Georg Friedrich Wehrs

Title page: Vom Papier
Title page of the first edition of Georg Friedrich Wehrs’ ground-breaking standard work Vom Papier (About Paper), 1798
Bayerische Staatsbibliothek digital

Georg Friedrich Wehrs

The paper researcher

Most worshipful, all powerful Empress, most gracious monarch. Your Imperial Majesty, most merciful one, deign to allow that I may give you most humbly my economic treatises as well as my book about the improvement of paper manufacturing, …

Georg Friedrich Wehrs’ dedication in the sample of his work Etwas über die Hanf- und Flachswolle (About Hemp and Flax) for the Russian Empress, 1793

Born in Hanover, Georg Friedrich Wehrs studied jurisprudence in Göttingen before working as an advocate and then a notary. He had an influence as a supervisor at the Intelligenz-Comtoir in Hanover and at the same time as an agent for Bremen und Mecklenburg-Strelitz. As a result he made a name for himself as an economic writer. His best known work was Vom Papier und von den Schreibmassen, deren man sich vor der Erfindung desselben bediente which was initially published in 1779 as a letter to his students, and later in 1789 as a comprehensive work published by Gebauer in Halle. 

In this work, Wehrs not only dealt with papyrus, parchment and paper from different countries and eras, but also with inks, writing implements and sealing wax. The final capital looks at “the insects that are damaging to documents and books and the means for preventing such from doing so or to eradicate them.” As the Privy Councillor for Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Wehrs was elevated in 1799 to the title of Knight of the Swedish Royal Order of Vasa and, in 1803, he was named a Free Imperial knight.