This ancient watermark was in the shape of a court jester wearing his distinctive bell-tipped multi-pointed cockscomb cap.Illustrations of foolscap watermarks can be found at the National Gallery of Australia’s page on Whistler.
Drawing paper of any size was typically sold flat, often by the sheet, though it was also available by the quire and the ream.
Foolscap was popular with Regency letter writers presumably because it had a generous surface upon which much could be written before the sheet was folded down to be addressed and sealed.
But it was not unmanageably large nor would it be difficult to store in a desk drawer, especially if obtained in the folded format.
A pen knife could easily slice through the fold when a smaller sheet was needed.
The only paper size smaller than foolscap was pott, at 15 1/2 inches by 12 1/4 inches.
The largest sizes of writing paper were double elephant, at 39 1/2 inches by 26 1/2 inches and imperial, at 29 1/2 inches by 21 1/2 inches.
This is rather far-fetched since the foolscap watermark had already been in use for nearly two hundred years by that time.
The paper used for Parliamentary record-keeping was called foolscap in later years for the simple reason that was the paper size which had been chosen. It was not until into the eighteenth century that European paper makers began to standardize paper sizes and use specific watermarks to designate those sizes.
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In great agitation, she took a sheet of foolscap from the desk drawer. Foolscap refers to the size of the paper, regardless of its quality.