History of Paper and Papermaking

A courtier named Ts'ai-Lun, from Lei-yang in China, was the inventor of paper (not papyrus) circa 105 A.D. However, the word paper is derived from the name of the reedy plant papyrus, which grows abundantly along the Nile River in Egypt. Paper is made of pulped cellulose fibers like wood, cotton or flax. Papyrus is made from the sliced sections of the flower stem of the papyrus plant, pressed together and dried.
Left Photo: Greek parchment paper
General Papermaking History
Paper Online
Starting with the year 3000 BC, this is a timeline of paper invention.
American Museum of Papermaking
The Robert C. Williams American Museum is a renowned resource on the history of paper and paper technology. Virtual Tour Contents Forerunners to Paper

- The Invention of Paper

- The Spread of Papermaking in Europe

- The Papermaker
- Dard Hunter

- Papermaking Moves to the United States

- The Advent of the Paper Machine


-The Modern Paper Mill
-Paper in Our Lives - Recycling in the Paper Industry.
A Short History of Paper and Cardboard
You must click on the history button in the left hand navigation bar. Love the paper surfer.
American's First Papermill
The Rittenhouse Mill - Alex Buntin established the first commercial mechanical pulp mill in North America at Valleyfield, Quebec, in 1866. Also see mills
Charles Fenerty of Halifax made the first paper from wood pulp (newsprint) in 1838. Charles Fenerty was helping a local paper mill maintain an adequate supply of rags to make paper, when he succeeded in making paper from wood pulp. He neglected to patent his invention and others did patent papermaking processes based on wood fiber.
Cardboard and Packaging
Grocery Paper Bags
The first recorded historical reference to grocery paper bags was made in 1630.
The History of Paper Sacks
The use of sacks only really started to take off during the Industrial Revolution: between 1700 and 1800.
Grocery Bags
Margaret (Mattie) Knight (1838-1914) - Knight was an employee in a paper bag factory when she invented a new machine part to make square bottoms for paper bags. Paper bags had been more like envelopes before. Knight can be considered the mother of the grocery bag, she founded the Eastern Paper Bag Company in 1870.
Paper Bags
On February 20, 1872, Luther Crowell also patented a machine that manufactured paper bags.
A History of Packaging
The first commercial cardboard box was produced in England in 1817, more than two hundred years after the Chinese invented cardboard. Corrugated paper appeared in the 1850s; about 1900, shipping cartons of faced corrugated paperboard began to replace self-made wooden crates and boxes used for trade.
A History of Packaging
The cardboard box emerged at the end of the 19th century, a simple yet revolutionary invention. An American, Robert Gair, had the bright idea of manufacturing in bulk a pre-cut cardboard panel which, once folded, would form a box.
Corrugated Paper Products
In 1856, Englishmen, Healey and Allen, received a patent for the first corrugated or pleated paper. The paper was used to line tall mens hats. However, this was not the corrugated cardboard we know today. On December 20, 1871, Albert Jones of New York NY, patented a stronger corrugated paper (cardboard) used as a shipping material. This was the first cardboard and stronger than paperboard. In 1874, G. Smyth built the first single sided corrugated board machine. Also in 1874, Oliver Long improved upon the Jones patent and invented a lined corrugated material and this was modern cardboard as we know it today - which led to the invention of the:
Corrugated Cardboard Box
American, Robert Gair promptly invented the corrugated cardboard box in 1890. These were pre-cut flat pieces manufactured in bulk that opened up and folded into boxes. Gair made his first plain paper folding box in 1870.
Containerboard or Corrugated Containers
The first use of corrugated paper for packaging came in 1871, when an American, Albert Jones, introduced an idea of wrapping bottles and glass chimneys in it. However, it was the addition of a liner to one and then to the other side of corrugated paper that signaled the birth of cardboard as we know it.
Single Service Disposable
Or foodservice disposables were first made at the beginning of the 20th century. The paper plate was the first single-use foodservice product invented in 1904.
Dixie Cups
Hugh Moore was an inventor who owned a paper cup factory, located next door to the Dixie Doll Company. The word Dixie was printed on the doll company's front door. Moore saw the word everyday, which reminded him of "dixies," the ten dollar bank notes from a New Orleans'bank that had the French word "dix'printed on the face of the bill. The bank had a great reputation in the early 1800s. Moore decided that "dixies" was a great name. After getting permission from his neighbor to use the name, he renamed his paper cups "Dixie Cups". It should be mentioned that Moore's paper cups first invented in 1908 were originally called health cups and replaced the single repeat-use metal cup that had been used with water fountains.
The Chinese glued rice papers onto their walls as early as 200 BC - but this was not wallpaper as we know it today. Paper as a wall covering was first used by the working classes in Britain and in Europe as a substitute for costly materials. Frenchmen, Christophe-Philippe Oberkampf invented the first machine for printing wallpaper in 1785. Frenchmen, Louis Robert invented a way to make an endless roll of wallpaper around the same time. The earliest wallpapers in England and France were hand painted or stenciled.
Right Photo: The distribution rights for this wallpaper design by Joseph Rame was obtained by the Philadelphia firm of Messrs. Virchaux & Co. Philadelphia had become the center of wallpaper production in the United States by the end of the eighteenth century, although French influence continued to dominate the design of domestic papers. Subjects ranged from commemorative and panoramic scenes to designs drawn from architecture and nature, like the garland adorning these two tromp loeil columns.
History of Paper Machine
People have taken the trouble to conserve and recycle paper ever since it was invented in China.