A substance made by combining mashed paper with glue and other hardening agents, so that, when dry, it can be cut, shaped and even carved. Invented in the 18th century, papier mache was at first used for small items such as snuffboxes and fans. With an improvement in techniques, it was used in the second quarter of the 19th century for a variety of household furnishings chairs, small tables, fire screens, coal scuttles, trays, inkstands and so on. It was frequently gilded and painted with flowers, fruits and rather sentimental scenes, and commonly inset with mother-of-pearl to achieve a jewelled effect. Given the apparently flimsy nature of the material, it is surprising just how many papier mache pieces have survived.
The best known manufacturer of papier mache was the Birmingham and London firm of Jennens and Bettridge, whose name is stamped on the underside of items manufactured by more...
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