Drawing of houses in a city environment. .
The house of the Riksbank at Järntorget in the Old Town. Drawing by Erik Dahlberg, second half of the 17th century. The Royal Library (Public Domain).
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The Early Years of the Mill

Getting a mill site was easy, although the Riksbank Board had the area and water supply thoroughly surveyed before buying the site. The Riksbank's secretary, Joakim Teuchler, and master papermaker Magnus Rundgren were given the task of building up the area and starting production.

However, it became clear that the Swedish papermakers could make paper suitable for books, but not for banknotes. The Riksbank Board therefore decided to try to attract a Dutch master papermaker to move to Tumba. But the Dutch authorities did not want the knowledge of papermaking to spread under any circumstances. Finally, after negotiations through discreet agents, two brothers were persuaded to move: Jan and Erasmus Mulder.

Unfortunately, Jan Mulder spoke a little too openly about his plans to move, which led to his imprisonment. After a short period in prison, he died. This left Erasmus Mulder and his wife, who were secretly and stealthily brought to Sweden. A third brother, Caspar Mulder, made his way to Sweden a few years later to help.

Old paper with writing.
Photo: Bank notes from 1756 and 1759. The Economy Museum/SHM (Public Domain).

Not good enough

On arrival in Tumba, Erasmus Mulder found that the facilities Joakim Teuchler so proudly conveyed were not as good as he had wished. Relations between Teuchler and Mulder then became so strained that the Riksbank Board felt compelled to hire another site manager, Peter Momma, who was also of Dutch descent.

Initially, sixteen people worked directly on paper production. This increased to twenty-eight within a few years. These workers had families, and there were also crofters, tenant-farmers and others in the area. In 1759, the mill opened a little canteen, which was run by Christina Östberg. She was given the task of keeping the unmarried workers fed, selling groceries to the mill people, doing the washing, and caring for the sick when necessary. And to cook a good meal for the Riksbank members if they came to visit.

Oil painting of people in 17th century clothing in a tavern.
A scene from an inn by Jan Miense Molenaer, c. 1650, cropped. Nationalmuseum (Public Domain).

Ownership issues

Peter Momma succeeded in creating good cooperation between employers and employees, albeit at a greater cost than the Riksbank Board had wished. The Dutch knew what they were worth and Momma wanted to keep them happy. The paper mill delivered perfectly good banknote paper, but at a loss.

Already in the 1760s, the business was doing badly financially. It was also a time of crisis and high inflation. The crisis forced the mill to sell groceries to the workers at a discounted price, and the Riksbank Board considered privatising the paper mill. The argument against privatisation, which Peter Momma also stressed, was that security would be lost. A private owner could move or take the knowledge to another country. And a private owner might be tempted to produce their own banknotes. The mill remained state-owned.

Drawing of man making paper.
Image: a paper master, from the book Het menselyk bedryf, 1693. Skokloster Castle/SHM (Public Domain).