Report by John Hutchinson

"My next observation is on the Manufacture of paper, the great price of this most Useful Article and the entire want of Coarser Kinds for almost every purpose of Commercial Corncerns has led me into a regular Course of Study and Experiments how this great Evil Could be removed. It of course struck me at once that all the White Rags in the Colony would go but a little way in Supplying the requisite Quantity of Writing paper; this objection of Course was the first to take into Consideration.

I therefore went about a regular Course of Experiments to Discharge the Colours of all Dyed and printed Goods of every description. In which I have Succeeded in a plain Cheap and Easy Manner so as to make all Kinds of Rags equally Valuable for the Manufacture of White paper. I carried my Experiments a little farther, and began with old written papers I Succeeded in discharging the Ink and making them ready to be thrown in the Trough to be reduced to a pulp by the Cylinder again. I have even found it possible to discharge the Ink without destroying the Texture of the leaves or taking the Sise out of the paper; all it requires is the Operation of Pressing when it is good as it was at first. From the above Circumstances it is evident we possess sufficient means for the Supply of White Paper, as we not only bring into Action all the Rags we have in the Colony of every description, but we add thereto all the Waste paper of every Description, so that as our demand and Consumption increases, so our Supply of Waste Paper will also increase.

I shall now treat on the operation to Accomplish this object, only observing that if it should prove deficient, the same process will serve for the purpose of Bleaching all Kinds of old Sails and Canvas of every description, as even these I could make perfectly White in the Course of a Week, and the Quantity of Sugar Bags brought into this Country would not only nearly Supply all Kinds of Coarse paper, but any thing that would be short for White Could be supplied therefrom.

And Nature Bounteous Nature furnishes on the other hand an inexhaustible Source that no demand can run Short. I now Speak of the Fig Tree of Otaheite and several others, whose Barks and Leaves furnish Excellent Substance for the Manufacture of paper of all Kinds; the small piece of Matt which accompanies this Report No. - shews the Nature of the Article I now speak of. The Bark is taken off when Young, Steeped in Water for a Short time, when the fermentation has gone on so long as that the Glutenous Substance, that adheres to the Leaves or Bark, will easily Scrape off by a piece of Shell or any Sharp Instrument; it is then Scraped Clean and Well Washed; it is then ready for a Similar operation for the Malletts of the paper Mill; they have a large Block of Wood Cut with very fine Grooves and with a Mallett also Groov'd in the ends; they Continue beating it out until they bring it into the State as it now is, and which is an 'admirable Substance for the Manufacture of paper, and when the Flax of New Zealand is once brought into the Market ( a Circumstance which is very likely to take place very soon ) every Want for the Manufacture of paper will be most reasonably Supplied.

I will state the Process by which I have succeeded in discharging the Ink from old papers as well as the Colours from printed and Dyed Goods. I prepared a Solution of the Mineral Alkilie the same as Accompanies this with a Certain proportion of Lime Water, and boiled them for a short time; after that I tooked them out and washed them Clean; I them passed them thro' a Solution of Muriatic Acid hot, took them out and Washed them well. In a general Way this Completely discharges every Appearance of Ink Stains, and makes the paper perfectly fit for being reduced to a pulp afresh by the Machinery of the Paper Mill; Sometimes I have found very old Written papers and those loaded with printer's Ink to require a Second operation, but that has happened very seldom; but in place of a Second operation I have found it equally effectual to pass them thro' a hot Solution of Sulphuric Acid. When I bleach not to destroy the Texture of the Leaves, I have Simply put into a hot Solution of the Caustic Mineral Alkilie for ten Minutes, Wash in Soap and Water, and afterwards pass them thro' a hot Solution of the Sulphuric Acid, which has Seldom or ever failed of having the desired effect. I then lay the leaves as if they came from the Mould betwixt the Cloths and press them; they are fit for Use Again.

With respect to the Bleaching Canvas of all Kinds, I boil them for two hours in a Caustic Solution of Mineral Alkilie at the rate of 1½ Ounces to the Pound, Wash'd them well, Pass them into a Solution of Oxygenated Muriatic Acid until the Liquor is Exhausted, then wash well; oft they are now in general Completely White and fit to be thrown together to ferment and destroy their Texture, in which State they are ready for the Malletts or Cylinder of the Paper Mill to be reduced to a pulp. Sometimes if the Canvas is very dirty and black, it will be Necessary to give them a Second Course of Work with half of the Materials; if this is not effectual pass them thro' a Strong Solution of Sulphuric Acid, which never fails of making them Completely White; with respect to discharging Colours from printed and Dyed Goods, I have met with Blacks and Reds from India, which have given me a great deal of trouble to discharge, but in this I may say I have Completely Succeeded. I boiled them in a Solution of Caustic Mineral Alkilie for one hour, then Boiled them another hour in a Solution of Soap, afterwards wash'd Clean off; then left them for three hours in a Strong Solution of the oxygenated Muriatic Acid, and at last passed them thro' a hot Solution of the Sulphuric Acid and Washed off.

But the following is the manner I intended to Carry on this Concern, all the Articles for the purpose being on Board the "Frederic", expected daily directed to Alexander Riley, Esquire from his Brother in Bengal.

After Boiling the Articles in the Caustic Solution of Mineral of Vegetable Alkilie, to wash well off then have a large Cistern made Air-tight about nine feet each Way, and Lines to run Across at every Six Inches distance, to the top of which I should hang my paper or Goods to have my retort on a small furnace to be Wrought by a Sand heat, and the Gass Pipe to go between the retort and the Cistern, in which the Goods are placed, and there expose them to the fumes of the Oxygenated Muriatic Acid Gass; as I am convinced that it is at least one half more Active than the Oxygenated Muriatic Acid, without Smell in a Liquid State, for it is according to reason to suppose that the Acid without Smell, to Kill which a Considerable Quantity of an Alkilie, or an Alklene Earth is Necessary to Neutralize, and of Course its Active power so far destroyed.

Such is the result of many Months Study and some hundred Experiments".

( Extract of a Report by John Hutchinson to Governor Lachlan Macquarie dated 31 March 1814 )


Historical Records of Australia: Series 1; Volume VIII (July, 1813 - December, 1815) (The Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament, 1916)

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