Congdon (2016 Congress)

Eleanor Congdon
(Department of History, Youngstown State University)

“The Rise of Merchant Use of Paper in the Later Middle Ages”

Abstract of Paper
Presented at the 51st International Congress on Medieval Studies (Kalamazoo, 2016)

Session on
“Parchment or Paper? Choosing the Writing Medium in the Era Before the Printing Press”
Session 5 (2016) in the Research Group Series on “Medieval Writing Materials”
Sponsored by the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence
Organized by Mildred Budny
2016 Congress Programg and 2016 Congress Report

[Published on 2 April 2016]

This paper examines the choices which European scribes made in the years between the rise of paper-making in the 1270s in Fabriano, Italy, and the spread of the printing press from Germany in the mid-15th century. Who chose, and why, whether a volume was to be made of paper or animal skin (vellum or parchment)?

Was any particular group, such as merchants or civic officials, more open to the newly-introduced medium of paper sized with animal gelatin? Who were the more conservative groups who tried to retain parchment or vellum, and why? Was the growing availability of paper, as more mills arose across Italy and then Europe, a more important factor in the adoption and acceptance of the printing press than the development of that technology itself? Such are the questions that this paper seeks to explore.


Note: This paper reported further aspects of the research presented by Dr. Congdon in the series of sessions on “Medieval Writing Materials” sponsored by the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence:

The series resumes this year.

The Abstract for Eleanor’s paper for our 2013 Symposium is available here: Identity & Authenticity, also via 2013 Symposium Booklet.

We thank her for her continued contributions.


One thought on “Congdon (2016 Congress)

  1. Mildred Budny says:

    See also the 2016 Congress Report.