Paper was invented in China at the beginning of the 2nd century AD.
In the 8th century a few Chinese prisoners, captured during the war between China and Persia, were send to Samarcanda, that was in that time under the Arabian domination, where they taught to the local craftsmen the art of making paper with rags, old fishing-nets and other waste materials. With
the great diffusion of paper manufacture techniques in these regions, strong was the need to use the results of this hard work.
So was the art of paper-mâché born. From Samarcanda the manufacture techniques spread via Damask in Morocco : at the end of the 10th century AD paper had totally taken the place of papyrus and was known in Spain, France and Germany. In Italy the art of paper-mâché was probably introduced by
the Venetian merchants who had frequent business connections with the East; from Italy this art spread in Persia and in India.
From the second half of the 17th century, urged from the import of more and more paper-maché items coming from the East, the French craftsmen were the first to realise the great potentialities of this material: as it has happened with the Chinese and Japanese pottery centuries before,
paper-mâché items coming from the far East induced the Europeans to imitation. About 1670 the interest for this kind of material spread all over great Britain too.
The paper-mâché snuff-boxes and boxes coming from France appeared in Germany at the beginning of the 18th century. They had so a great success that, Frederick the Great had one in each room of his palace.
In Russia the first paper-mâché items were made from 1830, trying to imitate the European manufacture, particularly the English ones.
In 17th and 18th century a great interest for paper-mâché items spread all over >England and lot of books and magazines explained how to make this versatile material.
Jennens and Bettridge of Birmingham and the other firms of that region exported lot of their paper-mâché items in the United States. George Washington himself intended to use this material for the ceilings of his house in Mount Vernon. On the basis of this success, the Litchfield Manufacturing
Company opened a factory in 1850 on the river Bantam in Litchfield, Connecticut.
In 1850 the firm started to specialise in alarm-clock cases that, made of matched, rather thick carton, were black enamelled and decorated with coloured or golden ornaments or mother-of-pearl marquetry.