A couple of years ago, Greg and I were traveling down to flea markets in Missouri and Kansas. One of them was in White Cloud, KS – it was a smaller event, vendors up and down a main street and then off in a small field at the end of the last block. Out in the field, one of the vendors had an item that caught my eye – and the more I studied it, the harder I fell for it. It was a wallpaper sample book from the year 1940 – thick, heavy and mostly intact.
It was like looking at a mini-time capsule!
At this time we were looking primarily for objects to buy and flip, but this was something I wanted solely for myself. I tried to negotiate the price, but the seller had only recently acquired it and wasn’t in the mood to haggle over it. I walked away – but it remained on my mind and eventually I went back. Fortunately it was still there, and I paid the asking price for it.
The book contains samples of a variety of designs, some of which have companion borders. Paper samples are about 16 x 14 inches. In 1940 there were a variety of design categories, including:
and textured geometrics, among others.
There was also this section showing different ways to use one of the patterns:
Here is the pattern, called “French Urn,” featured in the above page:
I would love to find a way to use some of these designs today, but I don’t want to ruin the integrity of the book by removing them. Maybe there’s something digitally that could be done – they would make great backgrounds or elements for vintage-inspired blog images, for example, if I could find a good way to scan them.
An awesome vintage find offering a peek into design options of more than 70 years ago!