For both British and U.S. paper banknotes that contain watermarks, the watermarks are still produced traditionally, using a screen that places the watermark in the slurry before it sets.
In 1724, the Bank transferred its contract to the mills of Henri Portal, to provide a steady supply of banknote paper with a more distinctive, and therefore more secure, watermark. The price for greater security was "eight shillings per rheam," as stated in the draft contract.
By comparing the paper andwatermarks that we find, we can learn to recognize the papers thatreoccur and those that are uncommon or from a posthumous reprinting.
The cards also have a collection abbreviation and number in thebottom left-hand corner so they can be matched with the corresponding slide. Both the slides and the identification cards have an additional code, usually on the upperright, that indicates either the repository holding the watermarked sheet of paper, or the specificmanuscript collection within that repository.
While another Claude print lacks awatermark, it clearly shows the same channeled effect and is thus ona closely related paper. Channeled paper is also found on someSchongauer prints.
John Bidwell, the Astor Curator of Printed Books and Bindings at the Morgan Library & Museum, comments that it was an “inspired idea to put Gravell’s watermarks on the web in easily searchable form. Americanists will be particularly glad to know about Gravell and Miller’s watermarks, which will help them to date and localize manuscripts, printed books, and art on paper.”
Gravell's interest in watermarks began with the watermarks from his stampcollection and later expanded to include identifying and reproducing watermarks in paper thatwas made in the United States and Europe prior to 1830. At the time Gravell began his research in 1970, there were two methods of reproducingwatermarks.
As a side note, one interesting discovery I made was that several of the papers are watermarked with a crowned “GR” for George Rex, the king of Great Britain and Ireland. Using imported British paper was probably not uncommon in the colonies, but the Georgian watermark is an irony for papers of the revolutionary army.
Maybe watermarks will never be the talk of Silicon Valley or Silicon Alley, but they remain a genuinely useful security feature of U.S. and British paper currency. One way we know that is that professional counterfeiters are still trying to simulate them.
Garland Pub., 1979.A Catalogue of Foreign Watermarks Found on Paper Used in America, 1700-1835 (1983), with
Once governments and banks, not private firms, began to produce paper currency, watermarks took on new significance as a means of deterring counterfeiters. When the Governor and Company of the Bank of England was incorporated in July 1694, the debut of the world's first national currency marked a new era for the primacy of paper bank notes. After some were counterfeited in 1695, the Bank of England had to find a way to secure them. So beginning in 1697, the Sutton Courtenay Mill, in Berkshire south east England, manufactured watermarked paper with a loop pattern for the Bank's smaller denomination banknotes.
Another mark shows the letter "S" placed to one side of a circle;another symmetrically placed letter has apparently fallen off themold:If a researcher is fortunate and matches a watermark with anidentical published mark, then the date and place of use of thecited paper sheet can be used to infer a time period for the use ofthe paper mold which made both sheets.
Gravell experimented with a new photosensitive paper, Dylux 503, that DuPont had developed for use in the printing industry. The Dylux coating turns white when exposed to visible light and blue when exposed to ultraviolet. Gravell put Dylux under watermarked paper and exposed it to fluorescent light. More light passed through the watermark, the thinnest part of the paper. Then Gravell exposed the Dylux to ultraviolet light, which turned the paper blue, while leaving the watermark white. His method produced an inexpensive, accurate image in about five minutes.
Also included are Gravell's research notes, papers he wrote on the Dylux process and theresearch value of watermarks, and secondary source material dealing with papermaking andpaper mills.