A Desk Book on the Etiquette of Social Stationery/Chapter 8

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YOU OUGHT to know about writing paper—what it is that makes it fine and good. You ought to be able to select for your own use the paper that Trained Taste becomes you most and that is consistent with your social position, just as you select materials for a gown.

You know a piece of good lace when you see it. You know the difference between delicate, cobwebby Venetian or Irish Point made by hand and the coarser lace done on a machine. Your taste has been trained by observation and comparison. By the same method you may learn to know good writing paper when you see it, and to care for it, for its own sake.

You can tell why one piece of silk is better than another. You pay more for a Sevres cup than you do for one of stoneware. In all these things you look for quality and adaptability. It is just the same with writing paper.

Importance of Knowing Good Stationery But it is far more important to know good writing paper when you see it than it is to know these other things. Your self-respect demands that your stationery shall be good enough for you—that it shall faithfully represent your taste—that it shall lend itself to the easy writing of letters.

A good writing paper is one that is in itself a thing of beauty, that is easy to write upon, and that has the shape, size, color and surface that social usage says is the best form.

Such a paper, because of its beauty and appropriateness, makes it easier to write letters. The use of such a paper is the most delicate compliment you can pay to the taste of your friend.

The Higher Standard The moment you ask yourself whether the paper you are now using is good enough for a particular letter you have to write, you have recognized a higher standard, both your own and that of your friend.

It is easy for us to tell you the name of a paper which meets all requirements, but we want to do more than tell you the name. We want to help you appreciate its wonderful beauty, its perfect fitness and its correct form. You will then know not only its name, but also its goodness. Soon you will pick out this good paper unconsciously. You will instinctively compare it with other papers. You will of your own knowledge feel that it is fine, that it has quality, as shown by its texture, color and finish.

The satisfaction of using a good writing paper comes partly from its effect on the eye and partly from its feeling at the touch of a pen.

Three Tests of Writing Paper This gives us three different qualities in writing paper which you are to look at to decide whether or not a paper is really the best—what the paper makers call extra "superfine"—the texture, the color and the surface or finish.

Texture is different from finish. A paper may have an absolutely smooth surface and yet have a woven effect when held up to the light. It may have a smooth surface and not be easy to write upon. It may be too smooth. The pen slips so easily that it does not leave a continuous line.

Texture is best studied by examining a sheet held to the light. The minute fibres which compose the paper should be so evenly arranged or felted together that the paper is all of one consistency, not mottled or clouded. The art of successful paper-making demands a uniform sheet. And not only uniformity in a single sheet, but each sheet should be exactly like another in texture, finish and color, so that envelopes, for instance, shall match the paper that goes with them.

Absolutely White Paper  But color is one of the most important things in selecting paper, and especially when that color is the color which is really absence of color—in other words, white.

So many things pass as white that are not white, that few people realize what a real white is. Most whites have in them some color. They shade off toward yellow or blue.

The production of a writing paper that is absolutely white is a very difficult art and depends upon a great many things.

In order that you may know what constitutes a good writing paper we are going to tell you something about how the best writing papers are made.

Made in the Berkshires  The best writing papers in the world are made in this country. They are made in western Massachusetts, among those mountains which are known everywhere as the Berkshire Hills. The first important paper industry in this country was located here, and practically all of the important paper mills engaged in making the finest writing papers are found here.

This is because the first essential to a white paper is cleanliness—not only cleanliness of air, but also cleanliness of water—and clear, clean air and pure, unsullied water are absolutely essential to producing the finest writing papers.

There is one mill in the Berkshires, or rather, a group of mills, which is very important from the paper user's point of view. This is one of the oldest establishments in the country, being over a hundred years old, and for the entire hundred years it has produced the best writing papers made in America, and this means the best writing papers made in the world.

Where the Crane Papers are Made  These mills about which we are speaking are known as the Crane Mills at Dalton, Mass. It may interest you to know that one of these mills makes the peculiar paper which is used to produce bank notes and government bonds. Whenever you have held a dollar bill to the light you have noticed that it seems to be filled with fine, silk threads. These silk threads are a protection against counterfeit. There is only one way to put these threads in the paper and this is a carefully guarded secret.

The fact that this important undertaking has always been entrusted to the Crane paper mills is one proof of the unusual care that is used by these mills in making paper of all kinds. The policy, carefulness and experience that produce the nation's currency produce also its fine writing paper.

All high-grade writing papers must be made Choicest Textile Fragments from some form of cotton and linen cloth. What is required for the fibre of the paper is the long, soft filament found best in the textile plant. The only way to secure these filaments for paper-making is to put them first through the process of being made into cloth. Therefore, all good writing papers are made from rags, but Crane's fine writing papers are made only from fresh, clean, white fragments of cloth, such as the trimmings from collars, shirts, muslin and linen dresses and white goods of all sorts. These fragments, although apparently they are perfectly white and in a far better condition than the rags collected from the piece bags of the average family, are nevertheless not white enough to produce a perfectly white writing paper. They are thoroughly sorted, cleaned, dusted, and all buttons, hooks and eyes and other hard substances removed. Then they are dusted and beaten again, and washed and washed and washed, and bleached and bleached and bleached, and finally reduced to the fineness of the original filaments of the plant.

These filaments when mixed with water produce a soft, pulpy mass, and this soft, pulpy mass is the basis of writing paper.

It is manifest that if there is anything foreign in the water used in diluting this pulp, it will prevent the production of perfectly white pulp, so the water must be absolutely pure.

Pure Water To secure this at Dalton they do not depend on the streams which flow through the Berkshire Hills, clean and pure as they are. They do not depend even upon the springs which at Dalton are singularly pure and clear.

The purest spring may have some sediment, may be stirred up by a falling leaf.

Artesian Wells Formerly spring water was used, but in the search for cleaner water, artesian wells were bored, an even cleaner water was found, and Crane's papers became perceptibly whiter. To give you some little idea of the importance of water in paper-making, it may be stated that it takes over one hundred gallons of artesian well water to make one pound of Crane's Linen Lawn.

This scrupulous searching cleanliness applies not only to the water. It applies to the mills themselves, to the work people and to the air itself. No soft coal is permitted to be burned in Dalton. The mills and all the machinery are spotless as your kitchen.

In paper-making eternal cleanliness is the price of success.

Turning into Paper By means of the water the pulp of perfectly white, soft filaments of cotton is floated into paper. Simply and theoretically put, this pulp flows over a large, flat screen, which is being constantly shaken from side to side, so that the water falls through the screen and the filaments of the pulp are matted or felted together in a sheet.

All the time that this is being done the sheet is also moving forward upon this wire mesh. As the sheet goes forward it gets more and more like paper as more and more of the water drops out, until finally, between rollers, the last drop of water is squeezed out, and the paper is held together, bound, woven or felted into a tight, close, homogeneous fabric, absolutely uniform in color and consistency and perfectly white.

This fine, long, white, beautiful web of paper, put together by the gentle, imperceptible action of the water until no part of it is thicker or thinner, lighter or darker than the other, is cut into sheets as it comes from the paper-making machine.

These sheets consist of nothing but the fine, absolutely white, perfectly felted filaments of the cotton plant.

Tub Sizing Such a sheet, beautiful as it is, could not be written upon as it would act upon the pen like blotting paper. Before it becomes the writing paper that you know, it must be sized. That is, it must be filled with a transparent filling or sizing, the best of which is made from gelatine, which gelatine is produced from the hides of cattle. When you hear a stationer speak about a sheet of paper as being "animal-sized" or "tub-sized," you will know that it has been made in the best possible way.

In the finest writing papers each sheet is dipped in a tub of this sizing, and then is hung to dry upon a pole. It is allowed to dry slowly and naturally, which improves the quality of the paper.

Loft Drying This process is called "loft drying." Every sheet of Crane's Extra Superfine writing papers is animal-sized and loft-dried.

The sheet of paper is still a natural sheet of paper. It has not yet been finished. The finish, as the stationer understands it, is the way the surface of the paper has been treated. If you will look at a sheet of Crane's Linen Lawn,Linen Lawn  you will see that its surface resembles the surface of a piece of linen. If you will hold a sheet to the light, you will see that it looks exactly like a fine linen handkerchief held up to the light.

This is done by pressing each sheet between pieces of linen cloth so that the fabric surface of the cloth is firmly pressed into the paper. This must be very carefully done to produce the beautiful fabric-finish that is found in Crane's Linen Lawn.

Kid Finish Another kind of finish is seen at its best in Crane's Kid Finish, which has all the effect to the touch of a fine kid glove. This is done by pressing the sheet between plates of highly-polished steel. Other finishes are obtained in other ways, and are given appropriate names.

The principle of making writing paper is the same everywhere. Wherein the Crane papers excel is in that every step of the process is taken more carefully and every bit of material used is selected more carefully, and because years of experience have taught better ways of doing these things.

This description has been applied altogether to the making of white papers. Tinted writing papers are made in practically the same way, except that the coloring matter is added to the pulp while it is still wet.

The art of coloring paper is a very delicate one. Rare judgment is required to get a pure and beautiful tint, and again in producing the same color or in matching any particular desired shade.

Water-mark Holding a sheet of paper to the light to Crater-mark examine it is not only the best way to determine its quality, but it is also the way to see the water-mark, which is the sure way of identifying any paper of any particular make.


All of the Crane papers are water-marked "Crane's" and in addition some of them have the name of the particular paper. For instance, Crane's Distaff Linen not only has these words in the water-mark, but also a reproduction of the old-fashioned distaff, which is the characteristic trade mark of this particular paper.

Crane's papers are made in quite a large number of finishes and also in quite a large number of kinds, all of which are good, in good taste and correct.

The great demand for a fabric-finished paper has given unusual popularity to Crane's Linen Lawn, so that today it is the most widely used fine writing paper.

Not everyone prefers a fabric-finished paper, nor is it necessary in order to be in good taste that you should use such a finish.

A Desk Book on the Etiquette of Social Stationery - Crane's Linen Lawn Watermark.png

(Water-mark for Crane's Linen Lawn)

Linen Lawn Tints Crane's Linen Lawn is made not only in white—and in the case of white, the white is actually white—but there are many beautiful tints for those who care for tinted paper.

For Wedding Invitations Crane's Kid Finish 1908
Crane's Kid Finish is the same paper as is used in the best wedding invitations. It is made either in white or a very delicate and almost imperceptible shade of gray, known as Pearl Gray.

Parchment Vellum Cranes Parchment Vellum 1908
Crane's Parchment Vellum is almost as smooth as Crane's Kid Finish, but it suggests more particularly the peculiar and well-known surface of vellum.

Crane's Satin Finish is even smoother than the Kid Finish.

Early English Linen Cranes Early English
A very beautiful paper, and one that is very popular with people who like the old-time, hand-made papers, is Crane's Early English. The only way to describe this is to say that it resembles a hand-made paper.

Distaff Linen Crane's Distaff Linen is a linen paper. "Linen" in this case means a finish which we have come to recognize as the linen-finish, and is characterized by the perpendicular lines about three-quarters of an inch apart, giving it the antique effect that is often found in old papers used for printing.

Crane's White Bond Crane's Bond Paper is world-famous and is used by high-class corporations for bonds and certificates of stock they issue. For those who desire a paper of medium thickness and strong fibre for social or business correspondence there is nothing better. For foreign correspondence especially it is most desirable.