Thomas Harry Saunders

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New Zealand two pence stamp from between 1855 and 1872 shows an S and part of the R from the T. H. Saunders watermark S watermark New Zealand.jpg
New Zealand two pence stamp from between 1855 and 1872 shows an S and part of the R from the T. H. Saunders watermark

Thomas Harry Saunders (19 September 1813, London – 5 February 1870, Dartford), usually called T. H. Saunders, was a British paper-maker known especially for his watermarks, and also a philanthropist.

He was the youngest of the five children of hoop-maker John Saunders, and started a career in paper-making while in his twenties, becoming partner in a paper mill in 1840. He married Mary Marchant in 1844.

He won medals at international exhibitions for his firm's light and shade watermarks, which contributed to his success at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851. At the Irish exhibition of 1853 there was special mention for his "specimens of paper ornamented with a water mark, showing gradations of light and shade". [1] The description continued, "This kind of paper is intended to prevent frauds in bills of exchange . . ." and the watermarks attracted many banks as customers, and made T. H. Saunders & Co important suppliers of postage stamps and banknotes to many countries in Europe, the British Empire and South America. The technology for this had been invented by William Henry Smith, [2] and the design was created by "thin brass plates upon the bottom of the mould". [3]

Nova Scotia stamp from 1851 using T. H. Saunders watermarked paper Nova Scotia stamp.jpg
Nova Scotia stamp from 1851 using T. H. Saunders watermarked paper

Saunders built up a business with six paper mills, one of them the renovated Phoenix Mill at Dartford in Kent. As well as secure, watermarked paper they also produced bulk products like newsprint for The Times . With one of his managers he patented improved systems for drying paper and regulating the supply of pulp. He twice met Palmerston, the prime minister, to discuss the taxation system as it related to paper manufacturing.

He was an active nonconformist Christian who gave generously to charity and paid the salary of a metropolitan missionary. As a supporter of the Shaftesbury Society which promoted ragged schools, he set up reading and writing classes for children from his mills. He was also a member of the Royal Society of Arts.

The paper business continued at various mills along the River Darent after Saunders' death in 1870. T. H. Saunders' name is still a registered trademark for drawing and watercolour paper, now produced as Saunders Waterford paper in Somerset.

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A watermark is an identifying image or pattern in paper that appears as various shades of lightness/darkness when viewed by transmitted light, caused by thickness or density variations in the paper. Watermarks have been used on postage stamps, currency, and other government documents to discourage counterfeiting. There are two main ways of producing watermarks in paper; the dandy roll process, and the more complex cylinder mould process.

Crayford Human settlement in England

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River Cray

The River Cray is the largest tributary of the Darent. It is the prime river of outer, south-east Greater London, rising in Priory Gardens, Orpington, where rainwater percolates through the chalk bedrock of the Downs to form a pond where the eroded ground elevation gives way to impermeable clay. Initially it flows true to form northwards, past industrial and residential St Mary Cray, through St Paul's Cray and through Foots Cray, where it enters the parkland Foots Cray Meadows, flowing under by Five Arches bridge. It then flows by restored Loring Hall (c.1760), home of the Lord Castlereagh who took his own life there in 1822. It continues through North Cray and Bexley. It neighbours a restored Gothic (architecture) cold plunge bath house, built around 1766 as part of Vale Mascal Estate. It is then joined by the River Shuttle and then continues through the parkland of Hall Place, which was built for John Champneys in 1540. The Cray turns eastward through Crayford and Barnes Cray to join the Darent in Dartford Creek. The Creek is a well-watered partly tidal inlet between Crayford Marshes and Dartford Marshes by a slight projection of land, Crayford Ness. The villages through which the Cray flows are collectively known as "The Crays".

River Darent

The Darent is a Kentish tributary of the River Thames and takes the waters of the River Cray as a tributary in the tidal portion of the Darent near Crayford, as illustrated by the adjacent photograph, snapped at high tide. 'Darenth' is frequently found in the spelling of the river's name in older books and maps, Bartholomew's "Canal's and River of England" being one example. Bartholomew's Gazetteer (1954) demonstrates that Darent means "clear water" and separately explains the other name. Considering the River Darent runs on a bed of chalk and its springs rise through chalk, this is not surprising. The original purity of the water was a major reason for the development of paper and pharmaceuticals in the area.

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Thomas Saunders may refer to:

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  1. Sproule, John (1854). The Irish Industrial Exhibition of 1853:A Detailed Catalogue of Its Content... J. McGlashan. p. 502.
  2. Ingemar Cox, Digital Watermarking
  3. Sproule