Technorati sometimes speak slightingly of paper as “dead trees”. That is an injustice. Paper was a great advance in the material culture of writing—and so too of thinking. How many brains would be incapacitated if they did not have pencil and paper to aid them? Computers have changed our habits only a little.
Note. Much of what follows is paraphrased from the page at Mémoires vivantes referred to below; this in turn is extracted from Michel Esteffe & Paul Delage, Saint-Cybard d’Antan.
By way of Isabelle Rambaud’s weblog, I paid a virtual visit to the Musée du Papier in Angoulême (Isabelle Rambaud is an archivist and conservator now working in the département of Seine-et-Marne). The museum is located in the factory of the most famous manufacturers in the region, Joseph Bardou, best known as the maker of Nil brand cigarette papers. (An earlier trademark ‘JoB’, from the initials ‘JB’, will have been familiar to some older readers of this age.) The factory at Saint-Cybard manufactured not only cigarette papers but also “muslin” paper, “serpent” paper for envelopes, and so on.
Like many of its counterparts in the US and Great Britain, Joseph Bardou regarded its employees, two-thirds of whom were women, as a family, and provided medical services and child-care facilities for them. At its peak the factory employed 200 people. It was eventually sold by the heirs of Bardou in 1968, and ceased operations in 1970.