Database of Historic Wallpaper

One of the real joys of doing ResearchBuzz is learning about other people’s passion for stuff that I have never really thought about. Did I ever consider that some people love old wallpaper? Nope. Could I have imagined that there’s an online database containing information about over 4000 samples of old wallpaper? No way. But there is, and beyond that there’s a great resource that links together many old wallpapering resources.

The historic database is available at You can leave all the search options (including year, country of origin, paper type, finish, pattern name, etc.) blank and you’ll get a list of all the samples. I did a search for handmade embossed wallpaper and got 25 results. Results are shown in a table which includes the sample’s accession number, year span (start and end), exact year (if available, and I didn’t see any that were available) and a thumbnail of the paper.

Click on the thumbnail or the accession number for more details including sample size, motif, design elements, notes, use, and provenance. Not all notes are available for all samples. Larger pictures of samples are available, but most of them were disappointing to me; too small and too dark. Just enough to show me that some of those handmade Japanese samples from the 19th century are amazing looking, but not enough detail to see how amazing.

While we’re standing around talking about historical wallpaper, let me also mention a great Web site devoted to the subject, . This site has a huge link list of companies which sell reproductions of historic wallpaper as well as links to articles on preservation, collections of historic wallpaper, and other related topics.

I’m looking forward to the city of Toronto’s database…

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