A line watermark is introduced at the mill

 ‘Stowford Mills 1843’

A line watermark is introduced at the mill

 ‘Stowford Mills 1843’

azure laid

Azure Laid is a bluey-green tinted paper incorporating a laid watermark, characterised by a series of vertical lines which are then crossed by a series of closely spaced horizontal ones, to give the appearance of hand made paper. Qualities varied from cheap ‘all-wood’ grades to esparto grass, part rag to ‘all-rag’ machine made grades. All higher class papers were tub-sized, or tub-sized and engine sized, largely used for account books, but also documents such as Wills and Agreement forms.

Two examples of this particular watermarked paper exist. One was found in the late 1990s in Hong Kong. A letter, written on azure laid paper sent from the Chief of Police to the Governor of Hong Kong was unearthed by a local sales representative of ArjoWiggins. The second example was a letter written in 1848, sent from Brooklyn, New York, USA to an address in Plymouth in which the writer was notifying his wife of his impending return to England.

 

British manufactured papers at this time often displayed combinations of the mill number, company name, mill name and initials or monogram of the owner or master papermaker. These were initially encouraged by an Act of Parliament and by including a watermark, to identify the paper and record its date of manufacture, the paper mill was able to reclaim excise duty.

From the mid-nineteenth century, watermarks became the norm in Britain, with the majority of paper produced incorporating such devices. One only has to study the production books of Stowford Paper Mill from the turn of the century, to note the plethora of different watermarked banks, bonds, parchments and loan papers. Stowford Mill, No. 191, was documented as being a producer of Fine and Superfine, Vellum and Banks, Book, Envelopes and Cartridge Papers, Blottings, Tub-sized Air-Dried Paper of every grade and character, with an output of 2,000 tonnes per annum.

People circle
Ivybridge owes much to John Allen. Not only did he develop the business at Stowford Paper Mill, which he purchased in 1849, giving employment to a large number of the local community, he had been “first and foremost in the promotion of everything that would increase the physical, intellectual and religious well-being of its people generally… he was a man of thorough business habits working upon his motto, ‘Perseverentia et fideliter‘ with great consistency”.
Excerpts taken from the report of his death on 17th October 1877.
WHAT IS A REAM?
A ream at this time consisted of 20 quires, with each quire consisting of 24 sheets, hence a total of 480 sheets. However, reams of 500 sheets and 516 sheets were also common.  It was normal for paper to be packed at the mill with top and bottom quires made up of slightly damaged sheets, known as ‘outsides’ to protect the good quires (insides). The outside quires were often referred to as “cassie quires” (derived from the French casseé, meaning broken).

John Allen

John Allen and later his two sons Edward and John, ran and developed the paper mill over a period of sixty years. It is doubtful that without their money, enterprise and foresight, the mill would have survived the second half of the nineteenth century, a period when so many small mills disappeared.

 

Soon after purchasing the mill he set about the task of rebuilding and expanding the site. He installed two new paper machines, built a new rag loft, inscribed Stowford Paper Mills A.D. 1862, and bought new rag boilers, breakers and beaters.

James Thomson, a London paper merchant based in Fleet Street was a stockist of paper from John Allen & Sons, Ivybridge at the turn of the Century. In their catalogue of 1911 it describes the range of products as “Celebrated English Made Tub-Sized Writing Papers”. This was a period when English made products of all kinds were definitely in vogue.

 

John Allen Superfine was available in Cream Wove and Laid, also Blue Wove, Mill Finish or Plate Glazed, in a variety of weights.

 

John Allen Fine was available in Cream Wove and Laid, Mill Finish or Plate Glazed in a variety of weights.

Before metrication, the UK used British Imperial paper sizes and the basis weight of a paper was the designated fixed weight of 500 sheets (or sometimes 480 sheets) expressed in pounds (lbs) in the particular paper grade’s basic sheet size, which was not the same for all types of papers. Today it is much simpler, as paper is measured in grams per square metre (g/m2), rather than relating to individual sheet sizes.
paper sheets
more about different paper grades >

Old Plymouth 191 Bond was available in Cream Loan Bond – Mill Finish.

Ivy-Glen Linen was available in Cream and Azure Wove – Tub-sized Bank and Bond.

Ermevale Superfine was available in Cream Wove and Laid – Plate Glazed.

The stockist’s sales catalogue from 1911 indicate sales prices of 6d to 7d per lb of paper, but with a discount of ½d if purchased in 3 cwt lots!

'Stowford Mills 1843’

Two examples of this particular watermarked paper exist. One was found in the late 1990s in Hong Kong. A letter, written on azure laid paper sent from the Chief of Police to the Governor of Hong Kong was unearthed by a local sales representative of ArjoWiggins. The second example was a letter written in 1848, sent from Brooklyn, New York, USA to an address in Plymouth in which the writer was notifying his wife of his impending return to England.
British manufactured papers at this time often displayed combinations of the mill number, company name, mill name and initials or monogram of the owner or master papermaker. These were initially encouraged by an Act of Parliament and by including a watermark, to identify the paper and record its date of manufacture, the paper mill was able to reclaim excise duty.
From the mid-nineteenth century, watermarks became the norm in Britain, with the majority of paper produced incorporating such devices. One only has to study the production books of Stowford Paper Mill from the turn of the century, to note the plethora of different watermarked banks, bonds, parchments and loan papers. Stowford Mill, No. 191, was documented as being a producer of Fine and Superfine, Vellum and Banks, Book, Envelopes and Cartridge Papers, Blottings, Tub-sized Air-Dried Paper of every grade and character, with an output of 2,000 tonnes per annum.

John Allen

John Allen and later his two sons Edward and John, ran and developed the paper mill over a period of sixty years. It is doubtful that without their money, enterprise and foresight, the mill would have survived the second half of the nineteenth century, a period when so many small mills disappeared.
Soon after purchasing the mill he set about the task of rebuilding and expanding the site. He installed two new paper machines, built a new rag loft, inscribed Stowford Paper Mills A.D. 1862, and bought new rag boilers, breakers and beaters.
James Thomson, a London paper merchant based in Fleet Street was a stockist of paper from John Allen & Sons, Ivybridge at the turn of the Century. In their catalogue of 1911 it describes the range of products as “Celebrated English Made Tub-Sized Writing Papers”. This was a period when English made products of all kinds were definitely in vogue.
John Allen Superfine was available in Cream Wove and Laid, also Blue Wove, Mill Finish or Plate Glazed, in a variety of weights.
John Allen Fine was available in Cream Wove and Laid, Mill Finish or Plate Glazed in a variety of weights.