Model of a paper mill, c 1910

© Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
© Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
© Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
Collection Area
Production Technology
1910 - 1919
At the moment this object is not published in the museum.

Hydraulic power for stamping the raw materials, a vat for making the paper, a press for extracting the water: these were all the fundamentals of paper-making in the pre-industrial age. And that’s how vividly descriptive technology can be.

It is hard to overestimate the significance of paper as a support medium for writing. Paper as we know it today was, it seems, invented in China between the second century BCE and the first century CE. Knowledge of its manufacture reached the Arabic world in the 8th century and Europe in the 12th century.

This model had previously been owned by the Piette family and was acquired by the Technisches Museum Wien in 1916. The Piettes were a paper-making dynasty that originated from the Belgium-Luxemburg region. During the second half of the 19th century several members of the family ran factories manufacturing cigarette paper and tissue paper in the Krkonoše [Giant Mountains] region of Bohemia.

The exhibit illustrates the state of the art as it was in the 17th century. Rather than depict a particular factory, it represents a typical paper mill of the kind in widespread use along many streams and rivers at the time. Shown from right to left are a wooden stamping mill for shredding textile rags driven by a middle-shot water wheel; then the vat in which the sheet of paper is made from a dilute suspension of frayed rags; the percussion hammer for smoothing the sheets; and a screw press in which some 181 sheets are bundled into a stack between felt layers and then drained of their water under pressure. To achieve an appropriate number of sheets rapidly, the ‘papermaker’ and the ‘coucher’ had to work hand in hand all the time. Not depicted is the drying room where women would hang the wet sheets of paper out to dry, and the sizing devices used to make the paper ink-resistant.

Date of origin: c 1910

Inv.Nr. 14555

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