A rag-and-bone woman – With much sought-after scraps of cloth on her back 1844

Scraps of cloth from clothing that had been worn out and discarded were for a long time the raw material used in the manufacture of paper.  Rag collectors and traders supplied the paper mills with what they needed. In the eighteenth century the supply of these scraps of textiles seems to have declined. Since demand could no longer be covered, the search was on for alternative raw materials. From the middle of the nineteenth century paper was manufactured from the cellulose found in plant fibres.

 

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