How Much is that Paper in the Window?

June 8, 2010 at 8:17 pm (research) (, , , )

On Sunday, I led a lecture — called Austen/Adams: Travels with Jane and Abigail –that discussed the “correspondence culture” of the late 18th / early 19th centuries. We investigated postage rates (and how that compared to the price of meat!); how paper was made; how letters were folded so as to make their own envelopes – and that, of course, brought about a discussion of crossed writing (versus, as Austen most often did when she “filled” her paper: writing in between lines).

One question I had not thought to look into, however, left a couple people wondering about an answer (myself included): How much did (writing) paper cost?

As often with the “typical” of one’s life, there seemingly are no mentions in diaries of the Smiths or Goslings to answer this question (it may be I just didn’t note it down; when I couldn’t transcribe a diary fully, I put in what interested me: like the price of stockings or shoes or gloves).

Jane Austen’s Letters (the Le Faye edition) certainly makes mention of SEVERAL paper firms (their watermarks detectable), and there may be books out there that either quote from records, or make mention of prices.

Anyone with ANY information (please: only cited, authoritative sources), especially for the British firms the Smiths, Goslings as well as Austens would have easily been able to procure paper from, do let me (us!) know.

1 Comment

  1. Janeite Deb said,

    Kelly – the classic book on papermaking is Dard Hunter, “Papermaking: the history and technique of an ancient craft” [Knopf 1943] – he touches on the price of paper by reams. He states in his chronology: “1696: there were 100 paper mills in England.” There is also a website: British Association of Paper Historians - [they also have a link to an edited version of the Dard Hunter chronology] – there is much here on the history of paper and paper mills. One such mill: Springfield Mill, founded by William Balston [1759-1849], the largest papermill in Great Britain… just a start – there is alot out there –

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