My wife is celebrating the 200 year anniversary of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice by watching every movie of Pride and Prejudice ever made (several times:). I can’t help but notice the improved quality of the set decoration from the 1940s until the most recent Kiera Knightly production. If you’re interested in recreating a Bennett country manor room or a 19th century drawing room, now is the BEST time to do it because 19th century wallpaper is being made today.
About 19th century-like wallpaper
A little history… 19th century wallpaper was handmade rag paper with hand brushed ground color and wood block tempera inks. Tempera inks are water based and very sensitive so installers had to be very careful not to get moisture on the surface of the wallpaper. The wallpapers had to be trimmed on both sides since they did not have continuous roll paper. Edges were hand trimmed and seams lapped to match the same size of the horizontal joints. Most installations had borders at the top, bottom and in the corners, around all the trim, to hold the edges of the paper down.
Jump to today
We are moving back to 19th century-like wallpaper because it is less expensive to make non-coated papers and laser cut acrylic blocks make block printing possible. Also, American manufacturers are struggling to keep inventory. Our European friends seem not to have the same inventory problem and their papers are cheaper to produce. How does this impact you? When you select your Jane Austen room wallpaper, always ask: does the paper need to be trimmed? Is it water sensitive? Where is it made?
Seriously now, if you would like to decorate a room with beautiful wallpaper, here are some manufacturers of 19th century patterns: