Embossed Virginal Papers

I make embossed papers of the kind used to decorate the rectangular English virginals of the 17th century.

These instruments were usually very plain on the outside and highly, even gaudily decorated on the inside. The lid and keyboard flap were usually painted with rather naïve and often very busy pictures. Other parts, such as the front, had mouldings applied and in the spaces between them were painted arabesques and gilded embossed papers. The keyfronts are also found on some of the later English bentside spinets, but the border papers seem to be peculiar to this particular kind of instrument which itself was popular for only about 40 years.

The papers are made by traditional methods using quality handmade paper. The designs include:

The papers are available either plain or gilded and when carefully laid create a striking and attractive decorative effect. They can also be effectively used as a border around a picture or mirror frame. I also make the embossed and pierced keyfront papers used on Ruckers harpsichords. These are made by a rather different technique and are then glued onto a vermilion background paper which shows through the piercing. The Harrass keyfronts are similar, but are glued directly onto the stained front of the key rather than a coloured backing paper.

Prices (at April 2014)

Border papers

White border:

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Loosemore jack-rail:

Loosemore border:

Keene long border:

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Keene wide border:

Jones border:


Theeuwes border:


Theeuwes border:



Jones keyfront:
Keene keyfront:
Ruckers keyfront:
Harrass keyfront: