Where does the word “Foolscap” come from and What does Foolscap mean?

Foolscap is a size of paper, usually folded, and running in size from 12 to 12.5 inches in width and 15 to 16 inches in length.

Rarely, if at all, does the paper now carry as a watermark the design in outline of a fool’s cap, but that is what gave it the name.

A specimen of paper with such a design, dating to 1540, is said to have been found.

But why any papermaker ever marked his product in this manner is no longer to be determined.

An often repeated story is that the Long Parliament, finally dissolved by Cromwell in 1653, ordered that paper with this design should replace that carrying the royal crown, but, though interesting, the account lacks foundation.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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