Friedrich Gottlob Keller

Portrait: Gottlob Friedrich Keller
Gottlob Friedrich Keller, portrait photograph, taken after 1893
Gellert-Museum Hainichen und Heimatmuseum Hainichen / Wikimedia Commons

Friedrich Gottlob Keller

The inventor of modern paper

Idea to make paper from wood fibre that is produced by friction.

Entry by Friedrich Gottlob Keller in his Ideen-Notizbuch (1841/42)

Friedrich Gottlob Keller’s father was a weaving and reed binding master, his nine siblings died early. He did not fulfil his desire for a qualified technical training so he also became a weaver and reed binder. After completing his journeyman years in 1834, he spent eight years working intensively but to no avail on a perpetual motion machine. In December 1843 he succeeded in the first preparation of mechanical wood pulp. On 11 October 1847 in the printworks of C G Rossberg in Frankenberg, a newspaper was printed on wood-pulp paper for the first time.

After taking over the Kühnhaide paper mill, Keller lacked the capital to exploit his invention. In 1846, he thus teamed up with the paper manufacturer Heinrich Voelter (1817-1887), who made the procedures suitable for industry and internationally utilisable in the paper industry. Keller fell into financial ruin in 1853 and afterwards made his income in running a mechanical workshop in Krippen, near Bad Schandau. He was not recognised for his achievements until old age and was supported by collections among the beneficiaries of his invention.