We recently read Frank and Amanda Holmes’ Perfectly Frank blog post in which they were kind enough to highlight the work of WHS and talk about just how useful our website can be in dating wallpapers and finding useful resources. They also talk about some interesting restoration work they have recently been involved in. Thanks to them for allowing us to use an edited version of the post here.
How To Identify Old Wallpapers
In our work we are privileged to come across a wide variety of wonderful wallpapers from yesteryear. But which period do they come from? Many styles have experienced a revival or two as trends come and go.
How do we go about dating wallpaper designs?
Is there a wallpaper archive?
PHOTO 1: A sample from ‘ Selections of Artistic and Inexpensive Machine and Handmade Wallpaper Designs for 1895’, Whitworth Art Gallery archive.
Where to Start Identifying Old Wallpaper
We are members of The Wallpaper History Society, one of the best places to go for help when dating wallpaper discoveries, depending on what has been discovered.
The Wallpaper History Society website has a ‘Galleries’ section on wallpapers by period and by production technique. It’s difficult to include as many as they would wish from after the 1950s due to copyright limitations, but there’s still lots to go on.
In the ‘Resources’ section Useful links, the Wallpaper History Society includes links to other places on the internet where you can explore the subject, including a link to the BBC programme The Fabric of Britain, which is about historic wallpaper https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxHXORIpYAI
It’s very good on sanitary paper, and features members of The Wallpaper History Society.
You’ll also find past issues of The Wallpaper History Review journal available to purchase from the online shop, and a useful index (£5) of subjects covered in each publication.
PHOTO 2: Wallpaper History Journal 2022
How to Contact the Wallpaper History Society
Instagram users can follow the @wallpaperhistsoc, which is a good starting point for many. The society’s feed includes followers’ wallpaper finds and feedback from other followers can be helpful. Enquiries can be sent to The Wallpaper History Society via Instagram DM or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Please include as much context as possible (location of property, type of property, age, info on occupants, room where the paper was discovered etc.)
The V&A Collection
The V&A has an excellent online collection of period wallpapers, though it is sometimes hard to navigate, unless you know what you are looking for. Search by date, colour, or designer etc. https://collections.vam.ac.uk/search/?q=wallpaper&year_made_from=&year_made_to=
Restoring Victorian Embossed Wallpapers
The new ‘modern’ relief decorations introduced in the late nineteenth century were designed to replicate stucco work, carved and panelled timber, and embossed leather decorations. The first of these substitutes was Tynecastle Tapestry (c.1874), although the most widely recognised are Lincrusta (1877) and Anaglypta (1887).
What is the difference between Lincrusta and Anaglypta? Read our answer to this and more FAQs here.
PHOTO 3: Lincrusta catalogue from the collection of The Whitworth, University of Manchester.
As an Approved Lincrusta Installer and Restorer, we come across these and other similar raised relief wallpapers in our work. We have our own growing archive of catalogues, adverts, articles, plus access to Lincrusta and Anaglypta company archives dating from c.1870s.
Historic Tynecastle Wallpapers at Langdale Chase Hotel, Windermere
The Langdale Chase Hotel reopens this month following a major refurbishment over the last 12 months. Built in 1891, the hotel sits in an enviable position on the shores of Lake Windermere. Frank was privileged to play a small part in its continuing evolution this year when he was asked to help restore what was thought to be Lincrusta.
PHOTO 4: Langdale Chase Hotel, Windermere, Lake District, UK
When we saw a piece of the frieze, we immediately thought it wasn’t Lincrusta due to its hollow-backed relief. Lincrusta is solid.
PHOTO 5: Tynecastle frieze and ceiling tiles c.1891 at Langdale Chase Hotel, Windermere
We took the sample away and photos of the other six embossed wallpaper designs from across two lounges. After an extensive search of the archives, we ruled out Lincrusta, Anaglypta and Salamander. We were then very excited to discover each design in our Tynecastle Tapestry catalogues.
PHOTO 6: The frieze and ceiling tile designs found in the Tynecastle catalogues
To see these for yourself, visit the Langdale Chase Hotel, Windermere, which reopened to the public on 15th November 2023.
PHOTO 7: The restored ceiling tiles in the hotel bar
If you have done your own wallpaper detective work and use Instagram, tag us @frank_holmes_fine_decor, as we’d love to see!
We’re also very keen to learn more about Scott Morton Tynecastle so please email us if you have any information. Thanks.
Frank and Amanda Holmes
Frank Holmes Fine Decor, Morecambe, England