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French sources, closer to the original etymology, tend to define velin as from calf only, while the British Standards Institution defines parchment as made from the split skin of several species, and vellum from the unsplit skin.In the usage of modern practitioners of the artistic crafts of writing, illuminating, lettering, and bookbinding, "vellum" is normally reserved for calfskin, while any other skin is called "parchment".Most of the finer sort of medieval manuscripts, whether illuminated or not, were written on vellum.Some Gandharan Buddhist texts were written on vellum, and all Sifrei Torah (Hebrew: ספר תורה Sefer Torah; plural: ספרי תורה, Sifrei Torah) are written on kosher klaf or vellum.In Europe, from Roman times, the term "vellum" was used for the best quality of prepared skin, regardless of the animal from which the hide was obtained, calf, sheep, and goat all being commonly used (other animals, including pig, deer, donkey, horse, or camel have been used).Although the term derives from the French for "calf", animal vellum can include hide from virtually any other mammal.
Paper was used for most book-printing, as it was cheaper and easier to process through a printing press and bind.
In art, vellum was used for paintings, especially if they needed to be sent long distances, before canvas became widely used in about 1500, and continued to be used for drawings, and watercolours.
Old master prints were sometimes printed on vellum, especially for presentation copies, until at least the seventeenth century.
To create tension, scraping is alternated with wetting and drying.
A final finish may be achieved by abrading the surface with pumice, and treating with a preparation of lime or chalk to make it accept writing or printing ink.
It is then soaked in lime for several days to soften and remove the hair.