Wallpaper with blue medallions, machine print.

Carl Johan Henzer1880

Nordiska Museet

Nordiska Museet
Stockholm, Sweden

Manufactured by Carl Johan Henzer Östra Vingåker in Södermanland.


  • Title: Wallpaper with blue medallions, machine print.
  • Creator: Carl Johan Henzer
  • Date Created: 1880
  • Location Created: Vingåker, Södermanland, Sweden
  • Physical Dimensions: w50 x h100 cm
  • More Information: Wallpaper roll with clear blue machine-printed medallion pattern on uncoloured paper, the cheapest imaginable wallpaper circa 1880. New technology and new pulp made wallpaper faster and cheaper to produce, while public demand for simple wallpapers increased. During the 1870s, wallpaper became available to almost everyone. Machine printing with rollers was introduced to Sweden just before 1860. Paper rolls instead of sheets were a prerequisite for the new technology and the transition from rag paper to wood pulp paper made the material cheaper. Wallpaper was much faster to machine-print with rollers; all the colours could be printed simultaneously with different coloured rollers, not one colour at a time with a drying time in between as with hand-printing using blocks. The cheapest wallpaper was printed with a single colour on an untreated background, directly on the unbleached paper. These wallpapers yellowed quickly and easily became marked, so frequent repapering was necessary. To get the base colour without needing to coat (paint) the base, the pulp itself could be stained. Printing with only one colour in this way created an inexpensive two-colour wallpaper. Around 1870, these so-called 'natural wallpapers' on uncoloured or coloured paper without base coating made a breakthrough. This damask patterned wallpaper consisting of leaf medallions with a palmette as the central motif was manufactured by Carl Johan Henzer (1835-1927) in Östra Vingåker in Södermanland. Henzer was originally a painter, but his life's interest was in developing a wallpaper printing machine. He is said to have bought older rolls and manufactured rolls according to his own pattern. In the 1880s, he was able to print wallpaper for sale. Henzer made 'natural' wallpaper in one to three colours, but also wallpapers with coated bases. He also printed so-called false bases, where the printed colour looks like the base colour and the pattern consists of the unprinted, untreated paper. Medallion patterns and thin diamond patterns with flowers as the central motifs or in the intersections of the squares are often found in Henzer's work. Common colours are blue, beige, brown, grey, and maroon. The patterns are based on 1870s' fashions and many are printed in different colours. Nordiska museet's collections contain a preserved collection of wallpaper-related items from Henzer's business. It contains his wallpaper machine, a series of presses and rolls and often also the wallpaper printed using them as a starting point.
  • Materials and Techniques: Wood pulp wallpaper, paper roll, roll print.
  • Type: Wallpaper
  • Rights: Photo: Mats Landin, © Nordiska museet
  • External Link: http://www.digitaltmuseum.se/things/tapet/S-NM/NM.0172237

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