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From The Archive: 1912 Automobile Frieze

by Bo Sullivan on October 12, 2016

in Floors, Walls and Ceilings

Apparently pastoral but with a decidedly modern twist, the frieze takes center stage in this highly decorated period room.  Henry Bosch Co. From the catalog “Modern Home Decoration,” 1912

Apparently pastoral but with a decidedly modern twist, the frieze takes center stage in this highly decorated period room. Henry Bosch Co. From the catalog “Modern Home Decoration,” 1912

With at least half a dozen different wall and ceiling papers in an unusually elaborate arrangement, a rather masculine Arts & Crafts den has several panels from Schmitz–Horning’s famed San-kro-mura ‘Automobile’ frieze. (The full treatment, 30″ high, has six 60″ panels and runs 30 linear feet without repeat.)

Car repairs.

Car repairs.

Its humorous vignettes showing the perils of “a mid-winter tour of Southern California”—road racing, road rage, and road-trip repairs—are an ambivalent commentary on life with the era’s new-fangled phenomenon in personal transport.

3-racing-20070707210110630_0012ac

Racing.

Pictorial friezes, many of them imported from Europe, were popular from about 1905 until the Great Depression. Intaglio-printed in durable oil-based inks, these papers allowed for more colors and a finer gradation of tone than did traditional wallpapers. Subjects tended toward historical scenes, lush landscapes, and whimsical or quirky themes known as novelty papers. Will we celebrate new technologies with digital patterns today? Or has progress rudely dispensed with novelty decorative treatments, leaving them, like that old horse and buggy, in the ditch?

In a ditch!

In a ditch!

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 ScottInAnEdwardian October 26, 2016 at 9:01 am

That’s a beautiful frieze and a nice write-up, thanks. We’ve got a 25-foot, supposedly hand-painted frieze encircling the top few feet of an office in our 1912 Craftsman Foursquare. It’s got the same whimsy as this, but is of an English-looking fox-hunt.

2 Bo Sullivan October 26, 2016 at 10:44 am

Hi Scott, if you send me photos of your frieze, maybe I can ID it for you. The fox hunt theme was popular (why exactly I’m not sure), but each company’s version was pretty distinctive. Sounds like a great and rare survivor!

My Facebook page features a video from a recent presentation I gave (the second post from the top). At the very end of the video you’ll see an example of an original fox hunt paper that I have a few rolls of, from about the same time:
https://www.facebook.com/Bolling-Company-131500893726421/

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