Cost of Paper

The Board of Works maintained detailed lists of prices for goods and services.  These were standardized and did not vary over time, although there were some exceptions in times of great hardship or inflation.  Government rates were listed in a book “Contract Prices 1734—1774” (WORK 5/148). The rates for carpentry work covered 15 pages, and for masons a full 20 pages.

No bureaucracy could run without paper, and here are the rates for different categories of paper. The prices show just how expensive paper was in the eighteenth century, although, in comparison to 1780s standards, the government was overpaying.

£ s d
Imperial paper per rheme 7.0.0
Super Royal 5.5.0
Royal 3.5.0
Medium 2.5.0
Dutch Demy 1.17.0
Fools Capp 1.0.0
Kings Arms .15.0
Thick large quarto gilt 1.0.0
Thin do .15.0
Penns Large per gross .4.6
Do small .2.6
Pencils per dozen .5.0
Ink per quart   with the Bottle .1.2
Superfine Wax per lb .7.0
Superfine Vermillion Wafers per lb .3.6
Penknives with Tortis shell handles each .2.6

For comparison, John Paine’s Papermaker’s and Stationer’s Assistant of 1784 has the more expensive form of Imperial paper at £2 11s 0d per ream, plus 12s duty.

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