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American Paper Mills, 1690-1832

A Directory of the Paper Trade with Notes on Products, Watermarks, Distribution Methods, and Manufacturing Techniques

John Bidwell

Publication Year: 2012

Unprecedented in size and scope, this directory describes more than 500 paper mills on the basis of census records, archival sources, local histories, and watermark evidence. It traces economic developments and technological changes in the American paper trade from the colonial period to the industrial era, with special reference to its close connections with the printing business, which depended on local sources of supply for newsprint, book paper, and plate paper for engraved illustrations. Newly discovered and reattributed watermarks make it possible to identify these products and provide a more reliable means of dating and localizing works on paper.

This fully documented survey of paper mills also contains biographical information about members of the trade and a succinct history of papermaking in America with essays on manufacturing methods, mechanization, business practices, and distribution networks. Among the illustrations in this volume are hitherto unrecorded woodcut and engraved views of manufactories, used in the packaging art of that period.

Published by: Dartmouth College Press


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pp. 1-3

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 4-5


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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-viii

Abbreviations and Sources

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pp. ix-xxiv

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pp. xxv-lxxxviii

This directory identifies and describes 509 paper mills operating in America between 1690 and 1832. Information about these rural manufactories is widely dispersed, but it has been possible to account for each of them on the basis of local histories, census...

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1. Pennsylvania

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pp. 1-84

The first paper mill in the American colonies was built by William Rittenhouse (also Wilhelm Rittinghausen or Rittinghuysen) in partnership with linen draper and landowner Robert Turner, ironmonger Thomas Tresse, and printer William Bradford. Born in Broich near Mülheim...

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2. Massachusetts

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pp. 85-134

In 1728 Daniel Henchman, Gillam Phillips, Benjamin Faneuil, Thomas Hancock, and Henry Dering obtained a charter from the Province of Massachusetts Bay to start a papermaking business, which was granted a ten-year monopoly in the province provided that the proprietors succeeded in making 200 reams of brown...

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3. New Jersey

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pp. 135-156

Like other colonial printers, William Bradford took a special interest in the sources of his supplies. He helped to establish not only the first paper mill in Pennsylvania but also the first one in New Jersey. After clashing with the Quaker authorities in Pennsylvania, Bradford moved his printing business to a more congenial...

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4. Maine

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pp. 157-161

Before he emigrated to America, the rag merchant Richard Fry owned an interest in two Buckinghamshire mills in the 1720s as well as a paper warehouse in London. He was declared bankrupt in 1730, when he was running the Sheffield Mills in Berkshire. At loose ends perhaps, he agreed to manage a paper...

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5. Virginia

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pp. 162-165

William Parks, printer of the Virginia Gazette, built the first paper mill in Virginia with the advice and assistance of Benjamin Franklin, who supplied rags, felts, moulds, and skilled personnel. Through Franklin, Parks obtained the services of Conrad Scheetz, a German immigrant...

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6. Rhode Island

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pp. 166-170

John Waterman, Jonathan Olney, Jonathan Ballou (also Ballau), and William Goddard formed a partnership in 1764 to build a paper mill on the outskirts of Providence, each holding an eighth share in the venture. It is not known who held the remaining half interest in the mill. An inn keeper and member of the...

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7. Connecticut

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pp. 171-195

The merchant Christopher Leffingwell had already invested in manufacturing ventures, including a chocolate mill and a stocking factory, before deciding to establish a paper mill in Norwich, a prosperous seaport engaged in the West Indies and coasting trade. He is said to have sent a workman, John Bliss, to learn...

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8. New York

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pp. 196-223

The New York merchant John Keating was advertising for rags as early as February 1768, but there is no evidence of his manufacturing ambitions until September 1768, when he announced that “the Paper Mill is now completed . . . and all Persons who want to be supplied with Paper of this Manufacture, are desired...

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9. Maryland

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pp. 224-235

After renting Pa. Mill 57, William Hoffman moved to Maryland in 1775 and built this mill on land leased from the Proprietary’s Reserve. By 1776 he was selling cartridge paper to the Maryland Council of Safety. Hoffman manufactured mostly wrappings in this establishment after 1781, when he could depend on the superior...

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10. North Carolina

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pp. 236-238

In September 1775 the North Carolina Provincial Congress offered a premium of £250 to anyone who could build within its jurisdiction a mill capable of making 30 reams of brown paper, 30 reams of whited brown paper, and 30 reams of writing paper, the three grades to be equal in quality to British imports priced at 2s...

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11. New Hampshire

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pp. 239-247

Formerly employed in the paper trade in Milton, Massachusetts, Richard Jordan received in November 1777 a two-year, interest-free loan of £200 from the New Hampshire House of Representatives as “an Encouragement to carry on the paper Manufacture in Exeter.”...

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12. Vermont

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pp. 248-262

Anthony Haswell learned the printing trade as an apprentice to Isaiah Thomas in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he could have also gained some knowledge of papermaking techniques at Mass. Mill 35. He came to Bennington in 1783 and founded the...

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13. Delaware

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pp. 263-274

The Philadelphia Quaker merchants Joshua Fisher and Thomas Gilpin owned land on Brandywine Creek, where they built a grist and snuff mill around 1765. Gilpin married Fisher’s daughter Lydia and joined with his brothers-in-law Thomas Fisher, Samuel Rowland...

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14. Kentucky

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pp. 275-283

The Reverend Elijah Craig, a Baptist minister, built this mill in partnership with James and Alexander Parker, who owned a store in Lexington. The Parkers probably looked after sales while Craig supervised production on site; he owned the land on which the...

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15. District of Columbia

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pp. 284-285

Edgar Patterson, publisher of the Georgetown Independent American, purchased a mill and mill seat at this location in 1805 and bought some adjoining land in the following year. He seems to have started production almost immediately, since he obtained an assortment of...

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16. South Carolina

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pp. 286-287

In October 1806 George Waring of Columbia, South Carolina, purchased several pairs of moulds, a typical assortment of sizes one might obtain for a newly completed paper mill. In November he wrote to Richard Waring in Charleston, announcing that he had built...

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17. Ohio

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pp. 288-295

On 1 August 1806 John Coulter, John Bever, and Jacob Bowman formed the firm of Coulter, Bever & Bowman for the purpose of building a paper mill on Little Beaver Creek. They estimated that the start-up costs would be $6,000. Nothing much is known about Coulter except...

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18. Tennessee

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pp. 296-298

The first paper mill in Tennessee is so elusive that it has entirely escaped the notice of Dard Hunter and other paper historians. I believe that it was in operation as early as 1808, when the Jonesboro merchant David Deaderick ordered an assortment of moulds (often a...

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19. West Virginia

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pp. 299-300

After working in the Baltimore area, Conrad Kownslar (also Councellor and Chancellor) moved to Mill Creek, where he bought land in 1807 and petitioned for the right to build a grist mill. In 1808 he was seeking apprentices willing to learn the papermaking trade...

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20. Georgia

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pp. 301-390

In 1810 Zachariah Sims petitioned the Georgia General Assembly for a loan of $4,000, which would “enable him to complete the establishment of a paper manufactory in Greene County.” A select committee reported to the assembly that Sims had already invested a large...

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21. Indiana

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pp. 302-304

Isaac Mooney worked in one of the mills on the Little Miami River in Ohio before coming to Indiana, where he established this two-vat manufactory in 1826. He was not able to make it pay and, beset by debts, committed suicide around 1828. Reference: Weeks 1916, 206.

Appendix: Wholesale Stationers and Paper Merchants

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pp. 305-312

Index of Papermakers

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pp. 313-330

Index of Watermarks: Words and Initials

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pp. 331-334

Index of Watermarks: Figures

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pp. 335-336

Subject Index

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pp. 337-340

E-ISBN-13: 9781611683165
E-ISBN-10: 1611683165
Print-ISBN-13: 9781584659648

Page Count: 408
Publication Year: 2012