It was not until the 3rd century that the secret art of papermaking began to creep out of China, first to Vietnam and then Tibet. It was introduced into Korea in the 4th century and spread to Japan by the 6th century, where during the 8th century, the Empress Shotoku undertook a massive project to print a million prayers on individual sheets of paper, each mounted in its own pagoda.

Thereafter, the art of papermaking spread slowly westward throughout Asia to Nepal and then to India.

In 751 the technology of papermaking began its long journey into Europe via the Islamic world when Arab warriors, at war with the Tang Dynasty, captured a Chinese caravan that included several papermakers. With their expertise, Samarkand soon became a great centre for paper production. Gradually papermakers made their way further west through the Moslem world – to Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo. Finally, when the Moors from North Africa invaded Spain and Portugal they brought the technology with them and so it was that papermaking entered Europe in the 11th century.

The first record of a paper mill in Europe is found in 1056, when the Moors established a mill at Xativa in Spain.

After the Christian armies finally dispelled the Moors from Spain in 1224, the art of papermaking began to spread slowly throughout Christian Europe, first to Italy (1250) then northward to France (1348), Germany (1390), Flanders (1405), Switzerland (1411), Holland (1428), England (1488), Poland (1491), Sweden (1532), Russia (1576), and under Spanish influence to the new world, in Mexico (1580). It was not to be until over a hundred years later, in 1690, that the first North American paper mill was established in Philadelphia.