Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Louis-Nicolas Robert

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Louis-Nicolas Robert (1761–1828) is credited with a paper-making invention that led to the development of the Fourdrinier vontinuous paper-making machine.

1761 December 2nd. Born in Paris.

He began work as a lawyer's clerk, before joining the French army. He then became a proof-reader in a printing office, before working for Leger Didot in the counting-house of Didot's paper mill at Essonnes, France.[1]

In 1799, Robert patented the first machine to produce 'continuous paper'.

Robert and Didot quarreled over the ownership of the invention. Robert eventually sold both the patent and the prototype machine to Didot for 25,000 francs. Didot defaulted on the payments to Robert, however, and he was forced to recover legal ownership of the patent on 23 June 1801. Didot wanted to develop and patent the machine in England, away from the distractions of the French Revolution, so he sent his English brother-in-law, John Gamble, to London.

In March 1801, after demonstrating continuous rolls of paper from Essonne, John Gamble agreed to share the London patent application with brothers Sealy Fourdrinier and Henry Fourdrinier, who ran a leading stationery house.

Gamble was granted British patent 2487 on 20 October 1801 for an improved version of Robert's original machine. Thus the next development was financed by the London stationers. Gamble and Didot shipped the machine to London, and after 6 years and approximately £60,000 of development costs, the Fourdriniers were awarded new patents. An example of the Fourdrinier machine was installed at Frogmore, Hertfordshire

He eventually became a school-teacher

1828 August 8th. Died in poverty


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 'The Paper-making Machine: Its Invention, Evolution, and Development' by R. H. Clapperton, Pergamon Press, 1967