During the 1840s, industrialization transformed the business of making wallpaper in America with the arrival of cylinder printing machines and continuous-feed paper. The paper moved around a giant drum and passed beneath a series of printing rollers. Each roller added detail in as many as twelve different colors as they rotated through individual ink troughs. Factories were soon born across the country in response to a growing appetite for more patterns on all surfaces within the home.
The standard wallpaper-printing roller had a wooden core of old-forest maple, mahogany or cypress. A staff of artisans was hired to design and create patterns by tapping strips of brass into that core. Next, walls of felt were tightly packed into the brass outlines to carry the colors. The results were simple to complex patterns that hint of flowers, stripes and abstract designs.
Nearly all of the wallpaper rollers in this collection hail from the Bailey Company of Cleveland, Ohio. The Bailey family got into the retail end of the wallpaper business in 1877. They opened their own mill and began producing wallpapers in 1893 and remained a family-owned business until they closed in 1967. Bailey was reported to be the second oldest wallpaper mill in the United States.
Protection and Preservation
Each roller has been gently hand-cleaned and rubbed to retain and respect as much as possible of the original color, character and glints of brass. Unique variations and striations are to be expected. The roller is sealed with a soft, satin finish to highlight and protect the wood and the beauty.