With the coming of wood pulp paper, many types of old paper have become things of the past which either do not exist anymore or exist as quaint luxuries. The origins of paper can be traced back to 2nd century BC, China. From there it is believed to be spread to Europe via the Middle East. The primary purpose of paper is for writing and later became instrumental for printing. As time went by, different techniques and raw materials were experimented with to produce various types of old paper.
The predominant form of paper we use today is the cellulose pulp paper that is derived from wood. The following are some of the types of old paper that are produced no more.
Derived from the pith of papyrus plant, papyrus was a paper- like material used in ancient times to write on. It was present and used in abundance in Egypt. The same plant was used to produce mats, ropes and baskets. Chemically it is composed of 57% cellulose, 7% water, 27% lignin and 9% minerals. It is believed to be first manufactured in 4th century BCE. It was much later that it was replaced by materials like vellum and parchment in Europe.
The Paper mulberry plant which is usually found in many parts of Asia was cultivated on a large scale to yield fiber. This fiber was once crucial to make paper. It is known have been cultivated in China in 100 AD for creating paper. It was also used to make Washi in Japan in 600 AD. Washi is a kind of special paper that is made from the inner bark of the paper mulberry tree.
In Nepal, the evergreen shrubs situated at heights are used to make a kind of paper known as Lokta. It is a kind of handmade paper made from the inner bark of the shrubs. The shrub which are locally called Lokta are what are scientifically known as Daphne bholua and Dhapne papyracea. Even today Lokta hand crafted paper is created and is available in its finished form in places like Kathmandu.
These types of old paper were produced in times before mechanical process of creating paper came into existence. It is known for its ribbed structure. In pre- mechanical creation of laid paper wire mesh enclosed in a frame was used to create this type of paper.
The paper is believed to be made from linen wrappings or papyrus fibers derived from old Egyptian mummies. Though, the existence of this paper has not been proved.
Parchments are well- known types of old paper. They were made from calf skin, goat skin or even sheep skin. It is treated by drying and scrapping under tension. This kind of paper was used to write on and be bound into books. The parchment made from calfskin is called vellum.
As time has gone by the process and materials to create paper have undergone change, and so have the uses of paper.