Reproducing Historic and Out of Print Wallpaper

Recreating wallpaper is nothing new, in fact, it has been a tradition in the wallpaper industry for centuries. Designers and printers have always looked to the past for inspiration, emulating the styles and designs of earlier eras. In many ways, these original wallpapers were recreations - of nature, status, environment, or mood. This spirit lives on today as people choose to preserve a bit of history each time they reproduce an out-of-print design.

One notable example of this trend is the Arts and Crafts movement of the late 19th century. Designers during this time were inspired by the simplicity and natural beauty of earlier eras and sought to create designs that reflected these ideals. The resulting wallpapers featured simple patterns and nature-inspired motifs, and were created using traditional printing techniques like woodblock and surface printing.

Today, designers and printers continue to look to the past for inspiration, and the demand for vintage and historical wallpaper designs remains strong. However, recreating these designs can be a challenging process, as there are so many different techniques and solutions, both old and new. Anyone interested in undertaking a wallpaper recreation should have a basic knowledge of these techniques in order to achieve the best results. By understanding the history and evolution of wallpaper printing, we can better appreciate the art and craft of this timeless tradition.

Woodblock Printing

In Use Since: 200 AD, Inventor: Unknown

Woodblock printing is one of the oldest printing techniques and was first used in China around 200 AD. The process involves carving a design into a block of wood and then using that block to print the design onto paper or fabric.

Image of a woodblock being created for a decorative print

Gravure Printing

In Use Since: 1852, Inventor: Karl Klic

Gravure printing, also known as intaglio printing, is a technique that involves etching a design onto a copper cylinder. The cylinder is then inked and the excess ink is wiped off, leaving ink only in the etched areas. The paper is then pressed against the cylinder, transferring the design onto the paper.

Image of a gravure press with a colorful print

Stenciling

In Use Since: Ancient Times, Inventor: Unknown

Stenciling is a technique that involves using a template to create a repeated pattern. The template can be made from paper, plastic, or metal, and the design is created by cutting out certain parts of the template. The template is then held against the surface to be decorated, and paint or ink is applied over it.

Image of floral pattern being created with a stencil

Surface Printing

In Use Since: 1839, Inventor: Charles W. Green

Surface printing is a traditional printing technique that creates a soft, textured finish on wallpaper. The design is transferred to a printing roller, which is then inked and rolled onto the paper. The roller is slightly raised in places to create a three-dimensional effect.

Image of vintage Surface Printing Press printing colorful inks

Flexographic Printing

In Use Since: 1890s, Inventor: Bibby, Baron and Sons

Flexographic printing is a modern printing technique that uses a flexible printing plate to transfer ink onto the substrate. The printing plate is made from a flexible material such as rubber or plastic, and the design is etched into the plate.

Image of vintage Surface Printing Press printing colorful inks

Digital Printing

In Use Since: 1990s, Inventor: Benny Landa

Digital printing is a modern printing technique that uses digital files to print onto a substrate. This method eliminates the need for physical printing plates or screens, allowing for greater flexibility in design and faster turnaround times. Digital printing also allows for customization and personalization of wallpaper designs. However, digital printing may not be suitable for large-scale wallpaper production or for printing certain types of designs, such as textured or metallic patterns. Additionally, the colors of digital printing may not always match that of traditional printing methods.

Image of floral patern being printed by a digital press

A Brief History of Vintage Printing Companies

The techniques used in wallpaper printing are diverse and have evolved over centuries. Each technique offers a unique set of advantages and disadvantages, and it is up to the designer to choose the right one for their particular project. The printing technique used often depends on the design of the wallpaper and the era it is meant to emulate.

Many companies in the wallpaper industry specialize in certain printing techniques, while others may use a combination of several techniques. For example, Schumacher has been using block printing since the company’s founding in 1889, and still produces hand-printed wallpapers today. Cole & Son, on the other hand, is known for its innovative designs and high-quality printing techniques, including gravure printing and surface printing. By understanding the strengths and limitations of each technique, designers and printers can create wallpaper designs that are both beautiful and functional.

Here is a List of Printing Companies that produce wallpaper through traditional methods.

Bradbury & Bradbury Art Wallpapers

1979 - Present, Techniques: Hand & Surface-Printing
Styles: Arts & Crafts, Art Deco, Victorian

Bradbury & Bradbury Art Wallpapers is a California-based wallpaper manufacturer known for its high-quality, hand-printed wallpapers inspired by historical designs. The company’s wallpapers are produced using traditional printing techniques, such as surface printing and block printing, as well as more modern methods like digital printing. Bradbury & Bradbury is dedicated to preserving and recreating the beauty and craftsmanship of vintage wallpapers. The company offers a wide range of wallpaper designs, including Arts & Crafts, Art Deco, Victorian, and more.

Cole & Son

1875 - Present, Techniques: Surface Printing, Digital Printing
Styles: Traditional, Contemporary

Cole & Son is a British wallpaper manufacturer established in 1875. The company is known for its innovative designs and high-quality printing techniques, including surface printing and more modern digital printing. Cole & Son has a long history of collaborating with renowned designers, including Vivienne Westwood and Fornasetti, and has also produced wallpapers for historic landmarks such as Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament.

Farrow & Ball

1946 - Present, Techniques: Surface Printing, Digital Printing
Styles: Modern, Classic

Farrow & Ball is a British paint and wallpaper company founded in 1946. The company is known for its high-quality, handcrafted wallpapers and paints, which are produced using traditional techniques such as surface printing and more modern methods like digital printing. Farrow & Ball is dedicated to creating products that are environmentally friendly, and uses only the finest quality ingredients in its paints and wallpapers. The company’s wallpapers are available in a wide range of colors and designs, and include popular patterns such as “Lotus,” “Hornbeam,” and “Gable.”

Morris & Co.

1861 - Present, Techniques: Hand-Printing
Styles: Arts & Crafts, Art Nouveau, Victorian

Morris & Co. is a British wallpaper and textile company founded in 1861 by the famous designer William Morris. The company is known for its beautiful, handcrafted wallpapers and fabrics, which are produced using traditional printing techniques such as hand-printing. Morris & Co. is dedicated to preserving and recreating the beauty and craftsmanship of vintage wallpapers and fabrics, and its designs are inspired by historical patterns and styles.

Zuber & Cie

1797 - Present, Techniques: Scenic and Panoramic Printing, Woodblock Printing
Styles: Neo-Classical, Empire, Victorian

Zuber & Cie was a French wallpaper company known for its scenic and panoramic wallpapers, which were hand-printed using woodblocks. The company was founded in 1797 and is still operational today. Zuber & Cie’s wallpapers are highly detailed and have been used in a number of prestigious locations, including the Palace of Versailles and the White House.

Warner & Sons

1884 - 1990s, Techniques: Surface Printing, Block Printing
Styles: Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Victorian

Warner & Sons was a leading wallpaper manufacturer in the UK. The company was founded in 1884 and was known for its high-quality wallpapers, which were created using techniques such as surface printing

A List of Wallpaper Companies No Longer in Business

Waverly

1923 - 2017, Techniques: Surface Printing, Gravure Printing
Styles: Floral, Stripes, Geometric

Waverly is a historic wallpaper and home furnishings company founded in 1923 in New York. The company became known for its beautiful and colorful designs, particularly its floral prints. Waverly’s wallpapers were often used in American homes during the mid-20th century and were popular for their cheerful and lively motifs. The company went out of business in 2017.

Blue Mountain

1991 - 2019, Techniques: Surface Printing
Styles: Nautical, Floral, Rustic

Blue Mountain was a Canadian wallpaper company that was established in 1991. The company was known for its high-quality wallpapers with nature-inspired designs, including nautical, floral, and rustic motifs. Blue Mountain was particularly popular during the 1990s and 2000s, but it went out of business in 2019.

Sunworthy

1976 - 2009, Techniques: Gravure Printing, Flexographic Printing
Styles: Geometric, Floral, Stripes

Sunworthy was a Canadian wallpaper company that was established in 1976. The company produced a wide range of wallpapers, including geometric, floral, and striped designs. Sunworthy was known for its innovative designs and high-quality printing techniques, including gravure and flexographic printing. The company went out of business in 2009.

Chatsworth

1860 - 1971, Styles: Techniques: Hand-Printing
Victorian, Arts & Crafts

Chatsworth was a British wallpaper and textile company that was founded in 1860. The company was known for its beautiful and intricate designs, particularly its Victorian and Arts & Crafts-inspired wallpapers. Chatsworth was particularly successful during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but it went out of business in 1971.

Paper Illusions

1990s - 2010s, Styles: Techniques: Surface Printing
Faux Finish, Rustic, Textured

Paper Illusions was a wallpaper company known for its unique faux finish designs. The company’s wallpapers were often textured and created to look like natural materials such as stone, brick, or wood. Paper Illusions was popular during the 1990s and 2000s, but it went out of business in the 2010s.

Imperial Wallcoverings

1928 - 1990s, Techniques: Gravure Printing, Flexographic Printing
Styles: Geometric, Floral, Stripes

Imperial Wallcoverings was a Canadian wallpaper company that was founded in 1928. The company produced a wide range of wallpapers, including geometric, floral, and striped designs. Imperial Wallcoverings was known for its innovative designs and high-quality printing techniques, including gravure and flexographic printing. The company went out of business in the 1990s.

Sanitas

1902 - 1940s, Techniques: Surface Printing
Styles: Floral, Stripes, Geometric

Sanitas was an American wallpaper company that was established in 1902. The company produced a wide range of wallpapers, including floral, striped, and geometric designs. Sanitas was known for its high-quality printing techniques and innovative designs. The company was particularly successful during the early 20th century, but it went out of business in the 1940

In Conclusion

The companies that specialize in wallpaper printing have contributed to the development of this art form and have helped to keep the tradition alive. They have pushed the boundaries of what is possible with printing techniques and have created beautiful and unique designs that reflect the trends of their respective eras.

Recreating vintage wallpaper designs and patterns is a fascinating process that allows us to capture a bit of history and incorporate it into our modern-day homes. Through the use of traditional and modern printing techniques, we are able to bring to life the beauty and elegance of past eras, and create designs that are both classic and timeless. Whether we are inspired by the simple patterns of the Arts and Crafts movement or the ornate designs of the Victorian era, wallpaper printing allows us to express our personal taste and style, while paying homage to the craft’s rich history.

About the Author

Joseph Gornail is a multimedia artist and fourth-generation print craftsman whose family has lived on the same block in SoHo for over 90 years. With an extensive background in photography, writing and creative direction, Joseph has a love of the arts and a proud New Yorker. When he’s not documenting city life or curating historic images for History101.nyc, he can likely be found sailing the New York harbor to enjoy his native city from a different perspective.

About Fine Print

We're a NYC Print Shop & Design Firm Devoted to the art of Custom Wallpaper and the Replication of Vintage Wallpapers.

Related Products

The #1 Independent Wallpaper Printing & Design Shop in New York

Request Estimate • Call us at (212) 619-5446

Frequently Asked Questions

Health & Safety Concerns

Are your wallpapers hypoallergenic, and how do they cater to individuals with severe allergies?

Our wallpapers are designed with health and safety in mind, catering to the needs of individuals with severe allergies, asthma or other respiratory ailments. By selecting materials that are less likely to harbor allergens, our products aim to create a safer, more comfortable indoor environment. Additionally, we ensure our wallpapers are resistant to mold and mildew growth, further supporting the well-being of sensitive individuals.

How do your wallpapers ensure indoor air quality is not compromised?

Maintaining indoor air quality is a paramount concern for us. Our wallpapers are characterized by low volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions, adhering to stringent guidelines for indoor air quality. By minimizing the release of these harmful compounds, our products help ensure a healthier indoor environment, conducive to well-being and comfort. Through rigorous testing and compliance with industry standards, we ensure that our products maintain VOC levels that meet or exceed regulatory requirements, offering a safer choice for both residential and commercial spaces.

Are there any chemicals or synthetic materials used in your wallpapers that might trigger allergic reactions?

We are dedicated to producing wallpapers that are safe and non-irritating for all users, including those with allergies. Our products are formulated without the use of harmful chemicals or synthetic materials known to trigger allergic reactions, such as formaldehyde, phthalates, and heavy metals. This careful selection of materials underscores our commitment to health and safety.

How does your wallpaper resist mold and mildew growth, ensuring a safe environment for sensitive individuals?

Our wallpapers are engineered to resist mold and mildew growth, an essential feature for ensuring the safety and comfort of sensitive individuals. Through the use of inherently resistant materials and treatments, our products prevent the adherence and proliferation of mold and mildew, thereby promoting a healthier indoor environment.

What certifications do your wallpapers have regarding environmental and health safety?

Our wallpapers are backed by rigorous certifications that attest to their environmental and health safety. These include low-VOC certifications, compliance with international toxicity standards, and certifications for mold and mildew resistance. Through these certifications, we demonstrate our commitment to upholding the highest standards of safety and sustainability in our products. All materials are perfectly suitable for healthcare facilities, nurseries, retirement homes or any other environment where health is a primary concern.

General Wallpaper Questions

Is there a minimum square footage?

Yes, we have 50 square feet minimum per order.

What are the most popular sizes?

The three most requested sizes are 100, 300 & 500 square feet.

What is the maximum width x height you can print per roll?

The maximum roll size wisummaryh is 52 inches wide by 360 inches in length.

How can I make a payment?

We accept all major credit cards and company checks. Please note, a job ticket must be created and payment is required before we can start proofing/final production.

What is the standard turnaround time?

Once final proofs are approved, standard production time is 5-7 business days. Please note, production time may change depending on our current press schedule and how many specialty options have been selected.

Wallcovering Material Concerns

What kind of wallpaper material do you use?

Our wallpapers are a non-adhesive, fabric backed vinyl material which is installable via traditional pasting methods. They are available in matte, gloss, semi-gloss or textured coating/finishing options. We also offer peel and stick wallpaper.

Can I pick my own design/image?

Yes, if you provide high resolution artwork, we can print your custom design.

Is the material durable and washable?

Yes, ordinary dirt and smudges can be removed from the surface with a mild soap and warm water.

Is the material removable?

Yes, our wall coverings can be removed. Please note, all surfaces must be primed with a drywall sealer and water based primer prior to installation.

Do you provide installation services?

Unfortunately, we do not provide or recommend installation services, however the following article is a useful guide for installers: How to Prepare Wall Surfaces

Wallpaper Sample Questions

Can I see sample before printing my project?

Yes, you can order a press proof sample of your custom artwork. We offer four coating/finishing options: matte, gloss, semi-gloss and texture.

Can I see a digital proof before final production?

Yes, our pre-press department will provide two rounds of digital proofs for approval prior to final print production. Please note, any additional digital proofs will be billed accordingly.

Can you ship material/printed samples for my review?

We can not send out material/printed samples without a job ticket being generated into our system.


Guidance & Tips

Read More
Mastering Wall Preparation for Perfect Wallpaper InstallationUnlock expert tips for flawless wallpaper installation. Learn how to prep walls, test moisture, and select adhesives for enduring beauty.Continue Reading
Read More
Learn How to Design Files for Custom Wallpaper Printing DIYDiscover the art of designing files for wallpaper printing and DIY techniques for custom wallpaper to create personalized wall murals, wall media & wallcoveringsContinue Reading
Place Order for Custom Samples12" x 12" Press Proofs Available in 4 finishing options.
Corporate Headquarters

Open Monday - Friday: 9:30am-5:30pm
*Closed Saturday & Sunday*

Open in Google Maps
Production Facility

Open Monday - Friday: 7:30AM - 3:30PM
*Closed Saturday & Sunday*

Call us at (212) 619-5446  Request an Estimate  Email us at
All Rights Reserved  © 2024 Fine Print, Inc  Terms of Use  Privacy Policy