Borders and Scrolls

Early American Brush-Stroke Wall Painting, 1790-1820

By Margaret Coffin

Subjects: Art, New York/regional
Imprint: Distribution Partners
Paperback : 9780939072088, 79 pages, January 1986

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Table of contents

Map of houses with painted walls

1. Types of Early Wall Painting in America

2. Brush-Stroke Wall Painting: The Scroll and Border Painters

3. What Kind of Craftsmen Painted Walls?

4. Brush-Stroke Painting on Tinware, Country
Furniture, Stoneware and Vehicles

5. Brush-Stroke Painting and Wallpaper

Houses with Painted Walls

Abbott-Brewster House, An Example of a Mural-Painted Wall
J. Hopkins House, An Example of a Stenciled Wall
Chart of Houses with Brush-Stroke-Painted Walls
Van Wormer House
Van Ness House
Van Alstyne House
Van Alen House
Schermerhorn-Pruyn House
Kittle House
Hudson House
Douglas-Gardner House
Turner House
Dillenbeck House
Beach Tavern
French House
Stratton Tavern
Alexander House
Arms House
"Landlord" Williams House
"Landlord Abel" Chapin House
Wilcox House
Horton-Farrington House
Waldo House
Galusha House
Bame House

Appendix: How-To-Do-It
Mural Painting Stenciling

Brush-Stroke Painting

Invaluable overview of domestic wall paintings in the northeast from 1890-1820


Borders and Scrolls provides a fascinating glimpse of domestic wall painting in the historic Northeast. It looks in detail at how and why Americans in New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut decorated the walls of their houses in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Wallpaper was just too expensive for even well-to-do merchants and farmers, who turned to craftsmen to stencil and freehand paint the walls around them. Much of this exquisite domestic art does not survive today: houses were remodeled, some torn down; walls have been repainted, papered over, or removed. Striking examples of those that remain are found in this richly illustrated volume, which reveals intricate technical processes, schools of design, similar designs and techniques on other objects and media, and engrossing histories and stories surrounding the houses, families, and craft painters.

Margaret Coffin is the author of Death in Early America: The History and Folklore of Customs and Superstitions of Early Medicine, Funerals, Burials, and Mourning and The History and Folklore of American Country Tinware, 1700–1900.