“Ornaments” or decorative medallions isolated on an otherwise plain paper, were one of Birge’s trademark offerings in the first decade or so of the new century. Often printed by hand at intervals as long as nine or ten feet apart on “leather hide” papers, they were meant to be used as decorative elements either towards the upper part of a wall or in the spaces created below a plate rail in a high wainscot around the room, with battens or narrow boards separating each vertical panel. They were also popular for use in folding screens.
The Arts & Crafts-inspired Peacock Feather ornament first appeared in the 1909 Birge Book and became one of the company’s more recognized designs (even getting feature treatment on the cover of the 1913 Birge Book). The design includes a pair of highly conventionalized peacock feathers, flanking a medallion cartouche and surrounded by swags and festoons, all rendered with the sharp and distinctive leather tooling details that distinguished Birge’s best work from its rivals. Pattern # 8654. Introduced in late 1908 for the 1909 season.
Hand block printed, embossed, and stained paper mounted in Quartersawn White Oak custom folding screen.
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