Trivia

Subject:
Answer and final trivia question for today
Response To:
7/11 2nd Question ()

Gary Smyth
>My Samson post was part of paper making. Sheets of "paper" came from the molder (a vat full of finely shredded linen and rags the consistency of what I imagine to be like almost dissolved toilet paper) soaking wet and soupy. A frame strung side to side with fine wire or hair or thread was dipped into the "stuff" in the molding vat and moved around until a film collected within the frame with fibers going in all directions. When the frame was completely covered it was pulled from the molder, drained and turned over on a table and what accumulated in the frame was released. The resulting sheet was placed on reusable wool felt 17 ½” x 22” rectangles. Now the paper appeared as sort of soaked paper towel. The paper and the felt that they were placed on (to draw off moisture and keep separate the paper sheets) were stacked 145 high and set under a press--a BIG press. The press was usually a wooden screw press and a rope was attached to a removable lever inserted into mortises in the shaft that turned the screw of the press. The other end of the rope was attached to a "Sampson Post", a huge floor to ceiling post anchored at the top and bottom and set on bearings that could be as simple as tallow with shot or cannon balls to reduce friction. The Sampson Post was turned by four or more men; the rope tightened and pulled the lever, which lowered the platen under the screw. It was like a ships windlass. The pressing squeezed water from the paper and compressed the pile from over 2 feet, to 6 inches in height. The compressed pile was removed from the press and the paper and felt separated. The paper was then sent to a “dry” press for refinement and smoothing, and eventually hung out to completely dry on cow hair ropes to prevent marking the paper. When dry it was like thin blotter paper. It was porous so ink would be absorbed. In order to be able to put ink on the paper so that it lay on the paper and not blot or otherwise absorbed it needed to be sized. What did colonial papermakers use to coat the paper so that ink would lay on top and would retain a thin line for writing or printing?

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