Do you have spare rolls of vintage wallpaper from a DIY project that went nowhere? Maybe you went a little overboard and bought more than you needed, or perhaps you’ve stumbled across some tucked away in an older relative’s attic. Whatever the case may be, you should think twice before throwing out old wallpaper — especially if it has a unique pattern that could be worth hundreds!
For centuries, wallpaper has been used to display themes from specific time periods. “Often, the French [wallpapers] displayed floral patterns and many rendered figures from history and literature. Whereas, the English wallpapers favored landscape and bucolic compositions,” the team at Antique Trader explains.
Essentially, floral designs and important historical figures could be signs that vintage wallpaper was made in France, while rustic scenes of landscapes are probably from England. These specific origins mark a turning point from the late 1700s, when wallpaper began replacing the need to paint and panel walls. Historical tidbits like these are what vintage wallpaper buyers or collectors look for in potential finds. Don’t worry, though — wallpaper doesn’t have to date all the way back to the 18th century to be worth money. More modern finds from the 19th and 20th century can earn big bucks, too.
A wallpaper’s length is another detail that drives up value. The Antique Trader team gives an example of a lucrative listing which featured several mismatched measurements: “One lot includes five different lengths, two of which are 86 and 65 inches respectively. The total cost would be over $200.”
If you’re not sure what a “lot” (also called “dye lot”) is, the experts at Wallpaper Boulevard note that it refers to rolls of wallpaper that were all made at the same time. There should be a number on the packaging letting you know the dye lot number. It’s a useful key to make sure the design (and value) is consistent throughout each roll you find.
Specific manufacturers can be goldmines, too. Antique Trader’s team considers ones made by textile designer William Morris (who also designed floral wallpapers) during the 19th century Arts and Crafts movement to be particularly great finds. They estimate that two rolls of Morris 19th century-era wallpaper totaling 90 inches to be worth $100.
Of course, the more rolls you find, the better. Taking a quick look at eBay, you’ll find listings for sets like five rolls of Ralph Lauren Camille floral wallpaper going for $575 and nine rolls of Coloroll vintage floral silk wallpaper currently selling for $488.
Although an individual roll likely won’t be a jackpot, it’s not necessarily worthless. Depending on the quality, you can still earn a few extra bucks, like this floral print wallpaper designed by Innova priced at $13.90. That’s more than you would have made tossing it out! If you’ve got some old wallpaper stashed away in your attic, it might pay to give it a second look.