Studying Paper for presence of watermark and bluish tinge: Case of 150 years old drawing

The drawing under study is made in 1868 (as evident from the signature) and the watermark mentions the paper manufacturing year to be 1866.

‘Watermarks’ are markings put into paper during its production, by making thinner or thicker  layer of pulp when it is still wet. It becomes visible when paper seen with light source at the back of the paper.


This drawing was created at Engineering college of Roorkee.The British who were then ruling India had completely banned the use of hand-made paper in all government offices and started the import of machine-made paper from Britain. A few paper mills were later established in India by the end of the 19th century. The paper seems to have a bluish tinge and horizontal, possible wire marks.

Paper made from  discolored rags often turned out too yellowish for fine use. Paper manufacturers therefore developed methods of lightly tinting white papers with blue pigments and dyes to visually neutralize their yellowish tonality. This method of “blueing paper” is said to have originated in Holland and was widely practiced in the 18th and 19th centuries. Due to their discoloration over a longer period of time, some of the papers, however, only retain a very faint bluish/greenish appearance.

Conservation consideration specifically for blue paper:

Generally, all blue papers have to be considered very susceptible to light fading and should be protected as much as possible from light exposure.

Author: namitajaspal
Namita Jaspal, with inherited skills of art and aesthetics and passion for science, opted to pursue post- graduation in ‘Conservation of Cultural Property’ after her graduation in Science from Delhi University in 1992. Four year intense training at National Museum Institute provided the right foundation to start a career in Conservation. She is currently practicing conservation consultancy for Heritage property including monuments and collections. She has been doing independent research in conservation techniques and procedures in Indian context. She is currently working on the conservation of wall-paintings of Sri Harmandir Sahib Ji (The Golden temple at Amritsar. The project is nearing completion and getting a lot of appreciation for the organized and ethical treatment it is providing. It is for the first time in the history of Sri Harmandir Sahib Ji (The Golden Temple) that wall painting conservation and preservation is being done in a scientific manner, keeping the codes of Ethics into consideration while decision making. Another project just completed is of the Conservation of Krishna Temple at Kishankot, Gurdaspur, Punjab. In her private Conservation Laboratory, she is not only providing onservation services, but also mentoring young aspiring conservators and archaeologists by the way of training and paid internships. She has been a guest lecturer at DIHRM (Delhi Institute of Heritage Research and Management). With all the updated knowledge database and innovative practical approaches relevant to the Indian conditions, she could successfully do curative and preservative treatment of very old textiles like a nine feet long flag from nineteenth century that is regarded as priceless memorabilia of second Dogra regiment at Chandi Mandir, and four hundred years old (seventeenth century) Chola Sahib Ji of Sixth Guru of Sikhs, Sri Hargobind Sahib Ji. Apart from this she has done conservation of Photograph collections, archival records, numerous paintings, manuscripts and other cultural objects. She is also involved in preparation of up-gradation proposals for museums and such organizations. Her expertise includes Conservation and preservation technologies and procedures for conservation of varied material like wall paintings, paper, photographs, textile, ceramics, stone, metal and archaeological objects.

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