Adelphi can provide custom reproduction of historic block printed wallpapers – whether from an
historic archive or from private client’s collection. When considering custom reproductions it is best to
contact us well in advance to discuss the feasibility and costs of the project. A lead time of 4 – 6 months
is usually required to duplicate designs and prepare blocks for a new pattern.
While many examples of historic block printed patterns exist the majority of wallpapers discovered
behind radiators, in cupboards or under chair rails date from after the mid-19th century and were
machine printed. These type of papers are most successfully reproduced by more modern methods
such as digital printing.
Adelphi Paper Hangings has successfully reproduced papers which date from the 1740s through the mid-19th century using original documents that range from an entire wall’s worth of antique wallpaper to a modest box of scraps still attached to chunks of plaster.
Custom reproduction is an exacting process. Pristine samples of historic papers do occasionally turn up, but in most cases the documents are fragmented, faded, and damaged. In these cases, the initial stages of the reproduction process involve piecing together the fragments in order to reveal the complete pattern, determine its original width and repeat length and other period characteristics.
In some cases this process may require research with similar patterns of the same time period, which Adelphi can do from its own collections or through its extensive contacts within the historic restoration and museum communities.
Once the complete pattern is determined, a separate pattern is drawn for each color, which is then used to engrave pear wood printing blocks, one block for each color in the pattern.
Identifying and matching the original colors can be just as exacting as accurately reproducing the pattern since original wallpaper samples are often faded or, depending on the chemical properties of the pigment, even severely discolored. They may also have been damaged by water, smoke, etc.
But by understanding the fashions of the era, the nature of historic paints, as well as the muting effect of time, Adelphi can successfully interpret documentary evidence to arrive at very close approximations of the original document colors.