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La Scuderia del Duca

Handmade paper

Paper handwork was first learnt by the Arabs in about the 12th century. In those years the Amalfi people had continuous commercial contacts with all Mediterranean people and the new means for writing, much more practical than parchment, was very useful to transcribe the very numerous transactions that Amalfi merchants carried out at their own home or in all the ports they landed. If compared with sheepskin (that is parchment), precious Amalfi paper was lighter, easily-handled and more clearly readable.It seemed obvious that the town was equipping itself to produce new material on its own account.

The Amalfi paper processing consisted in collecting rags and tissues preferably of cotton that were then beaten by wooden mauls to split their fibres. The soobtained skein was put for retting in majolica vats in a lot of water. After a certain time, the rags melted and amalgamated with the liquid in which they had been left in infusion. In this semiliquid substance an iron loom was dipped. Its net with very narrow meshes held back the most solid part and let the excessive water filter. Then a pulp layer was rolled out by a press and dried. After the drying process, a very refined paper sheet was obtained (that was once called cotton cloth): on it there was nearly always the producer's watermark, that the iron loom imprinted indelibly on the pulp inside the vat by a simple pressure.

Of course, with the passing of centuries, the tools used were continuously improved, introducing for example metallic rather than wooden tools or rudimental mecha¬nisms that lightened workmen's labour.

However, Amalfi Paper processing remains substantially the same up to the present day.