image: 'Eagle Wharf' 1859 etching Collection of the National Gallery of Australia

'Eagle Wharf' 1859 etching Collection of the National Gallery of Australia click to enlarge

The Beehive watermark

Photographed in transmitted light, the 'beehive' watermark with the initials DEDB (De Erven de Blauw) is enclosed by ornate scrollwork of leaves and flowers crowned with a fruit tree. Its execution is more sophisticated than many earlier versions. The lack of flocking along the visible chain lines indicates that the paper used is not an early Antique laid paper.

The 'beehive' watermark originated with a family of Dutch papermakers by the name of Honig [honey], who owned mills in Zaandyk (1675–1902). The coat of arms of the Honig family (incorporating the beehive motif) became a watermark extensively copied throughout the Netherlands and abroad in places such as Russia and Scandinavia.1 The 'beehive' watermark became a common motif for Dutch papermakers and those who wished to allude to Dutch papermaking. Eventually it also came to represent a particular paper size.2

image: Drawn illustration of the De ERVEN D. Blauw Beehive watermark

Drawn illustration of the De Erven de Blauw 'beehive' watermark click to enlarge

This watermark is a 'beehive' variation belonging to the Dutch papermakers De Erven de Blauw c.1822. The papermakers founded by Dirk and Cornelis Blauw operated five wind-powered papermills in the Zaanstreek region, North Holland. The firm survived for more than 250 years under many different names.

Bill Hamilton and Kassandra Coghlan

watermark centre: Beehive with initials DEDB (from the papermaker De Erven de Blauw c.1822) 17.2 X 10.5 cm; 2.45 cm between chain lines; 9 laid lines per cm

1 Heaward, Edward, MONUMENTA CHARTÆ PAPYRACEÆ HISTORIAM ILLUSTRANTIA Watermarks I, Hilversum: The Paper Publications Society 1969 p.35 (facsimile edition).
2 Turner, Silvie and Skiöld, Birgit, Handmade Paper Today, London: Lund Humphries Publishers 1983 p.89.