Ben Marks von Collectors Weekly schreibt mir: „We just published a new article on the history of rolling papers, from their humble beginnings on the streets of 16th-century Spain to their manufacture in the Spanish village of Alcoy. Our story includes an interview with Josh Kesselman, the founder of RAW Rolling Papers, which still produces rolling papers in Alcoy, as well as Tommy Chong, who knows a thing or two about rolling papers but confesses that he's more of a pipe guy. The article also include a slide show of rolling-paper booklets from the mid-19th to the early 20th centuries, mostly from Alcoy.“
According to Kesselman, papermaking in Europe began in Alcoy in 1154, brought to Spain by the Moors, who learned the practice from the Chinese. “The original paper was mostly made out of hemp,” he says, “but it was made out of anything with fiber. A lot of times they would recycle linens and rags, clothing-type stuff, anything that had fiber in it.” Paper had been used for currency in China beginning around the 7th century; not surprisingly, that was one of its first uses in Europe, too.
After tobacco was introduced to Spain from the New World in the 1500s, a tobacco trade developed in Europe in the 1600s. The aristocrats smoked Tommy Chong-size cigars, rolled in palm and tobacco leaves. When they were done smoking these enormous stogies, they would toss the butts on the ground, where peasants would pick them up, take them apart, and reroll what was left in small scraps of newspaper.