One of the earliest areas where you see a social influence on wallpaper are designs with innovations in mobility. As people began exploring America’s scenic wonders in the 1820s, many Americans satisfied their wanderlust with river excursions, and the Hudson valley became a major destination. It was around this time manufacturers started printing designs that featured scenes of transportation and mobility.

Some of the earliest examples of this occur on bandboxes which were an article of mobility themselves. These were produced to store & transport men’s collar bands, and were popularly used for hat boxes, and general carryalls. The boxes generally consist of a block-printed paper on a pasteboard support and were most popular in America from the 1820-40s. It is a walking beam sidewheeler that is featured prominently on this bandbox, most likely on an excursion on the Hudson River. This became the vehicle of choice for both passengers and cargo navigating the rivers and was thought by many to be the most beautiful creation of man. The walking beam sidewheeler, the first steam-powered boat developed by Robert Fulton in 1807, was thought to be the perfect vehicle for river tours. Earlier papers show trains, steam engines and balloon launches. Later you find images of automobiles and airplanes. This was inspired by the wanderlust of the new middle class, who now had the funds and leisure time to travel.

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