early wallpaper texts

c. 1680, trade card

George Minnikin Stationer at ye Kings Head in St. Martins Le Grand near Aldersgate makes & sells all sorts of Japan & other colourd paper hangings both in sheets & yards & sells all sorts of stationary wares at reasonable rates.

c. 1690, trade card

At the Old Knave of Clubs, at the Bridge-foot in Southwark, liveth Edward Butling, who maketh and selleth all sorts of hangings for rooms, in lengths or in sheets, frosted or plain: also a sort of paper in imitation of IrishStich, of the newest fashion, and several other sorts, viz. flock-work, wainscot, marble, damask, turkey-work. Also shop-books, pocket books, writing-paper, brown-paper, and whited-brown paper, cards, and all other sorts of stationary wares, good and reasonable.
© Trustees of the British Museum; Heal, 91.12, AN588972001; Trade Card of Edward Butling.

1699, John Houghton, "Husbandry and Trade Improv'd": 

Of paper there are divers sorts finer and coarser, as also brown and blue paper, with divers that are printed for the hanging of rooms; and truly, they are very pretty, and make the houses of the more ordinary people look neat. At Ebbisham [Epsom] in Surrey, they call it paper tapestry, and if they be in all parts well pasted close to the wall or boards they are very durable; and it ought to be encouraged, because 'tis introductory to other hangings. [No. 356, May 19, 1699].

...a great deal of paper is now a-days so printed to be pasted on walls, to serve instead of hangings; and truly if all parts of the sheet be well and close pasted on, it is very pritty, clean, and will last with tolerable care a great while; but there are some other done by rolls in long sheets of a thick paper made for the purpose, whose sheets are pasted together to be so long as the height of a room; and they are managed like woolen hangings; and there is a great variety with curious cuts which are cheap and if kept from wet, very lasting...[June 30, 1699].

c. 1700, advertisement

At the Blew Paper Warehouse in Aldermanbury London.

Are sold the true sorts of figured paper hangings in pieces of twelve yards long and others after the mode of real tapistry, and in imitation of Irish Stich, and flowered damask and also of marble & other coloured wainscot, fitt for the hanging of rooms, and stair-cases, with great variety of skreens, chimney pieces, sashes for windows and other things of curious figures and colours.

The patentees for the sole making thereof do hereby signify that their sd. pieces are not only more substantial and ornamental as well as cheaper than the counterfeits sold in other places but are also distinguished by these words on the back of each piece as their true mark vizt.

(Blew Paper Society's Manufacture)

Where are also sold blew sugar loafe and purple paper in reams (they being the only patentees for the making thereof) and linnen cloth tapistry hangings very cheap.

You may observe the following method in the putting up the said figured paper hangings. First cutt your breadths to your intended heights then tack them at the top and bottom with small tacks, and between each breadth leave a vacancy of about an inch for the borders to cover, then cut out the borders into the same lengths and tack them strait down over the edges of the breadths and likewise at the top of the room in imitation of a cornish and the same (if you please) at the bottom as you see described in the figure below without borders and with borders.

But if you will putt up the same without borders, then cutt one of the edges of each piece or breadth smooth and even, then tack itt about an inch over the next breadth and so from one to another.

But whether you putt them up with or without borders gently wett them on the back side with a moist spunge or cloth which will make them hang the smoother.


[There are at least five known advertisements for the Blew Paper Warehouse. See S & E, 40. Another version contains additional information]:

At the Blue-Paper Warehouse in Aldermanbury, London, are sold the true sorts of Japan and Indian figured hangings, in pieces of twelve yards long, and half ell broad, at 2 s. 6 d. by the piece.  And another sort of large Japan and forest-work, in pieces of proper sizes, after the new mode, of real tapestry...the patentees for making the said figur'd hangings (observing the same to be counterfeited upon a thin and common brown paper, daub'd over with a slight and superficial paint) do hereby give notice, that the said true sorts may be distinguish'd from counterfeits by their weight, strength, thickness and colour, dy'd through; and are every way more lasting and serviceable. At the same places are to be sold blue sugar-loaf and royal purple paper by the ream.

1723, Jacques Savary (Savary des Bruslons), "Universal Dictionary of Commerce":

 "...a dominotier makes a sort of tapestry on paper, which for a long time was used by the peasants and the poorer classes in Paris to cover the walls of their huts or their rooms and shops....by the end of the seventeenth century, the technique had reached a high point of perfection and elegance. Quite apart from the larger quantities of paper that are sold for export abroad and in the principle cities of France, there is not a house in Paris, however grand, that does not contain some example of this charming decoration, even if only in a wardrobe or other private room."

1734, instructions from Robert Dunbar (Aldermanbury):

please to observe the following method of putting up the said hangings in any room, viz., First, cut one edge of each piece or breadth, even to the work, then nail it with large tacks to the wall and paste the edge of the next breadth over the heads of the tacks and so from one to another, till the room be perfectly hung, observing to make ye flowers join. N.B. damp the paper before you put it up, and begin next the window and make stiff paste of the best flour and water.

1737, correspondence:

Thomas Hancock, stationer, Boston, to John Rowe, stationer, London.

"Sir – Inclosed you have the dimensions of a room for a shaded hanging to be done after the same pattern I have sent per Captain Tanner, who will deliver it to you. It's for my own house and entreat the favour of you to get it done for me to come early in the spring, or as soon as the nature of the thing will admitt.

The pattern is all was left of a room lately come over here, and it takes much in ye town and will be the only paper-hanging for sale wh. am of opinion may answer well. Therefore, desire you by all means to get mine well done and as cheap as possible, and if they can make it more beautiful by adding more birds flying here and there, with some landskips at the bottom, should like it well. Let the ground be the same colour of the pattern. At the top and bottom was a narrow border of about 2 inches wide wh. would have to mine. About three or four years ago, my friend Francis Wilks, Esq., had a hanging done in the same manner but much handsomer, sent over here from Mr. Sam Waldon of this place, made by one Dunbar, in Aldermanbury, where no doubt he, or some of his successors may be found. In other part of these hangings are great variety of different sorts of birds, peacocks, macoys, squirril, monkys, fruit, and flowers, &c. 

But a greater variety in the above-mentioned of Mr. Waldon's and should be fond of having mine done by the same hand if to be mett with. I design if this pleases me to have two rooms more done for myself. I think they are handsomer and better than painted hangings done in oyle, so I beg your particular care in procuring this for me, and that the patterns may be taken care off and return'd with my goods."

1747, The London Tradesman, by Robert Campbell

Chapter 32
Of the Upholder and the Trades employed by him

I have just finished my house, and must now think of furnishing it with fashionable furniture. The upholder is chief agent in this case. He is the man upon whose judgment I rely in the choice of goods; and I suppose he has not only judgment in the materials, but taste in the fashions, and skill in the workmanship. This tradesman's genius must be universal in every branch of furniture; though his proper craft is to fit up beds, window-curtains, hangings, and to cover chairs that have stuffed bottoms.

He was originally a species of the taylor; but, by degrees, has crept over his head, and set up as a connoissieur in every article that belongs to a house. He employs journeymen in his own proper calling, cabinet-makers, glass-grinders, looking-glass frame-carvers, carvers for chairs, testers, and posts of bed; the woolen-draper, the mercer, the linen-draper, several species of smiths, and a vast many tradesmen of the other mechanic branches.

The upholder, according to this description of his business, must be no fool; and have a considerable stock to set up with: however, a young man who has a mind only to be a mere upholder and has no prospect of setting up in the undertaking way, does not require such a universal genius as I have been speaking of: he must handle the needle so alertly as to sew a plain seam, and sew on the lace without puckers; and he must use his sheers so dextrously as to cut a valence or counterpain with a genteel sweep according to a pattern he has before him.

All this part of the work is performed by women, who never served an apprenticeship to the mystery, as well as men. The stuffing and covering of a chair or settee-bed is indeed the nicest part of this branch; but it may be acquired without any remarkable genius. All the wooden-work they use is done by the joiner, cabinet-maker, and carver. A tradesman who is a good hand in the upholder's own branch is paid twelve or fifteen shillings a week; and the women, if good for any thing, get a shilling a day.

© Trustees of the British Museum; Banks, 91.1, AN705271; Trade Card of Bromwich & Leigh.

1747, General Description of All Trades

Upholders, the 49th [company] (pg. 214)

Most frequently called upholsterers, who are the absolute necessary tradesmen for decently or sumptously furnishing an house and a large branch of business it is, the working part of which is not hard, but clean and genteel; (and if they were not so, what would the nice ladies do with them?) therefore fit for smart youths, who have no strength to spare; for they even employ woman to do some of the needle-work.

Besides performing this part many of them are great shop-keepers, who have abundance of ready-made goods for sale always by them. Most of them are also appraisers (which see before) and several of them are undertakers too...

The upholsterers take with an apprentice generally from 20 to 30 l. who work from six to eight; pay a journeyman in common 2 s. 6 d. or 3 s. a day; or, if by the year, 15, 20, or 30 l. and his board. If a master only does business in a private way 100 l. may serve his occasions; but if he keeps a stock of upholstery ware and materials for funerals he had need have 500 l....

Arms. On a chevron between 3 tents as many roses.

Paper-Makers (pg. 159)

...[the Paper-Makers] goods go chiefly into the hands of the wholesale stationers, who vend them to the retailers, booksellers, printers, & c...There are likewise hangings for rooms made by colouring and embossing of thick paper, the making and dealing in which is now become a considerable branch of trade; the masters in this part seldom take an apprentice with less than 10 l. at the working part of which a journeyman can get 15 or 18 s. a week, and a shopman has generally 10, 15, or 20 l. a year and his board. To set up in this branch compleatly will take up 500 l.

1766, History and Practice of Wood Engraving, by Jean-Michel Papillon*

. . . one of the first obstacles was the contrary attitude of my own father, whose firm opinion was that I should not make my career that of a fine engraver, but as an engraver exclusively of wallpapers; which were of course his line of business. . . .

. . . I was made to work all day printing wallpapers, as likely coloring them in when I was not cutting out the blocks, as going to houses of quality to attend to the hanging of papers. . . .

. . . when young, being engaged with my father in going almost every day to hang rooms with our papers, I was, some time in 1718 or 1720, at the village of Bagneux, near Mont Rouge, at a Monsieur De Greder's, a Swiss captain, who had a pretty house there. After I had papered a small room for him, he ordered me to cover the shelves of his library with paper in imitation of mosaic. . .

* from: Traité historique et pratique de la gravure en bois (3 vols.). The first extract is from 1:xi. The second is from 3:7 (this volume is also called the Supplement). The third is from 1:83.


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