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E.1945-1952 ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London


Answers to the most common questions about the Society, wallpapers and wallcoverings.

If you have a question that isn't answered below why not post it on our Instagram and see if our membership and committee can help with the answer?

  • I have found an old piece of wallpaper. What should I do with it?
    Historic wallpapers can be very fragile and great care is needed to remove them from a wall. With the careful use of a flat-bladed knife, poorly fixed papers can be gently eased off a wall, although this can often cause more damage. If uncertain, then advice from an approved paper conservator should be sought A conservator can offer guidance and even remove sections if required for conservation, re-hanging or framing and mounting for display elsewhere. Feel free to send an enquiry to our Instagram for further information For more info see our Conservation & Repair page
  • What’s the earliest wallpaper in England?
    The earliest papers are often called ‘black-and-white’ papers because they were printed in carbon ink and often used to line the inside of wooden boxes or chests. Fragments of a black and white pomegranate design were found in the Master's Lodge, Christ's College, Cambridge. These date from around 1509 and are thought to be the oldest known wallpaper in the UK.
  • Is old wallpaper dangerous?
    If you find fragments of old wallpaper, it is sensible to take care when handling them. They may be printed with paints and dyes that contain chemicals including chromium, cadmium, mercury, lead, cyanide, antimony and arsenic. Prolonged inhalation of dust from these papers should be avoided. For handling small fragments of wallpaper where you suspect harmful pigments may be present it is best to wear gloves and a mask and ensure that the area is well ventilated. For large areas of wallpaper it is best to consult a qualified wallpaper conservator if you are unsure.
  • How much is it to join the Society?
    Membership starts at just £12 (with concessions) and every penny goes direct to the Charity.
  • Can anyone become a member of the Society?
    Yes, provided they are over 16 years of age.
  • I have found some wallpaper. Is it possible to date it?
    Sometimes, if the design and manufacturer are well-known, it may be possible to identify and date a period wallpaper. Popular wallpapers that were mass-produced in the past can be difficult to identify, but our Committee and followers on Instagram may be able to help. Message ourInstagram feed to post your images.
  • Is my historic wallpaper valuable?
    Unfortunately the Wallpaper History Society are unable to give any commercial valuations for wallpaper.
  • Do you have an archive? Would you like me to send you some historic wallpaper?
    The Wallpaper History Society does not hold an archive, so regrettably we are unable to accept any donations. You may find your local museum is interested or do check out the contacts on our Useful Links page. We can also feature it on our Instagram feed
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