Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Lost wallpapers of the Victorian Era

Over the last 20 years or so I've often had the opportunity to speak before Community groups or designers on the subject of Victorian Period Design and old house restoration. Inevitably in the question answer section someone asks "if you could hop in a time machine for a few hours and go back to the Victorian era what would you do?"

My answer has always been the same ' Find the nearest wallpaper store and buy everything in sight!"
The decorative arts movement was at its zenith during the Victorian Era. Today we have a handful of companies that execute faithful reproductions of Victorian Wallpapers. Companies Like Bradbury and Mason-Wolfe are well know among the restoration community. Yet in the Victorian era there were THOUSANDS of wallpaper companies. Many just small mom and pop local operations that cranked out a few hundred rolls a year and only in a particular region.
Kayser And Allman, Philadelphia
Wallpaper by its very nature is temporary and given the fickle tastes of America its amazing that as the document examples of Historic Wallpaper even exist.

Scenics covered entire rooms, most often the formal dining room in an effort to take someone to dine in a far away land. Shown here is a music Parlor. Wallpaper was used to impress the visitor on how well traveled or sophisticated the homeowner was.
Wallpaper reflected the latest styles of the time such as this one, a frieze, Frieze wallpaper was placed at the top of the wall. These tall frieze patterns were very popular given the tall ceilings in Victorian homes.
So before you swing that sledgehammer take the time to see what lies beneath. This was a historic wallpaper from the 1880 we recovered from a Missouri commercial building. Hidden beneath 1960's paneling

1 comment:

CityKin said...

I thought we learned 80 years ago that ornament was a crime.