I have long admired the wide children’s borders, also called friezes, designed and produced in the early twentieth century, prior to the Great Depression in 1929. Cooper Hewitt has a fair collection of these with the most popular being Winnie the Pooh, produced ca. 1926, coinciding with the release of the book by A.A. Milne and featuring the original illustrations by E.H. Shephard. Many of these friezes were designed by artists and children’s book illustrators and feature beautifully drawn and colored figures and landscapes. They typically measured 22 inches wide and 35 feet in length which would be long enough to wrap around a child’s room or nursery, telling a continuous story with no design repeat. These were wood block printed and all of the museum’s examples were produced in England. In comparison, a less expensive border printed by machine would repeat about every eighteen inches.

“To Cowslip Farm” is less well documented than some of the other borders. The only clues on the paper are a sign on the gate post which reads “To Cowslip Farm” and the Registered Design number 700371 printed at the bottom edge. Contact with the British Library gave us the information that this design was registered in 1923 and was produced by The Wallpaper Manufacturers, more specifically Arthur Sanderson and Sons. We were also told the British Library had two copies of a book called “The Cowslip Farm Book” published by Blackie & Sons in 1923 and 1931 with illustrations by Cecil Aldin and Arthur Rackham, both of whom were renowned illustrators. I have never been able to find a copy of this book to confirm it is the same story with the original illustrations by Aldin and Rackham but as it was produced at the same time and both of these gentlemen illustrated children’s books I assume it is. Even without the information gleaned from the library this is a delightful children’s wallpaper, beautifully printed in matt colors, with plenty of recognizable farm animals and industrious children.

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