Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wallpaper History

So, last blog from ColorJedi   I broke the news about wallpaper...It's back and it's FINE!  But in my typical manner I began to research the History of Wallpaper wanting to make a point about the important role that wallpaper has played in interior design throughout the ages...and I wanted to be sure of my facts.  Located a great site I will reference for the shortened version of what great info I discovered at  In a coconut shell this is what I found of interest:

*  Egyptian papyrus introduced around 4000 B.C.
*  Wallpaper actually began in China when they glued rice paper onto their walls as early as 200 B.C.
*  The Chinese court official Ts'ai Lun invented papermaking from textile waste,i.e.rags, in 105 A.D.
*  In the 8th century, Chinese prisoners with papermaking skills worked under Arabs who then spread this knowledge throughout the MiddleEast.
*  By the 10th century Arabians substituted linen fibers for wood and bamboo creating a much finer paper.      
*  During the 12th century, papermaking had spread throughout Europe.                                                         *  The earliest European pictorial block prints were religious souvenirs known today as "helgen".  The oldest known, a representation of the Virgin, is dated 1418.  It is now in the Royal Library at Brussels.              
*  Jean Bourdichon painted 50 rolls of paper with angels on a blue background for Louis XI of France in 1481.  King Louis ordered the portable wallpaper because he found it necessary to move frequently from castle to castle.  Other well-heeled Europeans commissioned artists to paint paper for their walls, but real wallpaper can hardly be said to have existed till the advent of the printing press.                                      
*  The earliest known fragment of European wallpaper that still exists today was found on the beams of the Lodge of Christ's College in Cambridge, England dates from 1509.  It is an Italian inspired woodcut pomegranate  design printed on the back of a proclamation issued by Henry VIII.  The paper is attributed to Hugo Goes, a printer in York.
*  A guild of paperhangers established in France in 1599.

*  Jean-Michel Papillon, a French engraver and considered the inventor of wallpaper, started making block designs in matching, continuous patterns in 1675, and wallpaper as we know it was on its way.
*  The mfg. methods developed by the English are significant and the 18th century products from London workshops became all the rage!  At first, fashion conscious Londoners ordered expensive handpainted papers that imitated architectural details or materials like marble and stucco.  Today Northside Decorating has a beautiful example of Bethany Travis' handpainted wallpaper panels available as a custom product.  We have come full circle and history is repeating itself.
*  Wallpaper came to America in 1739, when Plunket Fleeson began printing wallpaper in Philadelphia.
* In 1778, Louis XVI issued a decree that required the length of a wallpaper roll to be about 34 feet.
*  By the 1800s, French scenic papers printed with hand-carved blocks, some taking as many as 5,000 blocks to produce, were popular.
*  The Victorian Era, as one would expect, was a grand time for wallpaper featuring over embellished designs featuring sombre colors, but it was in the roaring '20s that wallpaper really took the spotlight for the first time.  Known as the Golden Age of Wallpaper some 400 million rolls were sold during that period.
*  Modernism frowned on embellishments, so wallpaper fell into disfavor during much of this century.  Bat as the 20th century ebbs and the bane of cookie-cutter homes and sterile work environments is upon us, we have rediscovered the romance and patterned walls.  I refer to it a Wall Art.  Hope you enjoyed!  Next blog, great tips and ideas of WHERE to put paper in your home.  Color Jedi                                    

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