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China paper/India paper
- To: BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU
- Subject: China paper/India paper
- From: Barbara Buchanan <Barbara_Buchanan@PCH.GC.CA>
- Date: Mon, 25 May 1998 10:57:48 -0400
- Message-Id: <199805251500.IAA17418@SUL-Server-2.Stanford.edu>
- Sender: "Book_Arts-L: On the web at http://www.dreamscape.com/pdverhey" <BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU>
Re: Alison Chipman's question about the difference between China paper and
There is a very good paper on "India Proof Prints" by PennyJenkins in
Volume 14 (1990) of The Paper Conservator, published by the Institute of
Paper Conservation, ISSN 0309-4227, that contains a description of the
origins and character of 'India' papers.....
"Much of the confusion over the origin and nature of India proof prints
arises from the tangled and largely inaccurate terminology surrounding
According to E.J. Labarre [Dictionary and Encyclopaedia of Paper and
Papermaking, Swets & Zeitlinger, Amsterdam 1952]:
India proof paper: sometimes abbreviated to India or Indian paper, thus
causing confusion, is really China paper, seeing that the original
quality still comes from there. It is of a straw colour, extremely soft
and absorbent, unsized, adapts itself to the surface of a steel plate or
wood and soaks up a large quantity of ink without afterwards smearing.
Also frequently called India transfer paper.
China paper: variously called Chinese or India paper, is a soft
waterleaf (unsized) paper, carefully made in China from bamboo fibre,
very fine and of a pale yellow colour, or even of a warm grey tint. It
is used by (engraved) plate-printers to pull proofs, also as a
lithographic transfer paper and even to print lithos, for the sake of
its soft tone. Name also applied to European imitations of this paper.
It is usually about 52"x27" (1320x685 mm). It is frequently pasted on
stout white paper to give engravings more resistance. What is now known
as India paper (without the word 'proof') used for Bibles, is quite
China paper and India (proof) paper are identical. The latter has nothing
to do with India and the use of the word is probably due to the tendency,
prevailing down to the 18th century, to describe as Indian anything that
came from the Far East. (cf. 'Indian ink' and 'India paper' for hangings,
which originally came from China.)
The following list of descriptive names for India paper has been compiled
from a number of 19th and 20th century sources [which appear in the
footnotes of the article].
Dutch: Chineesch Paper, India Bijbeldruk.
English: Bible, Cambridge India, China, Chinese India, False India, French
India, India, India Laid, India Proof, India Transfer and Oxford India
French: Chine Collé, Chine Appliqué, Papier Bible, Papier Bible d'Oxford,
Papier de Chine, Papier Indien.
German: Bibel Dunndruck Papier, China Papier, Chinesisches Papier.
Italian: Carta India, Carta India Bibbia....."
The paper continues with a brief survey of printing papers available in the
18th century and a discussion of the development of India proof prints.
And what colour is that "blue" sky, anyway?