This children’s wallpaper is based on the story of Max and Moritz, A Story of Seven Boyish Pranks, written by Wilhelm Busch in 1865. The illustrations are loosely based on the originals and show the characters of Max and Moritz committing one of their pranks; actually it is prank number three played on the friendly tailor. The tailor Böck has a stream flowing in front of his house. The two boys saw nearly through the planks of his wooden bridge, and then taunt the tailor by making goat noises. The tailor runs out of the house and onto the bridge, and after falling into the river nearly drowns. He is saved by two geese who manage to pull him out of the water. Böck’s wife then proceeds to dry his clothes with a warm iron. Definitely not setting a good example for children!

Early children’s papers were designed to be instructional and usually contained nursery rhymes or lessons in morality. Designs with images of children, such as those by Kate Greenaway, always showed the children well behaved and well dressed. Wallpapers were not designed to amuse children until the early twentieth century when Mickey Mouse and Popeye became the first comic strip characters to appear on wallpaper in the 1930s. While the characters of Max and Moritz were introduced in 1865 they were not deemed appropriate for children’s wallpaper until the 1950s, nearly 100 years later. Max and Moritz is probably the earliest strip involving mischievous kids, but when it appeared on wallpaper it was simultaneous with the adventures of Dennis the Menace.

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