• 014628000.JPG © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
Collection Area
Production Technology
1910 - 1919
At the moment this object is not published in the museum.

Board with raw materials for paper, c 1910


Peat fibres, pine cones, vines, nettles – vast is the array of potential raw materials used in papermaking. Over time, many have been tried and tested and then rejected.

This board owned by the Technisches Museum Wien features fibre crops known as ramie (Boehmeria nivea) and a few of its processed products, including samples of delicate silk paper and cigarette paper. Ramie comes from the tropical regions of eastern Asia and is one of the oldest fibre crops in the world. Nowadays it is cultivated mainly in China.

Tablets made of clay, wax, metal and animal skins (parchment) were amongst the earliest backing materials used for human writing. While these materials varied from one continent and era to the next, they were mostly comprised of vegetable matter: mulberry bast and rice straw in China; palm leaves in India; papyrus in Egypt. In Europe, the main raw material consisted of rags made of fibres. Paper mills were allocated specific districts in which they were allowed to collect rags. Rags were in short supply and so the smuggling of rags was rife. Papermakers preferred old linens and therefore regions where flax was cultivated. Collection districts within towns and cities were also more highly prized as the higher concentration of people living there meant distances were shorter. What’s more, city dwellers tended to wear better quality clothes and they were more likely to have them cleaned. Nonetheless, the rags were often very dirty and full of germs, which is why rag collectors and rag workers at the paper mills often fell ill from the dust and the bacteria, not to mention their exposure to the much feared anthrax.

Nowadays paper is made mainly from cellulose, pulp (wood fibres) and recycled paper. Depending on the intended use, various substances are added for sizing and coating as well as fillers such as gypsum.

Date of origin: c 1910

Inv.Nr. 14628
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