31 linoleum rugs from Armstrong, 1954

flowered linoleum rugwhat to collectThe subject of linoleum area rugs came up again recently, and I Scan Therefore I Am, so I dug out my 1954 Armstrong flooring catalog to show what was being sold back in the day. In all, it seems that Armstrong was selling 31 different linoleum are rug designs — plus faux wood linoleum floor edging — in 1954. These were sold under the Armstrong Quaker Rug brand. I also have a 1955 catalog and at some point will cross reference the two to see if there are more.

linoleum rugsActually, I was surprised there were as many as 28 linoleum rugs beings sold by Armstrong as late at 1954. I have tended to believe that by this time, vinyl composite tiles (of many variations) were all the rage by then.

I need to really study this whole catalog more — but just by scanning the sheet yardage goods and tiles (many many more than rugs), there was a wide variety of flooring available in 1954 — from true linoleum to inlaid linoleum to vinyl composites to plastics, even.

Remember this video? Shows a pretty linoleum rug from even earlier. Tina says that linoleum rugs were introduced in the late 19th century, for folks who could not afford a wool rug.

linoleum rug constructionAbove: The catalog shows how these Armstrong Quaker rugs were constructed. BUT NOTE, they’re not telling us exactly all the material used — this is not a Material Safety Data Sheet like we get today, and I don’t even know if they had them back then. So, we don’t really know all the materials used to make these rugs. As part of my RENOVATE SAFE mantra, I recommend that if you are going to live with one of these rugs — consult with a properly licensed professional to determine what’s in yours so that you can make informed decision. This goes for any type of vintage flooring and all the layers of your vintage house. One of the many joys of living in an old house, duh. Note: Don’t give advice here, I will edit it out; consult with pros.

linoleum rug in kitchenI have only come across a linoleum rug once in my travels. At an estate sale 15 years ago. It was in the dining room of a cute bungalow on East Henry Street in Saline, Michigan, about a block from our first house. It was adorable, and I could have bought it for just $35. But, it was very brittle, and I didn’t think it would make it out the front door without breaking unless I put it on a sheet of plywood the same size, and it was bigger than 4×8, and it was all a hassle, so I just passed.

I think that is an issue with these old linoleum rugs: They get brittle.

linoleum rug in cullens apartmentEven though these rugs were likely very common in the past, I guess that over time, they were just thrown out, because of the brittleness issue and because folks didn’t pay them much mind. The were the “old floor.” So, I think they are pretty rare today. If you find one in excellent shape — see the linoleum rug in Cullen’s fabulous apartment — it is probably worth some money.

novelty linoleum rugLook: Cullen’s rug is Armstrong No. 4596, shown in my 1954 catalog.

linoleum edging for linoleum rugI tend to believe that linoleum rugs were purchased by homeowners who already had their houses built. They may have had low-cost wood flooring down — fir was common, I think. And, they wanted a softer covering but could not afford a real oriental or Wilton rug.

linoleum rug that looks like an oriental rugSo they got a linoleum rug. Above: Yes, that’s a linoleum rug designed to look like an oriental carpet

Continue on for the complete line of linoleum rugs available from Armstrong in 1954. Note, a number of these designs were available as sheet flooring, too. I recognize many designs from estate sale houses I’ve been in. In those houses, the floors are still in pretty great shape, although, again, along the edges and at the seams, you can see the brittleness of the years showing. In general, though, this stuff was Built to Last.

linoleum rugvintage linoleum rugarmstrong linoleum rugblue linoleum rugflowered linoleum rugblue flower linoleum ruggray and coral linoleum ruggreen flower linoleum rugbrown flower lineoleum rugchecker linoleum ruggreeln check linoleum rugyellow linoleum rugvintage linoleum rugvintage linoleum ruglinoleum rug that looks like an oriental rugnovelty linoleum rug

Readers, which design of vintage linoleum rug do you hope to stumble upon (literally) soon?

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  1. Michelle says

    I own the “big top” rug Diane wrote about. I would love to share a picture of it . It is beautiful and I really can’t bring myself to part with it though my husband would love the cash haha

  2. Jim says

    I have Quaker 4921 for sale! Never been glued down excellent condition. Approx 9′ x 10′. It is still pretty flexible. I have been looking at several listings over a couple of years and I truly believe this is one of the last useable pieces left on earth. I know it is valuable . It’s very valuable.

      • Jim says

        Thanks Pam. I am getting it tested for asbestos. I listed it a while back and had a lot of interest but everyone wanted to know about asbestos? So I am getting it tested. Should be confirmed in a few weeks.

        • pam kueber says

          Jim, please consider the potential for other chemicals and materials as well — such as lead — I believe that I have read that various materials / heavy metals such as lead or some such may also have been used in vintage linoleum — and test accordingly. Please consult with professionals.

  3. Brenda Ring says

    I have been looking for vintage linoleum forever. Why can’t Armstrong reproduce some of these beautiful patterns. I love the floral and achathaus leaves.

  4. greg hartlein says

    Just wanted to say I love those linoleum rugs. In the 1970s you could still buy them in hardware stores. I bought one for my son’s room. The other bedrooms had large carpets but the wood edging around them was in poor shape So I bought rolls of wood grain linoleum about 24″ wide and used that for edging under the rugs. The front room I wall papered the floor with a brown and white houndstooth paper. I then gave it four coats of polyurathane. The paper took the shape and grain of the flooring and everyone thought I hand painted the houndstooth on top. When the house was sold the second time the ad featured a wonderful handpainted floor. I was so amused.

  5. Laura says

    I have the Armstrong Quaker Rug #7405 that is a large map of the US (without Hawaii and Alaska of course!) from the 1940’s in good shape that was my father’s as a child. I found it in the 1940 Armstrong catalog, but I do not know how long it was produced, but expect it was purchased around 1937 – 1945. It is a little brittle, but we were able to roll it carefully to move it. I am wondering if just putting it down under some clear acrylic or vinyl covering to protect it might be possible? Also keep any dangerous chemicals from being released into the air? Anyone ever tried anything like that?

    • pam kueber says

      Laura, on this question: Get your own properly licensed professional to help you assess/determine what you have so that you can make informed decisions.

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