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Paper Making in Seventeenth-Century Genoa:
The Account of Giovanni Domenico Peri (1651)
Conor Fahy *

The purpose of this article is to present to English-speaking readers a substantial seventeenth-century account of the buildings and workings of a Genoese white-paper mill, which seems to be unknown to paper historians outside Italy. 1 The account is significant for three reasons: the importance of Genoa as a paper-making centre in early modern Europe, the author's access to local knowledge, and the date of the text, which makes it, as far as I know, the earliest description in any detail of a European paper-mill and of the relevant manufacturing processes, preceding by seventy-five years the account in Chambers' Cyclopaedia (1728) and by more than a century the authoritative and much more detailed treatments of the subject in Joseph Jérôme de Lalande's L'art de faire le papier (1761) and in the article "Papeterie" by Louis Jacques Goussier in vol. XI (1765) of the Encyclopédie of Diderot and d'Alembert. 2 Giovanni Domenico Peri, like Goussier, was not a paper-maker by profession, nor even the owner of a mill, but, again like Goussier, though not with the same thoroughness, he had informed himself from members of the trade about the processes involved, and had seen a mill in operation, as [End Page 243] is revealed by his exclamation of wonder at how quickly the pulp, made of "merely rags and water, which have no viscous or resistant qualities," is transformed into a stout sheet of paper—an emotion shared by all who see paper made for the first time.

Italy is the home of European paper making, which developed from Arab paper-making techniques imported into Spain at an early date, and then into Italy in the twelfth century. 3 Three innovations distinguish European from Arab paper making: a much more efficient method of beating the rags into pulp, the use of a size based on animal rather than on vegetable matter, and the addition of lime to the beaten rags at some point in the manufacturing process. Together they made European paper far more durable than Arab paper. Fabriano has always claimed the credit for the first two of these innovations, but it has recently been suggested that experiments in these directions may have first occurred at or near the point of entry of Arab paper, i.e. ports on the Tyrrhenian Sea such as Genoa and Amalfi. Certainly the first known Genoese document relating to paper making is very early. 1235. 4 However, if innovations did occur in North Italy in the thirteenth century, it was at Fabriano that they were refined and developed, and made part of a fully integrated production system, which led Fabriano to become in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the undisputed centre of the manufacture of fine-quality white paper in Italy.

From an early date paper was manufactured for local consumption, often to a high standard, in or near many other Italian cities, particularly in central and northern Italy. But it was not until the sixteenth century that serious rivals appeared to challenge the hegemony of Fabriano. The vastly increased demand for paper resulting from the advent of print led to the development of a substantial paper industry in the Veneto, particularly in the valley of the torrente Toscolano, on the western shore of Lake Garda, which served the Venetian printing industry (or so it seems: the evidence, though compelling, is entirely circumstantial, at least before 1548). The sixteenth century also saw the rise of a paper industry in Genoa, destined to become by the time of Peri's account the largest centre of paper production in Italy, and indeed in Europe.

Paper making at Genoa has a long history, as we have seen. 5 But the first [End Page 244] signs of what can be called an industry do not appear until the second half of the fifteenth century. Genoa was never a centre of printing in the Renaissance; what fuelled the growth of its paper industry was the increased demand for good-quality writing paper, brought about by the emergence of the early modern state and its attendant bureaucracy. What was a steady growth in the first half of the sixteenth century was turned into a rapid expansion in the second half by political events, which gave Genoese merchants privileged access to the markets of the Spanish New World and made Genoa, rather than Antwerp, the point of arrival of Spanish bullion destined for the European market, and Genoese bankers the means through which it was traded to the rest of Europe. 6

These developments brought an influx of wealth to Genoa. At the time the paper industry was only third in importance in the republic, being surpassed by both wool and silk. But Genoese bankers and merchants quickly realized its potential for development, and from the second half of the sixteenth century invested their new-found wealth heavily in it. The industry was concentrated in a series of short, steep valleys just to the west of Genoa itself, which run down to the sea from the crest of the Apennines, at this point only a few kilometers inland. 7 Its centre was Voltri, situated on the coast where two separate rivers, one with a substantial tributary, flow into the sea on either side of the town. Several geographical and geological features favoured paper production in the area. The steepness of the valleys created a good head of water, the rainfall was high, and the area windy. Furthermore, the streams were fed not only by rainwater but from deep springs in the rock, so that the flow of water remained constant, or at least adequate, all the year round. Finally Genoese shipping ensured a regular supply of rags and an easy outlet for the finished product.[End Page 245]

This product, for which Genoa was famous, was good-quality white writing paper, though there were a few brown-paper mills, mainly to be found in smaller valleys to the east and west of Voltri. According to official figures, in 1544 there were twenty-nine white-paper mills in the three Voltri valleys alone. By 1588 the number had risen to forty, and by 1612 to sixty-three. Documents quoted by Cevini show that Genoese white-paper mills followed more or less the model described by Peri, that is, they were all solid constructions of masonry with two water-wheels and ten troughs, big enough to accommodate, in one building of three floors, all the activities necessary to turn rags into paper. One of these documents, a contract dated 12 March 1493 for the building of a mill, shows that the model, at least in its major production component of two wheels and ten troughs, predated by many years the injection of venture capital into the industry in the second half of the sixteenth century. 8

At first the mills were situated on the valley floors, but with the development of the industry in the sixteenth century space there ran out, and the mills began to colonize the steep valley slopes. A few were sited on natural water-courses, but many were not, and had to be fed by water brought by artificially constructed channels, called beudi, running across the steep slopes from points higher up the valley. This led to one of the characteristic features of the Genoese paper-mill scenery, the siting of mills on the hillside one below the other, or in cascata, as it was called, so that they could use the same water supply. Surviving structures show that the two wheels were normally sited on the short side of the building, which was itself disposed lengthways on the hillside, but sometimes the configuration of the ground required a building to be aligned in the direction of the slope, with the wheels on the longer side.

All the features I have mentioned are epitomized in the most remarkable development in the history of the Genoese paper industry, the construction in the second and third decades of the seventeenth century of an entire village, San Bartolomeo delle Fabbriche, dedicated to the manufacture of paper. This had a small palazzo, a square, a church and no less than nineteen mills in cascata, seventeen of them white-paper and two brown-paper. Water was brought to this complex by two beudi. The upper one, a solid construction of masonry, ran for one kilometre across the hillside, finally depositing its water in a little reservoir above the topmost mill. The village survives to this day, with the buildings now largely in domestic use, many without major alterations to their external structural features.

As the form of contract at the end of Peri's text shows, the master of a Genoese mill at this time had little independence, being no more than a salaried employee of the owner. These owners belonged to the upper reaches of Genoese society, with strong political influence, and made sure through punitive legislation that neither the master nor his workforce had any real autonomy. The master was assisted by three salaried staff; the remaining [End Page 246] workforce of a dozen or so, men, women, and children, were piece-workers. In addition to the vatman (lavorante in our text; sometimes, elsewhere in Italy, lavorente) and the coucher (ponidore) this group included the studiente, whose job it was to supervise every aspect of the processes involved in turning rags into stuff. 9 It should be remembered that the Genoese mills were intended for the manufacture of good-quality writing paper, which explains the time and care taken over the beating of the rags. Without going into the difficult question of the difference, if any, in this period in the manufacture of paper for writing and paper for printing, it is interesting that one of the few features of mills in the Lake Garda area which emerge from the documentation available is their small size, compared to the Genoese mills. In the period up to 1560, mills with two wheels rarely figure in these documents; the typical Toscolano mill of the period had only one wheel and not more than four troughs. 10

In the eighteenth century the waning power of Genoa and the growth of strong paper industries in other European countries led to a decline, made terminal by the obstinate refusal of the majority of Genoese mill-owners and paper-makers to modernize. As late as 1846 only eighteen of the 175 mills in Liguria had adopted the Hollander, and only one had a paper-making machine. 11 These circumstances help to explain why so many mill structures survive to this day, some in ruins, but others more or less intact because, like the buildings of Le Fabbriche, they have been converted to other uses.

Giovanni Domenico Peri (c. 1590-1666) is an interesting figure who has not yet been adequately studied. 12 According to seventeenth-century biographical [End Page 247] sources, he received a humanist education and at first devoted himself to the arts. He also appears briefly in mid-century as director of a printing and publishing enterprise which produced sixteen titles between 1648 and 1650. This enterprise was financed by Anton Giulio Brignole Sale (1605-1665), a leading Genoese politician and intellectual, but came to an abrupt end in 1650 when Brignole Sale decided to become a Jesuit. The editions were signed with the unusual formula: `Sotto la cura/direzione di Gio. Domenico Peri', which suggests that Peri's functions in this organization were more managerial than technical. His claim to fame rests on a work on business practices, Il negotiante, of which the first volume appeared in Genoa in 1639 and the second in 1647. I frutti d'Albaro of 1651, which contains Peri's chapter on paper making, is the third volume. The first two volumes were republished in Venice in 1649, and the whole work at least four times there, in 1672, 1682, 1697, and 1707. It is clear from the text of these works that, whatever his youthful education and his other activities, Peri was an experienced businessman. The first volume of Il negotiante starts with general advice on how to run a successful business in seventeenth-century Genoa, but the rest of the volume, and the whole of the second volume, are devoted to an account of the workings of the complex system of international credit, controlled in this period by the Genoese at quarterly `fairs of payment', which facilitated trade between the states of southern Europe. 13 In contrast, I frutti d'Albaro is something of a ragbag. The chapter on paper making has no precedent in the three volumes; no description is offered anywhere of other trades. Perhaps Peri had some connections with the paper industry, or perhaps his curiosity had been aroused during his two years as manager of a printing and publishing business. His account of the paper-making process is that of a well-informed outsider, who describes its major stages without going into too much detail, and at times seemingly slipping into error, as when he describes the vatman as topping up the vat by using his mould, a procedure which is hard to credit.

In Chapter 14 of I frutti d'Albaro the passage which I have translated is preceded by some rhetorical remarks on the utility of paper, of little interest in this context. In my translation I have tried to express what I think Peri [End Page 248] wrote, not what a modern paper historian might think he ought to have written. I have used English equivalents of the Italian technical terms, where possible; when I do not know of an English equivalent, I have left the Italian term in italics. I have annotated the translation where appropriate. For the Italian text I have transcribed long `s' as short `s' and consonantal `u' as `v', and modernised the use of accents.

Giovanni Domenico Peri, I frutti d'Albaro
(Genova: Giovanni Maria Farroni, 1651)

From Chapter XIV (pp. 63-71), "Mill for making writing paper"

I come now to describe the mill for making this paper, which on Genoese territory, and particularly at Voltri, reaches perfection. And to speak first of the building and its fittings, I say that

the building should be in an airy locality and site, open to the north and west winds, which are suitable for drying the sheets of paper quickly and well, after they have been taken out of the water, and later, when they have been sized.

the waters should be abundant and clear, with a good fall, so that they have more force to work the stampers which beat the rags. 14

the master mason should have previous experience of such buildings, with respect both to the works in masonry, and to the wooden and metal fittings.

The site of the building, which is of two storeys, 15 is normally about 23-25 m long and 10 m wide. 16 On the ground floor are placed the troughs and the camshafts; 17 the latter are connected to the wheels, which with the force of the water make the stampers beat the aforesaid troughs. 18 There is also a chest 3.75-4 m long and 2-2.5 m wide, in which the rags are placed to rot, so that they are easier to beat, and the chest is called the mettidore. Other containers are needed, also of masonry, to take the rags after they have been beaten. In another room on the same floor there is a vat, likewise of masonry, 5 m in circumference 19 and about 1 m high, with a chest beside it containing ready for use the material which has been beaten in the troughs, from which [End Page 249] the vatman (for this is the name of the workman who makes the paper) transfers with the mould as much of the material to the vat, as he uses in making the paper, so that the level is always the same. Near the vat is a large press, about 2.5 m high, with two beams, one of which is buried in the ground and stands on two feet, also buried in the ground, to give it stability; and to hold the beams firm they have two wooden screws with metal pins, and two nuts on the screws to grip and exert pressure on the upper beam. 20 As soon as half a ream of paper, that is, 250 sheets, has been made, it is placed between woollen felts and pressed between the two beams, using the nuts, by the physical exertion of three men and the same number of women.

On the first floor are the living quarters of the Master, and another room where the paper is burnished, called the lisciadore. A further room is used to clean the rags of dust and shred them; this is called the crolladore. In yet another room is a large copper boiler with a fire, a little over 1 m in height and 2.5 m in circumference, in which the size is heated; near it is a container about 1.25 m long and 75 cm wide, which holds the size, when it is made. Above this container is another small portable press of dimensions proportionate to the container; in this the sheets are pressed so that they become soft and soak up the size, as we shall describe at the appropriate time. The function of this press is to remove the water from the paper, so that all that is left in it is the size.

The top floor consists of a single room with window openings all around the walls, which are called rebatte. 21 The room is called the drying loft, and here the sheets are spread out to dry and hung on certain thin ropes called terragnine, which are attached to wooden frames near the eaves of the roof. Here the sheets of paper dry before being sized. The said rebatte are opened or closed according to whether the wind is favourable or not, so as not to damage the sheets when they are wet.

Among the fittings is a grating made of trappe, that is, narrow pieces of wood set close together, where the rags are beaten and shaken to clean them of dust, and this is the first stage. Then they are placed on a bench or table running the whole length of the room, divided into three or four compartments, in each of which is fixed a piece of iron shaped like a hand, a little curved, facing downwards, with sharp edges, to tear and shred the rags, and it is called the squarcio. The rags are divided into three qualities, that is fioretto, fiorettone and gruzzoto. 22 A workman called the studiente places [End Page 250] them in the mettidore, keeping separate the different qualities of rags. Here he sprinkles them with a little water, so that they can heat and rot and thus be more easily beaten. When they are ready they are placed in the troughs on the ground floor; these number ten, that is, five to one wheel, called a cinci, and five to the other, four of which are called da repisto, and the fifth da sfilato. 23 The troughs are concave and made of marble, with insides which are almost oval in shape, and each holds about half a barrel of water. 24 The bottom of these troughs is lined for its whole length and width with an iron sheet weighing about 50 kg, 25 kept firmly in place with wood and lead. Each trough is beaten by three stampers, made of oak or some similar wood; these stampers have 30 iron nails called biette, weighing about a pound each. 26 Each stamper is attached to a shaft, which fits between another wooden element called a key and has a wooden pivot running through the middle; this allows the stampers to rise and fall, according as the water makes the wheel and camshaft revolve. The stampers are arranged in such a way that, with three stampers to a trough, when the first one rises in the first trough, it is followed by the second in the second trough, and then by the third stamper in the last one, 27 without anyone intervening. And the said studiente knows when the rags are beaten, and goes and takes them out. Water is brought continuously to the troughs by certain small channels, and even though it is clean water, it is first placed in basins and passed over certain filters made of copper and of the hairs of horses' tails, to make sure it is free from bits of wood or straw, or other pieces of dirt, and it flows continuously in and out. It leaves the trough by another hole lower down, which is also provided with a filter, so that the beaten rags do not drain away with the water; and while the material is in the trough the stampers are so cleverly made that as they beat they also stir it up, so that it is continuously washed and at the same time uniformly beaten; and all this happens without the intervention of anyone, until it becomes as white as milk.

After the rags have been beaten in this first row of troughs the beaten material is put into the containers already mentioned and sprinkled with powdered lime, and thus it stays for several days; the lime foments it, reduces it, and eats away the hairs, or anything else that might still be in it, and prevents it from rotting. At the appropriate time the material is placed in [End Page 251] the four troughs da repisto, and by beating it again, with the water flowing continuously through the troughs, it is purged and made perfect. After this second beating it is placed a little at a time in the fifth trough. This is a little bigger than the others; it has no iron lining or nails, because its function is simply to dilute with water the beaten material which comes into it and then stays there, but it has on the bottom a slab of millstone grit. The stampers have no nails, but it is true that they are larger than the others, and as they beat they dilute the material until it seems just like snow. It is straightaway placed in the chest which we have already mentioned next to the first vat, 28 to which the vatman adds it as required, in proportion to the material used up in the making of the paper. There is a boy called the lavadore, whose job it is from time to time to stir one or maybe two paddles fixed to the ceiling above the vat, which are long enough to reach to the bottom; by moving the paddles the boy makes the beaten material, which gradually sinks to the bottom, rise to the surface; and thus the stuff is kept uniformly dense, so that the sheets of paper, which are made one at a time, are all of the same consistency.

The vatman has two moulds of the size of the sheet he wishes to make, exactly the same in every respect, made of copper wire on a wooden frame, on which is superimposed the device and name of the owner of the mill. To handle the mould he has another wooden frame, made like a picture frame, which he puts over it; he then lowers it carefully with both hands, puts it in the water and pulp of the vat, and then takes it out gradually and gently, shaking it a little, which makes the water run away through the mesh of copper wire, and so the material thickens; then the vatman hands it to another workman, known as the coucher, who places it on a woollen felt. Inclining the mould to the right the coucher gradually transfers the whole sheet onto the felt, to which it immediately adheres, and on this he straightaway places another felt; then he hands the empty mould back to the vatman, who gives him in return a second mould with another sheet, which he places on top of the felt like the first one. So they continue until they have finished a post, which is half a ream of paper, that is, 250 sheets. This post is about 1.12 m high, and they put it immediately under the press, and by physical effort, as we have said, it is pressed until almost all the water has run out. It is immediately taken out of the press and with the help of the boy known as the layer the first felt is removed and the first sheet detached, and in the same way all the other sheets are detached from the felts with such skill, that sometimes out of the 250 sheets not a single one is spoiled; then they are placed one on top of the other so accurately and carefully that they seem like a bar of soap. And so they go until evening, in which time, working from eight o'clock in the morning—a fixed time, all the year round—until sunset, they make about twenty posts, which equal ten reams, which make up a bale of [End Page 252] paper. 29 In the evening they put all the posts together, one on top of the other, under a different press, and press them, so that a little more water comes out, and they leave them there all night; the next day they take them to the drying room to dry, and hang them on thin ropes; and so as not to tear them they have to take five or six sheets at a time, which they then hang up on these ropes, folded down the middle; when they are dry they seem like pieces of cardboard, and they are gathered together, opened out, put in a pile, and left until it is time to size them.

Sizing takes place from October 1 until the end of June; really hot weather is not suitable. 30

I cannot help remarking that the way paper is made is a marvellous thing, because, as we have said, the materials from which it is made are merely rags and water, which have no viscous or resistent qualities, and yet the sheets of paper made from them have such consistency that they are better than cloth, and they are made even stronger by the use of size, as we shall now say below.

This size is made from carnuccio, that is from remains left over when animal skins are tanned. It is heated in the boiler mentioned above, and then poured through a woollen felt to remove impurities and fat. It is put into the container next to the boiler, and while the temperature of the size is such that it is possible to put one's hand in, the paper is placed in it, and allowed to become fully soaked; then the paper is put through the press above the container and pressed until all the water has come out, and only the substance of the size remains, through which the paper acquires the strength to resist the wind and the rain in window-openings, 31 and to take ink.

And here we see another marvellous thing, because when they are being sized the sheets are so dry and arid that anyone wanting to separate one from another cannot do so without tearing them, and the only thing which makes it possible to separate them is the size. So the size, which makes everything else stick together, unsticks and separates the sheets—which occurs through some hidden potency and property which it possesses.

As soon as the paper has been pressed they take it still warm to the drying [End Page 253] loft and, placing it on a table called the predola, with a wooden instrument shaped like a capital T they lay it out sheet by sheet on those ropes, and boys between 8 and 10 years old separate the sheets by hand and by blowing on them, with great agility and speed, without tearing any, and they leave them spread out until they are dry. Then they gather them up, make them into quires, and take them to the burnishing room, where they are pressed once again, and there on a table running the whole length of the room are six to eight sites or places fitted with slabs of marble, on which the paper is burnished by women, who are very suitable for this task, and do it so quickly and with such agility that you can scarcely see their hands. And while they are burnishing it, they also sort it, putting to one side the imperfect sheets; then it is arranged by the Master in quires, in reams and in bundles, and sent to the Owner, who leaves it packaged in reams and puts it into large bales. 32

Annual Agreement with the Master of the Mill

The Owner of the papermill has to provide the Master who is to make the paper with 400 cantare of rags every year, 33 and the Master is required to return to the owner for every 100 cantare 75 bales of white writing paper of the usual size and weight, that is 12½ pounds per ream. A bale is taken to be of ten reams, a ream of twenty quires and a quire of twenty-five sheets.

In every ream it is understood that there will be three quires of imperfect sheets, two at the bottom and one at the top; these imperfect quires are of twenty-four sheets.

The building and the site should be handed to the Master with everything in order, and in this condition he should hand it back when he leaves, and he is required to supply ropes for the presses, stampers, shafts, boiler, impidori, to keep in good repair the nails, shafts, reinette and seo, 34 and to supply the materials for maintaining the troughs.

The said owner has to provide the size, felts, moulds, ropes for the drying loft, firewood and everything needed to be able to work, and all of this he will charge to the Master.

Each Saturday the Master will be given the money he needs, and for making the paper he will be paid eight lire of our current money per bale. For every 400 cantare of rags the Owner is to receive in return 300 bales of paper, and in addition the Master should make from these rags thirty to [End Page 254] forty further bales, for which he should be paid at the current rate, that is, the price paper normally fetches, and the owner has to feel the benefit of this increased production, as in the rest of the paper which has been made for him. With regard to this surplus some Masters sometimes use little loyalty, as a custom has grown up whereby they sell it to others, even though this has been prohibited by law with heavy penalties both for the sellers and the buyers.

Among the 300 bales of paper there are usually eight to ten bales of inferior goodness, according to the quality of the rags, and these are called gruzzotti, and the owner accepts them, as is customary.

The best rags are Florentine, then those from Lombardy, then our own, and the least good come from Naples and other places.

There is a difference in price, which arises from the quality of the rags, the best of which give several bales of fioretti, and these are sold at 20-25% more than the ordinary price.

With rags of inferior quality the Master of the mill is allowed some imperfections, which even out the difference of price, for the same consignment of rags is used in manufacturing fioretti as in making ordinary paper.

From Chapter XIV (pp. 63-71), "Fabrica della carta da scrivere"

E per venire alla relatione della fabbrica d'essi paperi, che riescono qua nel dominio genovese, massime a Voltri, perfettissimi, parlando prima della casa, & arnesi stabili dico, che

L'habitatione ha da essere in paese e sito fresco, dominato da vento Tramontana e Ponente, che sono a proposito per asciugar i paperi presto e bene, quando sono tratti dall'acqua, e quando poi s'incollano.

L'acque hanno da esservi abondanti e chiare, con buona caduta, perché habbia maggior forza per far batter le pile, che pestano le straccie.

Il capo d'opera ha d'haver sperienza di tal fabbrica per l'opera di calcina, legnami e ferramenti.

Il sito della fabbrica di doi solari, per ordinario va di longhezza palmi 90 in 100 e di larghezza 40 in circa. Sopra il primo piano a terreno se vi mettono le pile con gli alberi congionti alle ruote, le quali con l'acqua fanno pistare le dette pile, o siano mazzi. Ci va poi un troglio longo palmi 15 in 16 e largo otto in diece, in questo ripongonsi le straccie a marcire, perché siano più facili a pistare, & il troglio è chiamato il mettidore. Vi vogliono altre casse pur di materia da riponer le straccie, quando son fatte in pisti. In altra stanza pur nel detto piano ha da esservi una tina pur di materia in giro rotondo palmi 20 e di altezza palmi 4 in circa, con un troglio appresso, ove si tiene la materia delli pisti preparati per lavorare, di dove il Lavorante (che così chiamasi colui che fa il papero) con la forma va somministrando tanta della sudetta materia in detta tina, quanta si va sminuendo nel fare i fogli, accioché stia sempre piena ad un segno. Presso a detta tina vi è una soppressa grossa, che sarà palmi diece, con li doi banchi che vi vanno, uno de' quali sta [End Page 255] sotto terra con due zochi pur sotterrati, per tenerlo saldo, & ad essi se vi mettono due vide di legno con perni di ferro, per tenerli stretti, & a dette vide due morse 35 per stringere e calcare il banco di sopra. Subito che è formato il papero, cioè mezza risma, che sono fogli 250, si ripone in mezzo a' feltri di lana, e si suppressa nel mezzo di detti doi banchi con le dette morle a forza di braccio col ministerio di tre huomini & altretante donne.

Nel primo solaro sono le stanze per l'habitatione del Maestro, & un'altra dove si lisciano li paperi, addimandato il Lisciadore. V'è un altro sito ancora per purgar e crollar le straccie dalla polvere; questo è detto il Crolladore. Ve n'è anco un altro, ove sta la Caldaia di rame assai grande, con fogone, per cuocer la colla, alta palmi quattro e mezzo in circa, e larga in giro palmi diece; a questa sta vicino un troglio longo palmi cinque e largo tre in circa, ove si tiene la colla, quando è cotta. Sopra questo sta un'altra soppressetta piccola portabile, e proportionata al detto troglio, nel quale si calca il papere, e se vi fa amollire & imbeverare, come si dirà a suo luogo. Bisogna a forza di detta soppressa 36 farne uscire l'acqua, e vi resta sola incorporata la colla.

L'ultimo solaro contiene una stanza sola con balconi d'ogn intorno, a' quali si dice Rebatte. La stanza è detta lo Spanditore, perché se vi spandono e stendono li paperi per asciugarli sopra certe cordicciuole dette terragnine, attaccate a' legni presso alla gronda del tetto. Qui s'asciugano detti paperi formati in fogli, e poi s'incollano. Le sudette Rebatte con li venti favorevoli s'aprono, e con li contrarij si serrano, perché non dannifichino li detti paperi così bagnati.

Fra gli arnesi sono una grata di trappe, o sia di tavolette strette discoste un poco l'una dall'altra, ove si sbattono e crollano dette straccie per purgarle dalla polvere, e questa è la prima mano. Si ripongono poi sopra un banco, o sia tavola, longa quanto è la stanza, a quale vi son ripartiti tre o quattro luoghi, ad ogn'uno de' quali sta fisso un ferro come la mano, un poco adunco, col taglio che sta all'in giù, per squarciare e stritolare le straccie, e si chiama lo Squarcio. Le straccie si dividono in tre qualità, cioè fioretto, fiorettone e gruzzoto. Un operario addimandato lo Studiente le colloca nel mettidore, ripartendo le qualità; ivi le asperge di poc'acqua, perché si scaldino e marcischino, e si possino pistare più facilmente. Quando sono preparate si mettono in le pile nel primo piano a numero diece, cioè cinque ad una rota, che dicono a Cinci, e cinque all'altra rota, quattro de' quali si dicono da repisto, e l'altra da sfilato. Sono di marmo concave, col vaso quasi ovato, e teniranno mezzo bacile d'acqua in circa l'una; sopra il piano di queste vi è una piastra di ferro di peso un cantaro in circa, che tiene tutta la longhezza e larghezza del fondo, al quale con legno e piombo benissimo si unisce. In ogn'una di esse pile vi batton tre mazzi di rovere o di altro legno simile, a' quali sono fissi trenta denti detti biette, che sono di ferro, in peso una lira l'uno in circa, e li mazzi sono attaccati ad una stanga fraposta ad un legno detto Chiave, con un perno pur di legno, che vi passa per mezzo; questo opera che si possino alzare e calare li mazzi, conforme l'acqua fa girare la [End Page 256] rota dell'albero, e vanno li detti mazzi con ordine tanto regolato, che essendo tre mazzi per pila, alzandosi uno nella prima pila, segue il secondo nell'altra, così il terzo nell'ultima, senza che vi assista alcuno; & il detto Studiente sa l'hora che devono esser pisti, e va a levarli. Vi sono poi certi canaletti, che portano di continuo l'acqua in dette pile; & ancorché sia acqua netta, la fanno purgare in trogli, e poi passare sopra certe telette tessute di rame e di peli di coda di Cavallo, perché non vi restino né busche, o sian festuche, né altre immonditie, e di continuo entra & esce. Passa poi nella pila per un'altro buco più basso, e vi è parimente la detta teletta, acciò che con l'acqua non vadino via li pisti, e mentre sta in la pila li mazzi son fatti con tale arte, che secondo che pistano fanno anco voltare il pisto, acciò che si lavi di continuo, e che resti pisto ugualmente, il che segue senza l'assistenza d'alcuno, a tal che restano poi bianche come latte.

Pisti che sono a queste prime pile, si mettono nelle casse sudette, e se vi sparge fra mezzo calcina in polvere, stando così in riposo qualche giorni; la calcina li fomenta, li ristringe e gli rode i peli, o altro che vi fusse, e fa che non marciscono. A suo tempo si collocano nelle sudette quattro pile da repisto, e di nuovo repistandole con l'acqua che di continuo vi entra & esce, si purgano e perfettionano. Repistato si mette a poco la volta in sudetta pila da sfilato, la quale è un poco più grande della altre; non ha piastra né denti di ferro, perché solo ha da stemprare con l'acqua la materia che v'entra e più non esce. Ha però sopra il fondo una piastra di pietra da molino, & alli mazzi non ha denti; è vero che son più grossi degli altri, e così pistando stemperano di tal maniera quella materia che pare propriamente neve. Subito si mette nello troglio sudetto presso alla prima Tina, ove il Lavorante n'aggiunge secondo il bisogno a proportione di quelle ne va levando nel papero che si fabbrica. Vi è un Garzonetto detto il Lavadore, che ha cura di tanto in tanto di rimescolare un bastone, o siano doi, che attaccati al solaro sopra detta Tina sono tanto longhi che arrivano sino al fondo di essa, e menando li detti bastoni fa venire a galla li pisti, quali a poco a poco scendono al fondo, per tenire la materia sempre densa ad un modo e poter formare li fogli uguali, facendosi un foglio per volta.

Il Lavorante ha doe forme della grandezza del foglio che vuole formare, amendue uguali in ogni cosa, fatte di filo di rame sopra un telaro di legnetti, a cui improntano l'impresa e nome del patrone della fabbrica. Per maneggiarla ha un telaro pur di legno fatto come una guarnitione a modo di quadro, dove fa entrare la detta forma; a doi mani la cala giù per filo, l'infonde nell'acqua e materia della detta tina, poi la tira a poco a poco di piano in piano crollandola un poco leggiermente, con fare che l'acqua vada colando per quelle file di rame, e così si va condensando; e così lo porge ad un'altro, che si dice il Ponidore, il quale lo pone sopra un feltro di lana; piegando la forma dalla parte destra pian piano la calca tutta sul feltro, restandovi subito il foglio attaccato, sopra il quale mette subito un altro feltro, e dà la forma vuota al Lavorante, che gli ritorna un'altra forma con un'altro foglio, e lo ripone come il primo sopra il feltro. Così di mano in mano si va facendo, sin che sia finita una posta, che è mezza risma di papero, cioè fogli 250. Resta [End Page 257] questa posta alta palmi quattro e mezzo in circa, e la pongono subito sotto la soppressa, & a forza di braccia (come si è detto) si stringe a segno che n'esce quasi tutta l'acqua; si leva subito, e col garzone detto il Levadore si leva il primo feltro e si stacca il primo foglio, e si vanno staccando gli altri con tanta destrezza, che in tutti li 250 tal hor non ne guasta uno, e li ripone uno sopra l'altro tanto uguali & aggiustati che restano come un pane di sapone. Van così continuando sino alla sera, nel qual tempo, lavorando dalle ott'hore (tempo stabilito per tutto l'anno) sino al tramontar del Sole, fabricano circa 20 poste, che sono risme diece, e queste constituiscono una balla di papero. La sera poi l'uniscono, collocandolo uno sopra l'altro sotto differente soppressa, e lo stringono, e ne fanno uscire ancora qualche poc'acqua, lasciandolo così tutta la notte; il giorno poi seguente lo portano ad asciugare sopra lo spanditore, e lo stendono sopra cordicciuole; e per non stracciarlo bisogna pigliarlo a cinque in sei fogli per volta, e così s'appende sopra dette cordicciuole giusto per mezzo, a poi asciutto restando come tanti cartonetti, si raccoglie, si stende e si mette in mucchio, lasciandovisi stare sino al tempo d'incollarlo.

Li paperi s'incollano dal primo d'Ottobre per tutto Giugno, essendo contrarii i caldi.

Non lasciarò di dire che resta questa formatione di papero maravigliosa, perché, come si è detto, la materia di che si fa è solo straccie & acqua, le quali non hanno del viscoso né del tenace, e pure se ne fanno questi fogli così ben condensati che son meglio che tessuti, e si fanno poi più forti con la colla, come si dirà qui appresso.

La detta colla si fa di carnuccio, cioè di quelli avanzi di pelle di animali, che si affaitano. Va cotta in la caldara sudetta, e poi si cala sopra un feltro di lana per levargli le immonditie & il grasso; si mette nel sudetto troglio appresso detta caldara, e mentre è calda a segno di poterli soffrire le mani, se vi infonde il papero, lasciandovelo imbeverar bene; poi si mette sotto la soppressa che sta sopra lo troglio sudetto, e si stringe a segno che tutta l'acqua esce fuora; ne gli resta solo la sostanza della colla, per la quale piglia forza il papero, per poter resistere alli venti & acqua nelle stamegne, & al ricever l'inchiostro.

Hor qui si vede un'altra maraviglia, perché que' fogli che s'incollano sono così asciutti & aridi, che chi distaccar vuole un foglio dall'altro non si può senza romperlo, né si può con qualsivoglia altra cosa che con questa colla staccare; e la colla, che tutte l'altre cose attacca insieme, stacca e separa la carta, il che segue per qualche virtù e proprietà occulta.

Subito disoppressato il papero lo portano così caldo nello spanditore sudetto, e posto sopra un tavolino detto Predola, con uno stromento di legno fatto a modo di T grande i Spanditori lo stendono a foglio per foglio sopra quelle cordicciuole, e li putti piccoli di 8 in 10 anni con le mani lo staccano similmente a foglio per foglio e col soffio, con molta agilità e prestezza, senza stracciarne, e lo lasciano così steso sino che sia asciutto. Lo raccolgono poi e ne fanno quinterni, portandoli nel Lisciadore, ove di nuovo si soppressa, & ivi sopra un banco tanto longo quanto è il sito della stanza vi sono sei in otto [End Page 258] siti o luoghi con lastre di marmo, sopra quali è lisciato il papero dalle donne, al quale uffitio sono molto addattate, e lo fanno con tanta prestezza & agilità, che a pena se le vedono le mani; e mentre lo lisciano ancora lo distinguono, mettendo da parte li mezetti; & accommodato poi dal Maestro in quinterni, in risme & in fasci, mandandolo al Patrone, quale involtato in risme lo fa metter in balloni.

Concerto col Maestro dell'Edifitio annualmente

Il Patrone dell'Edifitio da Carta ha da provedere al Maestro che deve fabbricarla cantara 400 di straccie per ciascun' anno, & il Maestro è obligato per ogni cantara 100 rispondere al patrone balle 75 di paperi bianchi da scrivere della solita misura e peso, che sono lire dodici e mezza per risma. Una balla s'intende di risme diece, una risma è di quinterni venti, & il quinterno di fogli venticinque.

In ogni risma s'intendono tre quinterni di mezzetto, cioè due nel fondo d'essa risma e l'altro sul principio; questi mezzetti sono di fogli ventiquattro.

Al Maestro deve esser dato il luogo dell'Edifitio all'ordine d'ogni cosa, e così deve consignarlo quando lo lascia, & ha obligo di proveder li cavi per le suppresse, masse, stanghe, caldare, impidori, far acconciar le Biete, Leve, Reinette, Seo e le manifatture per far acconciar le pile.

Il detto Patrone ha da provedere la colla, feltri, forme, terragnina, legne, e tutto quello fa di bisogno per poter lavorare, e di tutto darà debito al Maestro.

Al Maestro si provedono ogni Sabbato li danari che li fanno di bisogno, e se gli pagano per manifattura lire otto moneta corrente nostra per ogni balla. Ogni cantare 400 di straccie rispondono al Patrone balle 300 paperi, e di più danno di crescimento al Maestro balle 30 in 40 e questo si paga al Maestro secondo il corso commune, cioè quello che sogliono valer li paperi, & il Patrone ha da sentir l'utile nel crescimento, come lo sentirà nell'altro per lui fabbricato. In questo crescimento alle volte alcuni Maestri usano poca fedaltà, essendo stato introdotto che lo vendono ad altri, se ben ciò la giustitia sotto gravi pene tanto a' venditori quanto a' compratori l'ha prohibito.

In le balle 300 paperi ne sogliono uscire da otto in diece balle inferiori di bontà, secondo le qualità delle straccie, e questi sono domandati Gruzzotti, & il Patrone li riceve, così essendo solito.

Le straccie migliori sono le Firentine, poi le Lombarde, appresso le nostrali, e le più inferiori sono quelle di Napoli & altre parti.

V'è differenza di prezzo, e nasce dalle qualità della straccia, dando le più fine qualche fioretti, e questi si vendono da 20 in 25 per cento più dell'ordinario.

Nelle straccie inferiori si fa buono al Maestro dell'Edifitio qualche tara, la quale uguala la differenza del prezzo, poiché la medesima va a fabbricar i paperi fioretti, 37 come gli ordinarij.