The term "RAG"

Lance E

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Forum Donor
Oct 31, 1999
Hamilton, New Zealand
Hi, I am curious - some years back I recall a well known educator pointing out as a fact that the wrappings from Egyptian Mummifications were taken back to the US (during war time) for manufacture of papers/boards - hense the term Rag.

After all this time I know wonder if there is any evidence to support this?
What's the first thing that comes to mind when the question is posed: "What's paper made from?"
Just about everyone responds, "Trees," or "Wood." People assume automatically that paper is made from wood, that paper and wood are synonymous.
But in fact, paper has been made from wood only since the mid-1800s; up until the 1850s, paper was made from recycled linen and cotton rags. When the paper industry was established in the United States, it was a recycling industry. Rags were so valued for papermaking that one mill in Massachusetts used as its paper's watermark the words, "Save Rags."
Throughout the centuries, the practice of papermaking has evolved again and again in response to economic growth, historical influences, available raw materials, and the social issues of the day. As social needs have changed over the years, the composition of paper has also changed and has in turn fueled powerful social changes and development. In fact, some argue that the social, technical and economic progress of nations is inextricably linked to the production and use of paper.
What I'm wondering is, would it be a bad idea to point out that alkaline is bad for your silver halide (emulsion) photos in a fairly public fashion, or should I just focus on describing the term "Acid Free" and how it can come about?
Lance be careful not to bite your tongue that is stuffed so firmly in your cheek. LOL

It is probably better ( from what little I know) to do Both. Since the alkalinity can be harmful to some Photo finishes and the term Acid free is one of the industries BIGGEST misnomers and gross inaccuracies.

But an even Better thing to do ( which it seems to me you've probably done already) is to research both conditions and to ask the TRUE experts ( CONSERVATORS) .Maybe Rebecca's and Hugh will come to your assistance.

But the explanations and links that Jerome and 337668 have given you already are almost identical to what I remeber bring taught. But then I am not as learned as Jerome nor as able to browse as he or 337668 ( even in his/her anonymity)
Lance, everyone knows or remembers [or lies about remembering] that the first "hit" of acid was always "free".

As for bringing up "Alkies", well, there is enough wine and beer drinkers on the G, so I'd tread lightly.

As for Photos... what's your point, or are you just bucking for the Terrel Owens award for 2006?

Oops, almost forgot.... :D
saw a program on making rag papers on the science channel, last night--managed to stay awake thru the whole thing!--& it was FACINATING!!!!!!!!! who knew it took THAT much time/effort/resource to propduce a simple piece of paper?????

check you cable/sat listings for possible reruns---it really is worth the trip

[ 08-25-2006, 10:03 AM: Message edited by: BILL WARD ]
I remember as a kid we had a "rag and bone" man, he had a horse drawn cart and collected all kinds of scrap. For a bag of rags we got a goldfish, and the rags went to the local paper mill.Any bones went to the local glue factory.
I think every kid in the village had at least on goldfish.
You said, "the science channel"? Is that what it is called? Or is it Discover?

And what is the title of the piece? Please....

Thanks for sharing!!
Thanks for the input - next kwestion would have to be - why does Bainbridge make only one reference as a "Photorag"?

When they note themselves that this is a board for use on photographic and other Alkaline sensitive products (which is a long list as I understand) would it not make sense that we are able to offer a range of more than white???
that is a speciality product that has as its users - museums and big time collectors. They only want white or off-white. I have never sold that item to anyone else.
Is a part of our business not to advise about how specialty products can be applied to our customers work thus justifying the "premium" we all charge?

If the product exists, does it not suggest that the other products are incorrect for the same application?

I just want to know why it is there if it does really matter...
OK! Rebecca with a cursory perusal of your listed reading it seems to me that one of the major contributing factors to any contamination by the "BUFFFERED MATS" is humidity ,which seems to have to be fairly pronounced. It also seems that if the mats are not in " DIRECT"contact with the Photo it also isn't as much a factor. Am I correct so far?

There also seems to be some disagreement as to weather a slight bit of BUFFERING with some what acidic materials is to be desired since all materials seem to loose some of their higher pH and lean towards the lower pH ( acidic ) nature of any acidic contents of a frame with age, or just with time.

But most importantly which mats are BUFFERED to the point of concern ( e.g. Alpha cellulose) and are only Rag mats not buffered ? However Crescent seems to be doing exactly what Lance is insinuating by creating a mat Specifically for Photo use ( even limiting the color selection ) when the specifications they advertise of their own RAG mats seem to meet all the requirements already. Which as Lance is questioning seems to be a bit of unnecessary additional product line ,which only adds to the confusion and some of the FRAMING MYTHS ,in what may be an attempt to insinuate that anything else is not good enough and ONLy their specialized product will work ( even against their own RAG mats).

Rebecca ( or anyone of equal credentials)I realize I may be putting you and some mat producers on the spot but can you clear this up indisputably, and end the MYTHS for Lance and eveyone else?
Buddy I don't have a definative answer, and I don't think there IS a definative answer because so much depends upon variables that we either don't know, or have no control over. What I was understanding from Sarah Wagner's post is that all things being equal, go for the buffered especially if nothing is touching the emulsion.

Personally, I would still lean towards unbuffered for cyano types or unmounted albumen photos (rare because they curl so much) as the papers are so thin.

I am guessing that rag and alpha cellulose matboards pass the Photograph Activity Test (PAT), but maybe the dyes don't measure up in some or all cases, which may be why the boards expressly made for photos are white. Perhaps one of the photographers here, or Hugh would know.

Thanks Rebecca that is pretty much what I got from what I could understand. However the humidity thing seems to be what we should prevent in ALL cases anyway as does ,"but maybe the dyes don't measure up in some or all cases" .The Colorfastness of any mat is to be considered even when not framing Photos so why would the PAT rule against color except the old Myth that only white or Off white mats are correct ( throw back to the original mat productions).

All in all it seems Lance's point is well taken and that the "PHOTORAG" mats are just a redudant attempt to say they have the ONLY safe mat( even safer than their own RAG mats that may be white or off white).

Is it beginning to sound a bit like sales HYPE ?
Buddy, I don't know that humidity is so easily controlled, unless one goes for the sealed framing systems. If not, and one lives in a very humid climate (like NO lol), then the unbuffered boards might be safer for the very sensitive items.

Re the dyes, I guess one would have to do the PAT to be sure. FACTS...

So I think the unbuffered boards serve a very specific demographic, but likely not a large one, so not a big incentive to expand colors.


Yes Buddy, it is probably marketing hype - btw Cresent has four colours available...

There is certainly some interesting reading in the threads you found Rebecca - thank you very much for posting the links.

As Buddy noted this is perhaps about marketing hype - I think that perhaps it is the opposite whereas they are compelled to satisfy the market for such rekwirements - the issue I was looking at more as a result is that over the marketing Hype about Acid Free.

This all began when I saw "Acid free" recycled paper photo albums and I wondered - how much CaCO<SUB>3</SUB> is in these and what is the disadvantage?