Find of the Week: The Dictionary of Paper

I’m betting this particular find will come to be increasingly valued as a relic from another time — another world, even. Back when paper’s preeminence was so great and its forms so varied that the manufacture of it required a 499-page dictionary just to understand the terminology involved.

Here’s a quaint, almost poignant excerpt from the Elegy Preface:

“It is not easy to classify and define paper terms. Once might expect this of an industry which is centuries old, universally located, and almost unlimited in the application of its product. The true significance of many of the terms can be explained more adequately by the historian than by the technician…The situation is further confounded by the fact that new uses for paper are discovered almost daily…”

My copy of The Dictionary of Paper was published in 1965, its third edition, by the American Paper and Pulp Association. The book was intended to be understood by the paper layman but used by the paper technician. As a result it transcends the usual sloppy oversized trade publication paperback sliding down the bookshelf of some middle manager’s office and is actually a bit of keepsake, still relevant as a resource. Besides, it’s printed on great paper that emits that library, papery smell when you crack open the book. I keep leaning over to inhale as I write this. Weird, I know. Maybe there’s a term for that impulse — just a minute while I look it up in the Dictionary of Paper.

TMI on the paper already!

According to the Dictionary of Paper, Lard Paper is not just a myth.

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4 thoughts on “Find of the Week: The Dictionary of Paper

    • Not as exciting as it sounds. I was hoping it was made of lard but alas. According to the Dictionary, it’s “A greaseproof paper or vegetable parchment used to line lard pails and lard tubs to prevent the grease from penetrating the board and to protect the lard from absorbing odors from the container.”

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