Fortunately, paper curtains left a trail in newspaper and directory advertising and in popular literature, some excerpts of which are below. It is not always clear how wallpaper curtains differed from plain paper shades. Nevertheless, these references can help us get a mental image and place them in the social context.
About half an hour into the film, the Christ figure wanders over by a window, reaches up, pulls the shade down and LO, there is a paper curtain, complete with border and flowery vignette! Perhaps not an Oscar moment, but I was happy about it! To be sure, this may have been an oilcloth or some other "improved" material, but the basic paper curtain idea was there.
"Supper was ready when we returned; and then the best room was assigned to the three ladies, while the gentlemen were to have the loft. We saw the stars through chinks in our walls; but it was warm May, and we feared no cold. Shallow tin-pans,—milkpans, I believe,—were furnished to satisfy our request for ewer and basin. The windows had blinds of paper-hanging; a common sort of window-blind at hotels, and in country places. Before it was light, I was wakened by a strong cold breeze blowing upon me; and at dawn, I found that the entire lower half of the window was absent. A deer had leaped through it, a few weeks before; and there had been no opportunity of mending it. But everything was clean; everybody was obliging; the hostess was motherly; and the conclusion that we came to in the morning was that we had all slept well, and were ready for a second ramble in the cave."
from Society in America, Harriet Martineau, 1:119 (1837); she was visiting Mammoth Cave near Nashville.
|© Library Company of Philadelphia; lithograph by W.H. Rease, "Finn & Burton's Paper Hangings Warehouse No. 142, Arch St., Philadelphia"; printed by F. Kuhl, ca. 1847. Gift of Charles A. Poulson. Appears in Wainwright (1958) as # 127.|
New Furniture: "...we shall devote some time and space to the description of a suite of new and elegant furniture...now, this may cause divers groans from 'honest country folk,' where chairs, a bureau, a looking-glass, and a table, are still considered the essentials of parlor furniture...but while we enjoy the honest sincerity which still lives in the shadow of wall-paper curtains, and deprecate the extravagant transparency of embroidered lace ditto, our veracity as a faithful historian compels us to do justice to the elegant articles, in which Mr. Henkel's good taste and the skill of his workmen are displayed..."
from Godey's Lady's Book, Vol. XL, page 152 (Feb. 1850).
"If you . . . can without much trouble, bring me some green paper for curtains. I will be much obliged. I cannot get any about here. They have blue at the [nearby town] but it does not shade a room as pretty as green. I shall want about 15 yds., but if you cannot buy by the yard, you may get two rolls and perhaps Nancy will take some of it. Fabe [Lucy's husband] says such curtain paper is in very large rolls, if so of course I shall not want enough to curtain the town."
Lucy, living in a small town in the Adirondacks, writes to a relative in Albany, N.Y.
from the Canadian Messenger, April 1, 1885.
|Both found in a 19th century farmhouse in upstate New York. Stamped on the rollers are the words: "Putnams; Manufactory; Neponset, Massachusetts." Photo courtesy Wanda Burch.|