About - What

What We Do

What exactly does Bolling & Company do? 

 We’ve been trying to explain this to family and friends for years...

Bolling & Company buys and sells rare original museum-quality wallpapers (mostly American) produced from the late Victorian period through the Postwar era. 

We love old wallpaper, and while you’ll find vintage, kitsch and collectable examples here, it is the truly antique survivors from a century ago or more that really light our fires.

Because this material is extremely limited, we offer it in the form of remarkable fragments presented as custom-made, ready-to-hang artworks, or adapted as one-of-kind folding screens and room dividers, or as loose cut remnants ready for your own mounting, framing, scrapbooking or other creative adventures. And when quantities allow, we offer actual rolls for installation in exceptional historic or contemporary settings.

While searching for wallpapers, we often come across other cool and weird things we love, so we sell some of those unique finds, too.

What makes some of your old wallpapers better than others? 

When grading our papers, we take into consideration both objective facts like the age/rarity of the sample, the expense/skill of the original printing methods, the quality of the substrate, and the number of colors/metallic pigments used, as well as more subjective features such as the boldness or impact of the design, the beauty of the color combinations, the scale and salability of the pattern, and general novelty or appeal.

As in any field, the work of certain manufacturers is more highly valued than others (Birge vs. Standard, for instance), and some historical styles are more broadly appreciated (Arts & Crafts vs. Rococo). Our prices reflect the specialness and scarce nature of our unique offerings, and are in line with other more familiar forms of fine art and antique prints.

What is “museum quality” and what is the difference between “antique” wallpaper and old wallpaper? 

The terms “bespoke” and “curated” have been so over-used by trend-driven marketers today, that they have lost all meaning – this is the only place on our website where you will find them. We call our papers “museum quality” because that Is what they are – you will find exact examples of our wallpapers in the collections of the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, Historic New England, and the Victoria and Albert Museum – three of the most important historic wallpaper repositories in the world.

The term “antique” is typically applied to items that are 100 years old or older. Most of our papers date from around 1880 through the First World War and beyond – the golden age of machine-printed papers. We also offer collectible (WWI to post-WWII), retro (1950-1960) and collectible (post-1960) wallpapers, but generally these have to be out-of-the-ordinary in some way. Some of our favorite friends and dealers online specialize in these eras, and we appreciate their large selections.

Where do you find your antique wallpapers?  

Our collection was born with the acquisition of two large lots from the families of former wallpaper installers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and we have since supplemented it extensively with smaller lots and individual purchases from a wide variety of sources. Sometimes the stories behind the survival of these papers are as wondrous as the papers themselves. Attics, basements, estate sales and cupboards under the stairs often figure into these tales, and we never know where the next great find will turn up.