This collection includes over 1300 wallpaper fragments, lengths and rolls. Some have been removed from walls and ceilings, often at time of home renovation, while others have been left over from papering a house. The collection also includes more than 60 wallpaper sample books as well as wallpaper trade catalogues, advice manuals, trade publications and interior design manuals that feature sections on wallpaper.
This is the largest wallpaper collection in a public institution in Australia. The collection, which continues to grow, focuses on how wallpaper has been made, purchased and used in Australian homes. As such, the vast majority of wallpaper in the collection has association with or provenance to an Australian home, merchant or manufacturer. From around 1840, wallpaper prices dropped considerably as the industry mechanised, such that even those on the most modest incomes could afford to add colour and pattern to their walls. Australians of all backgrounds have enthusiastically used wallpaper, especially in the period from 1840 to 1914. However, because Australia only ever had a small wallpaper manufacturing industry of its own, much of the wallpaper used here and most of the wallpaper in the collection originates from other countries. The English were the world's largest manufacturers of wallpaper from the second half of the 19th to the early 20th century - consequently, England is the source of many earlier papers in the collection but others originate from a variety of countries in Europe, North America and East Asia. Although many wallpaper sample books are labelled with an Australian distributors name, most of the wallpapers are also foreign made. Advice manuals on house furnishing, trade publications and interior design manuals from the collection provide context and period suggestions on how wall coverings could or should be used.
Design; Interior decoration; Wallpaper