Wrap it up, I’ll take it

Today’s lesson, regarding The History of Paper and Papermaking:

Corrugated Paper Products
In 1856, Englishmen, Healey and Allen, received a patent for the first corrugated or pleated paper. The paper was used to line tall men’s hats. However, this was not the corrugated cardboard we know today. On December 20, 1871, Albert Jones of New York NY, patented a stronger corrugated paper (cardboard) used as a shipping material. This was the first cardboard and stronger than paperboard. In 1874, G. Smyth built the first single sided corrugated board machine. Also in 1874, Oliver Long improved upon the Jones patent and invented a lined corrugated material and this was modern cardboard as we know it today – which led to the invention of the:

Corrugated Cardboard Box
American, Robert Gair promptly invented the corrugated cardboard box in 1890. These were pre-cut flat pieces manufactured in bulk that opened up and folded into boxes. Gair made his first plain paper folding box in 1870.

Containerboard or Corrugated Containers
The first use of corrugated paper for packaging came in 1871, when an American, Albert Jones, introduced an idea of wrapping bottles and glass chimneys in it. However, it was the addition of a liner to one and then to the other side of corrugated paper that signaled the birth of cardboard as we know it.

Interesting, you say. But why are we bringing this up today?

We bring it up because we are in charge of props for the upcoming Butler Little Theatre production of Dracula.

Ah yes, you say. Of course.

Yes. The production is set in 1897, in London. One of the deceptively troublesome props is a box tied with a ribbon. Inside the box is a wreath of garlic, of a size that the character Lucy — who will eventually become a female vampire and then be destroyed by the man who loves her — this Lucy can put it on over her head, despite whatever wigs and 19th century costuming she wears. The wreath of garlic will do her no good, but the characters are desperate in their hope to save her.

Anyway, so the wreath itself has been a problem for me, the humble props person. The wreath is tossed around a lot, which could be a problem with as fragile an item as papery heads of garlic. I’d initially planned to make the wreath from fake garlic, which Michael’s craft stores stock. Not enough fake garlic is available in local stores however, and it is anyways expensive. Plus also, we need lots of additional garlic, to hang in strings around the stage.

Today I joined Costco and bought 18 pounds of garlic. I only hope it is enough. I can testify now that 18 pounds of garlic smells like the dickens. It’s understandable that vampires would choose to avoid it.

But just when I think I have the garlic wreath problem nearly solved — the strings of garlic and the wreath itself have yet to be made, but with a hot glue gun and determination much is possible — now I realize that I also need a box in which to present it. The wreath is given as a gift to the ill-fated Miss Lucy. And thus the question: Would cardboard boxes have been available in London in 1897?

I am delighted to have discovered, through the magic of the Internet, that the answer is ‘yes,’ for this makes my work much, much easier.

Thus endeth the lesson.