Cheap, Quick, and Easy: Imitative Architectural Materials, 1870-1930 / Edition 1

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Overview

In this innovative study, Pamela H. Simpson examines the architectural materials that proliferated between 1870 and 1930. Produced by new technology, promoted by new forms of advertising, and eagerly adopted by a new middle class, these “cheap, quick, and easy” materials helped to transform building practices in the United States and Great Britain.

As Simpson shows in fascinating detail, rockface concrete blocks, pressed metal imitations of stone, linoleum “marble” and “parquet,” and embossed wall coverings made available to the masses a host of ornamental effects that only the wealthy could previously have afforded. But, she notes, wherever these new materials appeared, a heated debate over the appropriateness of imitation followed. Were these materials merely tasteless shams? Or were they economical, durable alternatives that democratically extended the possibilities of ornamentation?

Simpson devotes chapters to each of the various ornamental materials, considering its precursors, invention, production, and distribution. In her final chapter, she traces the history of the aesthetic debate over imitation and analyzes the social meaning of the materials. Far from being “bad taste,” she concludes, these new ornamental forms reflected modernism, democracy, and progress—some of the most deeply held values of the period.

The Author: Pamela H. Simpson is Ernest Williams II Professor of Art History at Washington and Lee University. The author of numerous articles and exhibition catalogs, she is co-author (with Royster Lyle) of The Architecture of Historic Lexington. She was president, for the 1997–99 term, of the Vernacular Architecture Forum.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Simpson (art history, Washington and Lee U.) examines the development, manufacture, uses, advertising, and popular reception of the architectural materials that proliferated between 1870 and 1930, including rockface concrete blocks, pressed metal imitations of stone, linoleum "marble" and "parquet," and embossed wall coverings. Includes good, detailed b&w illustrations. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781572330375
  • Publisher: University of Tennessee Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/1999
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Pamela H. Simpson is Ernest Williams II Professor of Art History at Washington and Lee University. The author of numerous articles and exhibition catalogs, she is co-author (with Royster Lyle) of The Architecture of Historic Lexington. She was president, for the 1997–99 term, of the Vernacular Architecture Forum.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Cheap, Quick, and Easy: Introduction 1
1 Stone for the Masses: Concrete Block in the Early Twentieth Century 9
2 Embossed Facades: Ornamental Sheet Metal 30
3 Artful Interiors: Metal Ceilings and Walls 54
4 Fashion Floors: Linoleum, Its Predecessors and Rivals 75
5 Good Impressions: Embossed Wall and Ceiling Coverings 102
6 Grand Illusions: Other Faux Materials 118
7 Substitute Gimcrackery: Aesthetic Debates and Social Implications 136
Notes 165
Glossary 189
Selected Bibliography 193
Index 211
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