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From Papyrus to Penmanship: A Long and Timeless Journey

From Papyrus to Penmanship: A Long and Timeless Journey

Here at Obi Marketing we have a genuinely love and passion for all things paper. From paper diaries and journals to beautifully crafted gift boxes, we just love the tactile, colourful yet considered experience paper offers our senses.


There’s nothing like it and with a history as rich as the one that surrounds paper, printing, diaries and journals, why wouldn’t you consider, even in this digital age, a premium gift such as a custom diary for your staff and clients.


The rich history of paper reads like a tale of human ingenuity and the enduring need to capture our thoughts, feelings and experiences. We think diaries and notebooks are more than just physical objects, they are a way for you to capture the story behind the sheet you write on, and can be a timeless record of your thoughts that can literally span centuries.

From Reeds to Rags: The Birth of Paper

While "paper" derives from the ancient Egyptian papyrus, true paper has a different origin. It is widely credited to China's Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 AD). Legend attributes its invention to Cai Lun, a court official who created a writing surface from plant fibres like hemp, rags, and tree bark. This new material was cheaper and more versatile than papyrus or parchment (made from animal skins).


Papermaking in China was a closely guarded secret for centuries. However, knowledge of the process eventually spread west ward through trade routes. By the 8th century, papermaking techniques had reached the Islamic world and Europe, revolutionizing communication and record-keeping.


The Rise of the Diary: A Space for Reflection 

The first documented personal journals come from ancient Mesopotamia, etched on clay tablets. The development of paper, however, paved the way for more portable and intimate journaling. Early paper diaries were often simple scrolls or bound collections of leaves.


The 10th century saw the rise of "pocket books," small notebooks carried by nobility and scholars. These personal journals became spaces for recording thoughts, observations, and experiences. Famous figures like Leonardo da Vinci and Marco Polo used notebooks to capture their ideas and document their travels.

The Golden Age of Diaries: 17th-19th Centuries

The invention of the printing press in the 15th century led to the mass production of paper and the rise of literacy. This accelerated the popularity of diaries. The 17th and 18th centuries witnessed a surge in diary-keeping, particularly among the middle and upper classes. Diaries became tools for self-reflection, personal improvement, and recording daily life.

Famous diarists of this era include Samuel Pepys, whose detailed accounts of 17th-century London offer a window into daily life during the Great Plague and the Great Fire. Anne Frank's diary, a poignant account of her family's experience hiding from the Nazis during World War II, stands as a powerful testament to human resilience.


The Evolution of Diaries in the Modern Era 

The 20th century saw the rise of specialised diaries. Business diaries offered space for appointments and notes, while travel journals catered to the growing popularity of tourism. Technological advancements also impacted diaries. The invention of the typewriter led to some diaries with pre-printed lines for easier typing.


Today, diaries continue to evolve. Digital journaling apps offer a convenient and portable alternative, allowing us to record our thoughts and experiences on the go.


However, even in the dawn of Ai, the tactile experience of writing in a physical diary, the sound of crinkling of paper, and the permanence of ink on the page, retains a unique charm and continues to hold a special place in many lives.

A Legacy of Communication and Self-Discovery 

Our desire to express ourselves and preserve our stories will always remain. No matter what tools you use, be it paper or digital, we hope you enjoy the process and experiences that come from capturing your thoughts and reflecting on your journey.


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