James Whatman

(1702—1759) paper maker

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Paper manufacturers who operated Turkey Mill in Maidstone, Kent. The father is famous for the invention of wove paper, made on a woven wire mesh to produce a smooth surface rather than the rough ribbed surface of laid paper, the only type previously produced. He worked with Baskerville, c.1754. The new surface gave better definition to prints, and facilitated the application of new printing techniques. At the time of Whatman’s death, Turkey Mill was the largest manufactory in the country. His wife, Ann, continued the business until his son took over (1762). Whatman II pioneered the use of chlorine bleach to decolourize coloured and dirty rags, used blue smalts to brighten white rags, and produced the largest commercial hand-made paper sheets ever, known as Antiquarian. In 1794, he sold the business to the Hollingworth brothers. From the time of the father, Whatman paper was synonymous with quality, and was used by many famous artists and authors, such as Gainsborough, Turner, and Blake. Whatman paper was the favoured stationery of Napoleon and Queen Victoria, and was used for the peace treaty signed between Japan and the US in 1945.

From The Oxford Companion to the Book in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Bibliography.

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