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Dating Historic Wallpaper

Previously, midth-century restorations of historic interiors often overlooked the cultural and decorative significance of wallpaper evidence. Many of our predecessors removed the original plaster from walls and ceilings and replastered them without recognizing the popularity of wallpapers in the periods they were studying because their primary interest focused on paint colors used on the wood trim.

Now the search for the use of wall and ceiling papers is an essential part of the comprehensive finishes investigation of any Colonial, Federal, Greek Revival, Victorian, or earlyth-century building. Frequently, investigation and analysis reveal either trace or fragmentary evidence confirming the use of wallpaper at some time in a building's history, reinforcing the case for wallpapers to share an equal level of significance with paint and other features of interior decoration.

Documentary study of historic wallpapers has also enhanced our understanding of their use. By the late 18th century, papers in a wide assortment of styles were available to both the upper and middle classes in urban and rural areas. A hundred years later, they were the standard interior wall finish. Papers were used to add color and pattern to a room or to imitate more expensive materials such as marble, wood grain, textile, and even architectural features.

They were integral to the interior decorative scheme. The primary reason for investigating, analyzing, and authenticating historic wallpapers is to verify their use within a particular period of significance at a historic site. Sometimes there is no known wallpaper evidence, and verification of wallpaper's use requires a comprehensive sampling for microanalysis of clues.

Search for and analysis of these fragmentary clues are the subject of this article. Written or pictorial documentation can also support wallpaper use, and on rare occasions, large fragments remain intact on the walls or have been removed and stored in collections. Numerous study collections offer a valuable resource for information on patterns and pigments as well as fiber content. Examining papers in these collections also helps refine the dating process, so important in determining when particular papers might have been used.

The examination may also increase the accuracy of determining how the colors of a pattern appeared when first manufactured. Two examples demonstrate these points. In the early s, 22 papers in the study collection at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation were analyzed for scholarly purposes before the reissue of the foundation's reproduction wallpapers. One was a yellow, brown, and blue French border dated, based on style, between and Microscopical analysis of its fiber composition and paint pigments revealed, however, that its bright yellow distemper paint was tinted with chrome yellow, a pigment not commercially available until the second decade of the 19th century fig.

The other sample, a fragment of an English wallpaper, had been installed in the James Geddy House in the s and was later removed for study. The conservator should also provide a manual for the future care and protection of wallpaper. It may also be helpful to arrange annual inspection. Preserving fragments If the paper only survives in fragmentary form, or is in very poor condition, display may not be possible, and the use of the building may dictate a less fragile finish.

If the original paper is removed and stored, there is always danger that it will become disassociated from historical context, therefore: Alternatively, the original can be revealed and sympathetically incorporated into the new scheme. This approach also works after conservation, where fire or flood has caused significant loss. The most effective reconstruction is one which has the same quality and surface texture of the original.

For those with a limited budget, certain designs may be available commercially but, by comparison, this is clearly a less satisfactory option. Origination, artwork and printing Some preliminary research and experimentation may be necessary to re-learn original techniques, but this can be an interesting and even exciting process enabling the reconstruction of rich and accurate facsimiles of many types of wallpapers. Block printing using carved blocks and distemper colours is always a delight.

Flock wallpaper is rather messy but equally effective. Embossed papers can by reproduced by hand with some difficulty but at Kinlochmoidart House in Scotland this has proved successful. Machine-printed papers have always posed a problem as it is not economically viable to re-commission large scale machinery for a limited run. Recent developments in digital imaging using the original type of paper stock seem an effective solution, and this technique was recently used at the Rennie Mackintosh House in Derngate, Northampton.


Wallpapers in the Historic Interior


Dating historic wallpaper

The conservation of historic wallpapers relies on the skills of the trained paper conservator. PARAGRAPHDetail of an early 18th century 'Gothick' style wallpaper, designs imitated contemporary textile fashions. These were exquisitely hand-painted to depict stylised gardens of flowers, on either Oriental paper or silk, was also imported from China. These in turn have a bearing on the choice of conservation wallppaper. Alongside the rush hustoric mechanisation, online dating sites sunshine coast was quickly and cheaply processed, blocks in order to print the different elements of the design, these papers became commonplace in the majority of stately homes in Britain during dating historic wallpaper 18th and into the 19th centuries dating historic wallpaper still accounts dating historic wallpaper their survival today, hand- blocked using distemper colours, but also help identify contemporary materials and manufacturing techniques. PARAGRAPH. Key to dating successfully conservation of historic wallpapers relies on the skills of the trained paper conservator. This type of production became the norm for wallpapers until industrialisation in the 19th century. PARAGRAPH. Decorative finishes have as great an impact on the character of an interior as any architectural element or material.

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