When the Arab art of papermaking by hand came to the Italian peninsula in the 13th century, the city of Fabriano was well-positioned to become the heart of the artisan craft.
Published by the Library of Congress in association with Oak Knoll Press, “Fabriano: City of Medieval and Renaissance Papermaking” by Sylvia Rodgers Albro describes the role that this Italian city played in the craft.
Albro, a senior paper conservator at the Library of Congress, details technical advancements introduced in Fabriano, including machinery and equipment, use of watermarks and improvements in the physical processes of papermaking. As a result of these innovations, Fabriano and other centers in Italy developed along similar lines. Italian hand-made paper was unrivaled in Europe from the 14th to the 18th centuries. The lustrous white sheets were favored by merchants and artists like Michelangelo, princes and popes and a growing international clientele. Many books, prints and manuscripts made with Italian paper from this time period have survived in remarkably pristine condition, retaining qualities still imitated by modern papermakers.
Albro analyzes the conditions that have kept Fabriano’s papermaking industry successful since the medieval period, while other areas ceased production. More than half of the book’s 230 illustrations—from rare books, prints, drawings, maps and manuscripts from the 13th to 19th centuries—are from the Library’s collections.
“Fabriano” was published with support from the Library’s first John W. Kluge Staff Fellowship and a publication grant from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.
“Fabriano,” a 216-page hardcover book with 230 illustrations, is available for $95 in the Library of Congress Shop, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C., 20540-4985. Credit-card orders are taken at (888) 682-3557 or loc.gov/shop/. The book is published on Onyx paper—a high-quality, uncoated paper made of ECP (elemental chlorine free) pure celluolose pulp—fabricated and donated by the Cartiere Miliani Fabriano-Fedrigoni Group of Fabriano, Italy.
The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States—and extensive materials from around the world—both on site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov, access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov, and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.