When we think about paper the first thing that comes to mind is "trees." For a lot of us paper and trees are synonymous. However, according to the website, Conserve a Tree, paper has been made from wood only since the mid 1800s; before the 1850s, paper was made from recycled linen and cotton rags. When the paper industry was established in the United States, it was a recycling industry. Rags were so valued for papermaking that one mill in Massachusetts used as its paper's watermark the words, "Save Rags.".
The paper invention as we know it today is attributed to the Chinese royal court, in A.D. 105. In an era where the only way books were available was through the silk scrolls, paper solved an imminent problem with the development of calligraphy and the animal hair - brush. This method was cheaper than silk, and it was made from rags, used fishing nets, hemp and China grass. Six hundred years later, the Arabs got papermaking as one of the spoils of war. "The Central Asia city of Samarkand was fighting the Chinese and captured a number of prisoners, two of whom were papermakers who were released in exchange for teaching the Arabs how to make paper. The Arabs wasted no time in improving papermaking techniques - they were probably the first to make paper from linen - and they spread the techniques throughout the Middle East and into Europe. However, papermaking didn't start until several centuries after the Arabs began making paper" (Kinsella 1). As time went on, paper became widely used. The first paper mill in the US was established in Philadelphia back in 1690, using rags. Then the newspapers started to appear in the later part of the 1600s and early 1700s. It only has been in the last 150 years that paper was made from trees, not because of the quality but because the demand for quantities created the demand for different sources. "The first patent for paper using de-inked waste paper was issued in London.