Re: What is CC ?? - Steven J. Coker
Subject: Re: What is CC ??
From: Steven J. Coker
Date: February 07, 1999

Donna Brand Higgins wrote:
> Sorry, the answer to this question is that CC means Carbon Copy.  This is a
> hold over from the early years of typewriters when to send an identical
> copy of a transcripted document carbon paper (messy) was placed between two
> pieces of paper and when the typewriter key would strike the top page the
> carbon paper would leave an identical marking on the copy behind the carbon
> paper.

The question stated that the typwritten copies were reproductions of an early
1800's document.  The CC's were shown in the original 1800's document.  So, the
question is what would the abbreviation CC have stood for in the early 1800's?

From my reading, the earliest known use of carbonated paper was circa
1806-1808.  The earliest known typewriters were invented in the early 1800's. 
But, these inventions were not in widespread use until much later. 

The first practical typewriting machine was invented by Christopher Latham
Sholes, Carlos Glidden, and Samual W. Soule in 1867.  It wasn't produced for
commercial distribution until 1874.

Did any American courts use typewriting machines or carbon paper in the early
1800's?  I don't know, maybe someone else can answer that for us.  I rather
doubt that they did.

If the CC was original to a document written after 1874 I would assume it stood
for carbon copy.  But, since it was used in the early 1800's, I don't believe it
means carbon copy.  I offered a few other ideas such as "Clerk of Court" which
it might indicate the names of those who witnessed the document in the presence
of the Clerk of Court.


For more see:

The Exciting History of Carbon Paper!

What Is It?

Carbon paper is thin paper coated with a mixture of wax and pigment, that is
used between two sheets of ordinary paper to make one or more copies of an
original document. 

When Was It Invented And Why?

The exact origin of carbon paper is somewhat uncertain. The first documented use
of the term "carbonated paper" was in 1806, when an Englishman, named Ralph
Wedgwood, issued a patent for his "Stylographic Writer." However, Pellegrino
Turri had invented a typewriting machine in Italy by at least 1808, and since
"black paper" was essential for the operation of his machine, he must have
perfected his form of carbon paper at virtually the same time as Wedgwood, if
not before (Adler, 1973). Interestingly, both men invented their "carbon paper"
as a means to an end; they were both trying to help blind people write through
the use of a machine, and the "black paper" was really just a substitute for

In its original form Wedgwood's "Stylographic Writer" was intended to help the
blind write through the use of a metal stylus instead of a quill. A piece of
paper soaked in printer's ink and dried, was then placed between two sheets of
writing paper in order to transfer a copy onto the bottom sheet. Horizontal
metal wires on the writing-board acted as feeler-guides for the stylus and
presumably helped the blind to write. 

[Although invented in 1803, the steel pen only became common around the middle
of the nineteenth century; the quill was still in use at the end of the century,
and remained the symbol of the handwriting age. First introduced in the
laborious days of copying manuscripts in monasteries about the seventh century,
the quill was the civilised world's writing tool for a thousand years or more
(Proudfoot, 1972).] 

Little Demand At First

A few years later, Wedgwood developed the idea into a method of making copies of
private or business letters and other documents. These copies were made at the
time of writing and relied on the ink-impregnated paper, which Wedgwood called
"carbonated paper." The writer wrote with a metal stylus on a sheet of paper
thin enough to be transparent, using one of the carbon sheets so as to obtain a
black copy on another sheet of paper placed underneath. This other sheet of
paper was a good quality writing paper and the "copy" on it formed the original
for sending out. The retained copy was in reverse on the underside of the
transparent top sheet, but since the paper was very thin (what we know today as
"tissue" paper) it could be read from the other side where it appeared the
correct way round. 

Eventually a company was formed to market Wedgwood's technique, but although the
company prospered and many "Writers" were sold, Wedgwood's process was not
adopted by many businesses. There was still plenty of time, money and labour to
handle office work, and businessmen generally preferred their outgoing letters
to be written in ink, fearing that such an easy copying process would result in
wholesale forgery. In addition, unlike James Watt's copying method of 1780,
which developed into the letter-copying book and became standard procedure in
the 1870s, carbon copies were not admissible in court....

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