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Lear’s Folly

Unlike other French wallpapers of this period, ones which receive accolades for the many colors printed with steady handed precision, this pattern – found in New Hampshire – was destined for a different market. The paints were thin. The printing registration was somewhat casual. Even the paper stock had been repurposed – the wallpaper was printed on the … Continued

Kennebunk Foliate

Remnants of this machine printed pattern were discovered in a front room of the Samuel Simpson House in Kennebunk, Maine. Though the Federal style house was built circa 1820, this wallpaper was not installed until the mid-century. Unlike similar designs which combine pin dots and foliage, this one places the dots on the foliage, rather than on the … Continued


This pattern is replete with juxtapositions. Not only do groupings of the tools of war – a shield, sword, flag and a quiver with arrows alternate with gatherings of flowers and foliage but the two muscular scaled and barbed stripes have to contend with a delicate shifting line of bell shapes. It is this last motif which frames … Continued

Quarter Sawn Oak

From the archives of Historic New England, Boston. Although the original wallpaper was machine printed, the precise design structure allowed for an easy translation to block printing. This type of pattern may have been designed to be used as a wainscot decoration.

Berrien House Knotted Drapery

Construction of the Savannah house of Revolutionary veteran John Berrien was started in 1791; within a decade of its completion this decidedly graphic pattern was installed in a staircase. Like several other patterns from the Berrien House, this one shares both motif and structural aspects with papers from Philadelphia and therefore a similar attribute seems plausible. This first … Continued

Tumbling Blocks

While the fragment used to reproduce this geometric pattern is in the Adelphi archives, it would be useful to site Richard Nylander’s book, Wallpaper in New England where he discusses similar patterns in the collection of Historic New England. “The design’s similarity to late-19th century patchwork is obvious. Less obvious is its relationship to architectural design. A … Continued

Anthemion Frieze with Arthur and Robert Stripe

This pattern was printed by the famous Parisian firm of Arthur et Robert. (Gouvenier Morris took Thomas Jefferson on a day trip to visit “Old man Arthur’s wallpaper factory” when they both lived in Paris.) A patent sample dated 1799 is on file at the Cabinet des Estampes of the Bibiliotheque Nationale; another example the … Continued

Wheatlands Volute

The “Wheatland” house was built in 1828 by William Jenkins, a wealthy Lancaster, Pennsylvania banker. In 1848, James Buchanan (then Secretary of State) bought the house and 22-acre estate. From there, in 1856, he conducted his “front porch” campaign for the Presidency. Wheatland became its symbol, and in many areas Buchanan supporters formed “Wheatland Clubs” … Continued

Westwood Gothic

The pointed arch, one of the most popular motifs of the Gothic Revival period, was thought to convey a sense of spirituality and harken to back to a earlier, more romantic time. Needless to say, it is amply evident in this pattern. Like the Gothic cathedrals which inspired it the piercing of the tracery serves … Continued

West St. Mary’s

This wallpaper has been reproduced from worn fragments discovered in West St. Mary’s City, Maryland; the original document is part of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation collection. The wallpaper designer borrowed heavily from textile motifs, as was often the case during this portion of the 18th century. Cross hatching inside s-scroll ribbons gives the appearance of … Continued