2.1.3: 1585 - 1725 - Paper (incl. production, watermarks, paper trade)

The fall of Antwerp in 1585 formed the beginning of a period of great paper scarcity in the Northern Netherlands. The Spaniards occupied the Southern Netherlands and blocked all trade routes between France and the North. Up until that time, France was the major manufacturer of paper for the Dutch market. The town of Troyes acted as a central depot. Besides this 'Troy paper, paper was, to a lesser extent, also supplied by Italian travelling merchants, the so-called 'Lombardy paper. Finally, a small proportion also came from southern Germany especially from the regions along the Rhine.

Dutch traders who used to buy paper at the Frankfurt Book Fair, blew new life into the ailing Swiss paper industry with Basle as its major centre. Strasbourg grew to become a major centre for paper in the east of France. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, the majority of paper used in the Netherlands therefore came from Switzerland, eastern France and southern Germany. It was transported by ship down the Rhine, free of any Spanish interference. The 'Compagnie van Duitsche Papieren' (Company of German papers) belonging to the Amsterdam merchant, Cornelis van Lokhorst, was the largest importer. During the Twelve Years' Truce (1609-1621), the trade became freer and many refugee Flemings settled in French mills. After 1621, however, the Spanish once again blocked the access roads to the Netherlands. There was also serious interference of transports by sea from Bordeaux and La Rochelle. Until the Treaty of Westphalia (Munster, 1648), Switzerland, eastern France and Germany continued to be the major suppliers.

Immediately after the fall of Antwerp, attempts were made to set up local paper mills in the Netherlands. There was plenty of clean water available although the power was missing to drive the beaters. Only at the periphery of the higher areas, such as the Veluwe, could fast-flowing streams provide enough power to run small mills. Windmills as a source of energy only became strong enough to be used in the paper industry in the course of the seventeenth century. After 1648, French exports of paper to the Netherlands increased explosively and quickly replaced Swiss production which had become too expensive. In the second half of the seventeenth century, Dutch paper merchants, the so-called 'factors', had a lot of influence in the French paper industry. Known factors were, among others, Abraham Jansen and Gilles van Hoven who also supplied paper to England and Scandinavia.

The extent of the role of the Dutch paper trade in France was shown by, among other things, the use of the watermark 'Arms of Amsterdam'. Paper with this watermark was called 'Papier Stradam' in France and was as least as well known as paper with the watermark 'Foolscap' or 'Strasbourg lily' in a shield. The names of the factor and/or the papermaker (also called 'paper manufacturer') were often given as initials in the watermark. The initials of famous papermakers, such as IV (Jean Villedary) and WR (Wendelin Riehel) were copied and had a fixed place in the watermark later, long after the death of the papermaker in question.

In the course of the seventeenth century paper makers from the Veluwe succeeded in taking over a large part of the Dutch market. Around 1675 the windmill became sufficiently developed as a source of energy to be useful for paper production. Subsequently, in the Zaan area a windmill park came into being that was able to meet a fast growing part of the national paper needs by the end of the century. Technical innovations such as the installation of the Hollander instead of the old beaters were of great importance. French imports had a serious competitor. White-paper production in the Zaanstreek grew in the period 1680-1700 from 200,000 kg to 700,000 kg. The revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685) meant a dramatic reduction of Dutch influence in the French paper industry. This development, however, coincided with the rapid growth of the Zaanstreek paper industry so that, on balance, the national paper market was shared in the period up to 1725 between French and Dutch paper, the latter mostly from the Zaanstreek.

author: Th. Laurentius

Paper (incl. production, watermarks, paper trade)

marbled paper

Definition: decorated paper with a marbling effect produced by placing drops of colour on a liquid surface (the marbling size), using a marbling trough.

brocade paper

Definition: kind of decorated paper: hand-made paper, coloured with a brush on one side on which a (imitation) gold leaf decorative pattern or picture is printed.

laid paper

Definition: hand-made paper or (mostly) imitation hand-made paper with a fine screen of water lines.

glossy coated paper

Definition: highly-glossed paper.

hand-made paper

Definition: hand-made paper, laid or not, made with a mould, usually with watermark and deckle edges.

wood-pulp paper

Definition: paper containing ground wood-pulp with many small impurities, usually easily torn; cheap but not durable.

wood-free paper

Definition: paper that does not contain wood-pulp, but which is made from pure cellulose and/or cotton or linen rags. It has a beautiful colour and is durable.

paper boys

Definition: person who daily delivers a paper in the letterbox of readers with a subscription.

lignin-rich paper

Definition: kind of ligneous paper: lignin is an element of wood. It causes a rapid ageing of paper whose fibrous composition consists partly of lignin.

Lombardy paper

Definition: name for imported paper of Italian origin, common until the end of the 17th century.

rag paper

Definition: kinds of paper that have been made entirely of rags. As soon as rags are only partly used in a kind of paper, then this is rag-content paper.

machine-made paper

Definition: paper made using a paper machine

marbled paper

Definition: kind of paper used inter alia for bindings: paper on which - by a special process - a decorative pattern, which sometimes resembles marble, is created by applying a thin layer of paint of two or more colours, or paper printed with an imitation resemblingit.

bulky paper

Definition: paper which combines great thickness with a relatively light weight (used by publishers to make small books look more voluminous).

acid-free paper

Definition: paper with a neutral pH value (about pH 7), mainly used in conservation and restoration.


Definition: general term for a material produced in the form of reels or sheets, formed by draining a suspension of vegetable fibres (rags, straw, wood, etc.) on a sieve and usually used, after sizing, for writing, drawing or printing; the name 'paper' is used for aweight of up to about 165 g/m2, 'cardboard' or 'board' for a higher weight.

permanent paper

Definition: alkaline paper which satisfies international standards as regards composition and physical properties, so that a durability of at least 150 years is guaranteed.

Troy paper

Definition: name for imported paper of French origin, used until the end of the 17th century.

paper finishers

Definition: workmen in a printing office who hang the damp paper up to dry on a line after it has been printed.

paper conservation

Definition: the restoring, stopping or preventing paper decay caused by acidification and wear and tear.

paper mills

Definition: industrial concern in which paper is produced on a large scale.

paper manufacturers

Definition: 1. owner, employer of a papermill. 2. producer of hand-made paper.

paper formats

Definition: dimensions of a sheet of paper.

paper wholesale businesses

Definition: company that resells large quantities of paper, supplied by producers, to printing offices and other businesses.

paper trade

Definition: economic activity of trading paper, i.e. the buying and selling of paper, as intermediary between production and consumption.

paper traders

Definition: someone whose profession is trading paper.

paper industry

Definition: collective name for all branches of industry concerned with the production of paper.

paper machines

Definition: machine with which paper is formed, pressed, dried and smoothed, from cellulose fibres and other paper ingredients. The result is turned into rolls or cut into sheets.

paper mills

Definition: water mills or windmills where the production of handmade rag paper took place. The drive mechanism of the mill was used to move the beaters loosening the rag fibres.

paper research

Definition: 1. testing paper to judge its appropriateness for a certain use. 2. analysis of paper to determine age or origin.

paper production

Definition: 1. the total of paper produced. 2. paper making.

kinds of paper

Definition: collective name for variants in paper, originating in the use of different raw materials, sizes and production methods.

paper splitting

Definition: in book restoration: the splitting of paper into two layers which are pasted together again after a support layer has been placed in between.

paper treaters

Definition: labourers in a printing office who wet the paper before printing, so that the ink is absorbed better.

decorated paper

Definition: collective name for all sorts of decorated paper whose decoration has come into being either during the manufacturing process or by graphic or other final processing of the sheet of paper.

woodblock paper

Definition: kind of decorated paper printed by means of wooden blocks, which are frequentlyderived from cotton print-works, with a decorative pattern in one or more colours; used especially in the 18th and 19th centuries for covers, endpapers and as pasting materialfor the boards of books.

wove paper

Definition: non-laid hand-made paper, sometimes with a watermark in the bottom edge of the paper