Our collection contains many authentic reproductions of original wallpapers that were first used in this country, circa 1700-1895. During these years, sea captains returning from trading in France, England, and the Orient, brought back with them, as part of their cargo, handmade papers. These were designed by true artists who excelled in the creation and painting of wall hangings. Many of their designs were inspired by the valuable brocades and tapestries which adorned the homes of wealthy nobles and merchants. These imported papers were sold for the most part in New England seaport cities and towns.
Our sister company-Thomas Strahan Company, started selling mostly imported wallpapers in Boston in 1866 and several years later started manufacturing their own wallpaper collection, eventually creating over 12,000 designs. (5600 images from the archives can be found at www.wallpaperaficionado.com.) The oldest wallpaper company in America is Birge, founded in 1834, then Thomas Strahan in 1866, Thibaut in 1886, F. Schumacher in 1889, and York Wallpaper in 1895.
For many years, starting in the 1940s, Dorothy Waterhouse visited lovely old New England homesteads, searching beneath layers of wallpaper or paint - or in attics, trunks, and old boxes - for fragments of original wall hangings. The results have been rewarding, for many documentary papers have been found with colors and designs almost as true as the day the papers were made. Since many were created before the machine age, they were often painted completely by hand, stenciled, or printed using hand carved wood blocks. The colors used were of home-mixed pigments and the designs superb examples of grace in composition.
The poem by John Keats, penned in 1818 comes to mind-" A thing of beauty is a joy forever: Its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness..."
During the ensuing years we have enhanced the collection with patterns that are more contemporary in nature, as well as Stripes, Strie effects and Textures. Therefore, the Waterhouse Collection has patterns that will complement any decor.
A contemporary of ours- Frederick Galacar, who created Galacar & Co., wrote this as part of the introduction to his first fabric and wallpaper collection, and it bears repeating:
"...We believe that these patterns provide an artistic and historical perspective - that documents are more than just a gift of beauty - they are a living testament from the artists who created them. In their lives, most of these anonymous men and women received no tribute or recognition for the work they did, but if the interior design community can preserve some of them, then perhaps part of them will live again through us. It is a race against time, however. With each passing year, hundreds of important and irreplaceable documents are lost due to aging, neglect, and lack of funds - even with the conservation departments of large museums. Such designs will ultimately survive only if they are found in time, reproduced and made available to the decorative industry."
Related Collections/ Brands
Thomas Strahan Company
In 1866 Thomas Strahan started distributing European wallhangings in the US. On one of his trips to Europe he convinced an English block printer to emigrate to Boston, and in the early 1880's he launched his own collection and print works. The company contiued block printing up until labor shortages during World War Two made this form of wallpaper printing unfeasible. Most of the over 12,000 designs were printed on either 8 or 12 color surface printing machines imported from England. At the height of production they had 5 surface printers running, the oldest of which was a Waldron machine manufactured in England in 1886. This printing press and some of the others were being used right up to the time the Chelsea Mill closed in 2003. The plant was located in Chelsea Ma., it was a 5 story building, occupying a full block, which was built by Strahan in 1903 and was occupied by the company until 2003 when the old frame building was torn down for urban renewal.
In 1938 Inez Croom, an interior designer and a protege of noted wallpaper historian and collector-Nancy McCelland, started producing a highly decorative hand printed collection from her small New York City artisanal studio.
Galacar & Co.
In 1991 Kitty and Frederick Galacar started a line of fabrics and coordinating wallpapers. Frederick, an artist with a superlative sense of color, combed through many of the worlds greatest museums archives looking for design inspiration.
Mid Mod Wallpaper Co. (MID Century MODern)
This collection focuses on documents inspired by designs from the 1950s through the early 1960s. Some of the best examples of this design and architecture are- MiMo (Miami Modern,) CiMo (Catskills Modern) and on the west coast "Googie." Some of the best works of the architecture and design from this period still remain and can be found in Palm Springs and parts of Miami Beach. It was the age of new possibilities. Many of the designs were inspired by the "atomic age" and "sputnik age-" that is the race to the stars/ mans exploration of space. The design of this era was driven by the post World War II baby boom, the explosive growth of the interstate highway system and plethora of jet age inspired car details, road side attractions, motels, drive in theaters, gas stations, ice cream stands and of course the Las Vegas Strip. America was on the move and was filled with a new optimism.
For further information please contact:
Lance Houpt, Principal