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With the advent of printing in the later fifteenth century, the demands of printers far exceeded the supply of animal skins for parchment.There was a short period during the introduction of printing where parchment and paper were used at the same time, with parchment (in fact vellum) the more expensive luxury option, preferred by rich and conservative customers.This account, originating in the writings of Pliny the Elder (Natural History, Book XII, 69–70), is dubious because parchment had been in use in Anatolia and elsewhere long before the rise of Pergamon.
The city so dominated the trade that a legend later arose which said that parchment had been invented in Pergamon to replace the use of papyrus which had become monopolized by the rival city of Alexandria.
The equivalent material made from calfskin, which was of finer quality, was known as vellum (from the Old French velin or vellin, and ultimately from the Latin vitulus, meaning a calf); while the finest of all was "uterine vellum", taken from a calf foetus or stillborn calf.
Some authorities have sought to observe these distinctions strictly: for example, lexicographer Samuel Johnson in 1755, and master calligrapher Edward Johnston in 1906.
Sometimes the skins would stay in the unhairing bath for eight or more days depending how concentrated and how warm the solution was kept—unhairing could take up to twice as long in winter.
The vat was stirred two or three times a day to ensure the solution's deep and uniform penetration.
In the 2nd century BC, a great library was set up in Pergamon that rivaled the famous Library of Alexandria.