Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Not Regency Fabrics, Part 1

I’ve been having lots of fun posting in my series on Regency Fabrics with the amazing ads from Ackermann’s Repository that have actual fabric samples glued into them, and I hope you’ve enjoyed them as well.  But what’s even cooler is that fabric isn’t the only commodity to have received this treatment: Mr. Ackermann featured other items as well, including different types of paper which they themselves sold as in this page of "Fancy Papers and Borders". Note the inscription below the samples:

The Public are respectfully informed, that besides the above Specimens of Fancy Papers and Borders, R. ACKERMANN manufactures a great variety of other Fancy Articles; and publishes almost daily, new plates of Fancy Prints, Medallions, Drawing Books, Transparencies, &c. &c. &c. The number already published is near 4000, so that he is enabled to supply Merchants, Dealers, and Schools, on better terms than any other house in the Kingdom.
N.B. Ackermann’s Superfine Water Colours, in such high Estimation, and all other drawing materials, are furnished at his Repository of Arts, 101, Strand, Wholesale and Retail.

Next week we’ll discuss just why Ackermann’s “fair readers” might be interested in “Fancy Papers”...but first, let’s look at the samples themselves. Just as I do with the fabric samples, I’ll do my best to describe each piece.

Explanations of the Patterns of Fancy Papers and Borders

No. 1, denominated fancy gold-paper, may be had of all colours, and about fifty different designs. The pattern here exhibited goes by the name of honeycomb; is principally used for covering boxes, card-racks, and hand and fire-screens. It measure 17 inches by 11; is sold at 1s. 6p. a sheet in gold, and 2s. in silver. It is put down with paste, which ought to be spread very even, and lie about two minutes, to time for the paper to stretch: when put down, pass the hand over a paper laid upon it.

My comments: Such a lovely, vivid turquoise color! The weight of the paper itself is somewhere between that of heavy writing paper and light card stock; the finish is very smooth.

The patterns marked 2, are two gold-embossed borders; with which, when well displayed, articles of the greatest elegance and richest appearance are produced. There is not a single object for the interior of a room, boudoir, or cabinet, to which these borders are not applicable. They are of various widths, from 1/8 of an inch to 2 inches, and 18 inches long. They are to be had in bright and dead gold, ditto silver, in bronze, and in all colours; and are sold, according to width and quality, from 2s. to 27s. per dozen. Embossed borders are laid down with a strong gum, which must be passed sparingly on the edges, otherwise the embossed work would be drawn down, and its beauty destroyed.

My comments: These are fairly similar to embossed gold foil-covered paper that you might find at a craft store—a little stiffer than the honeycomb paper in the first sample. The embossing is quite lovely and detailed.

No. 3 is called copper-plate paper. Of this there are about fifteen different designs, printed in various colours. The annexed pattern, which goes by the name of open-basket-paper, is much used for screens, boxes, card-racks, and for covering ladies’ portfolios. This paper measures 16½ inches by 10, and is sold at 9d. per sheet.

My comments: This is lighter in weight than the first sample, rather like a stiff wrapping paper, and not quite as smooth in texture.

No. 4 is red morocco paper. It is the closest and finest imitation of the leather which it represents, and may be had in all colours. It is also much used for screens, boxes, card-racks, portfolios, and shew-books; is applied with paste, and should lie at least ten minutes before it is laid down, as the oil colour employed in its manufacture prevents it from extending so soon as other papers. Great care should be taken to rub it outward from the center, otherwise blisters and windbags will be the consequence, and these will utterly spoil the neatness of the work. The paper measures 22 inches by 17, and is sold at 2s. or a smaller size at 1s. 6p. a sheet. The large is preferable, because the paper is stronger, and of course preserves the grain better in the pasting.

My comments: This was a pretty good attempt to approximate a leather texture. As the paper is quite stiff and heavy and shiny, I’m wondering if this wasn’t made from a thin layer of lacquer on the paper.

The circular pattern in the enter is called cypress paper, and has a most delicate appearance when worked up in screens, boxes, and portfolios. The design and colours may be varied ad infinitum. It is applied with paste; and great care is necessary, otherwise the gloss is taken out. The paste ought not to be too thin, or to lie longer than two minutes on the paper before it is laid down. It must then be rubbed outward fro the center, and a thin sheet of paper ought to invariably be laid over that which is to be rubbed down, so that the hand may never touch the paper which has received the paste. It measures 21 inches by 16½, and is sold at 1s. per sheet.

My comments: Tie-dyed paper!  Well, not really, but that’s what it looks like. It’s almost as stiff and shiny (if smooth) as the red morocco paper

The oval pattern on the left hand is a beautiful Indian pink paper, principally used for lining the inside of boxes. It measures 48 inches by 20, and the finest colours are at present sold at 2s. per sheet. Being extremely thin, this paper must be very delicately used. It ought to be fitted beforehand to the place for which it is intended, and put down the moment the paste (which must not be very thick) is laid on. To work it well into the corners, an ivory folding-knife is necessary; but it must be used very carefully, otherwise the paper will tear.

My comments: The warnings are a good idea—this is comparable to a heavy tissue paper weight-wise. But it’s quite opaque and the color is beautifully vivid.

The right hand oval is green milled paper. It is manufactured in all possible colours and shades, and is used both for lining and covering boxes, card-racks, hand and fire-screens, and a variety of other purposes. It measures 16 inches by 13, and is sold at the following prices: French green 4d. deep scarlet and crimson 6d. and all other colours at 3d. per sheet. It is also applied with paste, which should not be put on it more than two minutes before it is laid down.

My comments: Comparable to No. 3 in weight, smooth without shine.  Though I’m wondering what the source of the green in the dye is...

Included also are directions for paste, which I thought might interest you:

A few directions for making good paste, and also preparing a strong cement, for the gold papers, embossed borders and ornaments, may not perhaps be unacceptable to some of our fair readers.

To make good paste, take about half a pint of water; stir and mix well in it a table-spoonful of the best and finest flour. When no more lumps of flour are perceptible, and the whole appears like milk, set it on a gentle fire, in an earthen pipkin or tin saucepan. Stir it well till it just begins to boil; then take it from the fire; and when cold, it is fit for use. This paste will keep in winter about a week, in summer not above two or three days.

For a cement for gold-paper borders, &c. take one ounce of the best picked and clear gum arabic [the hardened sap of the acacia tree, still in use today for various purposes], pound it to powder; pour on it sufficient water to cover it, set it in a warm place, and stir it three or four times a day. In about two days it will be dissolved and fit for use; and when bottled will keep about a month in winter, in summer not above half that time: may be had in bottles ready prepared, as well as all the foregoing articles, at R. Ackermann’s Repository of Arts, 101, Strand, London.

All right, NineteenTeen readers: any paper crafters out there? What do you think of these papers?


QNPoohBear said...

Wow! Those colors are so vibrant. I had no idea they could get turquoise, teal and hot pink. The red morocco looks like card stock or scrapbook paper you can get now at craft stores and the gold one looks so iconically Victorian. Thanks for sharing something new with us.

Marissa Doyle said...

I know! It's almost like you could go to Michael's or A.C. Moore to the paper crafting aisle and find papers remarkably like these.