Carbon Paper

The problem with the ReUse Centre is that because you pay by the visit, not item, I often end up picking up stuff I really don’t need but am intrigued with. My stash of carbon paper is a result of this faulty thinking. To be honest, I didn’t think you could even get carbon paper anymore but it turns out you can still buy it through a number of websites including Amazon, Staples, Walmart, and Office Depot. I guess someone must have a use for it.

Carbon paper was first made in the early 19th century to be used with machines that were invented to assist blind people to write but its potential really wasn’t recognized until typewriters began to be used in offices. The development of the photocopier, and later the computer, spelled its demise as a common office supply however its memory still lives on in the cc on emails and letters. Most sources say cc stands for carbon copy but I did find one source that claims that cc just means more than one copy in the same way that pp means more than one page but let’s discount that theory for the sake of this blog post.

Originally carbon paper was paper with an ink or pigment coating but modern carbon paper isn’t paper at all but a polymer. Although it is a declining industry, it is not gone altogether. Canada still has Form-Mate in Toronto who manufacture three types of carbon paper. Sure, it’s a niche product but someone must be still buying it. In contrast to their limited offerings, take a look at the old package I got from the ReUse Centre. It offers seven types of products.


Carbon paper is used by putting a sheet of it between two pieces of paper and then writing or typing onto the top sheet, leaving an exact copy on the lower sheet. It must age well as it worked fine in my test. A few sheets in the package had already been used in a typewriter several times, a testament to a thriftier era.




Yup, exact copy

If you want to learn more about the history of carbon paper (and who doesn’t?) you may want to check out The Exciting History of Carbon Paper at

The oddly feminine graphics on the back side of the carbon paper makes me think that if carbon paper were a person, she would be a woman. Miss Cici Paper started her career idealistically helping the visually impaired to write but she really hit her stride in the office. However, after years of faithfully, if unoriginally, carrying out her duties she is now retired and is only vaguely remembered by her colleagues. She is occasionally asked to help out on crafts projects but otherwise just hangs out with her other retired workmates, Mr. Rolo Dex and Mrs. Mime O’Graph, née Gestetner.

Coming up next week:  Egg Writing