Facts About Paper

  • The main component of paper is plant fiber. Many plants can be used to make paper. Some common non-wood papermaking fibers include straw, cotton, kenaf, linen, and bagasse.
  • While observing wasps making nests from chewed-up wood in 1.719, the French scientist Rene de Reaumur was the first to hypothesize that wood could be used to make paper. Sadly, Reaumur himself never tested his theory, and not until 1.765 did papermaking experiments using plant fiber begin in Germany.
  • Every year, over 2 billion trees are planted in the U.S. by the forest industry, private landowners, and government agencies. That's nearly 7 million trees planted every day!
  • The word "paper" comes from the name of the papyrus plant that grew wild along the Nile River in Egypt about 4.000 years ago. Ancient Egyptians used to pound the leaves flat and use them to write on.
  • We have more trees in the U.S. today than we did 70 years ago.
  • The tallest redwood tree ever measured was 367 feet (110 m) tall. That's 62 feet(19 m) taller than the Statue of Liberty!
  • The earliest known American photograph on paper was in 1.849.
  • In the ninth century A.D., paper playing cards, paper money, and toilet paper were all in general use in China.
  • The oldest living trees, according to the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, are the bristlecone pines in the mountains of California, estimated to be about 4.600 years old. 
  • Toilet paper in roll form was introduced in America in 1.871.
  • About two-thirds of the raw material used to make paper in the U.S. comes from recovered paper that is recycled, and the wood debris left from lumber manufacturing.
  • Paper money, termed "flying-money" by the Chinese, was in use in China around A.D. 807. Paper money was not used in the American colonies until 1.690, nearly 900 years later.
  • Paper bags were first produced in 1.850 - entirely by hand. Machine-made paper bags were introduced in 1.876.
  • The first recorded mention of playing cards was in A.D. 969 in China.
  • Ruled paper was first produced by machine in 1.770 by John Tetlow in England. Its first uses were for music paper and accounting ledgers. Before this, the rules had to be drawn on by hand.
  • The first magazine to reach a circulation of more than one million copies per year was the Ladies Home Journal in 1.903.
  • Kleenex (R) tissues, the first brand of facial tissues, were originally sold to remove women's facial cleanser. The maker, the Kimberly-Clark Company, began marketing them as "disposable handkerchiefs" when they learned that people were using them to blow their noses.
  • Postage stamps were first used in the United States in 1.847.
  • In the 1.800s, paper was made from old clothes and rags. Around 1.855, a man named Augustus Stanwood imported several shiploads of Egyptian mummies to use their wrappings for papermaking! When his mill workers caught cholera from handling the mummies, this practice was stopped.