Carnations and Shells may well be the
earliest complete repeats of a wallpaper motif
found in situ in the United States. There are
two samples of it in the Historic New England
archives, one from the Cowing House in
Weymouth, Massachusetts, and a larger sample
with "Whipple House" scribbled on the back.
The Whipple House in Ipswich, Massachusetts
was constructed as early as the 1630s. In 1721
Mary Whipple Crocker aged 38 married and
inherited the house upon the death of her
father. The installation of the paper could
date from a redecoration that took place soon
thereafter, perhaps in 1725. After Mary's
death her widower, Benjamin Crocker, married a
44-year old woman named Experience Coolidge in
1736. The installation of the paper could also
date from this slightly later period.
The pattern is characteristic of the very
early rococo with an asymmetrical composition
focused around a shell. Although it lacks the
precision and refinement of the late rococo,
it is nevertheless a dramatic and engaging
pattern. It was designed before wallpaper
printers had mastered the technology of
printing large areas of color. Instead, these
areas were hand stenciled, a very labor
intensive process. The delicate black and red
outlines were then block printed.
Shell and Carnations is remarkable for both
its exuberant design and bold use of
translucent color. It is an extraordinary
example of the early 18th century
This pattern is licensed to Adelphi Paper
Hangings by Historic New England.
Repeat 18¾ inches
Width 21½ inches
The historic colorway image above shows two
widths of the pattern installed.