16th Century

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16th Century

Literature and literacy supported by paper mills’ increasing productivity


The advantages of mill-based papermaking spread throughout Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries. In Germany, by the end of the 16th century there were 190 mills.

Work at the paper mill was typically carried out by a four man team: the vatman took the pulp from a vat and made the sheet using a mould; the couch squirt, who worked in harmony with the vatman, placed the sheet on absorbent felt; the layman, who drew off the still moist sheets from the felt after pressing; and the apprentice, who had to feed material into the vat and maintained the heating of the vat. Up to nine reams (4,500 sheets) of paper could be made in the course of a working day of around 13 hours.