The history of paper and paper-making
as Kimberly-Clark  told it in the 1930s

Little known facts about paper and paper-making were wonderfully woven together to create an intriguing advertising campaign promoting Kimberly-Clark’s then principal product, paper

What can you say about paper? How often do you even think about paper when you pick up a news­pa­per, thumb through a peri­od­i­cal, throw away a fly­er, read a good book. Kim­ber­ly-Clark Cor­po­ra­tion just owned paper mills 150 years ago; 90 years ago it found a way to intrigue mag­a­zine read­ers about the his­to­ry of paper using ref­er­ences to his­toric “firsts” with the inten­tion to draw them into the real message—that Kim­ber­ly Clark’s Kleer­fect paper is “a first” and, hence, it is The Per­fect Print­ing Paper. Did they pull it off?

We begin with headlines from the campaign, then we examine two of the advertisements in greater detail

No one lis­tened to the Ear­li­est Writer on Democ­ra­cy until he feigned madness

A Pope’s fas­tid­i­ous­ness gave mod­ern Adver­tis­ers rotogravure printing

In 1799 LOUIS ROBERT made pos­si­ble the page you are now reading

6,000 Years ago in EGYPT it took 500 years for a book to circulate

It took the world Thir­ty-Five years to prof­it from the dis­grace of England’s Great­est Statesman

A Thrifty Scotch Jew­eller showed type founders how to cut the cost of printing

To Aztec cul­ture, the print­ing press was added in 1539

Type was saved from illeg­i­bil­i­ty when two print­ers were saved from starvation

Printing’s sec­ond great­est dis­cov­ery was made when Con­gress over­worked two lawyers

In Caxton’s time Eng­land had no paper mill

In 1839 Daguerre’s care­less­ness gave the world photography

A preach­er brought the first print­ing press to America

World’s old­est book was a memorial

When Baskerville print­ed Milton’s “Par­adise Lost”

America’s first paper mill – 1690

In 1589 Plan­tin proved qual­i­ty print­ing need not be costly

Think what hap­pens to Paper when the press­es start to roar

Froben, in 1514 A.D. put author­ship on a cash basis

It took the art of the painter Van Eyck to make this page legible

Ear­ly print­er accused of magic

Because Napoleon tried to con­quer Eng­land this mag­a­zine was made possible.

The copywriter’s challenge?  To create the headline, the illustration, tell the story and then to bridge  to extol the benefits of printing on Kleerfect paper.
The headline in the first advertisement—from Fortune Magazine, August 2934— reads:
The Start of Printing this Page goes back to 1799
The illustration portrays four men—in what purports to be a laboratory—experimenting with a battery.
Advertisement from the Kimberly-Clark's "History of Paper" advertising campaign promoting their paper.

Here is how the copywriter headlined a little known fact about the history of paper,  and bridged to the benefits of printing on Kleerfect paper.

The start of print­ing this page goes back to 1799

In 1799, Alessendra Vol­ta of Pavia, con­struct­ed the first elec­tric bat­tery. William Cruick­shank and J.F. Daniell of Eng­land improved Volta’s device and in 1837 Thomas Spenser of Liv­er­pool, while exper­i­ment­ing with a Daniell bat­tery, made an acci­den­tal dis­cov­ery that led to elec­trotyp­ing. 

Spenser just hap­pened to use a cop­per pen­ny for the pos­i­tive pole of his bat­tery and upon this pen­ny was dis­posit­ed a lay­er of cop­per from the cop­per sul­phate solu­tion in the bat­tery. This lay­er was torn off acci­den­tal­ly and Spenser found this shell to be an exact dupli­cate of the head and let­ter­ing on the pen­ny, as smooth and sharp as the original.

 Lat­er, Spenser impressed a form of type upon a sheet of lead for eight days and got a cop­per shell one-eighth of an inch thick. This was the world’s first elec­trotype. Elec­trotyp­ing is one of the devel­op­ments that made mod­ern printing—printing on a large scale at low cost—possible.

The recent devel­op­ment of Kleerfect—The Per­fect Print­ing Paper—is the lat­est fac­tor in the pro­duc­tion of fine print­ing at low cost.

 Are you intrigued?  The sto­ry from the his­to­ry of paper has now been set out, time to bridge into the out­line of ben­e­fits that has begun with the ref­er­ence to Kleer­fect. What was Kleer­fect, the read­er asks and the copy­writer answers:

 The recent devel­op­ment of Kleerfect—the Per­fect Print­ing Paper—is the lat­est fac­tor in the pro­duc­tion of fine print­ing at low cost. First of all, in mak­ing Kleer­fect, spe­cial pro­cess­ing elim­i­nates two-sid­ed­ness of sur­face and col­or for all prac­ti­cal pur­pos­es and makes print­ing of uni­form­ly high qual­i­ty pos­si­ble on both sides. Kleep­er­fect has strength and opac­i­ty. It pos­sess­es a neu­tral col­or that gives prop­er con­trast with the great­est num­ber of print­ing inks and types of illustration…a non-glar­ing col­or that is easy on the eyes and per­mits the max­i­mum true repro­duc­tive pow­er of one to four colors.

Final­ly, the call to action:

See sam­ples of qual­i­ty print­ing on Kleer­fect. Write us for exam­ples or the name of the near­est paper mer­chant. Address our Adver­tis­ing in Chica­go, please

printers devil

Won­der­ing about elec­trotypes? Elec­tros are dupli­cate plates of engrav­ings and/or type that let­ter­press print­ers use in long press runs.

The second advertisement about the history of paper—from Fortune Magazine, September 1935—features a montage depicting the greatness of Alexander the Great and the headline
“The World’s Map was re-made by a book that only one man read”

How was the World’s Map remade by a book that only one man read? The copywriter explains:

Alexan­der the Great was prepar­ing to cross the Ganges. Spies had warned him that a hos­tile army of 80,000 horse, 200,000 foot, 8,000 armed char­i­ots, and 6,000 fight­ing ele­phants was encamped on the oth­er side.

But this did not trou­ble Alexan­der as much as the news that Aris­to­tle was prepar­ing for pub­li­ca­tion the trea­tise on Gov­ern­ment which had taught Alexan­der how to rule as well as conquer.

The adver­tise­ment then tells the read­er that Aris­to­tle died before his project was com­plet­ed and when Alexan­der died, the read­er is asked to believe that his empire dis­in­te­grat­ed because Aristotle’s trea­tise hadn’t been published.

“You have not done well,” Alexan­der wrote his old tutor, “for what is there now we excel in if the things we have been instruct­ed in are laid open to oth­ers.” Alexander’s jeal­ousy was unwar­rant­ed. Because there was no print­ing, Aris­to­tle died before his project was com­plet­ed. As a result, when Alexan­der died, no one had been edu­cat­ed to suc­ceed him…the empire he had cre­at­ed dis­in­te­grat­ed. And not until the writ­ings of Aris­to­tle were redis­cov­ered and pub­lished hun­dreds of years lat­er did the great polit­i­cal and sci­en­tif­ic truths they pre­sent­ed come again to serve man and form the foun­da­tion for the renais­sance which start­ed our mod­ern era. 

 Real­ly? But wait, there’s more.

 Thus from the ear­li­est times it has been evi­dent that until the art of print­ing devel­oped, man was inca­pable of con­sis­tent progress…and that every last­ing advance in civ­i­liza­tion has been matched by an advance in print­ing. Today the most recent and rev­o­lu­tion­ary advance in print­ing is Kleerfect—the Per­fect Print­ing Paper. 

 The bridge to the ben­e­fits has been achieved: now to extol the ben­e­fits of Kleer­fect. Read for your­self how the ben­e­fits are the sim­i­lar to those in our first adver­tise­ment but there are some new ben­e­fits and the ben­e­fits we have seen above are expressed differently.

 Kleer­fect makes pos­si­ble, at far less cost than for­mer­ly, print­ing of equal­ly high qual­i­ty on both sides of the same sheet. For in Kleer­fect two sid­ed­ness of sur­face and col­or have been  ban­ished for all prac­ti­cal purposes.

Kleerfect’s col­or is neu­tral, glare eliminating…keyed to bring the max­i­mum effec­tive­ness to repro­duc­tions of illus­tra­tions in one to four col­ors. Kleerfect’s strength is ample for the fastest presses…its opac­i­ty great enough to pre­vent show-thru of heavy solids…its ink absorp­tion bal­anced to give thor­ough cov­er­age at high speeds.

In the clos­ing para­graph we learn the intend­ed audi­ence for these advertisements.

If you are a pub­lish­er or an adver­tis­er, you owe it to your­self to see sam­ples of print­ing on the new and Per­fect Print­ing Paper—Kleerfect. A request to our adver­tis­ing office in Chica­go will bring them to you.

printers devil

You will find more about the his­to­ry of paper and paper-mak­ing on the web­site of Pixart­print­ing, a U.K. com­pa­ny spe­cial­is­ing in pro­vid­ing cus­tomised online print­ing ser­vices, pro­duc­ing mag­a­zines, cat­a­logues, labels, pack­ag­ing, print­ing on tex­tiles and much more. Their online shop is the largest web-to-print oper­a­tion in Europe.

On the website’s blog you will find:
The his­to­ry of paper: from its ori­gins to the present day by Sarah Cantavalle

A jour­ney around an ancient paper mill  by Gio­van­ni Blandino

Kim­ber­ly-Clark Cor­po­ra­tion, once the oper­a­tor of paper mills pro­duc­ing print­ing paper pri­mar­i­ly to print­ers, is among the top 10 for­est, paper and pack­ag­ing prod­ucts com­pa­nies in the world. Prod­ucts include Kleenex facial tis­sue, Kotex fem­i­nine hygiene prod­ucts, Cot­tenelle, Scott and Andrex toi­let paper, Wypall util­i­ty wipes, Kim Wipes sci­en­tif­ic clean­ing wipes, and Hug­gies dis­pos­able dia­pers and baby wipes.

The Print­ing Times invites you to review this post about Kleenex.