The Recent History Of Watermarks

   Hezekiah Niles published a newspaper, the Register at Baltimore, Maryland. In the issue published for 5 August 1820, he cajoled the members of Congress for using writing paper that bore the watermark of the royal crown of England. Instead, he suggested that the Congress "use paper that is watermarked with a codfish, a hoe-cake, a yoke of oxen, or a race horse, - anything but the royal crown of England".

   In 1840, English papermakers began to produce paper intended for use in printing postage stamps. The first stamp produced in the world was one created in England in 1840 and issued on 06 May. It bore the side profile of Queen Victoria, was denominated at one penny, and had a black background, from which it's nickname of "Penny Black" was derived. Each stamp contained a watermark in the design of a small crown. The watermark design of the crown was simple, but very well suited for the diminutive size of the postage stamp.

   The positioning of a single watermark design in a particular position was difficult on a paper machine until the year 1953, when an electronic system of controlling the speed of the dandy roll was developed by Robert Gladstone and installed in the paper mills of Wiggins Teape & Co Ltd.

   The interest in Philately (i.e. stamp collecting) became very popular during the first half of the Twentieth Century. Along with it came an interest in the watermarks which could be found in postage stamps from throughout the world. Ervin J. Felix published a book in 1966 devoted to the study of watermarks and perforations employed in stamps from 1840 to 1966. He cataloged 505 different watermark images. He also noted that philatelic societies generally identified postage stamp watermarks as any of the following types: Single Line, Double Line, Multiple, Script and Stitch. The last mentioned consisted of a mark created in the paper by the stitches where the dandy roll cover was seamed together. Also identified were basic layouts that included Sheet, Continuous and Inverted or Reversed.

   On October 10-13, 1996 the First International Conference On The History, Function And Study Of Watermarks was held at Roanoke, Virginia.

   In 1997 the International Association Of Paper Historians held a conference during which the International Standard For The Registration Of Papers With Or Without Watermarks was adopted.

   The Al Qaeda terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, DC and the crashing of Flight 93 in Somerset County, Pennsylvania on 11 September, 2001 brought an awareness of the need for greater security to the attention of many individuals and businesses. Although certain paper manufacturing companies, such as Appleton (previously Appleton Papers Inc) had already been engaged in the manufacture of security-oriented products, including watermarked papers, interest in security features rose to new heights. The watermark, recognized as one of the oldest and most effectual security measures, was therefore given renewed attention.