Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/108

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the drying-ground, there hung on lines, from which it is taken when dried and is then smoothed again. Such in brief outline was the method of the old paper-makers, which has now, of course, been greatly modified and substantially supplanted by the invention of paper-making machinery. Stromer's first assistant, Clos Obsser, was probably not a skilled paper-maker, but a carpenter, who came to fix the water-wheel, while the real paper-making could not be begun till this was done and the stamps were in working order. This was apparently in August, 1390, for on the 7th of that month Stromer swore his assistant Clos Obsser to fidelity and to keep the secret of the art of paper-making, as he did regularly afterward with all his workmen when they began.

The pledge of assistants to secrecy was an old custom which was observed in different trades. It was particularly usual then when working methods were still little known and assistants initiated into the secrets might, by means of their knowledge, injure their employer by inducing an unwelcome competition. Such a danger lay before the Stromer mill. There were as yet no paper-makers in Germany. The process was known only in the southern countries, and Stromer, as a substantial business man, desired to prevent his workmen revealing the secrets of the art or setting up competitions. He therefore made himself secure by an oath from his men and by written contracts. He administered an oath of this kind in the presence of his son Jörg to Clos Obsser on the 7th of August; and a few days later to another workman named Jörg Tirman, recording the fact in a note: "Anno Domini 1390, on the day after St. Lawrence's day (11th of August) Jörg Tirman gave me his pledge, and swore with upraised fingers an oath to hold his trust, to be true to me and my heirs, to further our advantage and keep harm from us, truly without any comrades. He is for ten years to engage in no work in paper-making except for me or my heirs, to whom I leave the paper-mill; and when the prescribed ten years have passed, he may make paper for himself but not for anybody else. For this he has a permit from my own hand." Stromer imposed a similar oath on the Italians Marco and Francisco di Marchia and their boy Bartolomeo, and added the provision that they should not give either advice or help in the introduction of Italian paper-making in any countries on the hither side of the mountains of Lombardy. A copy of the oath was made, attested by five witnesses, and given to each of the parties. He doubtless made a good business out of his paper, for he could sell it at great profit, while the rags and other raw materials, not being yet currently merchantable articles, could be bought very cheaply. He did not lack for customers, but was, on the contrary, not able to supply the demand of Germany or even of central Germany; for it appears, from various