• FA-123365 © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
Collection Area
Production Technology
Collection
Paper
Epoch
1800 - 1849
At the moment this object is not published in the museum.

Packing papers, 1820

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Paper made from old rags can be kept for centuries. Usually, it is the more attractive samples that find their way into museums; more rarely so for simple packing papers. Does this paper contain unusual substances?

The manufacturer Alois Kutiaro lived in the small municipality of what is today Ajdovščina in Slovenia (formerly Haidenschaft in Carniola). He is said to have employed hundreds of people, including many children, collecting tinder fungus in the region’s beech forests. The fungus was boiled, finely ground, infused with water, then formed into sheets of hand-made paper, dried and then treated once again in lye. Kutiaro’s sheets of paper sold well and were traded as far afield as Strasbourg in the Alsace.

In folk medicine, tinder fungus was used as a haemostatic remedy for minor injuries, e.g. shaving cuts and leech bites. But most of the time it was a precious means of getting a fire started. First, a high-carbon fire steel would be struck forcefully against the sharp edge of a suitable mineral (such as marcasite or flint). This created sparks that were caught on the pre-treated tinder fungus to provide the basis for a larger flame. Until phosphorus matchsticks began to emerge around 1830, fire steel, flint and tinder fungus were the main sources of ‘lighters’.

Manufacturers of paper were continually experimenting with new materials; indeed, the supply of textile rags as the basis for their trade was subject to strong fluctuations that made their products all the more expensive. We do not know whether Kutiaro’s paper samples from the Technisches Museum Wien contain tinder fungus (or boletus igniarius to give it its correct designation). Clarifying the matter would require a more detailed examination.


Manufacturer: Alois Kutiaro, Ajdovščina, Slovenia (German: Haidenschaft)

Date of origin: 1820



Inv.Nr. 14561
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