Inspector Lewis and Mystery of Paper Formats

Inspector Lewis and Mystery of Paper Formats

I was watching a bizarre magician when I was a kid (well, about 20, but it feels like that now) and, as always, I threw myself into it.  I don't need to 'suspend my disbelief' - I love getting absorbed into a story, plot, book, movie or album, and if I'm paying attention, it's going to get 100%

However, that doesn't mean that I can't be snapped out of it, and sometimes by the smallest details.  After explaining how he had found an ancient 'ritual' inked on a old piece of paper in his great grandfathers loft, the mage slowly unwrapped a beautifully aged and gorgeously inked piece of paper, full of arcane symbols, and I should have been drawn in even further.  Instead, though, the (mostly dormant) observant part of my brain ruined everything by going 'That's A4 paper'.

I'm sure most people wouldn't even notice, but I did, and I was taken out of the moment.  I mentioned it to the guy, and he looked heartbroken - I think he'd spent a long time making his prop, and was trying to weigh up if such a small detail was worth carefully inking and painting a sheet of paper with tea bags.  He probably decided no, but deep down, knew that it was.

Lesson learned - old paper that isn't really old, is more convincing when it's not the same size as paper made for printers.

I was thinking about this because I watched an episode of Lewis, and in the plot, someone was making forged letters, apparently from the romantic poets (Keats, Shelley and the 'other members of the band').  They were especially convincing because the paper they were on was of the right age.

The counterfeiters had been stealing old books from the Bodleian Library, cutting out the blank pages that appear at the beginning and end of the books, and then returning them, giving the perfect age appropriate paper for the job.

Whilst I don't condone this kind of criminal activity (and Inspector Lewis was of the same opinion) it occurred to me that this would be great for making props.  Old charity store books could be diced up, or if you wanted a prediction that looked like it was torn from a paperback novel, you could buy one, tear out the blank pages and then run the thing through your home printer / copier. 


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