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Our history

Canson®, 450 years of paper.

Montgolfier, Canson® , hot-air balloon, paper, drawing pad... What are the links between them, how do they fit together?
Once upon a time, there was a papermaking family by the name of Montgolfier....


Excerpt from Marie-Hélène Reynaud's book "d’art et de papier" 



Birth of a saga

While François de Guise is arming troops to recapture the kingdom of Naples from the Spanish, and at a time when tensions prevail between Catholics and Protestants, Ambert papermaker Jacques Montgolfier leaves his native Auvergne to settle in the Beaujolais area. This marks the beginning of...

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Vidalon, cradle of paper inventions

Michel and Raymond Montgolfier – the sons of the Beaujeu papermaker – arrived in Vidalon where the Chelles papermaking family of Auvergne was involved in paper sizing. They fell in love with the master's daughters and, two weeks later, married Françoise and Marguerite, a union which...

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The beautiful vellum of Annonay, heralding the technical revolution

Those with a penchant for nostalgia dreamed of beautiful parchment stemming from the skin of stillborn calves – vellum. If only we could produce a smooth paper, without any traces of laid lines… The Montgolfier achieved it by reproducing the technique...

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Seeking whiteness with the Hollander beater

Importations of white paper from Holland offset the kingdom's trade balance. This worried the Languedoc authorities who decided to encourage the papermaking firm most likely to be able to process rags according to the Dutch method. The Montgolfier firm was chosen. Despite the onset...

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From paper to the conquest of the skies and space

On 14 December 1782, a strange paper bag inflates above a fire in the Montgolfier brothers' garden. It straightens up and lifts off into the sky. It crosses the river and gently lands on a hillside. Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier transformed the dream of Icarus into...

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The Manufacture Royale of Vidalon

On 19 March, the Montgolfier paper mills were hoisted to the rank of Manufacture Royale, a highly coveted title by all of the kingdom's papermakers. It was bestowed on those whose innovation potential ranked them at the top of the profession. A few years later, the Bastille fell...

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Birth of Canson et Montgolfier

Etienne de Montgolfier has been dead for two years. His son-in-law, Barthélemy Barou de la Lombardière de Canson takes over from him. This is when the name Canson® first appears in the history of papermaking, a name which will become mythical for artists and lovers of beautiful...

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Transparency and colour, the papermaker's innovation

The Canson® family continued to focus on innovation like the Montgolfier before them. In the greatest secrecy, they invented tracing paper, this transparent medium which avoided the need for architects to redraw the same plan again and...

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The suction box – the beginning of modernisation

The Canson family constantly strives for improvement.

Etienne invents the famous suction boxes which improve water drainage by...

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Internal sizing, a new step

With the paper machine, it became urgent to modernise sizing. How could such long sheets be manually be dipped in a gelatine bath? Barthélémy and Etienne de Canson develop a sticky wax-based product which is mixed into the paper pulp. The technological revolution also spreads to railroads...

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Canson® secured a patent for a photographic paper

Canson® secured a patent for a photographic paper In 1865 Canson® secured a patent on December 8th 1865 since the process was simpler and cost less than the ones used before then. This Canson® paper cut out the need to use the platinum or gold chloride that...

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The Montval® adventure

Finding quality rag paper for the printing of artwork was becoming increasingly difficult. Artistide Maillol asked his nephew Gaspard to make him some nice sheets of paper for his woodcuts. He set to work in Montval® , near Marly-le-Roy, but the war interrupted his efforts. On his return, he settled on the bank of the...

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A subsidiary in New York

Having an agent in the United States, like in numerous other countries, was no longer sufficient to the Canson paper mills. On 1st July, Canson® & Montgolfier Incorporated was inaugurated. At the same time, Edouard Herriot takes over from Artistide Briand, and the French...

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The Canson® pack in all school bags

Art teachers weighed down by piles of notebooks to mark, drawings that cannot be exhibited… The Canson® paper mills find the solution: a paper pack to sell sheets by the dozen and preserve them. The famous pack was born, withstanding the passage of time and fashions. Meanwhile...

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Arjomari, a turning point for Canson®

Three years earlier, the famous Johannot d’Annonay paper mills had joined the Arches and Marais paper mills. They were then joined by Blanchet and Kléber de Rives, thus giving birth to Arjomari (Arches, Johannot, Marais, Rives). The Annonay buildings were sold to the Canson® & Montgolfier...

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Heritage and technical drawing

For Canson® , computer aided drawing and the conservation of archives are the subject of the same concern: developing and marketing products which meet current needs. Computer aided design (CAD) and the High Quality Conservation (HQC) label appear in the catalogues...

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Looking to the past to enhance the present

The Canson® & Montgolfier paper mills create their museum in the native home of the inventors of the hot-air balloon. Innovations of yesteryears and avant-garde machines were now to become accessible to the general public. In 1989, visitors swarm to see the glass pyramid built...

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Canson® launched Canson® Infinity, a range for DFAP

Building on its experience in photograph paper, Canson® launched Canson® Infinity, a combination of the character of the most beautiful paper used by artists the world over, coating using high-end technology and high standards in terms of longevity.

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Strong bond with artists

In its permanent quest to be close to artists, Canson® creates the Fonds Canson® pour l'Art et le Papier, aimed at promoting artists working with the paper. The first Prix Canson® is awarded to the young artist Fabien Mérelle by a panel of judges headed by the painter Gérard Garouste. Canson® also becomes a major...

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Launch of Canson® Watercolor Heritage.

Canson launches the Canson® Watercolor Heritage line. This 100% cotton paper manufactured on a cylinder mould machine, the closest to hand made, has joined the unique circle of papers with incomparable textures...

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