Papermaking in Europe and America

The exhibit Papermaking in Europe and America is on display in the Special Collections Library on the 2nd floor of the Central Library. From its beginnings in China as early as 140 B.C.E. the ancient craft of papermaking was kept secret for almost 1000 years. Between the 8th and 12th centuries paper mills were established in Baghdad, Damascus, Cairo, and Fez, while the first mills in Europe were in Xativa, Spain (1151) and Fabriano, Italy (1276). As demand for paper for journals, receipts, letters, and books escalated, paper mills spread throughout Europe and colonial America. Vanderbilt’s libraries hold outstanding examples from Europe and America of this ancient and modern craft, spanning five centuries to the present.

The exhibit highlights various aspects of making paper by hand including watermarks, paper mills, late 18th-century American papermaking, and the work of modern papermakers Dard Hunter, Claire Van Vliet, Peter and Donna Thomas, and Beverly Plummer. Archival photographs from the Hayle Mill in Kent, England, are also on exhibit.

Spanning over 500 years, examples of papers from 1493 to the present day are on display. This exhibit runs through November 2021, and is open to the Vanderbilt campus community by appointment, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. –5 p.m. For more information, call 615-322-2807 or email Special Collections.

You can also view this exhibition online or watch this presentation video by curator Molly Dohrmann.

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