Parchment Paper - Parchment Sheet

Parchment is a processed animal skin that has been used as a material for writing since ancient times. It is thus a precursor of paper.

Pergament Papierersatz


In the advanced civilisations of the Ancient Near East and the Mediterranean, leather from animals has always been used as a writing material. Like leather, parchment is also made from animal skins, but these are placed untanned in a lime solution before the hair, epidermis and adhering flesh residues are scraped off. The skin is then cleaned, stretched and dried. The surface is smoothed with pumice stone and whitened with chalk. Depending on the care taken in processing, the surface structure of the flesh and hair side is clearly or less preserved: the flesh side is smooth, the hair side shows the pores.

Durable writing material

The advantages of parchment over papyrus were its smoother surface, its strength and also its durability as well as its predominantly light colour. The good tilability of the inscription made it easier to reuse parchment that had already been written on. In this case, one speaks of a palimpsest (Greek palimpsestos "scratched off again") or a codex rescriptus (Latin "rewritten codex").

The quality of the parchment and the care taken in its production were the yardstick for the standard of a so-called scriptorium. The expertise of the scribes or painters proved itself in the handling of the extremely moisture-sensitive writing material. The ancient writing material parchment should be kept at a constant humidity of not less than 40 percent and at temperatures around 20 degrees Celsius.

Ancient parchment

The oldest Greek language documents on parchment date back to the 2nd century B.C. In the 1st century A.D. parchment is attested as a carrier of literary works. However, datable originals date back to the 2nd century AD. From the 4th century AD, papyrus scrolls on parchment began to be transcribed into codices. These were to be the books of the future. Further evidence of the book luxury of late antiquity are purple manuscripts, whose parchment pages were dyed with purple and written on with silver or gold ink. The marriage certificate of Empress Theophanu from the 10th century is considered a particularly precious document on so-called purple parchment.

The robust parchment is perfect for binding books in. Not only does it look original, the material can also be designed with all kinds of colour materials! Watercolours, acrylics or simply felt-tip pens! Design your antique treasures according to your own taste!

Parchment History

The name parchment is derived from the place name Pergamon, which is located on the west coast of Turkey, today Bergama. Membrana pergamena (gr.) means "pergamic skins". According to a note by the elder Pliny, King Ptolemy (180-145 BC), who ruled Egypt, had forbidden the export of papyrus to Pergamum, where King Eumenes II (197-159 BC) ran a library rivalling that of Alexandria in Egypt. Out of necessity, the Pergamenians - so the legend goes - invented the parchment. The story is still considered legendary. However, it is assumed, somewhat more realistically, that only a qualitative improvement of the writing material was developed in Pergamon. This is probably where the name comes from.

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