Written documents

Manufactured in Europe from the 13th century onwards, paper was initially made from hemp or linen rags, and later from cotton, unlike parchment which was made from animal skins. In the 19th century, the increase in the price of textiles led to the almost systematic use of wood for paper production.

Nevertheless, textile fibres were still used for the production of particularly important documents, such as notarial deeds.

This change of raw material avoids an increase in production costs, but has a considerable impact on the conservation of documents. While hemp, flax and cotton are made up entirely of cellulose, an extremely stable and durable molecule, wood pulp contains only 50% of cellulose. The other half is made up of lignin and hemicelluloses, components which, because of their sensitivity to chemical reactions and light, accelerate the ageing of paper.

For this reason, archives should always be stored in the dark, at temperatures and humidity levels that prevent possible chemical reactions, but also at a constant level to avoid paper deformation.

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