Historical Use


Blind Judgment

xxxThe above is the first known print advertisement for wooden blinds to appear in the "New World" having been placed in the "Pennsylvania Journal and Weekly Advertiser" on August 20, 1767 by John Webster, upholsterer from London. Webster lived in Philadelphia and is one of the earliest craftsman to produce this newly invented window decoration.

Venetian Sun Shades...

xxxIt is said in legend that Thomas Jefferson had every window in every house he occupied fitted with "Wooden Venetian Sun Shades." Today they are called Wooden Blinds, but they are still as popular as ever they were in centuries past. Jefferson knew well the versatile nature of wooden blinds; their ability to protect furnishings from "the scorching rays of the sun," the privacy they afford when closed (and we know Jefferson to have greatly valued his privacy), as well as the fact that blinds may be drawn up completely to the top of the window allowing a full unobstructed view out of doors.

In Williamsburg, Virginia...
xxxWooden blinds serve all the essential needs when choosing a functional window decoration, and they are traditional in American architecture. We know that wooden blinds were used throughout Colonial Williamsburg and often to the exclusion of curtains. A quick stroll down "Duke of Gloucester" will reveal wooden blinds on virtually every window.

With or without draperies...
xxxThe use of blinds with minimal draperies or no draperies at all is not difficult to understand. In Williamsburg, drapery fabric (as well as many other commodities) came from England and carried a stout tax. The expense of draperies added to this tax, plus a very real resentment on the part of Colonists regarding England, made wooden blinds a very logical alternative for window covering.

xxxIn all probability, wooden blinds would have been produced locally, possibly as a side line to the furniture industry utilizing the fall or scrap from that source. This may also explain the prolific use of Walnut blinds during that period.

Classic Georgian Architecture...
xxxThe bold, distinguished lines of Georgian Architecture are ideally suited to the wooden blind, and it became common in the east as a functional as well as decorative window treatment throughout the Georgian Period.

The Federal Period...
xxxThe Federal Period saw a slight modification in design towards a lightness and delicacy relative to the preceding Georgian style however, the essential design of windows remained very similar, and thus window decorations. Festoons, jabots and the like realized a greater popularity perhaps than earlier, but the "Wooden Venetian Blind" remained strong in window design providing privacy but also protection of the draperies from the sun and it's effects.

xxxThe use of walnut or natural finish blinds was very popular in Colonial times however, by contrast the Federal Period found white or stone color blinds to be more elegant and fashionable. Blinds were typically painted the color of the window casement. The most common exception to this practice was the use of dark green.

Victorian Architecture...
xxxIn the 1850's with the approach of the Victorian Era architecture became much more ornate. Decorative ornamentation was the order of the day; gingerbread trim and balustrades on the exterior, carved, routed and crested casements on the interior. Operable louver bi-fold shutters began to see their earliest popular usage on the interior of the building, but shutters were often limited to the study or the library during the early Victorian Period.

Interior design changed radically in only a short period of time. Furniture and wall coverings saw a dramatic evolution. Draperies became heavier and more lavish with deep, lush colors. Carpeting followed suit but under the draperies one will find that wooden venetian blinds were used to perform the same critical function of privacy and sun control throughout the Victorian Period.

Turn of the 20th Century...
xxxThrough the end of the 19th Century and the turn of the 20th Century wooden blinds remained very popular as a window decoration in America. The "Craftsman Period" of the early 20th Century still recognized wooden blinds as being the most practical, functioning window decoration available and they were used prolifically during this period, again both with and without draperies.

xxxFor 250 years the 2" wooden blind remained in popular use by designers and architects without change or alteration in design. It was not until the 1940's that blinds realized the first of two major changes; namely the introduction of the metal slat which changed blinds from a decorative and functional window dressing to purely functional. The second of the two major changes occurred in 1970 with the introduction of the ever ubiquitous "mini-blind."

xxxStill today, blinds in one of these three primary forms are far and away the most popular window covering in America.

Old World Craftmanship...
xxxFor more than 50 years we have studied 18th and 19th Century design wooden blinds with an eye toward reproducing this original product. offers high quality, custom manufactured wooden blinds, authentically reproduced and handcrafted to the highest standards. You will find no magic wands or invisible tapes on Americana blinds. Instead you will find wooden head rails with a traditional double fluted fascia. You will never find plastic tiltor gears but instead steel and brass pinion and worm gear hardware. Plastic wheels and grommets will never be used in the lift system but rather walnut wheels and pulleys are installed in the head rail for a completely unobstructed action of the lift cord. The slats are cut, sanded, buffed and finished by hand in the color of your choice, from the authentic Williamsburg colors to whitewash; from natural wood to a deep, rich walnut stain.

xxxHerringbone weave cotton tapes are available in an array of colors to match or coordinate with virtually any color blind. Reinforced cotton braid cords are used to match with the tape color.

xxxIf sun is a problem for your valuable antiques and furnishings... If you need privacy, but are unwilling to compromise the authenticity of your home with mini-blinds. . . If the all or nothing protection of window shades seems inadequate as well as inappropriate, then DeVenco wooden blinds are your answer.

xxxAt we have worked with period wooden blinds for more than 50 years. We have a great deal of experience working with consultants and designers on Historic Properties. If you are interested in more information on the DeVenco authentic wooden blind or if you have specific questions about the product or about proper use and color within a particular period, don't hesitate to call. We are always glad to help.