Washington, DC; New Castle: Library of Congress; Oak Knoll Press, 2016,
First Edition. square octavo, cloth in dust jacket. 240 pp. Library of Congress; Oak Knoll Press, New. Item #25849
Fabriano: City of Medieval and Renaissance Papermaking by Sylvia Albro explores how the Arab art of papermaking by hand came to the Italian peninsula in the thirteenth century and why Fabriano was well-positioned to develop as the heart of this artisan craft, first in Italy and subsequently for a larger Mediterranean territory. Details of the technical advancements introduced by Fabriano are described, including machinery and equipment, the use of watermarks, and improvements in the physical processes of papermaking. As a result of these innovations, Fabriano and other centers in Italy developed along similar lines and soon Italian hand-made paper was unrivaled in Europe from the fourteenth to the eighteenth centuries. Their lustrous white sheets were favored by merchants and Michelangelo, princes and popes, and a growing, international clientele. Many books, prints, and manuscripts made with Italian paper from this time have survived in remarkably pristine condition and retained qualities still imitated by modern papermakers. This study analyzes the conditions that have kept Fabrianos papermaking industry successful since the Medieval period, while other areas ceased production. Although the books emphasis is on the enduring legacy of Fabriano, other cities involved in the industry are discussed as well, including Genoa, Venice, Parma, Siena, Sicily, Amalfi, and Foligno. More than 200 images have been chosen to illustrate this remarkable history. In addition to images of Fabriano and the surrounding area, the principal illustrations include rare books, prints, drawings, maps, and manuscripts dating from the thirteenth to the nineteenth centuries. Many illustrations pair images of original artifacts and their identifying watermarks; the latter revealed through beta-radiography and digital photography. More than half of the illustrations are from Library of Congress collections, including images taken for this project from items in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division that used Fabriano paper. Sylvia Albro is a senior conservator of rare materials on paper at the Library of Congress.