Just last week while we were in Illinois picking up another collection of wallpaper (we'll tell you more about that later), we were given a vintage wallpaper book of Waterhouse Wallcoverings samples. Unfortunately, the wallpaper book was in dismal condition--extensive water damage, discoloration, mold, torn and tattered pages, etc. Definitely not the type of thing we like to see. But before we discarded the book, we were able to snap a few photos of some of the nicer sections in order to document these great images.
The wallpapers of Waterhouse Wallcoverings are mid-century American reproductions of historical wallpaper designs from the 1700's to 1890's. Much like Nancy McClelland, Dorothy Waterhouse was infatuated by the grandeur and magnificence of 18th and 19th century European designs. Instead of following the trendy new ideas in the 1950's, she often looked back to the artwork of earlier centuries and reproduced wallpapers inspired by their rich, regal patterns.
Dorothy Waterhouse's interest in antique and historic wallpaper designs began with a few special wallpaper scraps salvaged from 18th century New England homes--wallpapers that at the time of their hanging would have been imported from across the Atlantic. It seems that the papers from this wallpaper book are a mix of authentic reproductions and 18th-century inspired designs that focus on New England life and history.
Below are more designs from the wallpaper book along with the corresponding explanatory captions.
"The desire for brocades, tapestries and velvets, such as were used for wall coverings by the wealthy gentry and nobility, inspired the production of 'flock' or 'cloth' papers.
In the early 18th century, a clever hand blocked method was developed in England and France to imitate the rich velvety effects of costly fabrics. Mme. Pompadour decorated her apartments elegantly with 'flock' paper. The beauty and depth of an old fabric is reflected in this 'Brocade' pattern. It was found in a stately Captain's house on Cape Cod."
"When the sails of a returning trading ship were first sighted on the horizon far out at sea, there was always excitement in the home port towns of New England. For, after months of patient waiting, the women folk knew their men were safe, and that in the valuable cargo aboard ship were muslins, or cashmeres, bombazines or silks.
The 'Cameo Print' was the design on one of these fabrics which finally found its way to a little hilltown in New Hampshire. The original piece is quaint in its old browns with a touch of yellow."
"From the turn of the 19th century, and even today, the grape ivy has been a most popular motif. It has been used for the decoration of furniture, walls, jewelry and fabrics.
In 1843, descendants of Roger Williams adorned their spacious and dignified home in Rhode Island with draperies of this design.
It was he who had founded Providence Plantations and kept the peace for forty years between the Indians and his people. It is easy to understand why the popularity of this design, copied from nature, has never diminished."
(companion to Grape Ivy)
"Bayside, while not an authentic discovery, was prompted and developed as a counterpart for Grape Ivy. This design has skillfully retained the authentic touch of its original counterpart, and the two will give an endless variety of use when combined."
"The first real settlers called Massachusetts their home. It is truly where America started and consequently rich in historic shrines and points of interest.
The Wayside Inn on Boston Post Road near South Sudbury welcomes visitors today as it did 269 years ago.
Old North Church brings to mind Paul Revere's famous ride.
Sturbridge Common recalls another way of life, the fishing boats of Gloucester still another.
By contrast, Louisburg Square is synonymous with the aristocratic traditions of Beacon Hill.
Brief glimpses of these interesting places are combined in the pictorial scenic design 'Massachusetts'.
While not an authentic document, the characteristics and hand blocked technique of our early wallpapers is beautifully captured in this wonderful design."
"A lovely and stately home in New Ipswich, N. H., furnished the design for Calico Stripe.
It is typical of the era of crinoline and horsehair, when hoop skirts were often as wide as the wearer was tall.
A cotton print of tiny figures such as this, was a 'must' in milady's wardrobe."
"Few New England villages are more ancient that Eastham, founded in 1644. In the days of its latter glory, when whaling vessels left the Cape with the blue-water men of Eastham and Harding Captains aboard, the ships brought great wealth to the old town. Fine furnitures were bought, Adam, Sheraton, Heppelwhite, and suitable decorations chosen.
The third in the series of old patterns from the Freeman house in Eastham, this delicate formal and graceful Daisy was designed to paper a room of Adams, whose ---- was 'light, elegant, exact, classical in inspiration and precise in execution'."
"(preceding text was damaged)...The storied atmosphere of the village is part of this antique paper. It was found at the Hinckley estate, Hinckley Corner, South Wellfleet. The house was built in 1799 by Moses and Sylvester Hinckley, brothers whose handiwork is still seen in the front fence of original tulip pattern and on a connecting board between the house and workshed carved to resemble a whale's back."
"(preceding text was damaged)...As an example of the type, this chintz floral is very fine--and gay.
It came from a pre-revolutionary house in Acton, Massachusetts. At the time of building, the wall of one of the large parlors was covered above the wainscoting with bright red burlap. When wallpaper came into fashion in the eighteenth century, the room was redecorated in the new style."
"'Wilton Toile' is one of the famous 'Toiles de Jouy' designs. Prints such as this were made by Oberkampf in the village of Jouy, near Versailles.
When brilliantly colored cottons were brought in to Europe by the East India companies they became very fashionable, especially in France. The designs reflected the sentiment of the times, with farm scenes, historical and mythological subjects being most popular.
The gracious home built in 1799 in which this design was found has been excellently preserved in Wilton, Mass."
"In the village of Auburn, N. H., at a junction of five dirt roads, none of which appears on any road map, stand two houses. One was built in 1803 as a tavern, the other a cooper's shop. Since travellers on the road had to pay a toll, the corner has always been known as 'Toll Gate'.
Here, off the beaten path, was found the original of this beautiful wallpaper. It reflects the tendency to the rococo yet is simple and appealing in its graceful proportions. (Note how well the hand block printing technique has been captured.)"
One scene of historical interest was that of the 'Robert Fulton' commemorating the invention of the first steamboat. Here may be seen New York harbor in the 1790's with the steamboat in the foreground. Truly a design of wonderful proportions and handsome dignity and character."
"A little old house hidden away in the foothills of the White Mountains furnished the first paper of this design. It was built in 1803 as a barn, but in over 100 years also become a comfortable home for the ancestors of the present owners.
'The Fantasy' was one of the machine printed papers which resembles the work of William Morris. He started a new era in wallpaper design with his rare artistic accomplishments. It has been said that he 'stained his wallpapers with poetry'.
'The Fantasy' is graceful in design, delicate in its colorings, in effect."
"Sudbury was discovered in a home built in the early 1800's by a Dr. Goodenough and for many decades was known as the Goodenough place. Subsequently, the home was transferred to the Sudbury Methodist Church and was used as a parsonage until transferred to its present owners, the Stearns family.
It still stands in all its stateliness in beautiful condition as a tribute to the early heritage in this community."
"The finely detailed blossom of the primrose suggests the freshness of spring; nowhere any more beautiful than on the shores of Massachusetts Bay.
There, in the springtime, old fashioned gardens snuggle close to weatherbeaten little houses, the color of their blossoms is enhanced by the salty mist from the ocean. It was in one of these picturesque old houses, on the shore of a peaceful harbor, that this cheerful wallpaper was discovered, a reminder of spring all through the year."
Old Brick House
"The first brick house built in the State of Maine (1769) used this charming old pattern as an original wall covering. This interesting old structure replaced the primitive log cabin which Hugh and Elizabeth McClellan occupied on the site of an Old Indian encampment in 1738.
The house is still standing, being occupied by direct descendants of the original settlers. It boasts of Flemish masonry, hand forged hinges and latches, and original wall stencils. A mounting block remains in the yard."
"Johnathan Wade, a merchant, came from England to the little town of Ipswich, Mass. in 1635, having received a grant of many acres of land. He and his descendants became prominent citizens and active soldiers in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.
A dwelling on part of the grant, Wood's Lane, was owned in 1827 by Mary Wade, a descendant of Jonathan. The house is still in possession of a direct descendant of the Wade family.
The original wallpaper of this pattern was taken from a closet in the so-called clothes-press of this Wade homestead."
"(the preceding text was damaged)...He later became a Captain. He sailed from Salem, Mass. to far distant lands on the finest of brigs and topsailschooners. Many of Salem's cherished treasures are the result of his superior ability in trading. Entrusted with thousands of dollars, he brought back cargoes of Canton china, sugar, pepper and tea, as well as shawls and other finery for the ladies.
The original of the wallpaper which now carries his name was used in his stately home in Ipswich, Mass. It suggests his love for the beauty in Oriental design."
"After the Narragansett and Wampanoag Indians were overcome by the white men, little towns sprang up along the shores of Narragansett Bay.
Among them were Fall River, Assonet and Freetown. It was in this territory, rich in Indian lore, that this wallpaper pattern was located. Clinging to old wallboards in --- houses were fragments of this wallpaper. It is a perfect example of the --- type of block printing which was used for wallpaper --- 1800."
For more information on Waterhouse Wallcoverings and Dorothy Waterhouse, visit these links: