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This content is taken from the Keio University's online course, The Art of Washi Paper in Japanese Rare Books. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 2 seconds What I have here close to me is a pen-shaped loupe (J. rūpe, from the German loupe) which magnifies up to 50 times. Let’s take a look.

Skip to 0 minutes and 21 seconds With washi paper, a 50x magnifier is enough to see what bast the fibers were taken from but with timber-based paper you need magnification to 100x. Today there are alternatives to the loupe magnifying glass, such as digital cameras equipped with microscope mode and optical microscopes.

Skip to 0 minutes and 57 seconds One plus of these devices is that multiple viewers can look at the image at the same time. With these digital devices, you can see enlargements of the fibers like the one you see here.

Tools used to examine paper

How do you analyze paper? Even if you don’t have an expensive microscope, there are some handy tools that can help you. Watch the video to learn more from Dr. Shiroto who analyzes paper on a daily basis.

In order to examine Japanese paper, a magnification of 50x is enough. To examine a western paper, a magnification of 100x or higher is recommended.

Pen shaped light

As introduced in Step 1.15, you can find a lot of things in the paper just by using a light.

light fig.1. Pen shaped light

Organic EL sheet light

Organic EL Sheet Light is the best tool for examine a binding book.
By inserting this sheet between the paper, you can examine one piece of paper, not two sheets of overlapped paper.
Of course, it is also very useful for examining characteristics of old foreign books such as watermarks.
See the step fig.5 of Step 1.6 to see this tool at work.

light fig.2. Organic EL sheet light

Smartphone equipped with special lens

See the previous step to see this tool at work.

smartphone fig.3. Smartphone with a special lens

Pen-shaped loupe

As shown in this video, a portable loupe is one of the cheapest solutions to examine paper. You can get a clear and three-dimensional view using the pen-shaped loupe.

loupe fig.4. Pen-shaped loupe

Digital cameras equipped with a microscope

If you use a digital camera to examine paper, choose a camera with microscope feature as well as LED light adapter.

camera fig.5. Digital camera

Digital microscope

A portable type of digital microscope is also useful to examine Japanese paper.

handy microscope fig.6. Digital microscope

High-quality optical microscope

This equipment is for professional users. It is an expensive solution but high magnification and three dimensional views are quite useful in more advanced work.

microscope fig.7. High-quality optical microscope

Books examined in the video:

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This video is from the free online course:

The Art of Washi Paper in Japanese Rare Books

Keio University