This is another odd little wallpaper that intrigued me for a long time. It is just a small fragment showing a wood molding and inset panel with gilt bronze mounts. My first thought is that it was a dado panel and would run horizontally along the bottom of the wall, between the chair rail and baseboard moldings. This made sense given the trend for Mission and Colonial Revival interiors popular at the time. So I was pleasantly surprised when I came across the following illustration in “Wallpaper and Wallcoverings” by A.S. Jennings, 1903, showing this wallpaper in situ. The paper is used as a dado, but a much more elaborate dado than initially anticipated. The paper is shown as part of a wide wainscot with a separate Dutch-inspired wallpaper installed above. This type of wall treatment, with its very masculine nature, would be appropriate for an entry, hallway or library, though it would also work in a dining room.
Three different wallpapers were used to create this wall treatment: the small inset panel being featured was used along with a similar printed wood grain with architectural moldings along either edge to form the wainscot, with a separate wallpaper containing Dutch views above. The partial molding on the featured paper would serve as the top and bottom molding on the lower inset panel, while the side moldings on the lower panel could be cut out and serve as the moldings framing the Dutch scenes. The benefit of printing the second wood grain paper with parallel moldings, rather than completed inset panels, is that it provides some installation flexibility, allowing the homeowner to adjust the height of the wainscoting for best effect.
The Birge wallpaper company was one of the older and larger wallpaper companies in the United States, operating from the 1830s into the 1950s. Their variety of products covered the market, from hand-glazed imitation leather wallpapers to the more mainstream repeating patterns.