Carnations and Shells may well be the earliest
complete repeats of a wallpaper motif found in situ in the United
States. There are two samples of it in the Historic New England
archives, one from the Cowing House in Weymouth, Massachusetts, and a
larger sample with "Whipple House" scribbled on the back.
The Whipple House in Ipswich, Massachusetts was
constructed as early as the 1630s. In 1721 Mary Whipple Crocker aged 38
married and inherited the house upon the death of her father. The
installation of the paper could date from a redecoration that took
place soon thereafter, perhaps in 1725. After Mary's death her widower,
Benjamin Crocker, married a 44-year old woman named Experience Coolidge
in 1736. The installation of the paper could also date from this
slightly later period.
The pattern is characteristic of the very early
rococo with an asymmetrical composition focused around a shell.
Although it lacks the precision and refinement of the late rococo, it
is nevertheless a dramatic and engaging pattern. It was designed before
wallpaper printers had mastered the technology of printing large areas
of color. Instead, these areas were hand stenciled, a very labor
intensive process. The delicate black and red outlines were then block
Shell and Carnations is remarkable for both its
exuberant design and bold use of translucent color. It is an
extraordinary example of the early 18th century paperstainer's craft.
This pattern is licensed to Adelphi Paper Hangings
by Historic New England.
Repeat 18¾ inches
Width 21½ inches
The historic colorway image above shows two widths of the