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White wallpaper with mica and red flocking on red ground; floral garland, ribbon, sprays.
block printing (relief printing process)
The wallpaper in the best bedchamber of the Sarah Orne Jewett House is one of only five eighteenth-century flocked papers known to survive on the walls in houses in New England. Flocking is a technique used to apply fine particles of fabric to paper to create a texture. In the eighteenth century, glue was applied to the desired patterned area with a wood block. Before the glue dried, powdered cloth was applied to the paper; the paper was put in a flexible drum which was beaten with sticks to distribute the particles evenly. Few flocked papers survive on walls because the textured nature of the paper made it difficult to paper over. When homeowners opted to redecorate, they usually had to remove flocked paper before applying a new paper.
The flocked paper in the Sarah Orne Jewett House was produced in the 1770s or 1780s and probably hung in the 1780s, when the Haggens family owned and occupied the house.
Sarah Orne Jewett, who often fictionalized her real life surroundings in her writing, described the old wallpaper in her 1877 novel Deephaven with tongue in cheek: "The paper was captured in a French prize somewhere sometime in the last century, and part of the figure was shaggy, and therein little spiders found habitation, and went visiting their acquaintances across the shiny places. The color was an unearthly pink and a forbidding maroon, with dim white spots, which gave it the appearance of having moulded."
Original To Sarah Orne Jewett House (South Berwick, Me.), Bedroom
28 x 23 1/4 x 47 3/4 (HxWxD) (inches)
Bequest of Theodore Jewett Eastman