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Parchment

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Parchment is a thin material made from calfskin
Calfskin
Calfskin is a leather or membrane produced from the hide of a calf. Calfskin is particularly valuable because of its softness, and non fine grain. It is commonly used for high-quality shoes, wallets and similar products, as well as traditional leather bookbindings...

, sheepskin
Sheepskin
Sheepskin is the hide of a sheep, sometimes also called lambskin or lambswool.Sheepskin may also refer to:* Parchment, a thin material made from calfskin, sheepskin or goatskin** Diploma, originally made of sheepskin...

 or goatskin
Goatskin (material)
Goatskin is the skin of a goat.Non tanned goatskin is used for parchment or for drumheads or sounding boards of some musical instruments, e.g., mišnice in medieval Europe, bodhrán in Ireland, esraj in India and for instrumental drum skin named bedug in Indonesia.Tanned leather from goatskin is...

, often split. Its most common use was as a material for writing on, for documents, notes, or the pages of a book
Book
A book is a set or collection of written, printed, illustrated, or blank sheets, made of hot lava, paper, parchment, or other materials, usually fastened together to hinge at one side. A single sheet within a book is called a leaf or leaflet, and each side of a leaf is called a page...

, codex
Codex
A codex is a book in the format used for modern books, with multiple quires or gatherings typically bound together and given a cover.Developed by the Romans from wooden writing tablets, its gradual replacement...

 or manuscript
Manuscript
A manuscript or handwrite is written information that has been manually created by someone or some people, such as a hand-written letter, as opposed to being printed or reproduced some other way...

. It is distinct from leather
Leather
Leather is a durable and flexible material created via the tanning of putrescible animal rawhide and skin, primarily cattlehide. It can be produced through different manufacturing processes, ranging from cottage industry to heavy industry.-Forms:...

 in that parchment is limed
Liming (leather processing)
In Liming for parchment or leather processing, the hides are soaked in an alkali solution by a drum/paddle or pit-based operation where four main objectives are met...

 but not tanned
Tanning
Tanning is the making of leather from the skins of animals which does not easily decompose. Traditionally, tanning used tannin, an acidic chemical compound from which the tanning process draws its name . Coloring may occur during tanning...

; therefore, it is very reactive to changes in relative humidity
Relative humidity
Relative humidity is a term used to describe the amount of water vapor in a mixture of air and water vapor. It is defined as the partial pressure of water vapor in the air-water mixture, given as a percentage of the saturated vapor pressure under those conditions...

 and is not waterproof. The finer qualities of parchment are called vellum
Vellum
Vellum is mammal skin prepared for writing or printing on, to produce single pages, scrolls, codices or books. It is generally smooth and durable, although there are great variations depending on preparation, the quality of the skin and the type of animal used...

.

History


According to the Roman Varro
Marcus Terentius Varro
Marcus Terentius Varro was an ancient Roman scholar and writer. He is sometimes called Varro Reatinus to distinguish him from his younger contemporary Varro Atacinus.-Biography:...

, Pliny's Natural History records (xiii.21) that parchment was invented under the patronage of Eumenes of Pergamon
Pergamon
Pergamon , or Pergamum, was an ancient Greek city in modern-day Turkey, in Mysia, today located from the Aegean Sea on a promontory on the north side of the river Caicus , that became the capital of the Kingdom of Pergamon during the Hellenistic period, under the Attalid dynasty, 281–133 BC...

, as a substitute for papyrus
Papyrus
Papyrus is a thick paper-like material produced from the pith of the papyrus plant, Cyperus papyrus, a wetland sedge that was once abundant in the Nile Delta of Egypt....

, which was temporarily not being exported from Alexandria, its only source. The English word "parchment" derives from the name of the city where it was reportedly invented.

Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

 mentions writing on skins as common in his time, the 5th century BC; and in his Histories (v.58) he states that the Ionians of Asia Minor had been accustomed to give the name of skins (diphtherai) to books; this word was adapted by Hellenized Jews to describe scrolls. Parchment, however, derives its name from Pergamon, the city where it was perfected (via the Latin pergamenum and the French parchemin). In the 2nd century B.C. a great library was set up in Pergamon
Pergamon
Pergamon , or Pergamum, was an ancient Greek city in modern-day Turkey, in Mysia, today located from the Aegean Sea on a promontory on the north side of the river Caicus , that became the capital of the Kingdom of Pergamon during the Hellenistic period, under the Attalid dynasty, 281–133 BC...

 that rivalled the famous Library of Alexandria
Library of Alexandria
The Royal Library of Alexandria, or Ancient Library of Alexandria, in Alexandria, Egypt, was the largest and most significant great library of the ancient world. It flourished under the patronage of the Ptolemaic dynasty and functioned as a major center of scholarship from its construction in the...

. As prices rose for papyrus and the reed used for making it was over-harvested towards local extinction in the two nomes
Nome (Egypt)
A nome was a subnational administrative division of ancient Egypt. Today's use of the Greek nome rather than the Egyptian term sepat came about during the Ptolemaic period. Fascinated with Egypt, Greeks created many historical records about the country...

 of the Nile delta
Nile Delta
The Nile Delta is the delta formed in Northern Egypt where the Nile River spreads out and drains into the Mediterranean Sea. It is one of the world's largest river deltas—from Alexandria in the west to Port Said in the east, it covers some 240 km of Mediterranean coastline—and is a rich...

 that produced it, Pergamon adapted by increasing use of parchment.

Writing on prepared animal skins had a long history, however. Some Egyptian Fourth Dynasty
Old Kingdom
Old Kingdom is the name given to the period in the 3rd millennium BC when Egypt attained its first continuous peak of civilization in complexity and achievement – the first of three so-called "Kingdom" periods, which mark the high points of civilization in the lower Nile Valley .The term itself was...

 texts were written on parchment. Though the Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

ns and the Babylonians impressed their cuneiform
Cuneiform
Cuneiform can refer to:*Cuneiform script, an ancient writing system originating in Mesopotamia in the 4th millennium BC*Cuneiform , three bones in the human foot*Cuneiform Records, a music record label...

 on clay tablets, they also wrote on parchment from the 6th century BC onward. Rabbinic culture equated the idea of a book with a parchment scroll. Early Islamic texts are also found on parchment.

One sort of parchment is vellum
Vellum
Vellum is mammal skin prepared for writing or printing on, to produce single pages, scrolls, codices or books. It is generally smooth and durable, although there are great variations depending on preparation, the quality of the skin and the type of animal used...

, a word that is used loosely to mean parchment, and especially to mean fine parchment, but more strictly refers to parchment made from calfskin (although goatskin can be as fine in quality). The words vellum and veal
Veal
Veal is the meat of young cattle , as opposed to meat from older cattle. Though veal can be produced from a calf of either sex and any breed, most veal comes from male calves of dairy cattle breeds...

come from Latin vitulus, meaning calf, or its diminutive
Diminutive
In language structure, a diminutive, or diminutive form , is a formation of a word used to convey a slight degree of the root meaning, smallness of the object or quality named, encapsulation, intimacy, or endearment...

 vitellus. In the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, calfskin and split sheepskin
Sheepskin (material)
Sheepskin is the hide of a sheep, sometimes also called lambskin. Unlike common leather, sheepskin is tanned with the fleece intact, as in a pelt.-Uses:...

 were the most common materials for making parchment in England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 and France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, while goatskin was more common in Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

. Other skins such as those from large animals such as horse and smaller animals such as squirrel and rabbit were also used. Whether uterine vellum (vellum made from aborted calf fetuses) was ever really used during the medieval period is still a matter of great controversy.


There was a short period during the introduction of printing where parchment and paper were used interchangeably: although most copies of the Gutenberg Bible
Gutenberg Bible
The Gutenberg Bible was the first major book printed with a movable type printing press, and marked the start of the "Gutenberg Revolution" and the age of the printed book. Widely praised for its high aesthetic and artistic qualities, the book has an iconic status...

 are on paper, some were printed on parchment. In 1490, Johannes Trithemius
Johannes Trithemius
Johannes Trithemius , born Johann Heidenberg, was a German abbot, lexicographer, historian, cryptographer, polymath and occultist who had an influence on later occultism. The name by which he is more commonly known is derived from his native town of Trittenheim on the Mosel in Germany.-Life:He...

 preferred the older methods, because "handwriting placed on parchment will be able to endure a thousand years. But how long will printing last, which is dependent on paper? For if ...it lasts for two hundred years that is a long time."

In the later Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, parchment was largely replaced by paper
Paper
Paper is a thin material mainly used for writing upon, printing upon, drawing or for packaging. It is produced by pressing together moist fibers, typically cellulose pulp derived from wood, rags or grasses, and drying them into flexible sheets....

. New techniques in paper milling allowed it to be much cheaper and more abundant than parchment. With the advent of printing
Printing
Printing is a process for reproducing text and image, typically with ink on paper using a printing press. It is often carried out as a large-scale industrial process, and is an essential part of publishing and transaction printing....

 in the later fifteenth century, the demands of printers far exceeded the supply of animal skins for parchment.

The heyday of parchment use was during the medieval period, but there has been a growing revival of its use among artists since the late 20th century. Although parchment never stopped being used (primarily for governmental documents and diplomas) it had ceased to be a primary choice for artist's supports by the end of 15th century Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

. This was partly due to its expense and partly due to its unusual working properties. Parchment consists mostly of collagen
Collagen
Collagen is a group of naturally occurring proteins found in animals, especially in the flesh and connective tissues of mammals. It is the main component of connective tissue, and is the most abundant protein in mammals, making up about 25% to 35% of the whole-body protein content...

. When the water in paint media touches parchment's surface, the collagen melts slightly, forming a raised bed for the paint, a quality highly prized by some artists. Parchment is also extremely affected by its environment and changes in humidity, which can cause buckling. Some contemporary artists also prize this quality, noting that the parchment seems alive and like an active participant in making artwork. To support the needs of the revival of use by artists, a revival in the art of making individual skins is also underway. Handmade skins are usually better prepared for artists and have fewer oily spots which can cause long-term cracking of paint than mass-produced parchment. Mass-produced parchment is usually made for lamp shades, furniture, or other interior design purposes.

The radiocarbon dating
Radiocarbon dating
Radiocarbon dating is a radiometric dating method that uses the naturally occurring radioisotope carbon-14 to estimate the age of carbon-bearing materials up to about 58,000 to 62,000 years. Raw, i.e. uncalibrated, radiocarbon ages are usually reported in radiocarbon years "Before Present" ,...

 techniques that are used on papyrus can be applied to parchment as well. They do not date the age of the writing but the preparation of the parchment itself. However, radiocarbon dating can often be used on the inks that make up the writing, since many of them contain organic compounds such as plant leachings, soot, and wine.

Manufacture


"Parchment is prepared from pelt, i.e., wet, unhaired, and limed skin, simply by drying at ordinary temperatures under tension, most commonly on a wooden frame known as a stretching frame".

Flaying, soaking, and dehairing


After being flayed, the skin is soaked in water for about 1 day. This removes blood and grime from the skin and prepares it for a dehairing liquor. The dehairing liquor was originally made of rotted, or fermented, vegetable matter, like beer or other liquors, but by the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 an unhairing
Unhairing
In the tanning industry the unhairing stage concerns the removal of animal hair from the skin by chemical burning of the hair root, or by chemical degradation of the hair shaft. The type of hair removal depends on the type and length of the hair itself. Two main groupings of hair removal exist:...

 bath included lime
Lime (mineral)
Lime is a general term for calcium-containing inorganic materials, in which carbonates, oxides and hydroxides predominate. Strictly speaking, lime is calcium oxide or calcium hydroxide. It is also the name for a single mineral of the CaO composition, occurring very rarely...

. Today, the lime solution is occasionally sharpened by the use of sodium sulfide. The liquor bath would have been in wooden or stone vats and the hides stirred with a long wooden pole to avoid contact with the alkaline solution. Sometimes the skins would stay in the unhairing bath for 8 or more days depending how concentrated and how warm the solution was kept—unhairing could take up to twice as long in winter. The vat was stirred two or three times a day to ensure the solution's deep and uniform penetration. Replacing the lime water bath also sped the process up. However, if the skins were soaked in the liquor too long, they would be weakened and not able to stand the stretching required for parchment.

Stretching


After soaking in water to make the skins workable, the skins were placed on a stretching frame. A simple frame with nails would work well in stretching the pelts. The skins could be attached by wrapping small, smooth rocks in the skins with rope or leather strips. Both sides would be left open to the air so they could be scraped with a sharp, semi-lunar knife to remove the last of the hair and get the skin to the right thickness. The skins, which were made almost entirely of collagen
Collagen
Collagen is a group of naturally occurring proteins found in animals, especially in the flesh and connective tissues of mammals. It is the main component of connective tissue, and is the most abundant protein in mammals, making up about 25% to 35% of the whole-body protein content...

, would form a natural glue while drying and once taken off the frame they would keep their form. The stretching aligned the fibers to be more nearly nearly parallel to the surface.

Parchment treatments



To make the parchment more aesthetically pleasing or more suitable for the scribe
Scribe
A scribe is a person who writes books or documents by hand as a profession and helps the city keep track of its records. The profession, previously found in all literate cultures in some form, lost most of its importance and status with the advent of printing...

s, special treatments were used. According to Reed there were a variety of these treatments. Rubbing pumice
Pumice
Pumice is a textural term for a volcanic rock that is a solidified frothy lava typically created when super-heated, highly pressurized rock is violently ejected from a volcano. It can be formed when lava and water are mixed. This unusual formation is due to the simultaneous actions of rapid...

 powder into the flesh side of parchment while it was still wet on the frame was used to make it smooth and to modify the surface to enable inks to penetrate more deeply. Powders and pastes of calcium compounds were also used to help remove grease so the ink would not run. To make the parchment smooth and white, thin pastes (starchgrain or staunchgrain) of lime, flour, egg whites and milk were rubbed into the skins.

Meliora di Curci in her paper "The History and Technology of Parchment Making" notes that parchment was not always white. "Cennini, a 15th century craftsman provides recipes to tint parchment a variety of colours including purple, indigo, green, red and peach." The Early medieval Codex Argenteus
Codex Argenteus
The Codex Argenteus, "Silver Book", is a 6th century manuscript, originally containing bishop Ulfilas's 4th century translation of the Bible into the Gothic language. Of the original 336 folios, 188—including the Speyer fragment discovered in 1970—have been preserved, containing the...

 and Codex Vercellensis
Codex Vercellensis
The title Codex Vercellensis refers to two manuscript codices preserved in the cathedral library of Vercelli, in the Piedmont Region, Italy.- Old Latin Codex Vercellensis :...

, the Stockholm Codex Aureus
Stockholm Codex Aureus
The Stockholm Codex Aureus is an Insular Gospel book written in the mid-eighth century in Southumbria, probably in Canterbury...

 and the Codex Brixianus
Codex Brixianus
The Codex Brixianus , designated by f, is a 6th century Latin Gospel Book which was probably produced in Italy. The manuscript contains 419 folios. The text, written on purple dyed vellum in silver ink, is a version of the old Latin translation which seems to have been a source for the Gothic...

 give a range of luxuriously produced manuscripts all on purple vellum, in imitation of Byzantine examples, like the Rossano Gospels
Rossano Gospels
The Rossano Gospels, designated by 042 or Σ , ε 18 , at the Cathedral of Rossano in Italy, is a 6th century illuminated manuscript Gospel Book written following the reconquest of the Italian peninsula by the Byzantine Empire...

, Sinope Gospels
Sinope Gospels
The Sinope Gospels, designated by O or 023 , ε 21 , also known as the Codex Sinopensis, is a fragment of a 6th century illuminated Greek Gospel Book. Along with the Rossano Gospels, the Sinope Gospels has been dated, on the basis of the style of the miniatures, to the mid-6th century...

 and the Vienna Genesis
Vienna Genesis
The Vienna Genesis , designated by siglum L , is an illuminated manuscript, probably produced in Syria in the first half of the 6th Century. It is the oldest well-preserved, surviving, illustrated biblical codex.- Description :The text is a fragment of the Book of Genesis in the Greek Septuagint...

, which at least at one time are believed to have been reserved for Imperial commissions.

Many techniques for parchment repair
Parchment repair
The repair and mending of parchment has taken place for thousands of years. Methods from the earliest hand stitching of tears to today's use of modern equipment to mend and fill parchment show the importance that has been placed on its preservation and conservation....

 exist, to restore creased, torn, or incomplete parchments.

Reuse



During the seventh through the ninth centuries, many earlier parchment manuscripts were scrubbed and scoured to be ready for rewriting, and often the earlier writing can still be read. These recycled parchments are called palimpsest
Palimpsest
A palimpsest is a manuscript page from a scroll or book from which the text has been scraped off and which can be used again. The word "palimpsest" comes through Latin palimpsēstus from Ancient Greek παλίμψηστος originally compounded from πάλιν and ψάω literally meaning “scraped...

s. Later, more thorough techniques of scouring the surface irretrievably lost the earlier text.

Jewish parchment




The way in which parchment was processed (from hide to parchment) has undergone a tremendous evolution based on time and location. Parchment and vellum are not the sole methods of preparing animal skins for writing. In the Babylonian Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

 (Bava Batra
Bava Batra
Bava Batra is the third of the three tractates in the Talmud in the order Nezikin; it deals with a person's responsibilities and rights as the owner of property. It is part of Judaism's oral law...

 14B) Moses writes the first Torah Scroll on the unsplit cow-hide called gevil
Gevil
Gevil is animal hide that has been prepared as a writing material in Jewish scribal documents, in particular a Sefer Torah .-Definition of gevil:...

.

Parchment is still the only medium used by traditional religious Jews
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

 for Torah
Sefer Torah
A Sefer Torah of Torah” or “Torah scroll”) is a handwritten copy of the Torah or Pentateuch, the holiest book within Judaism. It must meet extremely strict standards of production. The Torah scroll is mainly used in the ritual of Torah reading during Jewish services...

 scrolls or Tefilin and Mezuzah
Mezuzah
A mezuzah is usually a metal or wooden rectangular object that is fastened to a doorpost of a Jewish house. Inside it is a piece of parchment inscribed with specified Hebrew verses from the Torah...

s, and is produced by large companies in Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

. For those uses, only hides of kosher animals are permitted. Since there are many requirements for it being fit for the religious use, the liming is usually processed under supervision of a qualified Rabbi
Rabbi
In Judaism, a rabbi is a teacher of Torah. This title derives from the Hebrew word רבי , meaning "My Master" , which is the way a student would address a master of Torah...

.

Additional uses of the term


In some universities, the word parchment is still used to refer to the certificate (scroll) presented at graduation ceremonies, even though the modern document is printed on paper or thin card; although doctoral graduands may be given the option of having their scroll written by a calligrapher on vellum. The University of Notre Dame
University of Notre Dame
The University of Notre Dame du Lac is a Catholic research university located in Notre Dame, an unincorporated community north of the city of South Bend, in St. Joseph County, Indiana, United States...

 still uses animal parchment for its diploma
Diploma
A diploma is a certificate or deed issued by an educational institution, such as a university, that testifies that the recipient has successfully completed a particular course of study or confers an academic degree. In countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia, the word diploma refers to...

s. Similarly, University of Glasgow
University of Glasgow
The University of Glasgow is the fourth-oldest university in the English-speaking world and one of Scotland's four ancient universities. Located in Glasgow, the university was founded in 1451 and is presently one of seventeen British higher education institutions ranked amongst the top 100 of the...

 and Heriot-Watt University
Heriot-Watt University
Heriot-Watt University is a university based in Edinburgh, Scotland. The name commemorates George Heriot, the 16th century financier to King James, and James Watt, the great 18th century inventor and engineer....

 use goat skin parchment paper for their degrees.

Plant-based parchment



Vegetable (paper) parchment is made by passing a waterleaf made of pulp fibers into sulfuric acid
Sulfuric acid
Sulfuric acid is a strong mineral acid with the molecular formula . Its historical name is oil of vitriol. Pure sulfuric acid is a highly corrosive, colorless, viscous liquid. The salts of sulfuric acid are called sulfates...

. The sulfuric acid hydrolyses and solubilises the main natural organic polymer, cellulose, present in the pulp wood fibers. The paper web is then washed in water, which stops the hydrolysis of the cellulose and causes a kind of cellulose coating to form on the waterleaf. The final paper is dried. This coating is a natural non-porous cement, that gives to the vegetable parchment paper its resistance to grease and its semi-translucency.

Other processes can be used to obtain grease-resistant paper, such as waxing the paper or using fluorine
Fluorine
Fluorine is the chemical element with atomic number 9, represented by the symbol F. It is the lightest element of the halogen column of the periodic table and has a single stable isotope, fluorine-19. At standard pressure and temperature, fluorine is a pale yellow gas composed of diatomic...

-based chemicals. Highly beating the fibers gives an even more translucent paper with the same grease resistance. Silicone and other coatings may also be applied to the parchment. A silicone
Silicone
Silicones are inert, synthetic compounds with a variety of forms and uses. Typically heat-resistant and rubber-like, they are used in sealants, adhesives, lubricants, medical applications , cookware, and insulation....

-coating treatment produces a cross-linked material with high density, stability and heat resistance and low surface tension which imparts good anti-stick or release properties. Chromium
Chromium
Chromium is a chemical element which has the symbol Cr and atomic number 24. It is the first element in Group 6. It is a steely-gray, lustrous, hard metal that takes a high polish and has a high melting point. It is also odorless, tasteless, and malleable...

salts can also be used to impart moderate anti-stick properties.

Parchment craft



Historians believe that parchment craft originated as an art form in Europe during the 15th or 16th century. Parchment craft at that time occurred principally in Catholic communities, where crafts persons created lace-like items such as devotional pictures and communion cards. The craft developed over time, with new techniques and refinements being added. Until the 16th century, parchment craft was a European art form. However, missionaries and other settlers relocated to South America, taking parchment craft with them. As before, the craft appeared largely among the Catholic communities. Often, young girls receiving their First Communion received gifts of handmade parchment crafts.

Although the invention of the printing press led to a reduced interest in hand made cards and items, by the 18th century, people were regaining interest in detailed handwork. Parchment cards became larger in size and crafters began adding wavy borders and perforations. In the 19th century, influenced by French romanticism, parchment crafters began adding floral themes and cherubs and hand embossing.

Parchment craft today involves various techniques, including tracing a pattern with white or colored ink, embossing to create a raised effect, stippling, perforating, coloring and cutting. Parchment craft appears in hand made cards, as scrapbook embellishments, as bookmarks, lampshades, decorative small boxes, wall hangings and more.

Further reading


  • Dougherty, Raymond P., 1928. "Writing upon parchment and papyrus among the Babylonians and the Assyrians", in Journal of the American Oriental Society 48, pp 109–135.
  • Reed, Ronald. 1972. Ancient Skins, Parchments, and Leathers. Seminar Press. ISBN 0-12-903550-5
  • Reed, Ronald. The Making and Nature of Parchment. Leeds: Elmete Press, 1975
  • Hunter, Dard. Papermaking: the History and Technique of an Ancient Craft. New York: Dover Publications, 1978, c1947
  • Ryder, Michael L., 1964. Parchment: its History, Manufacture and Composition. Journal of the Society of Archivists. URL: http://www.informaworld.com/openurl?genre=journal&issn=0037-9816 accessed Nov 20, 2008
  • Outlines of industrial chemistry By Frank Hall Thorp, Warren Kendall Lewis
  • The Natural History of the Raw Materials of Commerce By John Yeats


External links