Carta da lettere (writing paper) and carta da disegno (drawing paper) are just some of the fine papers available in Italy.
Even the names are magical. Italy is certainly the country to visit for anyone interested in luxurious paper. Shoppers can choose from many different types of paper including handmade paper, art paper and marbled paper. Couples planning an elegant, stylish wedding love to use Italian paper for their invitations because of its high quality. Most Italian towns and cities have shops that sell colorful bookmarks, leather boxes, and beautifully made pens.
Italy’s tradition of paper-making dates back to the thirteenth century. The art originated in China where paper was first made by the Marquis Cai Lun. The Chinese exported it to the Japanese who taught it to the Arabs, who in turn were responsible for introducing the art of hand making paper to Italy, but the Italians were responsible for many innovations. Famous mills in Italy include those of Amalfi and Fabriano with both dating back to the thirteenth century.
The Fabriano Paper Mills
The paper mills of Fabriano were first established in 1264, soon after which the paper was recognized for its great quality. The mill is also praised today for its remarkable preservation. The excellence of the paper was probably due to the fine furnish of the hemp and linen rags used to make the pulp and the purity of the water used in the mills. During his reign of Italy Frederick II decreed that only paper could be used for official documents paper, making the new art form even more popular.
The bright white paper of Fabriano became especially famous during the Renaissance when it was used by artists such as Michelangelo, Raphael, and Goya. The paper is still popular among artists today. The introduction of animal gelatin to coat the paper reduced the risk of oxidation and helped to preserve the work of great Italian artists.
The Fabriano paper mills introduced watermarks to identify their paper in medieval times. These were often heraldic symbols or other symbols used by Italian noble families. Symbols of towns and companies were also used. The first watermark that the company used consisted of a cross with circles at the points. This may have been the symbol of the town, which was an anchor.
In 1782 Pietro Miliani expanded the paper mills and it became a great industrial concern. The invention of printing enabled mass production but the paper mills still made handmade paper. The Miliano family made sure that the paper was of excellent quality. Fabriano paper won the gold medal at the London Exhibition of 1851 – this was the only gold medal to be awarded to the Italian states. Many banks and credit institutions like to use Fabriano paper for their paper securities. The Euro is still made at the famous paper mills.
There are many different types of Fabriano paper, including Ingres paper and Tiziano paper. Tiziano paper, named after the artist Titian, is handmade and 40% cotton. It is suitable for art, calligraphy and invitations, but it can also be used for many other things. Ingres paper is the most luxurious Fabriano paper. It is acid free with deckled edges and comes in many different colors. It is very popular for making greeting cards.
Amalfi paper also dates back to ancient times. In fact, the Arabs probably introduced the bambagina (paper made from rag tatters) to the Valle dei Mulini. Here the paper was also made from pulp derived from cotton, linen and hemp and had watermarks dating back to medieval times.
Paper from Amalfi soon became highly praised and very popular with people from all over the Mediterranean. The Vatican became one of its clients, using the paper made there for its official documents. Famous artists such as Mozart and Giuseppe Leoni also used Amalfi paper. Mozart once received a quantity of it in exchange for a concert at the house of a famous nobleman!
The famous paper concern of Pineider established its first store in Florence in 1774. They introduced printed letters in Italy and their lithographs and prints were also praised. Clients who bought Pineider’s handmade paper included great writers, such as Dickens and Shelley. The Italian royal family, the Savoias, also used paper from Pineider.
The high quality paper sold at Pineider stores includes handmade Florentine paper with gold motifs and Pineider’s highly prized writing equipment. This includes pens, inks, fine leather which is hemmed and back-stitched, and book bindings embroidered with gold. It is also famous for its fine engraving. Many of Rome’s noble families like to have their wedding invitations engraved here.
If you are visiting Italy, be sure to look at Pineider’s and the fine Italian paper available from Fabriano and Amalfi. If you are interested in ordering invitations, colorful hand-decorated paper or cards, or paper for writing or art, Italian paper is certainly a great choice.
By: Lisa-Anne Sanderson