With the advent of printing in the later fifteenth century, the demands of printers far exceeded the supply of animal skins for parchment.
There was a short period during the introduction of printing where parchment and paper were used at the same time, with parchment (in fact vellum) the more expensive luxury option, preferred by rich and conservative customers.
Today the term "parchment" is often used in non-technical contexts to refer to any animal skin, particularly goat, sheep or cow, that has been scraped or dried under tension.
The term originally referred only to the skin of sheep and, occasionally, goats.
Although parchment never stopped being used (primarily for governmental documents and diplomas) it had ceased to be a primary choice for artist's supports by the end of 15th century Renaissance.
This was partly due to its expense and partly due to its unusual working properties. When the water in paint media touches parchment's surface, the collagen melts slightly, forming a raised bed for the paint, a quality highly prized by some artists.
2550–2450 BC), but the earliest of such documents extant are: a fragmentary roll of leather of the Sixth Dynasty (c. 1990–1777 BC) now in Berlin; the mathematical text now in the British Museum (MS.
10250); and a document of the reign of Ramses II (early thirteenth century BC)." Though the Assyrians and the Babylonians impressed their cuneiform on clay tablets, they also wrote on parchment from the 6th century BC onward.Sometimes the skins would stay in the unhairing bath for eight or more days depending how concentrated and how warm the solution was kept—unhairing could take up to twice as long in winter.The vat was stirred two or three times a day to ensure the solution's deep and uniform penetration.In the 2nd century BC, a great library was set up in Pergamon that rivaled the famous Library of Alexandria.As prices rose for papyrus and the reed used for making it was over-harvested towards local extinction in the two nomes of the Nile delta that produced it, Pergamon adapted by increasing use of parchment.To support the needs of the revival of use by artists, a revival in the art of preparing individual skins is also underway.