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Ream Wrappers

The paper mill label or ream wrapper has become a collector's item, as well as an item of historical significance. The pictorial art depicted on the labels has provided historians with a view of both the interior and the exterior of these extinct mills, including employees at work, equipment and the basic layout of the mill and its surrounding lands.

Like illustrated handbill advertising of the time, papermakers hoped that buyers would appeal to the sense of artistic quality of the pictorial label, and gave much thought to what was to be presented on the wrapper. Many of these illustrations were created by the artist Dr. Alexander Anderson (1775-1870) and were elaborate and realistic in content. Symbols such as the phoenix, which represented fire, and the eagle, for strength and the symbol of the United States, were common on these labels.

Ream wrappers vary in size since they were produced to fit the reams of paper. The illustrations on many of these wrappers were created by wood engravings, which were executed by a knife and other carving utensils. The engraving was usually done on the end-grain, which was a very durable surface.

The ream wrapper collection is arranged alphabetically by the first name of the company, if given, and is maintained in the Graphic Arts Department. This collection currently contains fifty-seven items.

-Tracy Putzel-Bischoff

Ream Wrapper

A ream wrapper for Calvin Shepard, Jr., Rail Road Mill, Framingham, Massachusetts.


* Ream Wrapper Collection Inventory



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Last updated September 2, 2004

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