Printed on Fabriano Paper: History and Use of Fabriano Handmade Paper by Printers, Artists and Mapmakers in Renaissance Italy
Ms. Sylvia Rodgers Albro
Senior Paper Conservator
April 28, 2009
About the Lecture:
The development of high quality paper in Fabriano was a major contribution to the expansion of the printing industry in Italy in the 15th century. The city was not the first to practice the papermaking craft in Europe after arrival of the technology from the Arab world; but by the 14th century it was the most successful. Fabriano introduced a number of technical innovations, including the use of water powered multiple-headed stampers for processing pulp from rags, the coating of paper sheets with animal gelatin size for strength and to provide a smooth surface for ink, and the introduction of watermarks to identify the supplier/maker of the paper as domestic thereby not subject to periodic Papal embargoes of imported Middle Eastern products.
Paper made from the Fabriano area, beginning in the fourteenth century, is remarkable for its exceptional quality and permanence. Twentieth century research of these well-preserved old papers has indicated their high calcium content was an important factor in their appearance and their survival. This had to do with the high quality furnish of hemp and linen rags used in making the pulp and the purity of the water used in the mills. Gelatin sizing provided the added advantage of protection against oxidation of the formed sheet.
Examples of 15th and 16th century printing on Fabriano paper from Venice, Rome, Florence and Naples from the collections of the Library of Congress were discussed. Watermarks from these papers are compared to samples in various historical archives of Fabriano. Specific features of Fabriano paper of this period, which enable its identification, were described.
About the Speaker:
Sylvia Rodgers Albro received her graduate degree in the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works from the State University of New York program at Cooperstown in 1982. She came to the Library of Congress in 1984 where she is currently a Senior Paper Conservator, after positions at the Fine Arts Museums in San Francisco and the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven. In addition to helping coordinate the graduate internship program in paper conservation at LC, Sylvia was a guest instructor at the European School for the Conservation of Library Materials in Spoleto, Italy from 1992-2006. She received the first staff fellowship from the John W. Kluge Center at LC in 2002, an FAIC publications grant from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation in 2004, and an AIC Carolyn Horton Fund in 2006 to research the Fabriano hand-papermaking industry.