Lincoln Home Wallpaper

Sepia engraving of Lincoln Home sitting room, cropped as to focus on wallpaper above fireplace and on upper half of walls. Design is indistinct but flowery

When the Lincoln Home was restored in 1987-88, research was conducted to find the most accurate look for the rooms, including the wallpaper. With the exception of the Lincoln bedroom, original wallcoverings were not found on the walls, so researchers looked to two documents, a photograph taken of the back parlor on the day of Lincoln's funeral in 1865, and the drawings from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, for clues.


Early Wallpaper

In the 1700s and early 1800s, wallpaper was printed using sections of paper pasted together, laid flat on tables and painted with a ground color. Wooden blocks were then used to print the pattern - one block for each color and part of the pattern, like a stencil in reverse. French, Chinese, and English wallpapers were popular, although Chinese papers were not available until after the Revolutionary War. American papers generally had simple designs or stripes with one or two colors and were considered "common papers."


Paper Changes in America

In 1799, a machine was invented to produce continuous rolls of paper. By 1839 cylindrical printing was available, which allowed patterns to be cut on a cylinder and rolled over the wallpaper instead of using wood blocks to stamp a pattern on the paper. Machine printed wallpaper then became the norm instead of the exception in middle and upper class homes like the Lincoln Home.

Machine production of wallpaper had an impact on the product itself as well as on the appearance of American interiors. The circumference of the printing roller restricted the size of the repeat, and because the colors were thinner in machine printing, the designs possessed adifferent visual effect. In addition, because paper width became standardized, and machines could produce greater quantities of wallpaper, decorating with wallpaper became less expensive. The latest styles were as readily available to consumers in rural county stores as they were in the large wallpaper warehouses in urban areas.

Books and magazines, including Andrew Jackson Downing's Victorian Cottage Residences (published in 1842), promoted the use of wallpapers and suggested colors and patterns for certain rooms. By the middle of the nineteenth century, most patterns were French imports or copies of French styles.


Reproduction Wallpapers in the Lincoln Home

Pale off-white wallpaper with repeating pattern of light greenish crisscrossing lines, forming off white square diamond pattern

Front Hall

Paper: "Stanton House Back Bedroom,"
1850-60, American
From Elizabeth Cady Stanton House, Seneca Falls, NY
Reproduced by Scalamandre' (New York)

Border: "Stanton House Back Bedroom"
1850-60, American
See paper for source

White wallpaper with repeating pattern of light gray branches and clusters of leaves and golden buds


Paper: "Lincoln's Parlor"
1850-50, French
From Society for the Preservation of New England Antiques
Reproduced by Mt. Diablo Prints (Benicia, CA)

Border: "Locust Grove"
1850-60, English
From Young-Morse House, Poughkeepsie, NY
Reproduced by Scalamandre' (New York)
White wallpaper with repeating vertical pattern of shapes outlined in gray, with clusters of pink, white, and blue flowers in middle of shapes

Dining Room

Paper: "Gallier House Parlor"
1840-50, French
from Waterhouse archives
Reproduced by WAterhouse Wallhangings (Boston)

Border: "Locust Grove"
See Parlor border for source
Red wallpaper with pattern of off-white trumpet-shaped leaves and plants

Sitting Room

Paper: "Russian Bishop's House-Guest Room"
ca. 1842
From Russian Bishop's House, Sitka, AK
Reproduced by Scalamandre' (New York)

Border: "Russian Bishop's House-Guest Room"
See above for source
white wallpaper with repeating vertical pattern of emerald green intricate crests embellished with leaves

Guest Room

Paper: "Russian Bishop's House-Study"
1850-60, America
See Sitting Room for source

Border: "Rope"
1850-60, English or American
from Victorian Society in America
Reproduced by Schumacher (New York)
Off-white wallpaper with pattern of golden clusters of leaves and intricate curving patterned bands of ochre blue and gold

Master Suite

Paper: "Lincoln's Bedroom"
1850-60, French
From Lincoln Home National Historic Site
Reproduced by Mt. Diablo Prints (Benicia, CA)

Border: "Stanton House Back Bedroom"
Blue (custom color)
See Front Hall for source

Boys' Room

Paper: "Grevenberg Lattice" (custom color)
ca. 1860, American
From Grevenberg House, Franklin, LA
Reproduced by Mt. Diablo Prints (Benicia, CA)

Border: "Locust Grove" (top half only)
See Parlor border for sourcse

Wallpaper Company Information


Mt. Diablo Prints

Waterhouse Wallhangings

Last updated: May 11, 2021

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