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The earliest papers seem to have been multi-purpose as they have been found lining deed boxes and harpsichords as well as decorating walls.
These have small scale repeating floral or heraldic designs, block printed in carbon black onto single sheets of rag paper, which could then be applied in modular fashion.
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The pigment was often an organic dyestuff such as indigo, red madder or, in more costly papers, carmine.
These had high tinting strength when first applied, but faded rapidly when exposed to bright light; consequently few of these papers appear now as they were originally intended.
Papers were not always stripped prior to re decoration, particularly where they still provided a firm support.
Sandwiches of 20-30 layers are not unusual and can provide a valuable record of the decoration and use of building.
Arguably, any wallpapers discovered could be significant and are worth investigating.
Even where stripped, there is often enough residual evidence to identify, understand and re-create an original scheme.Although the tradition of using single sheet designs continued in France, in England, fashion dictated an increase in the size and sophistication of designs, which required ever larger and/or multiple blocks.Several formal flock papers dating from 1830-40 were copies of popular silk damask designs which had designs measuring over seven feet.The richness and durability of these papers made them both fashionable and popular amongst the aristocracy, and many larger houses could boast several rooms decorated in this way.However, flock wallpapers were heavy and because of their varnished grounds, were difficult to hang.This usually comprised a chalk base and strong-hued pigment bound with animal glue.