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Glossary of Paper Terms for Fountain Pen Users

(This page published September 1, 2004)

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Reference Info Index | Glossopedia  ]


papelera A small Renaissance cabinet on a stand that contains writing materials. Shown here is an ornate Spanish papelera.
papeterie A papermaker or paper dealer. It has come to mean a quality paper used for personal stationery and an ornamental box containing a writing kit including stationery.
paper wasp Whereas humankind has only been making paper (as distinct from papyrus and animal parchment) for some 2,000 years, paper wasps have been at it for 70 million years. The very word wasp is derived from the Anglo-Saxon wæsp meaning to weave. Wasps have strong jaws which they use to plane off slender shavings of wood fiber, usually from dead wood. They then chew the wood, which mixes with saliva to form pulp. When it is spit out and allowed to dry, it becomes paper. Shown here is a paper wasp nest in a cedar tree.
papyrus Before there was paper, this was a traditional writing surfaces made from reed-like aquatic perennials, most famously those that grew along the Nile. The paper was made by pressing wet strips made of the plant's stem side by side and then applying another layer with the wet strips running perpendicular to the first. The papyrus sheet shown here is 12" × 16" (30 cm × 40 cm).
parchment Before there was paper, this was a traditional writing surface made from the skin of a sheep, cow, or goat. Its characteristic is to be off-white and stiff. Today, papers which simulate these qualities are called parchment. Often it is merely the surface of the paper that is printed with the appearance of parchment. Many companies use the terms parchment and vellum synonymously. Shown below is a sample of lambskin parchment. See also vellum.
pebbling A bumpy texture in the surface of paper.
ply A single layer of paper in a paper product.
pulp A cellulose plant that has been cleaned and beaten mechanically or reduced chemically, into a wet gelatinous mass that is then used to form sheets of paper.

The information in this glossary is as accurate as possible, but you should not take it as absolutely authoritative or complete. If you have additions or corrections to this page, please consider sharing them with us to improve the accuracy of our information.

© 2004 B. H. Bentzman
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