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  • Place of origin:

    Middleton (Lancashire) (made)

  • Date:

    1895 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Walker, David (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Colour print from engraved rollers, on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by J. Robertshaw

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 123, case 7

Object Type
In Britain paper printed or painted with patterns has been used for decorating walls since the 16th century. By the late 19th century wallpapers were widely used by all classes, in homes and also in public buildings. Originally, most wallpapers were printed in water-soluble distemper pigments. In 1853 a new method of printing using oil-based colours was invented, which was developed for commercial production in the 1870s. Wallpapers printed in this way were washable and were described at the time as 'sanitary' wallpapers because they were more hygienic.

Design & Designing
Manufacturers protected the copyright on new designs by registering the pattern with the Patent Office Design Registry. When a wallpaper had been registered in this way it had a code or a serial number printed in the margin, which identified the pattern and indicated the year it was registered. The number on this paper indicates that it was registered in 1895.

Materials & Making
David Walker's business was founded in Middleton, Lancashire, in the 1880s. The firm specialised in the production of sanitary wallpapers which were machine-printed, using engraved rollers. Walker's wallpapers were considered to be among the best of their kind because he printed on good-quality paper and used as many as 12 colours for each design.

Physical description

A panel of wallpaper, machine printed, with waterlilies on a lake overhung by foliage, colour print from engraved rollers, on paper, a colour index in each margin.

Place of Origin

Middleton (Lancashire) (made)


1895 (made)


Walker, David (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Colour print from engraved rollers, on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'Rd. No. 260807 / 201'
Lettered on the edge with registered number and colour indexes


Height: 80.1 cm, Width: 56.8 cm

Descriptive line

Panel of wallpaper with waterlillies and foliage, machine print, produced by David Walker, England, 1895.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Oman, Charles C., and Hamilton, Jean. Wallpapers: a history and illustrated catalogue of the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: Sotheby Publications, in association with the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1982.
Saunders, Gill. Wallpaper in Interior Decoration. V&A Publications. London. 2002. pp. 127. pl 111.
Victoria and Albert Museum Department of Prints and Drawings and Department of Paintings, Accessions 1952. London: HMSO, 1963.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
This paper is washable as it was printed with oil colours and then varnished. It would have been used in hallways or other areas that were exposed to dirt, dust and wear. The method of production was inexpensive and made the paper widely affordable. [27/03/2003]

Production Note

Design registered in 1895.


Printing ink; Paper


Machine printing

Subjects depicted

Water lily; Lake; Cartouches; Leaf (plant material); Lattices; Fruit; Flowers


Wall coverings; British Galleries; Prints


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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