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Fabriano History


Fabriano, Europe's oldest paper mill has been making paper in Fabriano, Italy since 1264. For eight centuries, Fabriano has been praised by artists throughout the ages as the perfect marriage of innovation and tradition. Fabriano was the paper of Michelangelo, Raphael, Durer and Goya. Artwork from these artists on Fabriano paper, exist today as a testament to their enduring quality.

The invention of paper is traditionally attributed to the Chinese, yet it was the Arabs – after learning the first rudiments of paper manufacture and introducing several improvements – who spread the new product in the west. This was a long and laborious process that came to fruition in the second half of the XIII century in Fabriano, a small town in the hinterland of the Marches Region of Italy. The reason for this location, which turned Fabriano into the most important paper production center in Europe, in all likelihood, was linked with the vicinity of Ancona, a port particularly open to trade with the Arab world. The growing skill of the ever more numerous and qualified craftsmen in Fabriano ensured that paper achieved significant quality improvements. Fabriano invented three major innovations that are still part of papermaking today and made Fabriano the cradle of modern paper-making.
  • WATERMARKING of single sheets of paper – This allowed the inclusion of distinctive marks that become visible against the light. Watermarks were initially used to reproduce the “trademarks” of various paper-makers. Now watermarks also identify the type of paper.
  • SURFACE SIZING - was invented to control the absorbency of paper and improve its strength and archival characteristics. Sizing was originally made from animal gelatin… and insured better calligraphy and eliminated a major drawback – the otherwise rapid deterioration of paper sized with wheat starch. Paper was originally banned for public deeds issued by public clerks and notaries because of this deterioration. Today, Fabriano papers are no longer made Gelatin, which is made from animal bi-products that don't always sit well with many artists. Instead, the papers are made with a synthetic acrylic sizing which is smoother and more consistent.
  • HYDRAULIC beating of the pulp – Fabriano invented a Hydraulic water-powered pile driver with multiple work heads for speeding up the beating of pulp. It eliminated the manual stone mortar and wooden pestle used by the Arabs and ensured more regular fibers while improving consistency and surface quality of the paper.
The importance and spread of paper reached a peak in the Renaissance. This is proven by numerous documents and the use of numerous watermarks in this period. In the 1600-1700's, paper-making activity in Fabriano declined somewhat, probably in the wake of the shift in trade linked with the discovery of America.

It was during the so-called "Industrial Revolution", more or less at the same time as the French Revolution, that a decisive recovery took place, thanks especially to the entrepreneurial and organizational skills of Pietro Miliani who founded the Miliani Paper mill in 1782. Grandson Giuseppe Miliani continued developments, transforming a family-owned company into a major industrial complex and once again taking Fabriano to the forefront of international markets. Giovambattista Miliani was the last major figure in the family. Among other things, he was an eminent politician. Mayor of Fabriano, Minister of Agriculture during the Great War and Senator of the Kingdom. Under his guidance, the Miliani Paper Mills incorporated all the other mills in the area to become a major industrial producer of impressive international status.

FABRIANO is a symbol of tradition and prestige all over the world. Simply put… Fabriano has a passion for paper. This passion goes back more than seven centuries and is still vivid and vital today, enabling Fabriano to offer specific solutions for every application requirement, combining craftsman sensitivity with technologically avant-garde production processes. FABRIANO paper production covers five major areas: Security papers, Fine Art papers, School papers, Office papers and Graphic Art papers.

See our Selection of Fabriano Paper