PRESERVING AN EARLY ENGLISH WALLPAPER FRAGMENT

Manuscript account book.

1706–53.

Small 8vo notebook, 12 leaves, plus numerous blanks, entries in several hands, each signed by William Hamilton up to 1745, and then by Andrew Hamilton; slightly dusty but good, in a contemporary limp vellum wallet-binding, tie wanting, scrap of block-printed paper preserved under the fore-edge fold.

£5400

Approximately:
US $6846€6319

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Manuscript account book with 41 entries recording payments to William (later Andrew) Hamilton of Monkland, Lanarkshire, by William Main of Meadowhead, of four pound Scots due annually for the ‘few duty’ (an annual land rent) on the farm of Meadowhead. The first entry is for £12 for the years 1704–6, and some other entries cover two years. Most are signed ‘at Coalers’ or ‘Colliers’; although we have not identified this location, Monkland (formerly land belonging to Newbattle Abbey) is at the heart of the North Lanarkshire coal fields.

William Hamilton was the son of Robert Hamilton (1654-before 1721) and Margaret Hamilton, and the grandson of James Hamilton, 1st of Dalzell (d. 1668); his son Andrew Hamilton (d. 1765?), signs here in 1746 ‘in the name of my father’ and from 1747 in his own right, suggesting William had died during that year.

Most delightfully, the binding preserves a small folded fragment (c. 135 x 46mm) of seventeenth-century wall- or lining-paper, block-printed in black and overstencilled in a faded orange. Of English origin, it is of a type produced in imitation of black-work embroidery, ‘used in England throughout the 17th century. Their main motifs are flowers (carnation, fleur-de-lys, rose, pansy), leaves and fruit (strawberry, pomegranate, acorn). They originated as printed designs for multi-coloured needlework on table- and bed-linen … ’ (The Papered Wall, ed. Hoskins). Printed in carbon-black only on single sheets, they were sometimes over-painted or stencilled in other colours. Visible elements here include a thistle and a rather charming butterfly, with dotted branch borders – we have not been able to identify any papers with the precise elements visible here, though see The Papered Wall p. 22-3 for a single-sheet paper with orange over-stencilling (late seventeenth century, in The Shrubbery, Epsom), and a recently discovered paper in a Bible box at Acton Scott Hall with dotted branches, flowers, insects and birds. Surviving examples of English wallpapers of this date are extremely uncommon, and almost always small fragments – the collection at Temple Newsam for example (see Wallpapers at Temple Newsam) includes only three seventeenth-century examples, and there is only one in the collection of English Heritage (Rosoman, London Wallpapers: their Manufacture and Use 1690–1840).

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