Paper mill

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Paper mill with papermaker when scooping from the vat

A paper mill is a commercial operation for the production of paper .


The rebuilt Hadermühle Stromers on the Nuremberg cityscape from 1493 outside the city walls.

In the 13th century, paper came to Italy through Arab traders . As a result, the first European papermaking center developed in the middle of this century in Fabriano in central Italy . From there came important improvements for paper production, such as the water wheel-driven ramming mill for the raw material, paper sizing based on animal raw materials and the invention of the ladle screen made of metal wire.

The first paper mill (papermaker's workshop) in the German-speaking area was put into operation in 1390 by the Nuremberg merchant Ulman Stromer (1329–1407). In 1389/90 he had an old grain mill, the Gleismühl an der Pegnitz near Nuremberg, converted into a paper mill that operated with a water wheel drive . It can be found as a woodcut on a depiction of the city of Nuremberg in Hartmann Schedel's World Chronicle from 1493. Today there are various places and streets with the name paper mill .

Function and principle

Since the High Middle Ages , the principle of paper production in Central Europe has been based on the fact that the papermaker sifted thin layers of thin paper pulp from the vat with ladle frames and these were then pressed, glued and dried.

Until the middle of the 19th century, rags made of linen , hemp or cotton - together with spinning and rope mill waste - were the only available fiber raw material in paper production , from which so-called rag paper was created. The rags collected or bought wandering rag collectors as traveling people from the population and sold them to paper mills. There the rags were soaked in water to rot. Then the rags were mechanically chopped up by a rammer driven by a mill wheel and broken down into individual fibers, from which the pulp for scooping was made. The scooped pieces of paper were predried in stacks in a press and then hung up as single sheets in well-ventilated rooms of the paper mill to dry on linen.

Problems for people and nature

Paper mills were located outside the city walls because of the stench and noise in the Middle Ages. Paper making with rags was a major burden on the environment, as washing the rags produced a lot of dirty water that was returned to the water. It is also not uncommon for workers to suffer damage to their health from handling the raw materials used in paper production.

Show systems, museums

The Schnabelsmühle from Zanders paper factory , wood engraving around 1850

See also


  • Günter Bayerl : The paper mill. Pre-industrial papermaking in the area of ​​the old German Empire - technology, working conditions, environment , 2 parts. Peter Lang, Frankfurt / Main a. a. 1987
  • Attempt to create a list of paper mills in Franconia . In: Johann Caspar Bundschuh , Johann Christian Siebenkees (Ed.): Journal von und für Franken , Nürnberg 1791, Volume 3, pp. 233-238.
  • Erwin Frauenknecht: Paper mills in Württemberg. Research approaches using the example of the paper mills in Urach and Söflingen . In: Carla Meyer (Ed.): Paper in medieval Europe. Manufacture and use . Berlin [u. a.] 2015, pp. 93–114.
  • Carla Meyer (Ed.): Paper in Medieval Europe. Manufacture and use . Berlin [u. a.] 2015
  • Olaf Mußmann: Paper, powder and gentle energy. Everyday life and technology in the pre-industrial milling trade . Munster 1993.
  • Michael Reiter: 600 years of paper in Germany. In: Karl H. Pressler (Ed.): From the Antiquariat. Volume 8, 1990 (= Börsenblatt für den Deutschen Buchhandel - Frankfurter Ausgabe. No. 70, August 31, 1990), pp. A 340 - A 344.

Web links

Commons : paper mill  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
  • Interactive platform of the Association of German Paper Mills on the topics of raw materials, production, recycling and specific job profiles in the paper industry
  • Dieter Freyer: The paper mill from "A Little Paper Story"
  • Patent paper factory Website of the patent paper factory in Sieversdorf-Hohenofen, which houses a complete production line

Individual evidence

  1. Detailed description of the mechanics and technology of historical sawmills by Peter Nikolaus Caspar Egen : Paper mills. In: ders .: Investigations into the effect of some existing water works in Rhineland-Westphalia. Edited by the Ministry of the Interior for Trade, Industry and Construction. Part I-II. A. Petsch, Berlin 1831, pp. 171-176 ( Google Books ).
  2. Traditional locations of historical paper mills can be found on the disambiguation page .
  3. a b c Jutta Böhm: Mühlen-Radwanderung. Routes: Kleinziegenfelder Tal and Bärental , Weismain environmental station of the Lichtenfels district, Weismain / Lichtenfels (Lichtenfels district), 2000, 52 p. (Numerous illustrations, canton), p. 5–6
  4. Papiermühle Mörzinger , on