The History of Paper

Paper is all around us and the demand for paper is increasing. With hundreds of final uses, paper satisfies many important human needs – paper is a part of everyday life.

The word ‘paper’ derives from the word ‘papyrus’ and is a substance composed of fibres interlaced into a compact web, which can then be macerated into pulp, dried and pressed. Today, paper includes a wide range of products with very different applications: communication, cultural, educational, artistic, hygienic, sanitary, as well as for storage and transportation of all kinds of goods. It’s almost impossible to imagine a life without paper.

We depend on this paradoxical material. Little can happen in modern life without paper or board (a particular form of paper) and millions of tonnes of it are made and used each year.

Paper is incredibly versatile: it can be permanent or transient, delicate or strong, cheap or expensive, abundant or scarce. It can be preserved in a museum or throw away. It can decompose in water and yet, when suitably treated, it can be used to make maps that withstand the weather and even the hulls of boats.

All around us paper has been used as part of our everyday life. The range of possible uses for paper is almost limitless and new ways of using it are being devised daily.

Paper has a long history, beginning with the ancient Egyptians and continuing to the present day. For thousands of years, hand-made methods dominated and then, during the 19th century, paper production became industralised. Originally intended purely for writing and printing purposes, a wide variety of paper grades and uses are now available to the consumer.

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