History of Wallpaper Around the World, Part 1

history wallpaper around world

At Wallpaper Warehouse, we’re proud to offer the widest array of designer wallpaper, commercial wallpaper and a huge variety of textured wallpaper styles for you, among many other choices. We stock massive selection, featuring a variety of industry-leading wallpaper manufacturers.

A big part of our success is due to our dedication to our products, and this involves not only an eye to current and future wallpaper trends, but also an appreciation for the history that’s led us to this point. Did you know, for instance, that wallpaper is thousands of years old and can be traced in some form to historical civilizations? This two-part blog will go over the history of wallpaper around the world, including how we got to where we are today.

Paper Invention and Early Wallpaper

To really understand the history of wallpaper, first you have to know about the invention of paper itself. While the history here isn’t perfect, most historians paint the origin of paper around the 100 BC era, where it was said to have been invented by a Chinese court official using a mixture of bamboo fibers, linens and hemp.

Paper was used for a few purposes by these early Eastern civilizations. There are records of Chinese cultures hanging decorated rice paper with designs dating back even further than this, in fact, which some might consider to be the earliest showcasing of what we could refer to as wallpaper.

Western World Adaptation

The first European application of wallpaper came in the form of textiles, gilded leather and various wood or silk tapestries. Paper was considered a cheaper alternative here, and began being used around the 13th century. By the mid-1400s, painted wallpaper was becoming popular within royal circles.

During this period, most of the wallpaper designs being used would imitate popular fabric designs. They used block patterns and by-hand color application, which took a long time. For this reason, early European wallpaper was mostly reserved for affluent families or royalty.

English Wallpaper Tax

By the mid-1600s, however, wallpaper became more affordable and began growing in popularity among the masses. In fact, by the early 1700s, it had become so popular that in 1712, a wallpaper tax was introduced during the reign of Queen Anne. This was to reflect the fact that Britain had become the world leader in wallpaper manufacturing, and the tax would remain in effect for over 100 years before eventually being rescinded in 1856.

In part two of this blog, we’ll look at the first wallpaper manufacturing methods that came about during this same period, plus how the wallpaper world evolved to where it is today. To learn more about this or view any of our designer wallpaper products, speak to the staff at Wallpaper Warehouse today.

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