Are cotton papers and rag papers the same thing?
The terms “rag” and “cotton” are often used interchangeably. However, rag specifically refers to papers made with cotton textile remnants. At one time, it was common for papers to consist of 100% cotton rag. However, over time, rag supply for use in papermaking became tighter as the use of synthetic fibers in textiles became more common.
Today, most fine art papers are made from 100% cotton linters or a combination of cotton rag and cotton linters. Rag fibers are longer fibers compared to cotton linters so they do provide extra strength. Cotton linters are pure cellulose fibers that are byproducts of cotton processing. Although the cotton linters’ fibers are shorter than textiles, they still offer outstanding strength and archival properties.
Our 500 Series Drawing, Bristol and Illustration Board surfaces are manufactured using a combination of rag and cotton linters. The ratio of approximately 3 parts rag to 1 part linters is the standard composition for these papers. This is the same fiber make-up that has been used since these grades were first manufactured in 1893.