Great Sticker Mystery

Posted on | June 12, 2013 | No Comments

Here is something fun that we received from Kathy in Washington – perfect for you ‘old house sleuths’! Please give us your feedback!  What are these??

Dear Bradbury Company,

I have an interesting piece of “old house archaeology” to share with you.

My husband and I have been restoring an 1879 Italianate home in Port Townsend, Washington. We have your paper in several rooms (amazing!) and, I believe, you have some documentation of our home’s original wallpapers. But this is about what lies beneath.

As we have worked on each room, we have documented the wallpaper(s) and kept samples prior to washing the walls and repairing/restoring the plaster. As I have stripped old paper, I have come across small oval decals or stickers. They are placed at eye height and consist of color depictions of Asian faces and, in one case, a rabbit wearing a top hat.

adult face


partial with top hat

Today in prepping another wall in another room I inadvertently scraped a layer off of one of the decals. I was curious to see writing, written facing towards the wall so that it was backwards to me. I was able to read this much of it:
Directions. __ __is side thoroughly; __re not to lick or wipe ___ __g_m. Wait a minute __ is sticky and paper ___ ____p, wipe dust from place ___ ___ _____ book
no. 4800


Have you ever seen anything like this before? Are they the directions for applying the paper? Then why the decorated side with the faces?

We would love to know if you have encountered or heard of anything like this before!

So what do think?  Port Townsend had a large Chinese community in the 19th century, according to Kathleen.  She also noted that the faces on the stickers all seem to be Asian.

The McDonald Mansion

Posted on | February 7, 2013 | No Comments

Check out these wonderful articles and photos detailing the careful restoration of the McDonald Mansion, courtesy of our friends at Rynerson O’Brien Architecture.

First, the exterior:

Next, check out the interior for some real eye-candy!

Be sure to click on the links for the complete articles and all of the wonderful pictures!

Rancho Los Alamitos

Posted on | November 12, 2012 | No Comments

As you may know already, one of the challenges we face periodically here at B&B is the reproduction of old original document papers for clients.  And although we’ve offered this service for well over 30 years, it’s still a challenge we enjoy taking on.  One such project was our recent reproduction of a 1933 bedroom paper for the Rancho Los Alamitos in Long Beach, Ca.

Our contact for the project, Pam Young Lee (Curator of Collections at the Rancho) sent us a little history of this unique site and the room in which the paper was installed.

Rancho Los Alamitos is an historic site in Long Beach, California.  The site’s history stretches back to the indigenous people who first inhabited the area, as well as the Spanish and Mexican colonizers of California, on up to the American settlement of the area.  From Spanish times onward, the site was a cattle ranch.  A modest adobe ranch house was built around 1800.  Succeeding ranchers modified and added to the adobe core over time.  In 1968, the last ranching family donated 7 ½ acres of Rancho Los Alamitos, including the ranch house, barns, and gardens to the City of Long Beach and the site opened to the public in 1970.  The award-winning historic site has been maintained and operated by the Rancho Los Alamitos Foundation since 1986. 

Several years ago, the staff and board of directors made the decision to restore one of the bedrooms in the ranch house – an area that had suffered water damage and was “out of step” with the rest of the restored interiors.  The area under restoration included the adobe-walled bedroom, as well as a wood-frame alcove or sunroom on the south side of the bedroom, added in about 1909.  The restoration called for the bedroom to be restored to an appearance and period consistent with the rest of the ranch house interiors using photographs, historical records, oral histories, and scientific examination of materials.

Using samples of wallpaper “excavated” from the bedroom, as well as an artist’s tracing and color rendering, and input from the experts at B&B, the historic paper from c. 1933 was recreated.  We know the paper is from about 1933, because Long Beach experienced a devastating earthquake that year.  While the 130-year-old ranch house only suffered light damage, the owner at the time took the precaution of coating the interior adobe walls with three inches of Gunite.  The wallpaper chosen to be reproduced was the first layer on top of the Gunite.  The Foundation began serious fund-raising and grant-writing for the bedroom restoration project in 2009.  With funds from the Long Beach Navy Memorial Heritage Association, the Evelyn M. Bauer Foundation, the Rotary Club of Lakewood, the RLA Foundation, and in-kind donations from America West Termite, the floor to ceiling restoration of the Bixby girls’ bedroom began in the spring of 2012.  B&B reproduced the wallpaper and shipped it to Rancho Los Alamitos in late summer 2012.  It’s been hung.  It looks just like the historic photograph.

THEN and …


The Foundation’s contractors and staff are putting finishing touches to the bedroom now.”

You can go to the Rancho’s website for tour schedules and admission,

We would like to thank the staff at the Rancho for the opportunity to work with them in restoring the room to it’s 1933 appearance.


Two great Victorian architects unite

Posted on | August 20, 2012 | No Comments

Just a “teaser” post to give you a sneak peek at the Bruce J. Talbert room set available in a couple of weeks…

But FIRST, our “inaugural” room was recently hung in Alameda in a historic Queen Anne home designed by the prolific American architect George F. Barber.

Barber was enormously successful in marketing his work by mail order, offering designs for houses, barns, store fronts, churches and pavilions.  His real success in this was his willingness to alter any of his designs to the customer’s specific needs or desires, encouraging them to write his firm for any changes as much as they wished, adding that they “were not easily offended”.  His tailored approach to architecture lead to thousands of satisfied customers, and dozens of variations of the same designs, which has made identifying actual Barber designs by historians today a little more challenging.  A quick web search though turned up several versions of this same design, (#27 in Barber’s Cottage Souvenir), from points all around the country.  Among the things in common to all these examples is the charming dual-approach onto the front porch and the port-holed turrets.



So we’re very happy to have found such a fine historic home to hang our new suite of wallpapers designed by yet another talented and innovative Victorian architect, one from the “other side of the pond”, Bruce J. Talbert.  So below is the promised peek at the ceiling of our new Talbert set, a portion of the room set that was NOT on display earlier this year at the San Francisco Legion of Honor, (if you got to see it there at the Cult of Beauty exhibit).

So what’s up there??  You’re seeing the Flora Ceiling Paper surrounded by the Flora Ceiling Border, with a Flora Corner Block laid between the angled turns.  If you look carefully you can see that the lead paper hanger responsible for this beautiful installation, Heidi Wright Mead, expertly “wove” the branches of the vine in the border to disguise the miters there, (wow!).  The Clematis Frieze can also be seen here on the wall just below the plaster cornice in this picture.

And lastly a shot from our photo shoot a week ago, (with camera equipment in the foreground)!

So there you go!  Two great architects in one historic setting.

keep looking »


Thanks for joining us! We at B&B have been researching and uncovering great designs of the past for years and we want to invite you to join us in these discoveries! Historic, vintage or retro, whatever you're looking for, we are here to be a resource, an inspiration and a place to share your enthusiasm for period design with others.

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