National Archives of Australia

Presenting a range of information regarding the quality and identification of machine made commercial papers from the collection of the National Archives of Australia.

The information will assist in making better conservation decisions regarding the long term care of paper-based collections.

The core information is the result of a survey carried out on our collection. Other information presented is based on research into the commercial history of papermaking as well as processes and materials.

Further information will be added to the site in the future, either from the Archives itself or from other sources and collections.

Watermarks Database

Watermarks can be unique to a particular brand and so can give information on the date, technology and place of manufacture. Examples of watermarks in the NAA collection were collected as part of this project. All watermarks collected are presented in the form of a database.

The database includes images of each watermark as well as, where known, other useful information: date of manufacture, date of usage, provenance, sheet thickness and details of the mill or firm that made the sheet. The database is keyword searchable and can also be searched by motif, based on protocols from the IPH standard.

20th Century Paper Quality Survey

The survey looked at paper quality in the NAA collection to identify how this has varied between 1900 and 2013. This involved testing 10 samples per year. The tests included pH, alum, carbonates, clay, and lignin. You can view the full report (pdf, 2mb).

Paper Technology Chronology

Understanding the technology and materials used to create a sheet provides context for how it was created, and may age. The chronology starts in 1750 and goes through to 2010. The information given includes: papermaking fibres, machinery, pulping techniques, bleaching processes, fillers, additives, coatings, watermarks and mills.