the other eighteen) and the bundle of two reams. Newspaper is not often calendered, but is used as it comes out of the hot rollers of the drying machine. The rolls are long and very heavy, often measuring a mile in length and weighing as high as 1,200 pounds. The industry is one of the largest in the country. New England is largely given over to the industry, which, however, flourishes in many Western states as well, one requisite being clear soft water. There are 1,180 mills in the United States, with a capacity for producing 15,000,000 tons of paper annually. Of this enormous product, 4,000,000 tons are used in printing books and newspapers and 3,500,000 for wrapping paper. The most rigid economy is practiced in paper making, hence the high degree of mechanical skill and executive ability connected with this industry, as compared with the cost of the product. Large mills making over fifty tons of "news" every twenty-four hours, often contract to supply their entire product to a single large newspaper publishing house, at a price as low sometimes as three cents per pound. In 1891, a paper mill and a Philadelphia newspaper resolved to ascertain how quickly a tree could be converted into newspapers, and an experiment resulted as follows: Chopping one and a half cords of poplar wood, stripping and loading on boat, three hours; time consumed in manufacturing wood pulp, twelve hours; manufacturing the wood pulp into paper, five hours; transporting to printing office, one hour and twenty minutes; wetting paper preparatory to printing, thirty minutes; printing 10,000 newswapers, ten minutes. Total time from tree to paper, twenty-two hours.
There are certain standard dimensions of paper, the rolls being commercially cut to those sizes. Printing and writing paper of the same names are sometimes of different sizes, according to the purpose for which they are intended. The sizes mostly used have names and measurements, in inches, as specified in the following table:
.26 x 33
Check Folio, writing__________________________
.17 x 24
23 x 33 1/4
.15 x 19
.16 x 21
Double Cap, writing ..............................
.17 x 28
.26 x 40
Double medium, printing______......_____......
.24 x 38
Double royal, printing........._________________
.26 x 40
Double super royal, printing ..........................
.29 x 43
Elephant, writing ............
22 1/4 x 27 1/2
Extra size folio, writing .......................
.19 x 23
Flat cap, writing .....................
14 x 17
Folio post, writing....._______________________
.17 x 22
Fool's cap, writing_________............________
12 1/2 x 16
.22 x 32
Imperial, writing .......
.22 x 30
.24 x 80
Medium, printing........_________.......________19 x 24
Medium, writing 19 x 23
Royal, printing________________..........._______20 x 25
Royal, writing_____............................19 x 24
Small cap, writing__________________.......___13 x 16
Small double medium, printing________.........24 x 36
Super royal, printing___ _____ _____....._____22 x 28
Super royal, writing_____....._________________20 x 28