Wallpaper Choices At Adena (Chillicothe, Ohio)


Hair or cotton?

Which is better for cushioning fine table china in a packing crate? How about if the crate needs to travel from Baltimore to Ohio, by way of Pittsburgh? How about if this is happening in 1808?

Letters sold at auction in 1999 answer these questions and more. They passed between Thomas Worthington, former Senator and future Governor of Ohio, and his nephew, James Swearingen, back East. Their object was furnishing “Adena” a Labrobe-designed sandstone pile in present-day Chillicothe, Ohio. Although the house was built by 1807, outfitting it took several more years. By good fortune the letters ended up at the Ohio Historical Society (Thomas Worthington Papers, MSS 1145). They were helpful during the restoration of Adena in time for the state’s bicentennial celebration in 2002.

Swearingen had been entrusted by his uncle with the purchase of wallpaper as well as china. The story of the reproduction of the wallpaper purchases at Adena has been told by Neal Hitch and Cheryl Lugg in a bulletin of the APT (Association for Preservation Technology; see end notes). The authors included interesting snippets from the correspondence of state officials with Nancy McClelland, who supplied a drapery paper for the previous restoration (1947-53). Our subject today is the context of the original wallpaper purchase in 1808. We focus on six letters concerning buying and selling. The details are not many, and some remain confusing. Yet, they throw light on the material culture of the time, and on the conventions of the paper-hangings trade.

On May 10th, 1808, Worthington wrote to the Baltimore firm of Thomas & Cladcleugh asking about paper-hangings. The letter contained a sample of wallpaper. In August, having received no reply, Worthington wrote a follow-up letter to his nephew. This time, there was a prompt reply: James Swearingen apologized and explained that the first letter and sample had been left in a public house by a Mr. Renick. This third letter of Aug. 27th goes on:
. . . I examined some paper patterns which Mr. Thomas had as samples, one of which he recommended highly as a late and fashionable piece, it is plain & neat & have no doubt will please you. it is cheap. The pannel I did not see. He says he will get a man who is well acquainted with papering to fit or match it to the piece we have chosen. You directed 6 pieces of paper of the pattern you enclosed with one piece of panel or cornice without describing what kind was wanted.
The China shall be purchased & well packed which will be forwarded with the other articles it can be had equally cheap and handsome in this place; & as I do not calculate going either to Phila or York for some time have thott advisable to have it put up here & all forwarded together. Should I meet with no person from the west they shall be forwarded to Pittsburgh with directions to forward them from thence to you.

About a month later, on Sept. 12, a fourth letter is sent. Swearingen reassures Worthington about the wallpaper and china:

I was with Mr. Thomas a few days since and consulted him about the paper you wish for your house. We have agreed on it & I think it handsome. No doubt will please you when put up. Mr. Thomas has one room of the same kind and looks very neat. We have some of the same kind you sent as a pattern which will be forwarded by first conveyance. I have also examined some china pieces but can not be purchased for the sum you have mentioned by 5 dollars say $80. Mr. Thomas however will look further no doubt we will find some cheaper. This shall be forwarded with the paper & I have been informed by those who are in the habit of packing such wares that hair is better than cotton... The greatest care shall be observed & the best means for preserving it when forwarded.

After another month, the fifth letter is sent on Oct. 23. Swearingen announces the conclusion of the transaction:

A few days since I was in town called on Mr. Thomas who went with us for the purpose of procuring the table china you wished. The purchase was made & the articles packed up & forwarded A. McLaughlin Pittsburgh with the paper you required. The bills I have not yet received. A paper hanger has forwarded a sample how it is to be put up, you will find the bordering on the cornice paper and as pannel is entirely done away we have concluded to send none but have made up enough of the wall in its stead. I hope you will be pleased with the paper when you see it up. I have seen a large room of the same & is very handsome, none could be found to please better . . .

The bill that Thomas refers to is dated Oct. 20. A copy of it is in the collections of the Ohio Historical Society:

Baltimore, Oct. 20th, 1808
Mssrs. P. E. Thomas & George, bought of Thomas & Cladcleugh, Stationers and Paper Hanging Manufacturers, 141 Baltimore St.

18 ps New Drapery Paper No. 154 1.00         18.00
3-1/2 ps Border do 3.00                                10.50
7-1/2 ps Do Narrow .75                                  5.62-1/2
6 ps common paper .75                                   4.50
Box & porterage                                               .62-1/2

The copy of this bill was attached to the sixth and last letter, which was sent nearly 6 months after the first, neatly wrapping up the series of misadventures:

November 12: P. E. Thomas to Thomas Worthington

Esteemed Friend
Thy favor of the 10th of May last did not reach me until some time in September which was the cause of thy requests not being more early complied with. Thy nephew & myself availed ourselves of the earliest opportunity of complying with thy orders after they reached us. I hope thy china & Paper Hangings will be approved. We both exerted our taste in the choice of them, and thought those the best we could procure. With great respect and a promise to tender any future services I can render thee here.
I am very sincerely, thy friend,
P. E. Thomas

Swearingen writes that “A paper hanger has forwarded a sample how it is to be put up, you will find the bordering on the cornice paper.” By including a smaller border at the bottom of the block, the paperstainer could make use of empty space as he printed the cornice design, while using the same color palette. These smaller borders were trimmed out with shears.

The letters prove that wallpaper samples, about which we know so little, were important. The letters show that it took time to fill an order. Not only was it difficult to match someone else’s taste to available patterns, there was always the potential for miscommunication (amply realized in this case). And, even if these were already stock patterns, blockprinting takes time. A theme of the correspondence is the importance of the pannel paper in relation to the sidewall. One of the very few discussions about “pannel papers” in the literature is on pp. 120-1 of Wallpaper in America by Catherine Lynn. Everyone understands a paper balustrade, but what did contemporary shoppers think of pannel papers, what types were available, and how were they used? Since dadoes and chair rails continued to recede during the early Republic, these concerns melted away over time, but they must have been a factor at this time.

The letters also show persistence. True to the nephew’s prediction in the Sept. 12th letter, P. E. Thomas (probably connected in some way to the firm Thomas & Cladcleugh) was able to find some respectable china for less than $80. Attached to the correspondence of Nov. 12 is a document showing that P. E. Thomas & George bought “1 dining sett Indian china” from Stewart & King for $70.00 on behalf of Worthington. After paying for a box (.50) and cooperage (.25), the transaction came up to $70.75.

The letters also raise questions: how many interactions between buyer and seller were this personal? Is the polite language a sign of the deference that a former U. S. Senator commanded, or was it due to a pre-existing relationship between the Worthington and Thomas families? Does the language of “thee” and “thy” indicate that Thomas and Worthington were Quakers? This snippet about his father and grandfather is suggestive:

“Thomas Worthington, sixth governor of Ohio, was born at his father's estate near present Charles Town, West Virginia, in 1773. His Quaker grandfather, Robert Worthington, came to America in 1714, and after residing near Philadelphia until about 1730, settled in the northern Shenandoah Valley, then in Virginia.”

The nomenclature and numbers quoted in the bills help present-day detectives figure out what consumer wares cost, and how the papers were used. The letter of Aug. 27th shows that Worthington had settled on only one paper — the one he sent a sample of. Apparently he wanted a border with it, but he didn’t say what kind. He asked for 6 pieces of it, and sure enough, 6 pieces of “common paper” were sent back. It is not possible that the 6 pieces went into the Drawing Room, for that room was much too large (each piece at this time consisted of a bolt about 22” wide by up to 12 yards long).

It is possible that the six pieces went into his Office, which is a small room. A “pinwheel” paper was found in the Office, and it is fairly ordinary (only 2 or 3 colors on a weak ground). It could be the common paper in the bill. We do have documentary references for “common papers”, even though the interpretation is a little risky, since it occurs 35 years later. But, the Bumstead Journals of 1840-1860 consistently use the term “common paper” to denote paper which is not satin, yet not ungrounded, either. The ungrounded types are called “blanks” by Bumstead. The distinguishing feature of the satins is that the extra labor resulted in a noticeably higher cost. Thus—at least in 1840, if not before—“common papers” covered everything between a blank and a satin: regular distemper grounds.

Pannel” was another word for dado or wainscot paper, but Swearingen in his letter of Aug. 27th asks about “panel or cornice” as if the two are similar. Since there is usually a clear difference in the size of the two, if not the design, it could be that Swearingen was simply not familiar with the terms, and searching for words to describe an accompanying decoration— a border or framework of some type. In fact, a 2 ¾ " border was found in the Office outlining the pinwheel pattern at the lower edge of the chair rail. And yet, this border is not easily found on the bill. The border was not reproduced, because there was too little of it. It certainly looks like a high-style imported border or copy thereof.

In the Aug. 27th letter Swearingen refers to the “late and fashionable” paper which seems to be his main objective (probably the drapery sidewall paper) but says that “the pannel I did not see”. It seems that this drapery paper had a companion dado paper. We don't know what happened next. Was the panel paper unavailable, or too pricey? Or did the rush of everday life force a conclusion this to this transaction? At any rate, in his last letter, Swearingen mentions that “. . . as pannel is entirely done away we have concluded to send none but have made up enough of the wall in its stead…” This seems to explain why we see sidewall paper above and below the chairrail in the c. 1900 photo of the Drawing Room.  

Another example of the pinwheel pattern has been found in the collections of the Winterthur Museum, adorning the cover of Abraham Rex’s Daybook. The date of the inscription: “Day Book Commencing 14th November 1806” matches up well with the Worthington/Swearingen correspondence.

The drapery cornice border at $3.00 per piece is far and away the most expensive paper on the bill, strongly suggesting a French origin. It's a pity that no trace of this paper remains in the house. Nor does it show up in the c. 1900 black and white photo of the Drawing Room, due to the angle of the camera.

Lacking much else for the documentation of wallpaper finishes at Adena, head consultant Bill Seale opted for handjoined plain papers in the hallways, supplemented by simple architectural borders. Their simple designs may relate well to the 7 1/2 pieces of narrow borders on the Thomas & Cladcleugh bill. These would have generated an enormous amount of linear footage and were probably used to outline many areas, as seen in the photo of the recent restoration of the Drawing Room.


Sources of Supply

The paper-hangings trade in turn-of-the-century Baltimore was small. There seem to have been only a half-dozen or so players, all of whom undoubtedly knew each other, and some of whom were probably related. As early as 1803, Abraham R. Williams’ ads raise doubts about Thomas & Cladcleugh’s claim that they were paperstainers.

While promoting his “Baltimore Paper Hanging Manufactory, No. 33 South Charles Street”, Williams asserted that those who patronized him “. . . will experience a self gratification in encouraging the only manufactory of PAPER HANGINGS in this state [Maryland] – being provided with proper persons (together with himself) for hanging his paper, [he] is enabled to execute orders with dispatch either in this city or country, on pleasing terms, as he is acquainted with the English method of putting up paper, will insure never to come loose from the walls.”

Williams stressed the advantages of the small shop as well as advanced trade knowledge. Apparently he knew about canvas underlayments. It’s interesting that the rival ads of Thomas & Cladcleugh took a different tack, preferring to dwell on the depth and variety of their offerings. An ad from the paperhanger Robert Elliot in 1806 contains this information:

“New Paper-Hanging Store, Robert Elliot . . . INFORMS his friends and the public in general, that he has just received, and has now ready for sale, a large and general assortment of PAPER-HANGINGS & BORDERS, from Hurley’s manufactory, Philadelphia, who supplied Thomas & Cladcleugh for several years, with American paper that afforded general satisfaction to their customers. His papers are of the newest fashions, most elegant designs, first colors, and best of workmanship, well adapted for halls, ceilings, staircases, rooms, &c.
The subscriber, having for above 8 years past in this city, used his utmost endeavors to oblige the customers of his late employers (Messrs Thomas & Cladcleugh) will assuredly not relax in his exertions to please those who may honor him with their commands.
He will always have on hand, a constant supply, and regular succession of new patterns, from the above manufactory; will superintend the hanging of his own papers; employ the best workmen; & execute all orders in town or country, with neatness, punctuality and dispatch.
N.B. Any person having a pattern of foreign manufactured paper, may be gratified by having it cut and printed to match the original. Country merchants supplied on the lowest terms.”

It seems from this that the source of Thomas & Cladcleugh’s papers was Hurley’s factory, at least up to around 1806. That tells us nothing about who was supplying Thomas & Cladcleugh in 1808, but it does suggest that they were not as self-sustaining as they pretended.

We can’t talk long about Hurley without mentioning his associate William Poyntell, one of the main characters in the Philadelphia wallpaper story. Lest we seem to be drifting away, there is a connection back to Thomas & Cladcleugh, for Poyntell’s son-in-law and business partner was Robert Cladcleugh. Although it may be a different family, it would be no surprise if the two Cladcleughs were related by blood as well as by trade. They were both stationers, as were so many of the early sellers of wallpaper. Poyntell, too, started dealing in stationery in Philadelphia in around 1781 after coming to America from Oxfordshire. He seems to have been more of an entrepreneur than anything else. It seems unlikely that he had much to do with the day-to-day work of paperstaining, and even less with paperhanging, for which he relied on Hurley, among others.

A diary account of 1788 from Ann Warder, a Quaker lady shopping for wallpaper, sheds some light on his business: “Janny myself and the children [went] to W. Poyntells . . . to choose a paper and see his wife and family -- they [were] busyly engaged in the shop . . . we walked into the parlor where William soon joined us . . . We soon went to his warehouse there fixing on what we wanted.” Poyntell died a gentleman and patron of the arts, but not before selling his factory to Thomas Hurly.

Hurly is more obscure. He was mainly a paperhanger, yet, there seems no doubt that he was also a paperstainer. He’s listed in business directories as a paperhangings manufacturer at 68 Chestnut St. in 1803, succeeding Poyntell, who had been listed as paper-hangings manufacturer at No. 70 Chestnut in 1795. Poyntell expanded to No. 68, in 1798. Hurley then took over for Poyntell at No. 68 in 1803. Beginning in 1805, Hurley moved his operations to No. 78 Chestnut St., setting the scene for Elliot’s announcement in 1806 that he now carried Hurley’s papers.

We still don’t know how these shops looked. In the early days, a small shopfront was the rule. The paperstaining took place in an alley or toward the rear of the building. Joining paper, mixing colors (and, in particular, festooning the printed goods) could take a considerable amount of space. So did storage.

Later, the storefronts (and this seems especially true of those on Chestnut St.) might coalesce into a specialty district, with their respective factories located on the outskirts of town. The Chestnut St. shops evolved into the “paperhanging warehouses”, or what we would call showrooms: genteel, comfortable places where decorative choices were made. In the Romantic Age of Lithography (Wainwright) several prominent paper-hangings warehouses are shown.

We close by noting the possibility that the “18 pcs New Drapery Paper No. 154” came from an entirely different source. The numbering system is strikingly similar to that of Anthony Chardon, another long-time Philadelphia paperstainer. In a bill of April 17, 1795, for example, Chardon charged Frederick Shingles for “5 pieces Paper no. 186, 4 pc. Ditto no. 145” and “1 pc. Narrow Borders no. 182”. Was the new supplier for “Thomas & Cladcleugh, Stationers and Paper Hanging Manufacturers” Anthony Chardon?

Acknowledgements, Sources and Recommended Reading:

The Ohio Historical Society has been generous with copies of original correspondence and transcriptions of the letters, which are part of the Thomas Worthington Papers, MS 1145. The quotes from advertisements are from the collections of MESDA (Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts). The border around the mantle was installed by Barry Blanchard.

The story of the research and installation has been told by Neal Hitch and Cheryl Lugg (APT bulletin, Vol. XXXIII, No. 2-3 (2002): "Wallpaper Documentation and Reproduction at Adena: The Worthington Estate":

The Chardon/Shingles bill is in the Downs Collection, Winterthur Library. I am indebted to the information about Hurley’s factory to Richard Raley, who wrote an article about wallpaper in the Winterthur Newsletter, Vol. VIII, No. 8.

Abraham Rex’s Daybook is call number 2109, 65x526.8 in the Downs Collection, Winterthur Library. The photo of the daybook appears here courtesy Winterthur Library.

I am indebted to Robert Giannini III, museum curator at Independence Park National Historic Site, for the reference to Ann Warder’s visit to William Poyntell’s shop.

The snippet about Worthington's Quaker heritage is from this website:

The “Adena Pin Ring” pattern is readily available at Adelphi Paper Hangings:

Copyright: © 2013 Robert M. Kelly.

Birds of A Feather: Lorenzo Revisited



A while ago the Wallpaper History Review carried a query about a wallpaper which graced the Library, one of two state rooms either side of an impressive entrance hall at Poltimore House, near Exeter, Devon. The Friends of Poltimore House sought information about this “. . . design of oriental-type green pheasants on a white ground . . . when the paper was taken down [in 1945] the names of the paperhangers and a date in the 1880s were discovered but nothing further is known of its origin or date of manufacture. It is a hand block-printed paper, 660mm (25.75 inches) wide with a repeat pattern of 1074mm (42.5 inches).”

1. green document extant at Poltimore House

2. Library at Poltimore House about 1912

It’s funny how quickly a distinctive pattern can be recognized. Soon I was alerting Jocelyn Hemming, a volunteer with Poltimore House, that this wallpaper was an old friend. In no time Jocelyn and I were exchanging emails and plumbing the depths of wallpaper history. I had no idea there was a green version. The paper I worked with in the early 90’s was all pinks and reds. The house it went into is “Lorenzo,” built for John Lincklaen on a knoll at the southern end of Cazenovia Lake in 1807. Inspired by Jocelyn’s query, I contacted Barbara Bartlett, the then-Restoration Coordinator for New York State Parks, Central Region. Barbara is now director at Lorenzo.

3. Lorenzo, built 1807

In the interim, Barbara had been informed that one of the Rockefeller/Roosevelt/Aldrich clan had used the green version in a family home in the Hudson Valley—no doubt there were many such installations. It makes me wonder if other versions will surface, in addition to the red and green. Why not bisque, or grissaille?

Lorenzo arose at a time when the Holland Land Company, of which Lincklaen was an agent, owned as many as three million acres in far western New York and Pennsylvania. But, it was a time of boom or bust. As the market sputtered, the Company more or less unloaded thousands of acres on Lincklaen. The builder of Lorenzo died penniless in 1822. Oliver Phelps of Suffield, Connecticut owned over two million acres in mid-New York State adjacent and to the east of  the Holland Purchase, but he died broke too, in Canandaigua. Phelps’ claim to wallpaper fame is the glorious suite of Reveillon wallpapers which were installed during an enlargement of his house in 1795. Phelps lost the house in 1802, but all was preserved by the Hatheways, who began their long residency in 1811.

Lorenzo’s next owner was Lincklaen’s brother-in-law, Jonathan Ledyard. The house then passed to Jonathan’s son, Lincklaen Ledyard, in 1843. His aunt asked him to preserve the family name, so he reversed his name. From then on, he was Ledyard Lincklaen. Lorenzo became the family's summer respite from their professional and social careers in Albany (the capital of New York) and New York City. Ledyard Lincklaen’s daughter married Charles S. Fairchild in 1871, and the couple inherited Lorenzo in 1894. Fairchild was Attorney General of New York; he prosecuted the Tweed Ring and the Canal Ring, and later became Secretary of the Treasury under Grover Cleveland. It was during the Fairchild residency that the block-printed bird paper was installed in the central hall around 1901.

 On my first visit to the house in the fall of 1991 I was shown end rolls with “Zuber # 6872 SPRS” printed on the selvedge. These had been squirreled away in the attic. Condition of the hallway installation was poor; the paper had been printed on highly acidic paper and hung directly on plaster walls. Moisture had migrated into the paper stock, saturating and damaging the paper and distemper ground. Some areas of the wallpaper were lighter than others; this proved to be where it had pulled away from the wall. It was decided that conservation was not feasible. This difficult decision was made more palatable by the discovery that, against all odds, Zuber still had the blocks! Plans for the installation of a reproduction wallpaper moved ahead and the walls were stripped. After plaster repairs the walls were sized with traditional glue. 

4. Barry Blanchard trimming selvedge
The design features birds perching on branches of a larch tree. One is a ring-necked or hooded pheasant last seen loitering in the foreground of the Zuber scenic “El Dorado” (1849), the other represents the mate (?). The design colors were flat and chalky pinks and reds but the ground was a machine-coated beige distemper pretreated with a water-soluble refined gelatin. It may have been polished prior to the coating. In any case, it was clearly a satin ground. The printed width of the paper was 25.75”, and the vertical design repeat was a drop match of 42.5”. Because of the large repeat, the rolls were put up in alternate “A” and “B” rolls to minimize waste during cutting and hanging. 

Mrs. Fairchild donated samples of the bird paper to the fledgling Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in 1900 (at that time the Cooper Union Museum for the Arts of Decoration), along with samples of a Reveillon arabesque (IVB9, manufacture Reveillon no. 688, dated 1789 in Bernard Jacqué's catalogue raisonnè). The arabesque came from a different house on the Lorenzo estate. I shall never forget the discovery of a harp tax stamp on the exceedingly rough canvas which supported the paper. It did my Irish-American heart good. Both canvas and paper had been stretched and tacked to a folding screen. 

While researching this project, we soon discovered that a nearly identical design shows up in an early 20th century portfolio of samples from A. L. Diament; the ad states that the paper is “Machine Printed by . . . Desfosee & Karth . . .”, and that “ . . . a 52 inch, hand blocked linen exactly matches the paper.” 

5. page from an A. L. Diament portfolio
The Zuber strike-off was successfully block-printed, but the the ground was hand-brushed in distemper, leaving the entire surface flat in reflective value, unlike the original. The company insisted that current production was limited; they could not supply a glossy ground that would work with distemper head colors.

One avenue to explore, which consumed most of 1992, was having an American finishing company treat the wallpaper after production. Another strike-off on the distemper ground was  forwarded to finishing companies. Though improved, the treated paper still fell short by a wide margin. It was not possible to add sheen to the ground without at the same time robbing the design colors of their flat finish. And, the hand-brushed ground still had a rough quality totally lacking in the original. After several more exchanges, Zuber agreed to strike off the design on a ground supplied by a third party, with a view to printing the entire run on a contract ground. With this encouraging news the search was on.

Guy Evans, reproduction fabric supplier, responded that a distemper ground could be made and polished in England, but the width was a sticking point—the rails and tables to accommodate the 25.75” width were no longer used. Norman Gibbon, manager for Sanderson, confirmed this and said that Sanderson did not use polished grounds. Their printers insisted that a relatively soft ground was needed to take the distemper colors.

Bernard Jacqué at the Musée du Papier Peint wrote back that in France, too, the polishing process had been abandoned. However, he pointed in a new direction. He told us that in East Germany, they were still using turn-of-the-century factory methods. He supplied the name of a West German wallpaper consultant, Lutz J. Walter of Stuttgart. My German is not perfect, and Walter’s English was not much better. Despite this, we were soon faxing and phoning. He'd already supplied custom blockprints on polished grounds for the restoration of Friedrich Schiller's house in Weimar, and forwarded samples to be tested by New York State conservations labs. The weight and texture were acceptable, and if the coating could be increased and smoothed a bit more, we would be in business.

But, Walter reported that German grounds are only 22 inches wide. Back to Jacqué. After some negotiation a French ground was located in the correct width. A test piece was sent for polishing to East Germany and forwarded to Zuber. A strike-off was sent stateside for examination and test hanging. The strike-off was a success. 
Next: a small disaster. The first 1000 meters had been polished wrongly; they were shaded! It's a credit to Walter’s professionalism that the printing was halted; he went back to square one. The next shipment was satisfactory and was sent to Zuber, arriving safely in May, 1994. By the end of the year it was at the house, ready for hanging.

6. newly papered hallway, 1995

It’s almost anticlimactic to say that the installation went smoothly. An acidfree liner and archival pastes were used, and the engineering of the pattern was duplicated with help from historic photos. It's interesting that the original installers at Lorenzo and at Poltimore House, though separated by an ocean and around twenty years, chose a nearly identical ceiling line (see photo 2). The satin ground and original blocks and printing methods at Lorenzo ensure that the present installation bears a close resemblance to the hallway as shown in the historic photos from the early 20th century. 

You would think that that would be the end of the story. Yet, oddly enough, I kept running into this pattern. Now hold onto your hats, the journey gets a little dicey ahead. It even includes a wartime escape by an international man of mystery! Below is yet another iteration of the design, this one from around 1918:

7. Plate XXVI, Pheasant and Larch from“Decorative Textiles...”, Hunter.

Note the caption: “Originated in America and printed in England . . .” The mystery as to how this design could possibly originate in America (when we already know that it was registered in France in 1871) and how on earth England got involved is explained by George Leland Hunter’s nearby text:

“Today in the United States, on account of labour conditions, the block printing of textiles is impracticable. Nevertheless, we have block prints (Plates XXVI and XXVII) in both new and old designs, which, though printed in England, were originated in New York by Harry Wearne, head of the ancient Zuber works at Rixheim in the heart of the war zone, from which Mr. Wearne, who is an English citizen, escaped into Switzerland just as the British ultimatum to Germany expired. Mr. Wearne, whose American connexions have been close for many years, and who has passed much of his time here, has now taken up his residence permanently in the United States and may now be able here to exercise as important an influence as Morris did in England during the later nineteenth century.”

So there you have it.  Although it's certainly stretching a point to give the design an American provenance, it's clearly more than just a wallpaper design (a point previously made in the Diament advertisement). This brings up some interesting questions: Which came first, the A and B wallpaper widths, each 25.75”, or the full 52” or so linen version? How far back do these versions go? Who designed this thing, anyway?

Happily, there is a resolution.

Following our voluminous correspondence about the wallpaper versions, Jocelyn Hemming wrote to 
Philippe Fabry, curator at the Musée du Papier Peint, asking if he could help. He could. After consulting the Zuber archives, he responded as follows: 

Dear Madam,

The Zuber wallpaper n° 6872 is a block printed wallpaper of the collection 1871-1872.

Le livre de gravure donne les indications suivantes :

"Cret(onne) Steinb(ach) K(oechlin) Mélèze & faisans
2 hauteurs sur 25 pouces – 4 m(ains) 8 planches

Dessin d'E(ugène) Ehrm(ann) 

To summarize: "Larch and Pheasants", a design for fabric and wallpaper by Eugène Ehrmann; the fabric printed by Steinbach, Koechlin, and Co., the wallpaper printed by Zuber.

It’s a great thing after all this time to make the connection with the well-known designer Ehrmann, whose work appears in El Dorado. Don’t forget, the hooded pheasant from "Larch and Pheasants" also appears in El Dorado. By the way, Ehrmann’s initials, too, appear in that scenic, along with those of his co-designers Fuchs and Zipélius on some nearby stonework (but reversed; if you hold a mirror next to the wallpaper, the initials magically appear). It seems beyond question that with that maneuver the French crossed a line of some sort!

8. ad for Steinbach, Koechlin and Co.
The archival newspaper reference above to the company of Steinbach-Koechlin and to a “cretonne” would seem to add to the likelihood that this pattern was available from the start as a 52” fabric. According to this ad in the New York Evening Post, this Alsatian company was doing business abroad on March 6, 1872. The company dates from 1854 when Alfred Koechlin joined his father-in-law’s textile firm to create “Steinbach, Koechlin & Cie.” 

If Harry Wearne did have blocks carved for a fabric version in the early 20th century, it seems that his effort must count as a revival. So ends the tale of our birds of a feather. They certainly covered a lot of ground!

9. The hallway at Lorenzo


Some of this article is based on a special issue of Wallpaper Reproduction News, V. 6, No. 4 (Oct. 1995); Barbara Bartlett should be applauded for her continued stewardship of the house. Thanks are due Barry Blanchard and James Yates for helping me during the installation, and to Bernard Jacqué for his assistance in finding materials and technology for the reproduction. 

To Poltimore House: much success!

For a map of the two large land tracts in New York (Holland Purchase and Gorham-Phelps Purchase), see this link:

Lutz J. Walter is still making reproduction wallpapers in Germany:

Photo Credits: 1. green document extant at Poltimore Houe: courtesy of Ricky Apps, Friends of Poltimore House; 2. Library at Poltimore House about 1912: courtesy of Poltimore House Trust; 3. Lorenzo, built 1807: courtesy of WallpaperScholar.Com; 4. Barry Blanchard trimming selvedge: courtesy of WallpaperScholar.Com; 5. page from an A. L. Diament & Co. portfolio: private collection;  6. newly papered hallway: courtesy of WallpaperScholar.Com; 7. Plate XXVI, Pheasant and Larch from “Decorative Textiles,” Hunter, pg. 349; 8. ad for Steinbach, Koechlin, and Co.: New York Post, March 6, 1872; 9. the hallway at Lorenzo: courtesy Walter Colley.  

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