Lincrusta-Walton & Anaglypta

Posted on | February 13, 2009 | 27 Comments

Along with paint, wallpaper and decorative plaster, another popular wall finish found in many late nineteenth and early twentieth century homes was the “indestructible wall covering” popularly known as Lincrusta-Walton.

Originally named “Linoleum Muralis” (linoleum for walls) by its English inventor Fredrick Walton in 1877, it became almost as favorite a treatment for walls as Walton’s first invention of Linoleum (1860) had already become for floors. The two materials were manufactured essentially the same way and with the same materials: a mixture of linseed oil, cork, resins, and pigment heated then pressed together by heavy rollers onto a canvas backing. Lincrusta-Walton (later known only as Lincrusta) was different in that it was embossed and could be hung onto walls like wallpaper. And like wallpaper, it was designed as fills, (examples below from the 1910 Journal of Decorative Art) as well as friezes and dados.

It could provide a hard, durable decorative surface in relief that imitated leather, carved wood or plaster and could then be painted, stained, glazed or gilded to the decorators taste, all at a fraction of the cost of the material it was “imitating”. It also had several other more practical advantages, being moisture resistant, “sanitary” (or washable) and, unlike plaster, it was resistant to cracking. And, as many homeowners with original installations can tell you also, the material gets harder with age.

Soon after its invention, Lincrusta could be found in homes, public and government buildings, railroad cars and even steamships, (including theTitanic).

The only real disadvantage to this innovative product was its weight. Later in 1887, Thomas Palmer, who had been working for Walton as a showroom manager, invented an embossed but lightweight hard paper pulp product that could also be finished in a myriad of ways and installed more easily as friezes and ceilings. He called his product “Anaglypta“, derived from two Greek words meaning “raised engraving”. Later this new product so impressed the judges at the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1900 that they awarded it two Gold Medals.

Today both Lincrusta and Anaglypta are still available in a wide array of patterns.

Comments

27 Responses to “Lincrusta-Walton & Anaglypta”

  1. Logan
    February 18th, 2009 @ 7:02 pm

    Having been raised in a 1907 home, I’m very familiar with Lincrusta. In our neighborhood, it was common and I didn’t realize how unique it was until I moved away. Now, years after my parents first purchased it, I’m restoring those eleven rooms, three of which have different Lincrusta wall patterns, not to mention thirty feet of hallway and a vestibule!

    As you say, the product does harden with age, which makes for great insulating properties (this house has zero insulation), but also makes repairs near-impossible. The flexibility goes, over time. I’m currently exploring a process to take a mold/impression of the existing, in order to make patch-repairs in the hallway.

    Originally, Lincrusta was often treated to resemble embossed leather, which was popular at the time. Our house was a sea of the original dark brown and dark green Lincrusta when my parents bought it in 1959. Mom, in her mid-1960′s Jackie Kennedy mode, painted much of it a weak pale blue. (Thank goodness she didn’t paint any woodwork.) Because the relief on the material isn’t pronounced, the product really can’t take more than a few coats of paint before the detail is seriously lost. Best to paint it once, paint it well, and find a way to live with that choice for a very long time. (For that reason, I strongly suggest you test paint colors on a large piece of cardboard and place in in the room, rather than testing on the existing Lincrusta material itself.)

    Sadly, my dining room, with its beautiful ‘shield and crown’ pattern, is so overpainted, I’m going to have to strip the room of its original and install brand new material. I’ve been unable to find Lincrusta in lengths beyond chair rail height, though my dining room lengths well beyond five feet, to the bottom of the plate rail. I’m afraid the replacement will have to be Anaglypta, with the consequent loss of the insulation factor. The trade-off is the benefit of a wider variety of availabe patterns.

    If Bradbury decides to manufacture this lovely stuff, I’ll be first in line! And I took a

  2. Logan
    February 18th, 2009 @ 7:03 pm

    …ton of documentary photos, with measurements, should you ever need them! ;-)

  3. steve
    February 18th, 2009 @ 7:14 pm

    Logan, thanks for the fascinating history on your Lincrusta! I would LOVE to see the photos of it and I would like to post them for others to see if that would be alright with you. You can find methods to repair Lincrusta on the web. One of Bradbury’s early projects was the restoration of the lincrusta panels at the California State Capitol. We took old original remnantsin this case and had a new panel carved, which was a project in itself. After, we made molds from that panel and made plaster reproductions from it, which worked well. Of course there are better products out there now which could make a cast that would be less brittle. I’ll see what I can find.

  4. Logan
    February 18th, 2009 @ 8:37 pm

    Steve, Thank you! I’ll hold off pulling the dining room apart and will concentrate on the hideous (sorry, Mom) strippable paper that’s falling off the UPPER third of the room. (It should take all of an hour to remove it.)

    Then it’s time to install Bradbury’s random stars on the ceiling sections. The globe lights in each corner have very similar stars etched on them. Serendipity.

    Now, removing the shield and crown Lincrusta… I’m thinking that would take several days, not to mention the necessary plaster repairs afterward. I’m happy to delay that project indefinitely!

    Will send those photos via email as soon as I can.

  5. steve
    February 19th, 2009 @ 1:01 am

    Can’t wait to see them! I wouldn’t mind seeing the wallpaper you strip off also, if you have the camera in your hands… (It’s always interesting to see what went up in interiors past).
    Thanks Logan!

  6. Charlie
    March 5th, 2009 @ 1:41 pm

    We have a very small fragment of anglypta that was original to our 1880 house – it was a pattern with birds that I have never seen. We would love to find a photo that matches it and shows the whole repeat or – even better – find someone who can reproduce it. Any suggestions appreciated. Thank you!

  7. steve
    March 5th, 2009 @ 2:20 pm

    Charlie, if you wouldn’t mind sending a picture of along to us at info@bradbury.com I will try to find a match in some of our old publications, and we could go from there! Thanks!

  8. Charlie
    March 5th, 2009 @ 6:44 pm

    Thanks, Steve. I will do that by the end of the week.

  9. Martin Guest
    March 8th, 2009 @ 1:19 pm

    I’m very interested to read the comments above – particularly “I’ve been unable to find Lincrusta in lengths beyond chair rail height”… I’m the leading installer of Lincrusta in the UK and have been employed by Lincrusta (now manufactured by Crown Wallcoverings and Vymura Ltd – CWV Ltd) to demonstrate how to hang and decorate Lincrusta throughout the world. Lincrusta is very much alive and well and enjoying a real renaissance. Available in 29 patterns (all of which are made using the original rollers) – 4 patterns being dado height panels and the balance being 10m rolls and friezes.

    Having spoken to Lincrusta, I believe that there is also a well know distributor in the US.

    If anyone is interested, you can view my blog at mjguestltd.blospot.com or if I can help with any advice, please send me (Martin Guest) an email – mjguestltd@hotmail.com

  10. steve
    March 8th, 2009 @ 11:27 pm

    Martin, thanks for your comment and contact info. I am finding from other readers as well that Lincrusta and Anaglypta has been difficult to find, at least here in the States, but apparently there are some yet undiscovered resources. Thanks for making your expertise available!

  11. Martin Guest
    March 14th, 2009 @ 1:08 pm

    Blog contact address actually; http://www.mjguestltd.blogspot.com …sorry. Please keep the questions coming, I am extremely happy to help anyone!

  12. Linda Young
    March 16th, 2009 @ 7:09 pm

    I am excited to see so much information and interest in Lincrusta and Anaglypta materials. On a tour of the Winchester House in San Jose, CA in the late 1980′s I saw a pile of the Lincrusta (or maybe Anaglypta)in a workroom storage area, just sitting there, never to be installed! I have been looking for the real item for years, great to find a source. I saw quite a bit of the materials on a trip to the UK. It really is as strong as wood!

  13. Cindy Joy
    March 30th, 2009 @ 5:56 am

    I always enjoy hearing people’s renovation and restoration stories, but I am surprised that people have had a problem finding a source for Lincrusta and Anaglypta. When we redid our 1906 house in 1999-2002, we used a variety of wall coverings, including Bradbury papers (many, many rolls of Bradbury papers). We were happy to find Lincrusta and Anaglypta and used them in several rooms. Admittedly, we only used the Lincrusta beneath the chair rail, but that was because we were using paper for the fill, not because we couldn’t find the Lincrusta fill. In fact, we used a fill beneath the chair rail in the boys bedroom because the pattern went so well with the fill we used and we wanted a durable, washable coverings on the lower part of the wall. It was wonderful to work with and easy to paint. We initially ordered it from a local wallpaper shop. When we had to purchase additional Anaglypta to repair a ceiling damaged by a plumbing leak (the contractor installed a replacement valve incorrectly, grr), I was able to find a mail order house for the replacement paper. A web search now turns up two web sites in the USA selling Lincrusta wall coverings on double rolls. Both sites have similar prices, once you realize that one site is showing price per roll and the other is showing price per double roll. And can I just say “ouch!”? Now I remember why we did the ceilings in Anaglypta – the cost is 10% of the cost of Lincrusta! I am very sad that we had to move and can no longer live in our beautiful house. In the current market, it doesn’t even look like we’ll be able to sell it and will have to rent it out. Anyway, I’m going to include the links I found in a separate note, in case you don’t want to link to commercial sites. Thanks for the interesting article!

  14. Cindy Joy
    March 30th, 2009 @ 6:09 am

    Here’s the links I found to companies in the USA selling Lincrusta fills:

    http://www.wallpapersplus.com/lincrusta_wallcoverings.html

    http://www.designyourwall.com/store/Embossed-Lincrusta-Paintable-wall-covering-wallpaper-c-148.html

    Those links will take you directly to the Lincrusta Fills.

    Here’s the listing for our house, with pictures taken by Miro Dvorscak:

    http://search.har.com/engine/dispSearch.cfm?mlnum=6956171

    Honestly, we’ve lowered the price to the point where I would rather rent it out and wait for the market to come up! The pictures in the listing have had their resolution lowered to the point where they really don’t do his photos justice. I should load the full resolution photos into my Flickr page. Besides, that listing won’t be up much longer.

  15. Cindy Joy
    March 30th, 2009 @ 7:02 am

    Okay, here’s some high res images of the house interior. If you go to “view all sizes”, you can see the original, very dense image, which will allow you to look closely at the wall coverings. I couldn’t immediately find the second disk, so I only uploaded about half the images. If there is interest, I will look again. Here’s the link:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/cindyjoy/

  16. Rosemie Cheoutre
    April 6th, 2009 @ 4:45 am

    I am a restorer of historical wallpapers and now I have to restore a lincrusta. many parts still exist but also a geat deal of it is gone.
    Can somebody give me advise how to repair or restore de exisiting parts (they are very brittle), make them more flexible eventually, and how make new parts. I know I have to make a moulding but are there sugestions to use different (better!)materials for composition than the original materials?
    I would be very thankfull if someone could help me.
    Thanks in advance, Rosemie

  17. steve
    April 8th, 2009 @ 1:23 pm

    Rosemie, thank you for the question. I have read of some restorations and replications being done with plaster, (as we did years ago on the California State Capitol), but I’m sure there must be resins or some kind of flexible moldable material available now that can be used in lieu of that. You might even try contacting the people at Lincrusta.com for up to date advice on repair or to even inquire about a possible re-release of that pattern (since they may very well be making it still or have the original rollers to make it).

  18. Rosemie Cheroutre
    April 9th, 2009 @ 7:40 am

    Dear Steve,

    Thank you so much for the information.
    I have contacted Lincrusta.com and I’m waiting for a response.
    If you have more information about treating damaged lincrusta-anaglypta feel free to contact me.
    If I could ever be of your assistance do not hasitate to ask me some questions.

    Greetings,
    Rosemie

  19. Karen Golden-Dible
    April 12th, 2009 @ 4:42 pm

    My Queen Anne (b. 1897) has its original lincrusta on the walls and ceiling. Below the chair rail is a fleur-de-lis pattern. The chair rail itself has a patterned lincrusta on it. Above is the wall fill (different pattern) and set in the coffered ceiling is more lincrusta. There are also bas relief inserts set in the wall fill; 6 panels depicting women in trees (with seasonal changes on the trees). Also, inserts flanking the fireplace that look like one of the 3 musketeers. All the lincrusta was painted with flat white paint by a previous owner and a bluish-grey on the insert panels. She was a heavy smoker so after I got most of the smoke damage off, I used latex semi-gloss paint in Victorian colors.. There is also a frieze depicting torches. Hard to describe w/o a picture. On one panel insert there is damage (the plaster underneath has failed) which has cracked and torn the lincrusta. I have left it alone. However, in the Old House Journal (sorry, I can’t find the reference or my copy) there was a short article on restoring Lincrusta by using auto repair putty called Bondo. But, I would surmise any epoxy putty might work. If I could figure out how to peel the Lincrusta off without damaging it, I could repair the crack.

  20. steve
    April 12th, 2009 @ 11:38 pm

    Karen it sounds like you have a real lincrusta museum on your hands. They all sound intriguing and I love to see pictures of some of them (!) if you wouldn’t mind. It would be great to post some of them and we may learn a little about them as well. Thanks too for the tip on using Bondo to fix lincrusta, I recall that article also from some past OHJ. Rosemie, who commented earlier, restores wallpaper and was looking for something to use to repair old lincrusta. Bondo might be worth experimenting with.

  21. Ted Burrett
    April 24th, 2009 @ 7:20 am

    Hey, nice tips. I’ll buy a glass of beer to that man from that chat who told me to go to your blog :)

  22. Paul Hamer
    May 8th, 2009 @ 8:23 am

    I have some lincrusta or anglypta wall paper that has separated at some seams. Any tips on what to use to close them up?

  23. steve
    May 10th, 2009 @ 2:13 pm

    Paul, I have directed others with questions to the Lincrusta,com website and they seem to be responsive to repair questions. If need further answers let me know and I’ll see what we can find for you…

  24. David Cunard
    June 5th, 2009 @ 4:00 pm

    In response to Logan’s problem (a bit late, I know!) I don’t think Lincrusta was ever made for full height walls, the panels would be too heavy since it is akin to moulded linoleum. More likely is that it is Anaglypta (moulded paper) which has been painted over and over. In any case, the product is now very hard to find, even in Britain, a nation which is very wallpaper oriented. They seem to favor raised vinyl paintable papers over the originals. I have Anaglypta papers and a frieze/border (purchased in Los Angeles) which were hung around 15 years ago, but the patterns are no longer available. With regard to the actual wallpapers, there are a few which might suit, but finding a real Anaglypta frieze seems impossible – quite a few Lincrusta friezes though.

  25. Patty Conrad
    January 17th, 2010 @ 8:09 pm

    Do you know of any place that sells discontinued Anaglypta? I am looking for a maple leaf pattern that I put on my stairway walls in 2003. It’s number may have been rd4021. I want to continue it down the hallway. Any suggestions?
    thanks,

  26. steve
    January 19th, 2010 @ 1:08 pm

    Hi Patty, have you tried any of the links on the previous comments? If it was a fairly recent purchase the manufacturer may still have some in stock… you may also want to try eBay?

  27. Lincrusta-Walton & Anaglypta : Bradbury & Bradbury Art Wallpapers Blog | Purple Wedding Shoes
    May 9th, 2011 @ 12:30 am

    [...] Posted on | February 13, 2009 | 26 Comments [...]

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