Queries: Paper lined bed testers

Editorial Staff Furniture & Decorative Arts

Cybèle Gontar and Stephen Harrison are writing an article on paper-lined bed testers. Decorative wallpapers have traditionally been placed on walls, ceilings, and folding screens. Less commonly, wallpapers were also used to cover valances and ceilings of bedsteads in the late eighteenth century. Bed and window valances covered with paper were advertised by Francis Delorme, a French immigrant craftsman in the Charleston City Gazette and Advertiser on July 6, 1793. Gontar found a notice in the February 1831 edition of the New Orleans Courrier de La Louisiane that A. L. Boimare’s Book Store “has received by the latest arrivals from France a large assortment of paper hangings of the newest style…and also received paper and borders for bed tops.” Ronald Hurst, Chief Curator at Colonial Williamsburg noted in The Magazine ANTIQUES in January 1995 that when a 1798 bedstead at Prestwould in Mecklenburg County, Virginia, was changed in 1831, the tester was lined with a neoclassical wallpaper border (see image at right). Early nineteenth-century bedsteads adorned with their original decorative papers continue to be discovered. For an upcoming article, anyone with pertinent information is asked to contact:

Cybèle Gontar at louisianafurniture@gmail.com
Stephen Harrison at sharrison@clevelandart.org