Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Paper for a King


" 'Go to Jutland,' says the King.  'You see how the terrain encompasses both timber and water in great quantities. I will send a surveyor with you.  And then you will return and tell me if the Carta Ponti Numero Due and Numero Uno  can be produced from Danish trees.  I am interested only in paper of this kind of quality -- with which my own calligraphy can become infatuated.  If you can make this, I will give you the patents for your mill and we shall work out what profits shall be yours and what shall be mine.'

Signor Ponti beams.  Already, he allows himself to imagine  the Ponti watermark surfacing on Danish documents of State, on almanacs and sheets of music, on handbills and architectural drawings, on the endpapers of learned books, on love letters and wills.  He even contemplates the delicious notion that the word 'Ponti' might become so synonymous with fine paper that, in due time, Danes would refer to it thus: 'Bring me a sheet of ponti, Sir' or ' The unhappy lover crumpled the piece of ponti and cast it into the fire'.

And the King, too, is smiling.  His brain feels clear. It is as though, on the clean sheets of paper, he has already begun to write down a future from which heartache and poverty are suddenly, unexpectedly, absent."

Music and Silence  Rose Tremain

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