My Dad Would Be Surprised
Last summer I researched and wrote an article on the history of wallpaper for the Daughters of the American Revolution magazine, American Spirit. The story, “Repeating Patterns: Wallpaper in Early American Homes” appeared in the November/December 2008 issue. My interest in wallpaper is a familial thing. My family had a wallpapering business back in the 1870s and each successive generation of men learned the trade. My Dad, James William Taylor, Jr. was the last in the line. He died in September 2007. While I was researching the article, an online tip led me to the library at Historic New England. I found a few interesting things in their manuscript collection, but discovered that they had a collection of artifacts and other material relating to the wall paper industry. I asked if they would be interested in my family’s tools from their wallpapering business. A few emails and photographs later I got the news. Historic New England would accept our donation of my Dad’s beat-up toolbox, his wallpapering tools and his custom made wooden work box. The box allowed him to carry tools and then use the large wooden box to cut and paste wallpaper before hanging. it. Unfortunately it’s too large to be photographed. I’m so proud to have his belongings in a museum. He would be very surprised. He was a simple man who never visited a museum until I worked in one. His first words during that visit were, “Nice wallpaper.” I still love wallpaper. He hung the paper in several rooms of my house and I feel close to him just sitting on the couch.