The art of Parchment and vellum making – ( eg making a writing material from processed animal skin where vellum refers specifically to calf skin, and parchment to sheep and goat skin) is critically endangered, says MK Heritage Association News (August 10 ).
As a writing medium, when it is properly prepared, it surpasses any paper and lasts far longer.
There used to be a parchmenter or manufacturer near most larger towns but now there is only one – William Cowley of Newport Pagnell.
Cowley began in 1850 and was established in 1870, and the firm still uses the same techniques today. There are two skilled masters and one apprentice.
In late 2015 it was proposed that vellum would no longer be used for printing Acts of Parliament as a cost-saving measure. The decision was overturned by the House of Lords in February 2016.
HCA (Heritage Crafts Association) says –
The advantages of vellum include: long lasting (2,000 years at least, compared with 200 years for paper); green (skins are a by-product of the meat and dairy industry, and forests aren’t cut down to produce it, nor harsh chemicals used); part of the UK’s heritage (with traditions and practices held in high esteem by other countries).