PARCHMENT

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PARCHMENT, used for writing, is prepar ed from the skins of sheep and goats. These, after being steeped in pits impregnated with lime, are stretched upon frames, and reduced by scraping and paring with sharp instruments. Pulverized chalk is rubbed on with a pumicestone resembling a muller, which smooths and softens the skin, and improves its color. After it is reduced to something less than half its original thickness, it is smoothed and dried for use. Vellum is a similar substance to parchment, made from the skins of very young calves. Next to the papyrus, the skins of animals, in the form of parchment and vellum, were extensively used for writing by the ancients from a remote period. When Eumenes, or Attalus, attempted to found a library at Pergamus, 200 years B. C, which should rival the famous Alexandrian library, one of the Ptolemies, then king of Egypt, jealous of his success, made a decree prohibiting the exportation of papyrus. The inhabitants of Pergamus set about manufacturing parchment as a substitute, and formed their library principally of manuscripts on this material, whence it was known among the Latins by the name of Pergamena. The term membrana was also applied by them to parchment. The Hebrews had books written on the skins of animals in David's time; and Herodotus relates that the lonians, from the earliest period, wrote upon goat and sheepskin, from which the hair had merely been scraped oft. These facts show that parchment , wa.. not invented,at Pergamus, but it was miu i improved there, and first made in larg^ quantities as an article of trade. Parchment was at first yellow; it was afterwards made white in Rome. At present any color can be given to it.