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  • Writer's pictureSilvia Hufnagel

New publication: Paper Stories

A few weeks ago our book Paper Stories – Paper and Book History in Early Modern Europe was published. It is based on the conference that we planned for the previous project Paper Trails and that was, after much Covid-postponing, eventually held in Reykjavík last May. We are particularly happy that we can offer this conference volume in open access.

The peer-reviewed volume is designed around three thematic strands, based on the lifecycle of books, manuscripts and charters. The first strand concerns the production of paper, the second strand deals with the production of books and manuscripts and the third strand is about trade, exchange and ownership of text-bearing objects. In the introduction, we (the three editors) describe our approach to paper and book history and object biography.

In the first strand about paper production we find five chapters about the

introduction of paper in Iceland, about the co-evolution of paper and governance, about the materials used for 16th- and 17th-century printing paper, about a German paper machine that emulated hand-made paper and about watermark descriptions in printed and digital watermark catalogues.

The second strand about book and manuscript production comprises four chapters. You can read about the impact paper had on the format and size of Irish manuscripts, about the detailed information on date and place of manuscript production gained from watermark analysis, about various historical, material and conservational aspects of the earliest printed book in Norway, and about the effect of the weather, including volcanic eruptions in Iceland, on papermaking and printing in 18th-century England.

The third strand about trade, exchange and ownership of manuscripts and books contain one article about agents of European book trade in the early 15th century, as well as six articles that focus on Iceland. These articles deal with the scribal network and production of a 17th-century scribe and illuminatior, with use and reuse of paper, with written production and dissemination of witch hunts, with paper theft, with the paths and patterns of obtaining paper in the 19th century, and with similarities between biodiversity and cultural diversity found in Icelandic poetic manuscripts.

In a postscript, you can read about poetic reception of paper in Early Modern Iceland.

We hope that you’ll enjoy reading our book!


Silvia Hufnagel, Þórunn Sigurðardóttir and Davíð Ólafsson, eds., Paper Stories – Paper and Book History in Early Modern Europe. Material Text Cultures 38. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2023.


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