In September 2022 the company that owned the mill in Scotland that had made Conqueror paper and board since the late eighteenth century went into receivership.

My experience of the printing industry now dates back about 50 years. In the past every paper merchant (and at one time we dealt with eight of them) either sold Conqueror or had an equivalent high quality writing paper such as Three Candlesticks. Of course, in the past people wrote letters so the demand was much greater; email, texting, and the cost of postage have caused a massive drop in the demand for writing papers, and as the paper merchants stopped trading one by one over the past fifteen years Conqueror remained pretty much the only brand of writing paper that was still produced.

The great advantage of Conqueror is that it is produced in a number of subtly different shades: Diamond White, Brilliant White, High White, Cream, and Vellum, and in both wove and laid (which has a rougher surface). It is also available in a variety of different weights. Vellum laid used to be the most popular colour but Oyster wove is now preferred by most people. Various shades of grey and blue used to be available but these were discontinued some years ago.

The recent history of ownership of the Conqueror brand is complicated, but as far as I understand it Wiggins Teape, which owned Conqueror at the time, merged in 1990 with the French paper manufacturer Arjomari to become ArjoWiggins. In 2000 it became part of a largely French conglomerate called Worms et Cie which in turn became Sequana Capital in 2005. Sequana lost a long-running court case with British American Tobacco in 2019 and went into liquidation. The Conqueror mill at Stoneywood in Scotland was saved by a management buyout by ArjoWiggins helped by a substantial injection of capital by the Scottish Government. However, by September 2022 ArjoWiggins was no longer viable as a paper manufacturer and the administrators were called in. After protracted negotiations ArjoWiggins’ brands were acquired by the paper merchant Antalis which, at the time of writing (January 2023) is negotiating with a number of mills to produce the brands, including Conqueror. The claim is that they will be available by the end of Q1 2023, but I would be surprised if this timetable is met. It seems unlikely that Conqueror will continue to be made in Scotland, which is a disaster for the 450 people who have lost their jobs, but also a tragic end to a tradition of paper-making that stretches back 250 years.