Woven Wire-cloth

The material covering the mould used to make wove paper was woven brass wire-cloth, a new invention, also known as brass vellum. The search for the origin of this obscure material is described in Chapter II. The first step was to investigate the history of the brass industry in Europe up to Whatman's time with particular reference to wire, brass wire sieves and similar artefacts. The result was negative except in so far as by the 18th C. technical advances in the processes for making wire suggest that the quality of the product would have improved to the extent that it could now be woven on a loom.

The fact is that woven wire-cloth was available for Whatman to use in the 1750s; but the evidence shows that this material was in a very early state and had been woven on a textile loom with all the imperfections that arose from this procedure. It is not known who supplied this wire-cloth to the Elder Whatman; but, an important clue, it is known where his son obtained his brass vellum some thirty years later, the same family having occupied those premises for close on a hundred years.

The last part of Chapter II is concerned with trying to bridge this gap using a combination of domestic and trans-atlantic sources of information.