This paper, which comes to us from China, is decidedly superior to any other paper for obtaining fine impressions from engravings. That which is used as the linings of tea chests is equal in quality to any, although some of it is coarse, and many persons object to the colour; a thicker and whiter sort comes over as wrappers for silk; both these sorts are injured by having been used as packages, but out of them good pieces may be selected, sufficiently large for octavo pages, and frequently for quarto. A perfect paper of a large size is imported in chests of two thousand sheets each. A sheet measures four feet three inches and one tenth in length, and two feet one inch and one tenth in width. This paper varies very much in quality, so that circumspection should be used in making a purchase.
All India paper contains particles of hard matter, like minute portions of stone, small pieces of the hard stalks of some vegetable, and lumps of the material from which it is made. Previously to its being printed on, the whole of it ought to be carefully examined, and these extraneous matters removed with a sharp knife, otherwise they will injure the surface of the engraving.
There is a smooth side and a rough side in white India paper, called by printers the right side and the wrong side: this India paper has the appearance of having been formed on a smooth surface of metal or stone, by being laid on with a brush, the rough side having the semblance of paint applied by an unskilful hand, exhibiting all the marks of the brush in irregular directions; the other side being flat and smooth. The smooth side is always used for the impression.
In all cases the best way of damping India paper is to put it, in separate pieces, into a heap of paper that is in a proper condition for printing, where after lying a few minutes it will be sufficiently damp for use. See Paper.