The published articles are meant to primarily educate the students in printing to supplement their knowledge in the field of Printing. These are not simple Glossary of printing terms, but to the extent possible every term has been explained in brief so that it can be of some use to the students who appear in some sort of examinations and interviews.
I served the Printing Industry for over 40 years
in various capacities, a major part in an Security Printing Organization. In order not to waste the printing and paper related knowledge which I gained over years, I decided to keep them in public domain for the reason stated in prepara. Most of the illustrations - over 90% - have been generated by me to explain the terms suitably.
While I am not sure to what extent the published content will help, if the content is going to be of use to some one in some manner, I will be greatly satisfied.
Your views may be sent to me ( for my record and correction wherever needed.



- Over 400 terms-

Click on this line to read from 'A'

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Brand protection:- Security solutions in Numbering

Lots of covert and overt features are available in the international market to enhance the Security of the printed documents. They are commercially available but are expensive for implementation by small users. Therefore some low cost but effective security solutions for brand protection  documents need to be found. In this direction after studying various options and trends in the market, a simple security solution by way of unique numbering technique  have been thought, the style of which can be firm specific (like proprietary product). This can be tried by not only the bigger but also the smaller units to protect their documents and products packed in cartons.

In this suggested security feature, basically the documents/ product labels which require security feature need to be additionally printed with some running serial numbers using lookalike two different fonts. The firm specific numbering boxes with two different fonts engraved on the numbering wheels can be procured by the firms as
firm specific wheels directly from manufacturers. This will be one time investment only.  In the suggested system the numbering style will also be far different from conventional numbering, but characters with hidden security concept. The technique involves allotting specific style of serial numbers to each area like the illustrated examples given at the end paras.

Usually the brand protected products released are sent to different parts of the country. The manufacturer can divide the market areas as zones or classified blocks. Let us for example divide the zones as ten. Each zone will get the products packed in the same kind of carton with printed matter as usual, but each zone will carry different style of numbering which will have covert security feature detectable by a special scanner made available by the manufacturers to their dealers. The cartons or labels meant for dispatch to each zone are to be serially numbered in a totally different fashion  to confuse the counterfeiters. The style of serials allotted to a particular zone will be known only to the manufacturers of the product. This is explained at the end with illustration.

What is the basic requirement ? The numbering box with ten digits is to be procured. One wheel in them will be of different font while the other nine wheels will be of same font. The two varieties of fonts though will be different will appear similar to the naked eyes unless they are closely examined to see the difference. The nine numbering wheels with one style of font and another style of font in the tenth wheel  in each box should be interchangeable in positions. For example
the printer should be able to move the wheels in any manner required as per the numbering pattern to be printed ie the second numbering wheel with unique font can be shifted to the third, or fourth or even last digit as is possible in the normal numbering boxes. Though two types of fonts are used to produce the number, they will look alike unless they are enlarged and seen. For example use of Verdana and Comic sans in combination will make the numbers appear similar to naked eye. This can not be understood by the counterfeiters. 

See below the illustrated examples of two different fonts.

The product carton or the document circulated will have the usual designs and contents as prepared by the firm circulating such documents or product packs. However they will be additionally numbered by the specially designed numbering system as discussed above. When the visually lookalike nos are enlarged, then  one can see the difference in the appearance.
What are the advantages ?:-
  • By the use of two different fonts to print the sequential numbering pattern, each zone with different style compared to other zones it will be almost difficult to the counterfeiters to know the secret and to produce similar style of numbering  locally.
  • The twin look alike font numbering boxes will not be commercially available and will be manufactured only on specific orders from the firm.  Therefore the counterfeiters will find it difficult to procure them.
  • Once one set of such numbering boxes are procured, it can become the patented or copyrighted  one and will not be supplied to others by the manufacturer under firm specific agreement.
  • The numbers allotted to each zone will be kept secret and recorded in the firms centralized computer so that subsequently it will be easy to trace and track the mixed up or counterfeited product circulated as the counterfeiter may not know the exact style of numbering allotted to each zone. 
  • It will also be difficult to manufacture so many kinds of numbering boxes by the counterfeiters to produce such numbering pattern. 
  • Thus in the field check when the allotted serial to a particular zone is found mixed with styles of other region a thorough examination can be immediately made to track the genuine product.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Stamps and Security features

The evolution and systemic growth of Postal communication led to the introduction of stamps. The postal system can be traced over a span of centuries when a different kind of communication albeit ghost Postal system in the form of messengers carrying the messages or the birds or animal backs tied with messages existed. But they were not organised from a central point. Till 1200 to 1500 the human messengers regularly carried the messages. During Qutb-ud-din Aybak regime, a messenger cum animal Post system was established in India which was the combination of a horse and foot runner for the Postal service. While up to 15th or 16th centuries during Mogul and Persian rule in Asia, the nomenclature of Post or Postal Service did not exist, in Europe the Postal system came up somewhere in Denmark in the year 1624 though it released the first set of printed Postal stamps only in the year 1850 or so. In the year 1660 an office was created in England for receiving the written messages meant to be delivered elsewhere. But then there were no paper entries (which subsequently took the form of Postal stamps and stationery later) to affix or authenticate the dispatched messages till 18th century. Thus the meaning of stamping remained unknown till then and therefore the concept of Stamp did not exist.

Against this background emerged the concept of paper Stamps and thus the origin of Postal stamps goes back to 1840 when United Kingdom invented stamps to streamline the postal system. A schoolmaster from England, Sir Rowland Hill reportedly invented the adhesive postage stamp in the year 1837 and the official postal stamp was released by the Govt in UK
in the year 1840. While inventing the stamps Sir Rowland Hill also  suggested uniform rates to be adapted for the postal services and that should be based on weight rather than size of the envelope inside which the written message papers were sealed and sent. Thus Sir Rowland Hill’s invention introduced the prepayment for the mail services which not only gave regular revenue to the Govt, but also assured the delivery of messages from a single point window possible and practical. Collection of revenue by way of pre paid charges for the postal services through affixing of stamps based upon weight began to be adopted in many countries around the world as the concept was practical and would not cause loss to the agencies involved.  Sir Rowland Hill’s invention of stamping became necessary as the cost for delivering mails were not recoverable from the receiver as many were not willing to pay the service charges to be collected for the letters delivered by the delivery personal.
Though the Postal stamps and postal stationery were originally introduced for only authenticating and regulating the process of messaging from one part to the other, the purpose was also to generate some kind of revenue albeit fee to the carrier agency (Govt) for services rendered to the public i.e. carrying the messages from one part to the other sent by them. 

The first Postal stamp was called Penny Black the name attributed to the inventor of affixing the printed stamps on to the envelopes carrying the messages. Prior to the introduction of
Penny Black stamps, certain standard size paper was printed and based on the weight of the envelope the value was indicated on them as fee for the service and tagged with each and every envelope individually and separately. Thus the stamping concept began with official sealed paper (like rubber stamping) showing certain value tagged to the envelope. Unfortunately though a step towards introduction of stamp printing,  it was also not foolproof arrangement as the tagged stamped paper sometimes tore off  from the tagged envelope and fell while on transit. Noticing the success of the use of stamps to be affixed on the envelope directly, many other countries followed United Kingdom in bringing out their own stamps with adhesives on their back. Initially the stamps were of square type and design. As the stamping system spread the stamps with various shapes and sizes were released by many countries in varying values.

The United States of America issued their first series of printed Stamps in the year 1847 even though much before this independent Postal service from Boston to New York existed from the year 1639 when the country was under British rule. No system or practice of affixing printed stamps were heard till 1840.   Prior to unification of Germany, the then individual German states totaling to sixteen released their own stamps beginning from 1849 till 1867. The Deutsche Reichspost (name of German postal service) started Postal service officially on May 4, 1871 using North German Confederation Stamps until it issued its own stamps in the year 1872. In India the first set of stamps began to be printed in the Govt security press in Nasik from the year 1925 even though the stamps were in use during the British rule in 18th century which were got printed elsewhere.

Postal Stamp is a small piece of paper issued in triangle, rectangular, circular or even diamond shapes, in sizes of varying nature, for varying values for affixing on the envelope sent through the Govt authorised Postal services. On many occasions the same valued stamps were issued in different other designs quite frequently in the same year because the total print order of stamps was not much and earlier editions sold of as quickly as they were issued. The frequent issue of new stamps of the same value were one of the most effective means of anti counterfeiting act since the counterfeiters could not be tempted to venture in any act of printing the stamps that will be too costly to reproduce and will not give them huge profit. Even though the stamps are not priced higher, their importance is no less compared with the Currencies or Bank notes. Unlike Currencies, the stamps though priced low are purchased and sold in several thousand pieces across the country from several post offices and therefore the Postal stamps that gives higher revenue to the Govt is viewed much higher than the Currencies.

The initially introduced Postal stamps or seal as they were called did not contain any security feature, and instead they were only printed on special paper which was not available to others. Not only that, they were also  counter stamped with the rubber seal of the Govt administrator to ensure that there was no misuse. In one sense the Postage stamps were akin to the labels attached with the goods when such a system was introduced and therefore it became imperative to be collected in advance by paying fixed fee and to be tagged with the letter sent from the point of letter collecting centre. This later transformed into the act of production of stamps with adhesive on their back side for pasting on to the surface of the envelopes directly instead of tagging with thread or thin wire.

Today the Stamp printing process utilizes the finest technology available in the print world. Since the stamps have monetary value and generate revenue to the authorities, the printing of Postal Stamps and Stationery were also treated as Security printing and only governmental organizations were permitted to print them in most of the countries in which the Postal system is held by the Govt agencies or authorities.

In the initial stages when the stamps were printed, engraving process was deployed for the printing as anti counterfeit measure since everyone cannot cost effectively engrave the intricate designs required. Though the engraving process of printing was deployed for printing stamps, slowly the gravure process of printing was also introduced for printing multi coloured stamps. For a very long period Gravure process of printing remained the most sought after print process for printing the Stamps and Postal Stationery. With several technological developments, the Postage stamps were also began to be printed by Intaglio process by some of the countries. A few countries, including Sweden, Denmark, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, regularly produce and issue intaglio-printed stamps today while the postal authorities in other countries opt to use the much cheaper, faster and easier process of Dry offset process of printing to print the stamps.

No international standard or norms exist for the reproduction of stamps in specific size or the shapes  and therefore the countries release stamps to suit their norms. Some of the stamps are seen printed on Water marked paper, Azure laid paper or on Rib lined paper. Each country maintain their own standards for reproduction of the Stamps. 

The Stamps were printed on paper specially manufactured for them, and were printed either in sheet or rolls form. But in order to separate individual stamps from the multi up printed paper/ sheets or even from the rolls formats, perforations on all sides were introduced in between each stamp. Every postal stamp with printed images has some form of adhesive coated on its back to stick on to the surface of the envelope and has half perforations over the edges around them after they are separated from the main sheet. Most of the Stamps were coated with special adhesive on their back so that they can be slightly moistened and pasted on the envelopes.

The design elements on the stamps may appear to be very simple, but the stamps have several inbuilt security elements in them like Currencies and Bank Notes to ensure that they are not easily counterfeited. The incorporation of security features, whether it is Currencies or Stamps are limited to the following basic aspects only:

  • Papers inbuilt with security features like security thread, fluorescent fibbers, water mark, special coating on paper surface etc. 
  • Security features by way of design elements including see through (not in stamps), Intaglio, guilloche designs, micro prints, ghost images, deliberately created broken images not visible to naked eyes etc. 
  • Security features on the mode of reproducing the design elements. 
  • Security features on the inks used which are overt or covert or with both and viewable only with special gadgets and OVI. However in respect of Stamps the two important additional features incorporated is in the design elements in perforations and adhesives used. 
  • Holographic stamps that show tow different colour images when viewed from different angles.
Though the earlier design elements on the stamps used to be the portrait of head of Queen or Emperors of the countries which released them, but later abstract designs changed the concept which included Birds, Animals, logos and Sports element designs reflecting important events like Olympic, World Cup, National leaders etc etc.

Micro printing is one of the security features found on the Stamps issued by some countries as anti counterfeiting feature. The word or single letters printed on the stamps are so small that it will be impossible to read the text without using a magnifying glass or microscope. The authorities aver that while for counterfeiting purpose if someone attempt to reproduce them by photocopying techniques, the micro printed text will remain illegible and will not copy in true form. Similarly some hidden images called Ghost images are also printed on stamps as part of design. Such images are visible only when the printed stamps are tilted to a particular angle and viewed with special decoder lenses thereby making it difficult to copy them for reproduction.

In some of the stamps released by some of the countries one can see the image of the stamp at top showing no luminescence while the bottom shined under ultraviolet light. Beyond introducing luminescent ink some of the countries have reportedly introduced some chemical substance coating or taggants which would be detected by the sensing sensors during scanning process to authenticate the genuineness of the stamps. Perhaps USA and Indonesia have such series.

Granite paper is one of the papers used for printing of stamps as it has colored fibers or threads added to the paper pulp during the manufacturing of paper. These colored fibers or threads makes counterfeiting of stamps printed on this paper much more difficult. Besides acting as security feature the fibers also act as attractive texture and design elements to the stamp.

Most of the stamps being in lower value, low in circulation, limited quantity put to circulation, the counterfeiters generally avoid counterfeiting stamps because of the lower margin of profit. The other most important aspect that deters the counterfeiters is that the stamp designs keep on changing frequently and any huge issue for circulation will alert the investigating agencies to track the counterfeiters.

Perforation of postage stamps began in the year 1854. Standard mode of perforations leave row of half circles on all sides of the stamps once they are separated into individual stamps. Perforations are small holes made between individual postage stamps on a sheet of stamps to facilitate separation of a desired number of stamps on demand. The half circle perforations add beauty to the stamps giving frame like appearance. But in order to enhance the security feature of the stamps, the authorities have deviated from the standard round hole perforation designs into unique perforations which not only make it difficult to easily reproduce but also drastically enhanced the cost elements for the reproduction of perforation dies for the counterfeiters as the stamps are low value material and frequently changed with new designs, each having different type of perforation. The cost of reproducing such design elements in perforations is very high and not easier. A few nations, including Great Britain and the Netherlands, use syncopated or elliptical perforations that interrupt the normal pattern of perforation holes. 
In an article titled ‘Stamps incorporate many security features’ written by an author called Janet Klug, in, dated September 20, 2004, the following interesting information has been given:(
There was even an experiment to make stamps with a small amount of encapsulated gunpowder embedded in them, not unlike the roll caps or sticker caps used in the old toy guns children played with years ago. The idea was that when the stamp was struck with the cancelling device, the charge would go off and destroy the stamp, making reuse impossible.
This security measure did not last long. Production costs were high, and the noise would have jarred the nerves of postal workers who hit the stamps with the canceller.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

News in HIndu National Paper

Interesting news 
that appeared in the 
National Daily 'The Hindu'
News Paper dated 10-06-2017 


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Digital Water Marking

What is digital Water marking?
‘Digital Watermarking’ is an extended technology of ‘Water marking on paper’ concept. By embedding various types of information in multimedia like video, audio and digitally printed images which are personal to the owner (Copyright), they can be protected. While some digital data is meant for only reading, some are meant for commercial use if any with due permission from the author. The Digital Water marking process is one of the best process deployed for protecting copyright multimedia data and images besides photographs on net held by private individuals because multimedia content and data can easily be copied, modified and redistributed again in illegal manner. 

The Digital water mark, a kind of invisible marker covertly embedded in digital images help prevent illegal or unauthorized use by others without permission from the owners. Digital watermarking is also meant for protection of digital data exchanged in internet because once embedded, the misuse by anyone can be detected through decoding of the Digital watermark embedded. The Digital watermarking process involves embedding secret information using algorithm and the information can only be extracted with similar algorithm. In short the algorithm enables merger of the watermark information into the data in invisible format and therefore only by deploying the same extracting algorithm, the water mark information could be decoded.  
A digital Watermark can both be in invisible as well as in visible format. It is inserted in the form of binary bits to the image to hold secret information. While the visible watermark  is visible to naked eyes, the invisible watermark cannot be seen by the viewers and therefore invisible Digital water mark  is considered to be more protective to safeguard the copyright images on net. The added digital Water mark in the form of information can be more or less transparent to make it either easy or hard to notice. Few researchers suggest the origin for embedding and decoding the secret information to an interesting historical story which sounds logical.

Histiaeus, Greek by birth was tyrant of Miletus (name of a city in the then Greece) under the rule of Darius, the Persian King in Asia Minor and helped him win many battles. Histiaeus enjoyed the fullest confidence of King Darius who after triumph in a war decided to take Histiaeus to Susa along with him, a place ruled by him. Though internally disinterested to leave Miletus, the tyrant Histiaeus could not dare to disobey the orders of the King and therefore compelled to go with him. After he went to Susa, he planned to somehow return back to Miletus and therefore secretly organized a coup in the land of Ionia through some of his close aids so that the King Darius would send back to Miletus to contain the revolt. Since he cannot come out openly to organize the coup in 499 BC, he shaved off the head of one of his most trusted slave, tattooed secret message for revolting against the Persians, and then waited for his hair to grow back. Once the hair over the slave’s head had fully grown the slave was sent to Miletus to meet the trusted confident of Histiaeus with instruction to shave off the hair to read the message.   This was perhaps the first ever concealed message sent covertly over some one’s body and method  to decode the information. The art of concealing secret information covertly over ones’ own body which could be read only if the top layer is removed, triggered the invention of concealing secret information in images and then extracting the hidden ones from inside so opine some of the researchers.

Any image on net or other multimedia is nothing but combination of Pixels and each Pixel is represented by few tiny binary bits. Similarly the Digital Watermark is also a pattern of bits inserted into a image, audio or video file in the form of invisible binary bits. The Digital Watermark is added to a picture or a photographic print by changing the image on the pixel level. It does not mean that the image is changed from its original appearance. Every image on net consists of several small square dots called pixels (something similar to the halftone dots on printed images) and each pixel forms one dot of the image reproduced in net by way of digital signal.

The invisible Digital Water mark which is also in binary bit in pixels is embedded in such a manner that the changes made to the Pixel values are perceptually not noticeable. Only certain specialized electronic devices could scan and extract the hidden information to identify the embedded content. The basic theory involved in the digital Water marking is insertion of pixels that merge with the pixels in the original image.

For example 100% RGB (Red, Green & Blue) values of the original Pixels would be reduced to 90 % values and 10% values of the same RGB (Red, Green & Blue) will be compensated by the pixels of the Watermark inserted. The resultant image will definitely be not that of 100 % in original shade, which may not glaringly appear to naked eyes, but could only be detected by gadgets as 10 % Water mark pixels that are inserted merge with original image pixels in transparent form without visually affecting the shades in the images reproduced. In short the Digital Water marking is modification of the original pixel values. In case of Videos and audio it is embedded in a noise-tolerant signal to uniquely identify its originator.
There are two main type of Digital Water marking techniques available.

Spatial Domain Watermarking

Spatial Domain mostly modifies the image pixels and both merge with each other i.e Watermark image merges with the pixel of the host images.

Frequency Domain Watermarking
As compared to ‘Spatial Domain’ the most widely used technique is ‘Frequency Domain’ which transforms the images into different frequency bands. The ‘Frequency Domain Watermarking’ has three widely accepted techniques namely Discrete Wavelet Transform (DWT), Discrete Cosine Transform (DCT), and Discrete Fourier Transform (DFT). These three techniques are not explained in detail the subject being electronic in nature and difficult to understand by the printer. There is yet another technique under this category called Particle Swarm Optimization (PSO) for protecting digital media copyright. 

Chetna Vide ‘A Monthly Journal of Computer Science and Information Technology’- IJCSMC, Vol. 3, Issue. 9, September 2014, pg.586 – 591 mentions: 

………………. Digital watermarking is a technology for embedding various types of information in digital content. In general, information for protecting copyrights and proving the validity of data is embedded as a watermark. A digital watermark is a digital signal or pattern inserted into digital content. The digital content could be a still image, an audio clip, a video clip, a text document, or some form of digital data that the creator or owner would like to protect. The main purpose of the watermark is to identify who the owner of the digital data is, but it can also identify the intended recipient.

The DCT allows an image to be broken up into different frequency bands, making it much easier to embed watermarking information into the middle frequency bands of an image. It has become easy to connect to the Internet from home computers and obtain or provide various information using the World Wide Web (WWW). All the information handled on the Internet is provided as digital content. Such digital content can be easily copied in a way that makes the new file indistinguishable from the original. Then the content can be reproduced in large quantities. For example, if paper bank notes or stock certificates could be easily copied and used, trust in their authenticity would greatly be reduced, resulting in a big loss. To prevent this, currencies and stock certificates contain watermarks. These watermarks are one of the methods for preventing counterfeit and illegal use. Digital watermarks apply a similar method to digital content. Watermarked content can prove its origin, thereby protecting copyright. A watermark also discourages piracy by silently and psychologically deterring criminals from making illegal copies………….

……………….. Digital watermarking is applicable to any type of digital content, including still images, animation, and audio data. It is easy to embed watermarks in material that has a comparatively high redundancy level ("wasted"), such as color still images, animation, and audio data; however, it is difficult to embed watermarks in material with a low redundancy level, such as black-and-white still images………….

In short

  • The Digital water marking complementary to encryption based technology for prints on paper and has emerged as the strongest digital technology to protect copyright of digital media.
  • It is possible to apply this digitization on most of the information shared on net
  • Out of the four types of marking in Digital Water marking, the Robust water mark can not be easily removed once embedded
  • The second i.e Fragile water mark gets destroyed when some one attempts to tamper them illegally
  • The third is a Visible water mark which is clearly identifiable in an image  
  • The last of them, the Invisible water mark is not visible to naked eye but can be extracted to verify it.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Water Mark and its origin

The embedding of Water mark on paper is considered to be one of the strongest security features to protect  the documents from being easily counterfeited or forged. Embedding of Water mark on paper was initially adapted to identify the paper and the sizes and thickness in which they were manufactured by the specific mills. Now they have come handy for use on important security documents to protect those from being counterfeited and the concept has not been disputed over 1000 years even as it has been invented.

The origin of Water marking the sheets traces back to Italy which reportedly adapted the concept of embedding Watermarks on paper sometime in 12th century. According to the historians the first known oldest Water mark paper has been manufactured in the year 1284 in Italy. Some researchers claim the period to be 1289 though everyone is unanimous that the origin has been from Italian paper mill. Perhaps this concept (Water marking) may have been adapted by the paper mills in Italy to identify the paper manufactured by them, something like a registered trade mark to protect their product being misused. The Water marking concept was held secret and not made known to the outer world till 14th century after which it began to slowly spread to other countries via Europe.

What is Water Mark? The Watermark is an image or pattern or text embedded on the surface of the paper either as mono tonal or multi tonal image and they remain translucent but visible and identifiable when viewed against transmitted light. The multi tonal Water mark on paper is considered to be an important security feature.

It is stated that the first set of Water mark resembled somewhat to that of a Cross with few circles. Later set of Water marks were reportedly in the shapes of lines, circles, triangles, knots etc followed by images of human figures, flowers, fruits, animals and other creatures. They were numerous simple drawings adapted as Water mark designs and subsequently developed into mono tonal image i.e varying shades of light and dark, then as multi tonal images where the images graduated from lighter to dark to deep darker areas like graduating grey scale image. Now this has further developed into Water marking with three dimensional images, Pixel images and so on. See below illustrations of some of the Water marks used in earlier era.

Another interesting fact that has come to light is that there have been two different Water marks embedded on the papers produced during 16th century. The researches opine that out of the two marks found on a single sheet of paper, one may have belonged to the mill which had actually manufactured the paper and the second may be to that of the nonexistent proxy mills which got the paper manufactured for them from other mills and sold them as their own product since too many paper mills were not existing in those period of time.

There are references in one of the books titled “Early Venetian Printing” written by Carlo Castellani which mentions:

..... that the papers with embedded water mark have been used in Italy somewhere at the end of 14th century. Everything conduces to the belief that the Venetian printers brought the paper for their books chiefly from the paper mills of Padua or of Treviso. The watermark which is most frequently observed in Venetian books is the balance in its many variations of form both in the scales and in the supports. The bull's head also, with various convolutions of the horns, and with great variety in the figures which are placed between the horns, often occurs. Then too there is the figure of the hat with various interlacing of the cords. Besides these watermarks the book sprinted at Venice show from time to time other figures, such as the imperial crown and the royal crowns, the glove, scissors, ladder, 'standard, shield of arms, castle, crescent, crossbow, strung bow with its arrow, crosses, crossed swords; and the cross; and then, the horse, the bull and other animals. Now all these signs as water-marks are peculiar to the mills of Padua and Treviso. This circumstance added to the fact of the close relations and easy communication between Venice and those cities strengthen the supposition that the Venetian printers brought the paper for their books chiefly from those mills........ 

The following text as found in the site of ‘Confederation of Paper industries’ ( mentions :- 

………. Designs impressed into paper while in course of manufacture by means of a projecting wire, on the mould, or in the case of machine made qualities on the dandy roll. Watermarks were employed as early as 1282. They served to identify the product of each paper mill and the designs chosen (many of them extremely complicated) also expressed emblematically the tenets of the manufacturers, which were handed down traditionally from father to son. It was customary, and the custom has survived until the present day, for paper mills to use similar designs in common. These standard designs were triflingly modified by each individual maker; they have in many cases been the origin of modem terminology, such as Foolscap, Pott, Post and so forth…………… 

The first group of paper Water marked paper made were Azure Laid paper used by financial institutions and Legal fraternity and Cream wove paper used for many other purposes. Laid (Azure laid) paper contained an overall pattern of thin translucent lines or bars laid in columns or paras and the Wove paper contained an overall translucent pattern that resembles woven cloth. This is how those papers got their names.

In nutshell it is reasonable to think that the basic intention of the process of Water marking of the paper may have began for : Identifying the products manufactured by the mills Identify the sizes and thickness in which the papers used may have been manufactured Protect the products from misuse by others to sell the product under their stamping Establish brand quality in the midst of competition Deter forgeries of those important documents, especially those covered by legal aspects. On the broader side the Water mark designs have helped the Researchers in their study in identifying the date and period of texts on paper and the place where they may have been printed while culling historical information since in the earlier era each of the Water marks represented particular mills and also carried the year of manufacture of the papers as each year the mills changed their Water mark designs.

There has been hundreds and thousands of Water mark designs as found to have been used by different mills and vast study has been internationally conducted on the use and importance of Water Marks. Over 16000 Water marks have been reportedly identified by one of the French researcher. An American Paper Trade reference book, 1909, officially adapted by National Paper Trade Association, has listed over 4000 Water marks used by several suppliers in America. In the year 1997 an association named IPH (International Association of Paper Historians) compiled a Water mark Registry consisting of several watermarks and grouped them broadly under seven categories such as Line, Shadow, Shadow combined with Line and Molette. They have been able to list out over 16000 Water marks of several types after researching several books printed in Low countries prior to 1501. 
The above could be explained as under: 
  • Line -(plain dark sketch) Water mark which was plain wire mark formed by the sewn image with metallic wire.
  • Shadow Water mark – light and shade effect which again is made of metallic wire but giving a shadow effect by the side of the plain line work. This could have been achieved by slightly lowering the height of shadow portion wires below the actual image thus lessening the pressure given on the paper to leave freak image.
  • Combined Line / Shadow -too has the Water mark images built in combination as above.
  • Embossed -or Tonal marks that has images impressed on the sewn wire. The depth of tonal effects may have been given by the gradual decrease in depth (height) of surface that touched the paper to produce the tonal effect Water mark.
  • Molette - in a way is similar to embossed or impressed marks, but has more lighter and deeper shades.
A very interesting article on Water mark has appeared in Theosophy, Vol. 53, No. 9, July, 1965 (Pages 262-266; Size: 14K) under the heading Heretics and the renaissance: Part VI –‘The Albigensian paper makers and water marks’ and VII- ‘A new light on the renaissance’.

The information contained in it is worth reading which is reproduced below :

Part VI – The Albigensian paper makers and water marks
………..Watermarks, still commonly used at the present time, originated with the Albigensian paper makers of Southern France and Northern Italy. A study of the various watermarks has yielded some results in tracing the different channels in which the paper trade of different countries flowed. Experience also of the different kinds of paper and a knowledge of the watermarks, aid the student in fixing nearly exact periods of undated documents. (Britannica, 9th ed.) …………….
…………..The first paper marks or watermarks appeared in Italy about the year 1270, and while these originals were artless in design, the emblems were so mystic in character that it is reasonable to believe that they were meant to convey a meaning or signal among the workers who fashioned them. It has been suggested that these old devices may have been used solely as marks of identification for sizes of moulds and the paper formed thereon, or, as they are used today, simply as trademarks of the paper makers. Other writers have advanced the theory that they may have been employed in a purely symbolic sense, as Mr. Harold Bayley sets forth in his books dealing with the semeiotic significance of the old paper makers' and printers' marks and emblems. According to Mr. Bayley, the watermarks of the Middle Ages were employed by the heretical paper makers as symbols of religious propaganda. Mr. Bayley attaches symbolic importance to each of the old watermarks and believes that these fantastic emblems embodied a hidden meaning understood only by the people of medieval times. This explanation of their use seems more probable than to try to account for the myriad watermark designs as symbols for the identification of paper sizes, or as trademarks of the makers of paper. (p. 26.)………………..

VII- A new light on the renaissance
…………….. The twelve chapters of Mr. Bayley's book, containing over 400 reproductions of watermarks, are headed as follows: "Paper making and The Albigenses," "Religious Emblems," "Emblems of The Deity," "Emblems of Persecution and Preaching," "Romaunt Emblems," "The Philosopher's Gold," "The Kabbalah," "The Inventing of Printing," "Printers' Devices," "The Transference of Woodblocks," "Tricks of Obscurity" and "The Renaissance." These are followed by a "Conclusion" covering eighteen pages, and 29 pages of "Notes and References" constituting an extensive bibliography, not only on the subject of watermarks, but also on Symbolism, Heresies, Secret Societies, Inquisition, Reformation, Renaissance, and many more, including several references to H. P. Blavatsky……………………..
:- Unquote

Water mark remains both as visible and invisible image. The modern era Watermark is an important security feature on paper used for printing the Postal stamps, Currencies or Bank notes, and other important government financial instruments to deter counterfeiting. It is stated that though the first set of Water Mark papers have been manufactured in the 13th century in Europe, specially in that of Italy where the first group of paper mills have been reportedly set up in early 12th century, the first set of handmade mould Water mark paper for use on Currencies has been reportedly introduced in the year 1725 in England when in 17th and 18th centuries many paper mills across England began to practice use of certain Water mark symbols on the papers manufactured by them.

The visible Water mark may appear as some kind of a weak print merged with the shade of the paper in which they may have been embedded. The lighter and darker shades of the Watermark are caused by the lesser and more pressure of the Water mark mould leading to that much proportional deposit of fiber in those areas embedded. 

The invisible Watermark which is also translucent image or pattern embedded in similar fashion as above, but with some design elements over printed in those areas to hide the Water mark. The examples could be Water mark on Bank Notes and Currencies, Postal stamps, paper used for printing ID cards etc wherein certain image of the Water mark remains visible to naked eye in non printed area while part of the Water mark remain hidden under the designs printed.

How is the Water mark formed ? The oldest form of watermarks is referred to as wire watermarks since they were generated by bending pieces of wire into required designs by tying them onto the mesh of the paper moulds which was then impressed over the semi wet paper travelling on wire mesh. The darker and lighter shades of the Water mark image is represented in the form of raised and depressed areas on the fine-mesh brass-wire fabric attached to the dandy roll's circumference to generate the Water mark during paper making process. The formation of the image on the wire mesh is ticklish and cumbersome process even involving certain amount of hand engraving technique to form lighter and darker shades. The Water marks produced by the images carved out on the fine-mesh brass-wire fabric will not be as clear and sharper as produced in cylinder mould process. One of the reasons for the slightly imperfect Water mark generated by the Dandy roller process could be due to tying of the mould screen with wires which will have feeble dots even after welding them, hence the edges leave unsharp images. Therefore the modern mills began the use of Water mark engraved cylinder (mould) which was able to produce much cleaner images with high tonal values unlike the rugged Water mark images produced by the Dandy roller. 

The Water mark is formed by two different processes. One is called the Dandy roll process, and the other is Cylinder mould process. Even today many mills around the world continue to use the Dandy roll process for Water marking because they are cheaper and meet the purposes of protecting and identifying their products. However the Cylinder mould process is preferred mainly by those who are engaged in the art of printing high value security documents of several nature including Currencies and Bank Notes as Water mark is an important security feature as suggested and admitted by the International Intelligent agencies such as Interpol.

During paper manufacturing process, the wet pulp filled with fibers is spread over a long wire mesh which travel on the wire mesh in the form of a sheet and shed the excess water from their body through the wire mesh before getting dried further travelling through several series of rollers. When the semi wet paper travel on wire mesh screen the Dandy roller fastened with Water mark design from above press the semi wet layer of paper against the wire mesh like rubber stamping process and wherever they press, the fibers on those areas gets thinner and compressed according to the degree of relief on the areas of the image. This process forms the image over the thin layer of semi wet paper which when dried will show the Water mark in the form of an translucent image. However during the stamping process the Dandy roller does not completely remove the fibers from those image areas, lest the paper will have only holes in those areas pressed. During the process of pressing, the fibers get deposited in different densities and vary the thickness of the paper in those areas pressed to show the images of varying shade. The thick and thin deposit of fibers shows the multi tone Watermark effect.

Initially a flat surfaced Dandy was used. However as the Mills began to produce continuous reels of paper the cylindrical Dandy roller was put to use for rotating against the travelling layer of semi wet paper and to impress the images at regular intervals as preset.

Though the researchers claim that the invention of the so-called, Dandy roller is actually attributable to one John Marshall, of T.J. Marshall (name of the firm) of London, who established his own mill in the year 1792, he reportedly failed to apply for the patent and therefore the patent had been taken over by some other people in Europe itself - one for the process of leaving an Watermark impression by cylindrical body and other for the invention of Dandy roller.

The use of Cylinder mould Water marking perhaps began in the year 1848 where in instead of covering the cylinder with brass wire fabric containing the Water mark image, the cylinder body itself was prepared in a different fashion welded by a wire mesh embossed with the Watermark design reflecting tonal depth of varying shades of a grey scale.

The introduction of cylinder mould made it possible to engrave the images or patterns of different shades with much clarity. The resulting Watermark was also much clearer, sharper and more detailed than those made by the Dandy Roll process. This paved the way for the production of Cylinder Mould Watermark Paper for Currencies, Banknotes, Passports, and other Security documents of high value as the Water mark still remains an important anti-counterfeiting feature.

The light and shaded tonal effect Water mark was also produced by a process called Electrolytic process which is nothing but basically an offshoot of electroplating process. The Water mark produced on paper deploying this process for making Water mark mould was called Electrolytic Water marks and were used for many years by some countries for printing Currencies. The desired Water mark image is first carved out on a wax plate, which after treated with some chemical process enabled two image dies (plates)- male and female to be prepared by electrolytic process. A specially prepared finely sewn wire mesh was kept in between the male-female dies and pressed to get the Water mark image over the fine wire mesh. The pressed wire mesh will reflect the darker and lighter tonal values by the degree of relief on the male female dies. The tonal values represented in the form of proportional relief over the Water mark image of the wire mesh was technically called Bas relief. The wire mesh was attached on the Dandy roller for creating the Water mark images on paper.

While the paper making machine was invented in the year 1798 in place of paper made by hand made process the first automatic paper making machine that used the Dandy roller Water marking process is reported to be Fourdrinier machine in 18th century in Europe.

The Watermarks vary in visibility and appearance to some extent when different mills produce the same Water mark in view of the machineries and processes deployed by them even though the basic raw material is same and the approved drawing is given for generating the Water mark. Since there appears to be no measured values for each and every lines or shades of the Water mark produced and suitable instruments to test them, the overall resultant image could only be matched as closely as possible with that of the golden image of the Water mark proof stored in the computers to authenticate the genuineness of the Water mark image produced on the paper. This limitation is because of the inability to maintain absolutely uniform fiber length in the pulp that forms the paper and leaves thick and thin deposits to match the shades of the Water mark images.

Few well known paper mills who have expertise in the art of paper making and whose paper supplies are used by several countries for the production of Bank Notes and Currencies have come out with new series of Water marks invented by them which not only enhanced the clarity of the Water marks produced, but also makes the counterfeiting more and more difficult. The following information in this regard is available from the sites of those two well known expert paper manufacturers – Giesecke & Devrient of Germany and Arjowiggons of France both paper mills of repute around the world.

Out of two important Water marks - High Light Water mark and Pixel Water mark- Giesecke & Devrient mentions that:

………HighLight watermarks security features are very effective for portraying the numbers or the value of a banknote denomination. When held against the light, numbers or characters appear as accentuated elements within the watermark design. HighLight watermark are created during paper making by reducing paper thickness to produce very light areas that increase the visibility of particular design elements….
…………..Pixel watermark security features offer new possibilities for developing eye-catching watermark designs that are secure against counterfeiting. The highly contrasting bright three-dimensional effect that is visible when held against the light is very easily authenticated by the public. Pixel watermarks are created during paper making by varying the thickness of the paper to produce patterns of dark pixel dots on a lighter background. Due to the complexity of their creation, Pixel watermarks are extremely difficult to counterfeit, resulting in only poor quality print copies of watermarks…………

Arjowiggons, French the second paper mill site mentions that :

The Pixel watermark is made up of a pattern or array of dark dots on a light background that creates a three-dimensional effect and provides a high level contrast with the background……….
……… The Pixel Watermark is formed by dots of various sizes and shapes on a light background that create a unique design ……… .
……… The high-contrast background provided by the Pixel Watermark enhances the visibility of the multi-tone Watermark ……….
………… The remarkable brightness of the Pixel watermark and the high level of detail and contrast are very difficult to reproduce …………
………….. The Vision watermark, our latest development in watermark technology, offers higher definition and better image recognition. In accordance with the trend in banknote design for more realism, the Vision watermark carries more detail than the traditional multi-tone watermark, getting closer to the original image. It can be combined with the multi-tone, Pixel and electrotype watermarks for enhanced banknote protection ………….


Originally the Water mark image was embedded on paper as security feature during paper marking process using dandy rolls or engraved metal blocks and the extent of clarity and shades were improved by changing the thickness of the paper. However as the technology improved the digital Water marking feature came to be adapted to protect the printed images.