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MMD > Archives > May 1997 > 1997.05.02 > 04Prev  Next


Colored Roll Paper
By Matthew Caulfield

I  once spent some time trying to find out where Wurlitzer bought
    its green  roll  paper from, without coming up  with  any results
    worth talking about.  Early Wurlitzer rolls  were  on  red  paper
    that  was  not particularly impervious to  moisture.   Some  time
    around 1915 (a guess) they switched to  the green paper they used
    up  to the end of the roll business.  That paper is  of very good
    quality and  very stable under  the changes in humidity found  in
    outdoor use.

    Mr.  Play-Rite,  John  Malone,  told  me   that   he   has   some
    documentation on this paper and that he  had  an analysis of  the
    paper done, which showed that it was not only dry-waxed (which is
    known) but also  had  a  high resin content.  I remember that  he
    said  that,  even though it  was always tinted the characteristic
    Wurlitzer green, it  was  sold  as "gray music roll paper," being
    the kind of paper that  was originally produced in  a  gray color
    for the Clark Orchestra Roll Company.

    I don't know how much of that is true.  John gave me  the name of
    the  paper company which supposedly made  the paper, but  somehow
    this did  not  fit together with  the common story that Wurlitzer
    got its paper from a company in Erie, Pa.   I have looked through
    the Wurlitzer account books and check ledgers in  the Smithsonian
    Institution, but  was  unable  to identify any entries that  were
    clearly for roll-paper purchases.  For screws,  for  paints,  for
    stationery  and   various  supplies  needed   for   the   factory
    operation--but nothing for an item as basic as roll paper.

    Early Play-Rite rolls  were  on  a goldenrod-colored paper rather
    than  the white paper used later.  The company's advertising even
    mentioned its being the  "home of  the golden roll," or something
    like that.  I never asked John  for  the reason behind the color.


(Message sent Fri 2 May 1997, 15:21:10 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Colored, Paper, Roll

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