On Paper

Tania N -

At first glance you might be wondering, “Paper, why write on it? It’s just pulped wood isn’t it”, which as a sentiment is overly dismissive of such an important tool and as a statement is only partially correct. Paper historically has not used wood pulp as wood is hard and difficult to pulp to be formed into paper. I’d also like to mention that this is all coming from memory, experience, and, when those fail, Wikipedia (as an encyclopedia is good for general reference and en.wikipedia.org is by far the best for that. The issue with encyclopedias is when they are used as research material as an encyclopedia is, at best, a secondary source and often a tertiary or fourth level source. This is an issue that applies to all encyclopedias the main reason why Wikipedia is less atrocious is due to stringent citation guidelines and preservation of errata but even with that it is still a general reference material.) so take this with a grain of salt

The oldest similar structure known is papyrus formed from the pith of the papyrus plant. This forms a strong sheet that was brittle and as such further development was needed. The first paper comes from China where it was formed of various fibrous materials pulped and pressed into sheets but was later refined into bark paper, which, as the name suggests, was made from bark. This has a minor issue, taking bark without harming a tree means you will have a low yield which in turns means that paper usage will quickly outgrow production. Come the Islamic golden age too came an advancement in paper, this time made of flax and other fibrous crops. This heralds the start of rag paper, or cloth paper, the paper that even now is considered to be ideal for archival usage. Cotton came to be the main fibre used in paper up to the mid twentieth century where wood pulping came to be feasible due to advancement in chemistry through the usage of acid, with the downside of acid leading to paper yellowing more quickly. This was eventually fixed and with delignination modern wood-pulp papers should be fairly long lasting, though still inferior to cotton paper.

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