Monthly Archives: August 2022

He’s a lumberjack and he’s okay



What if you could make paper out of something cheap, that’s not cloth? Cloth rags are expensive. Cloth rags have fiber that can be made into a pulp. What else has fiber? I mean besides broccoli. Imagine living in North America—in Canada—and you’re surrounded by literal millions of big humongous huge growths that are nothing but fiber. I’m talking about trees. Pine wood is soft enough to break down into a pulp.

Paper from wood fiber is called newsprint—can you guess why? It was invented by Charles Fenerty, a 17-year-old lumberjack and poet. He figured that wood fibers would make decent paper. He was right. It was good enough to print newspapers on. Charlie lived in Canada, where they have tons of wood and lumberjacks to harvest it. The Fenerty family business was farming and lumber. They grew trees, cut them down, milled them and sold the lumber.

Newsprint is the name of the paper that newspapers are printed on nowadays. It’s ridiculously inexpensive. Newsprint is made out of wood pulp instead of rags. Newsprint turns yellow quickly because wood has a lot of acid in it. But that’s okay—nobody minds. Newspapers are only meant to be read once and then thrown away or recycled. Because newsprint is cheaper than cloth-fiber paper, printers can sell newspapers at a much lower cost. What’s that mean? That means more people can afford the newspaper.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Fenerty
https://artsandculture.google.com/entity/newsprint/m0122b5?hl=en
https://www.paperindex.com/academy/paper-grades/newsprint-primer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FshU58nI0Ts
https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/lumberjacks

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Worth the paper it’s printed on

Those newspaper printers wanted to make a buck. They needed to pay close attention to that ol’ bottom line. ‘Bottom line’ is a jokey way of saying what you get when you subtract how much you spent from how much you made. You get a bigger bottom line (more profit) by reducing what you spend.

Take paper, for instance. Paper is one of the expenses of printing a newspaper. Making paper hadn’t changed much since its invention. It was good stuff. Fiber from linen, wool and cotton rags was broken down into a watery slurry that got pressed into a gorgeous piece of paper.*

Paper must have been a big overhead expense for a newspaper operation in those days. Think about it—what happens to a newspaper the day after it’s published? It lines bird cage floors. Kids make hats out of it. British people use it like a cone to hold their fish ‘n’ chips. Nobody needs a newspaper once it becomes yesterday’s news. Seems a waste of top-quality paper, doesn’t it?

* I know all about it. I shell out extra samolians for rag content paper because it’s such a treat to draw on (I like Borden & Riley #37 Boris Layout Bond. I draw on it with a 2B lead pencil).

Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Reading & Writing.

Don’t forget: I wrote another Western Civ User’s Guide! Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Time & Space.

You gotta be authorized!

Newspapers provided news, information and opinion at a reasonable cost. As we saw in past cultures, the big-shots in charge like to exercise tight control on news, information and opinion. The early newspapers of the 1600s & 1700s had to be ‘authorized.’ Authorized newspaper printers were given permission to publish by the government. Maybe the government covered some of the costs of running an authorized newspaper. Running an unauthorized newspaper had some downsides. In England and her colonies, unauthorized newspaper printers were shut down by government officials, all copies destroyed and everybody who worked there arrested.

This happened to America’s very first newspaper publisher in Boston on September 25, 1690. Today, only one copy of that first newspaper—Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick—exists.

http://blog.rarenewspapers.com/?p=7294
https://prabook.com/web/benjamin.harris/3760332
https://www.britannica.com/biography/Benjamin-Harris
https://localhistories.org/a-history-of-newspapers/
https://newspaperlinks.com/facts/history-of-the-newspaper/
https://patrickmurfin.blogspot.com/2019/09/first-colonial-newspaper-quashed-as.html

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Newspapers and coffee

Around the same time that newspapers first appeared, coffee houses were becoming a thing in London, England. Coffee is a hot beverage that was first imported from Turkey. People (okay, men) gathered at coffee houses to meet, talk, exchange ideas and gather news. It was natural that newspapers were sold there.

For the cartoon up top, I redrew part of this wonderful drawing pretty much as is. It’s the interior of Lloyd’s coffee house in the late 1600s. Right away you can see everybody has a newspaper—newspapers were much smaller then than what we’re used to, and just one sheet of paper. Business was conducted here. Lloyd’s insured ship’s cargoes so they depended on being up-to-the-minute on world events. Coffee was served in saucers. Look at the serving-boy on the left—he knows how to pour coffee, from a height. That way you get some froth into the drink.

Lloyd’s still exists as a big insurance company today. They insure everything.
https://www.lloyds.com/
https://www.thebalancesmb.com/oddities-insured-by-lloyd-s-462503

Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Reading & Writing.

Don’t forget: I wrote another Western Civ User’s Guide! Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Time & Space.