Hard to believe that the holidays are already upon us. We all celebrate different holidays in different ways and, at Sappi, we celebrate by creating our own paper-driven holiday cheer—in the form of custom wrapping paper. Our process made me wonder where the art of wrapping came from and how we got to where we are today.
According to an article in The Atlantic, the practice of gift wrapping has been in existence for hundreds of years. In Japan a method of wrapping with cloth, called furoshiko, has been used since the Edo Period. Koreans used a wrapping method called bojagi beginning in the Three Kingdoms Period—approximately the first century A.D. In western culture, we can trace gift wrapping to upper-class Victorians who used heavy decorated paper, ribbon and lace to present gifts. In the 20th century, western cultures abandoned the thick decorated paper, and tissue paper—typically red, white or green—became the norm for gift wrapping purposes.
They say that “necessity is the mother of invention,” and that was certainly the case here. The wrapping paper we know today launched when a stationery store in Kansas City, Missouri experienced a shortage of tissue paper during the 1917 holiday season. An article in Mental Floss notes that stationers, J.C. and Rollie Hall, ran out of the colored tissue paper that was the style at that time. However, their shop did have an inventory backlog of heavy French envelope lining paper. So, instead of offering customers the traditional tissue paper, they sold holiday shoppers the lining paper for 10 cents a sheet. Their solution worked and proved to be quite successful—so successful that the following year, they did the same with the same enthusiastic result. And, two years after the initial shortage, in 1919, the Hall brothers started printing their own custom wrapping paper for the holidays—launching an industry whose estimated value is $3.2 billion today. Oh…and they also launched a little stationery company. You might know them—Hallmark.
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Does that make sense?