Charles J. Ross's Stipple Paper Company


Two scrapbooks documenting the hand stipple paper business of Charles J. Ross of Burlington County, New Jersey and Philadelphia. Graphic Arts GA 2010- in process.

The U.S. Geological Survey’s Preparation of Illustrations pamphlet (1920) suggests “For relief shading on small black and white maps Ross’s hand-stipple drawing paper may be used. By rubbing a black wax crayon or pencil over the surface of the paper the desired effect is produced in fine dots or in stipple, which may be varied in density of shade at the will of the draftsman.”

The inventor and distributor of these papers or scratch boards that helped commercial artists add shade and dimension to their illustrations was Charles J. Ross. According to Peterson’s Entomological Techniques (1953), “we find little on Ross’s company, which apparently operated in both New Jersey and at the “Ross House” in North Philadelphia. As late as 1959, we find that company was apparently still active servicing the medical illustrator/graphic artist community and operating as C.J. Ross at 1925 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia.”

These two scrapbooks, now in the graphic arts collection, provide a concentrated overview of Ross’s activities in the late 1880’s. Included is correspondence with artists, publishers, booksellers, lithographers, photography suppliers, zinc etchers, art stores, paper suppliers, and so on. There are also pricelists and paper samples demonstrating the variety of effects that were possible with variations of dots, horizontal lines, diagonal lines, and an overall pattern similar to an aquatint.

A U.S. government patent for his “relief stipple paper” was granted on October 3, 1882. In it Ross states “The object of my invention is the production of a drawing paper or equivalent material having a surface of fine uniform dotted stipple-points in relief, on which drawings in crayon or ink may be made, more especially for reproduction by photolithographic or phototypographic processes …”

He continued to work on new methods of drawing and reproducing images, such as these directions for the placing and management of the line-ruling machine below:


Thanks very much for posting this. I am paper conservator researching historic scratch board and textured artist papers for a catalog essay. BTW, Charles J. Ross Co. was listed as a supplier of textured scratch board called "Ross Drawing Board" in "ninety standard patterns"and "Rossco Stip" stipple papers in the Ninth Graphic Arts Production Yearbook (1950). However, no information other than company name was provided.

I just came across a old map artifact of the US with mountian relief done by Rand McNally in the 1920's. It also had Ross Co. listed as the paper provider. Have you had any luck finding the actual patenet mentioned. I would like to get a copy of it.