About - Why


Why should I like old wallpaper – isn’t it all ugly, busy, kitschy stuff out of the Sears or Wards catalog?  

That is the question, isn’t it? Wallpaper isn’t for everyone, and even if you DO like wallpaper, you won’t like all of ours – roses are red and violets are blue, but not everyone wants them on their walls. Fair enough.

However, if there is one thing we have learned, it is that just about everyone has a wallpaper story. There is something about wallpaper that is different from anything else.

Our experience has shown us that no one needs to like ALL wallpaper to fall in love with just ONE (kinda like with human beings) – and our goal is to help you find just that one. With any luck, you might even find more...

Why would anyone want to put these papers on their walls – then or now?  

Well, this is a question with two answers...

First, we can’t judge the motives and experiences and ideals of beauty of the past – times are different, people are different, and tastes are different. Keep in mind that many of these papers represented cutting-edge style and fashion when introduced. There were hip decorators and trendy homeowners even in the Victorian era, and they proved it on their walls. 

Second, not many of us Apple-influenced minimalists today could even handle the richness and elaboration of walls hung with papers like these. BUT we feel that most everyone can handle a few well-presented square feet – a “window” into your own wall’s past.

Why is antique wallpaper better than vintage wallpaper, or reproduction wallpaper, or brand new wallpaper?  

Ironically, though wallpaper rolls were printed by the tens of millions in their time, all of this ephemeral material has virtually disappeared today, and mint-condition pre-World War I papers are now very hard to find. In fact, wallpapers from before 1915 are also typically much different than anything most folks have ever seen.  Simply put, these aren’t your Grandma’s Sears catalog wallpapers.

Most of our stock was produced on a range of pulp-based papers either by hand block printing using oil pigments, or on large surface printing machines applying distemper paints via up to twelve hand-tooled wooden print cylinders. Add in rich metallic treatments and deep surface embossing, and you end up with materials and manufacturing methods that have been long-abandoned by the industry today.

The result is that our true antique papers look different, feel different and even smell different than papers today. For all practical intents and purposes, the quality and character of these papers cannot be truly reproduced. The available supply is finite and ever-shrinking, and nothing quite like them will ever be made again.

Why do you focus on American wallpapers – weren’t English and French wallpapers better?  

We focus on American wallpapers because, well, we are American. And we think the American wallpaper story has been under appreciated and inadequately told for a long time.

Let us be clear – the English and the French were industry leaders in the design and manufacture of fine paper hangings for centuries, and many American manufacturers looked across the Atlantic for their technical and artistic inspiration. But we find American papers more resonant and more interesting, even if they aren’t associated with famous names like William Morris, Zuber & Cie, Paul Balin, Walter Crane, or Charles Voysey.

The embrace of European “sophistication” has always been how the American upper classes (and academic elites) distinguished themselves from the masses. Perhaps we are deluded provincial oafs, but we like to think maybe they’ve missed what’s special about our own place in the paper-hanging pantheon. If nothing else, at least our story is our story – and there is meaning and charm enough in that.