Carbons are copies made using carbon paper, a very thin sheet of paper coated on one side with a carbon-based ink, used for reproduction of a few copies in the days before cheap photocopying and computer printers.
To make a carbon copy one creates a sandwich of a sheet of paper on top of a sheet of carbon paper (carbon side down) on top of another sheet of paper. When you write or use a typewriter on the top sheet, a carbon copy is made on the second sheet.
A multi-carboned approach can also be used to make several copies at once, in theory up to 10, though more than four or five is pushing it. Special thin, cheap paper, known as second sheets, were often used for copies.
Carbonzines were fanzines created this way — obviously with limited distribution.
Carbon paper can be re-used with declining quality results.
The abbreviation cc still applies to the act of making a duplicate copy even though not by carbon paper, as in "I cc'd Bill on that message."
|From Fancyclopedia 2, ca. 1959|
|(1) Short for carbon copies, especially those which smart people keep of their correspondence.|
|From Fancyclopedia 1, ca. 1944|
|Short for carbon copies, especially those which smart people keep of their correspondence.|