top of page

History 1250-1788

In 1453 Johann Gutenberg invented the printing press, the next stage in the communication revolution.

1250  – 1798

1250 – Italy becomes a major paper producer. The Italians vigorously produced the material and exported large amounts of it, dominating the European market for many years.

1338 – 1470 – French monks begin producing paper for holy texts. France quickly adopts this new technology and becomes a self-sufficient and competitive paper producer.

1411 – The first paper mill in Germany is converted from a flour mill with assistance from the Italians. Germany greatly improved the craft and made the finest papers available. In 1453 Johann Gutenberg invented the movable type printing press. The printing press was the next stage in the communication revolution. Previously, books were owned only by monasteries, royalty, and scholars, very few people could even read. For the first time, the impoverished masses had access to books, and more importantly knowledge. With the availability of books, literacy increased. As literacy increased, the demand for books – and paper increased as well.

1588 – England begins to make its own paper.

1680 – The first paper mill in the new world is established by the Spanish in Culhuacan, near the capital of Mexico.

1690 – A German immigrant to North America named William Rittenhouse founded the first paper mill in North America near Philadelphia. This is also where the first American paper makers were trained.

1719 – Rene Antoine Ferchault de Reaumur suggests that paper could be made from wood in response to a critical shortage of paper making materials. At the time all paper was made from old clothes and rags. There were not enough rags to supply the ever increasing demand for paper. Reaumur was inspired by observing wasps building their nest.

1798 – Nicholas Robert invented the paper making machine. His hand-cranked device made paper on a continuous revolving screen. However he was unsuccessful at finding investors. Hearing of Robert’s invention from a mutual acquaintance, the Fourdrinier brothers of England create their own paper making machine. Although they did not use their invention, paper making machines bear their name to this day.

Next:  1850 – present day

Courtesy of Paper Trading International, Inc.

bottom of page