Drawing Techniques: a Guide
Supports: Paper: Watermarks  

Paper manufacturers began to identify their product at a very early date with watermarks. They made a wire pattern in the center of the grid in a characteristic shape, for example a crown or a star. As the grids wore out and were replaced, so were the patterns, and they were never identical. This gives us an opportunity to identify paper by location and date. Several reference works exist that illustrate watermarks from sheets used for dated and localized documents. This information should be used with caution, however, since paper was often shipped considerable distances, and it was not always used immediately after purchase.


Briquet, C. M., Les filigranes: Dictionnaire historique des marques de papier, 4 vols, Paris, 1907.

Churchill, W. A., Watermarks in Paper in Holland, England, France, etc. in the XVII and XVIII Centuries and the Interconnection, Amsterdam, 1935.

Heawood, Edward, Watermarks Mainly of the 17th and 18th Centuries, Hilversum, 1950.

Piccard, Gerhard, Die Wasserzeichenkartei Piccard im Hauptstaatsarchiv Stuttgart, Stuttgart, 17 vols., 1961-1997.