• Old wallpaper in stratigraphy

    In traditional Irish farm houses, wallpaper was very unusual before the 20th century. However, during the early years of the 20th century wallpaper became increasingly fashionable – and affordable. There has been little attempt to study the wallpapers of the 20th century in Ireland. Indeed, I had been a long time looking at farmhouses around Wicklow before my eye was caught by some interesting examples by local producers. Several well-known manufacturers such as Crown are commonly found, but in Wicklow I have also come across some local manufacturers, in particular Kildare Wallpapers (closed in 1980) as well as Coxons Ltd of Bray (closed 1970).

    It was not unusual, as wallpaper fashions changed, to simply apply the latest trend directly over the previous one, leaving multiple layers of wallpaper. In one example from a farmhouse kitchen near Roundwood, Co. Wicklow, a total of thirteen layers of wallpaper were identified. The first and earliest layer of paper was applied to a lining of newspaper (an edition of The Irish Independent dated 1907), and it is known that the house continued to be inhabited until 1953, indicating a remarkably short lifespan for any single layer of wall paper – a new layer roughly every three or four years. Layer 10, one of the latest in the sequence was produced by Crown, but unfortunately the manufacturers of the others are not identified.

    2 Comments

    • 1. May 14 2013 9:32PM by Karen Cronin

      Maybe they were just houseproud. Great detective work though.

    • 2. May 15 2013 8:58PM by anarchaeologist

      Comperanda?! I smell an IPMAG paper there...

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