Friday, October 17, 2008
We are now on the Amalfi coast - and you think being in the paper business and all I should have known that the Amalfi region is famous for its history in Paper. Turns out, it was a wonderful surprise to learn today!
On a day trip today to the actual Amalfi town ( which is part of the Amalfi Coast funny enough) we discovered a paper mill museum Museo della Carta. I was excited, the history of Cotton paper, oh my... How to contain oneself! 3.50 Euro to enter and a thirty minute tour and history talk on cotton paper was money well spent!!
This paper mill was carved into rock to create man made caves in 1260BC. With the natural spings and rivers from the Amalfi mountains as well as the booming power of the Amalfi region back in the day this are was chosen to create the first European mills using techniques developed in China.
Turns out the Chinese had figured out the whole paper making business in the year 105AD and kept it secret for 500 years until a prisoner was captured and made to teach the Koreans the trade. It slowly spread to through the Midldle East to the Amalfi region of Europe. They held the paper power for many many years until Germany eventually as they were faster and more efficient at it. In its hay day this little Amalfi Town had 61 paper mills in operation. These days there are only 2 left.
This mill was in operation from 1260BC to the 1960's when it was converted to a museum. They used old cotton clothing, hemp and rags which was cut into strips, pulped for 25 hours, mixed, collected into sheets and then dried - as quick as 4 hours in summer, and up to several months in winter!
Apparently it was dangerous work and the employees didn't always live that long. Most of the cotton clothing had come from dead people and it often carried all sorts of diseases such as cholera and the plague!! Fascinatingly the rags were soaked in the urine from Donkeys and Horses for 6 hours to bleach them white and help disinfect the germs. One must stop wonder here - how exactly do collect such a quantity of wee from a 4 legged beast??
So being in a town famous for its history in creating paper how blissful to find a town chock a block full of paper stores. Naturally, I did need to stock up for Bespoke Press with beautiful inks and gorgeous papers. Now if only I could carry my Chandler and Price around the world this surely would be a fabulous place to move and set up shop. And did I mention the views??