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. Peg says

    I saw that child’s room storybook rug in the attic playroom of a house for sale about 7 years ago…it was glued in as part of the rest of the floor…still bright and beautiful!

  2. Suzanne says

    I wonder if “Daisy” and “Mint” could be replicated using VCT by someone with mad skillls? It’s so hard to covet something that no longer being made!

  3. Janet in CT says

    I just saw one of these in the bedroom of a farmhouse in Maine that we just looked at. Not only are they usually too brittle to move, they usually are all “chipped” on the edges and corners from stubbing ones toes on them, or from moving furniture. Our landlord’s grandfather had them in the upstairs of the 1780’s cape we helped clean out, and when we tried to pick it up, it just cracked and crumbled into pieces. I don’t think many of them survived.

  4. Suzanne says

    We recently removed decades-old carpeting from my MIL’s 30s-era bungalow. Underneath were nice hardwood floors, which we refinished. In the dining room, there was a rectangular sized area of what looked like remnant backing or adhesive right in the middle of the room. I am pretty sure they had a lino carpet under the table at one time. There was about 12″ of wood floor around this rectangular space. I also remember a sheet of lino in the back hall entrance of my childhood home that was there soooo long and it was crumbly and would catch your feet and pieces of it would come off.

  5. says

    I had a beautiful floral Armstrong vinyl rug (similar to the mauve/rose one above) that I found original, in the tube for $5 at an estate sale. I don’t think the people realized it was there, or what it was because of the tube. I held onto it for years thinking I’d have wait for another house to have a room big enough (12×15!) to use it in. After a while, I finally figured I would “love the house I was in” and try and make it work. It was a major undertaking and it suffered irreversible damage to the edges as I tried to unroll it, cut it down and fit it into my bedroom. Overall, it looked amazing…and I took it with me when I finally did move, in hopes of using it in our new home. But the husband wasn’t so fond of it and it was so brittle that was even more damaged by the time we got to the new place…that I had to let it go.

    So sad too, it was beautiful. I’ve yet to come across another. I’ve learned since then that warming up the house & using a heat gun or hairdryer on it will help soften it up. Don’t know if that’s true, but I will try it next time!

  6. Lisa says

    How could you pick just one!? They’re all so cool! man, I wish I could still find something like this for my kitchen.

  7. PF Flyer says

    From what I know about American linoleums some of the manufacturers used asbestos as a filler. Much of the linoleum sold today in the U.S. is manufactured in Europe and contains all natural materials, very recycleable.

    • pam kueber says

      PF, I don’t give advice on this issue, and I edit reader comments that are advisory in nature. I do not know if what you say is true, or not, but will leave yours up because you underscore my key point: GET WITH A PROPERLY LICENSED PROFESSIONAL to test the materials in your house so that you know what you are dealing with and so you can make informed decisions on how to handle.

    • Lisa says

      Yes, to add to what Pam says. consult a pro before doing anything, even taking off some of the suspect material to have it tested. I was surprised how helpful the lab was that we used when dealing with ceiling tiles made of who-knows-what. They told us exactly what size sample to get, how to do it safely, extras to include (part of the glue is sometimes important, for example). So just ask them!

  8. Martha says

    We live in a “low-end” 1917 Arts and Crafts style bungalow. We found linoleum on every upstairs bedroom unpainted fir floor. The linoleum area carpet from the first bedroom is rolled up and stored in the rafters of our unheated garage. It was too brittle to use, but we couldn’t bring ourselves to throw it out.

    The second tiny bedroom has linoleum wall-to-wall (even under the half-round at the bottom of the baseboard) with a pink rose pattern on a robin’s egg blue background. It’s now covered with Flor carpet tiles. It wasn’t in good enough condition (or went with our furniture) to use.

    The third bedroom has linoleum installed wall to wall as in the tiny bedroom. It’s a mottled gray, blue and (now yellowed) white background with stripes over it that when you step back give it a basket weave look. The stripes have the gray of the background, plus some teal and red in them. It’s not in perfect condition, but it was too cool to just cover up or tear out. I cleaned it section by section with a Magic Eraser, filled in the nail holes with matching paint (old carpet from the living room had been placed and tacked by the previous homeowners), and coated it with a no-wax clear coat. I chose my color scheme around the floor. The floor now is mostly covered by a large neutral colored area rug (feels better underfoot), but the linoleum still shows about 12 inches around each edge of the floor. I had more fun decorating this room with tag sale and hand-me-down finds than any other room in the house.

    Oh, and each of the 4 walk-in closets in the house had its own different linoleum too.

    We thought about redoing all the floors with new hardwood or wood-look laminate with resale of the house in mind, but couldn’t bring ourselves to wipe out so much of the house’s history–or spend the extra money.

    I so enjoy all your posts. Have you thought of having a linoleum page in addition to your wallpaper page on your website, Pam?

  9. Dulcie says

    Get outta my head!! Just last night as I was trying to lull myself to sleep I was redecorating my upstairs hallway in my head. The painted wood floor is looking kind of rough and I can’t bring myself to put in carpet. I’d decided that the only decent option was a linoleum rug, it would be a perfect (though an impossibility in 2012) solution to my flooring dilemma. Now today I click on your site and – ta-da! – there’s my dream flooring taking center stage.

  10. LFMoon says

    A predecessor to linoleum flooring was “floor clothes”, designs painted on heavy canvas, as shown on this site, and still available: http://canvasworksfloorcloths.com/about/

    I’ve been looking for an alternative to my maple kitchen flooring (too hard and not a very water-resistant flooring choice) — a linoleum rug would have been ideal. But I recently found a “how-to” which I’m going to try – basically, you take vinyl flooring and paint a design on the BACK, and then install like a floating floor over the wood. I’ll have to study all Pam’s posts on kitchen floor lino designs for inspiration.

  11. Lauren J says

    This is my first comment to you after following your blog for the past few years. How timely is today’s post. I took a class quite a few years ago to learn to create (paint) the then popular canvas cloths. At the class a fellow participant said that the cloths were pretty but useless under a table (where I had envisioned mine going). She suggested using the backside of a piece of linoleum instead. First and foremost, I am not an artist, but I created a 8 X 10 foot linoleum rug, using stencils, stamps and a lot of painter’s tape and paint, topped it with 6 or 7 coats of polyurethane and used it for many years.
    The reason your post is so timely is that I just finished my second one this morning. I had re-decorated my kitchen and eating area and needed a new one. This time I made mine to look like an old rug from the 1950’s. I had no idea that these actually existed in the 1950’s. I just thought I was remembering what an area rug of my Grandmother’s had looked like.
    With just a large stamp, some painter’s tape and 3 colors of left over paint and, of course a piece of 8′ X 8′ linoleum I have my new linoleum rug. Mine looks a lot like the blue and tan/white one you are showing as #4607.
    Love your daily posting. You keep writing, I’ll keep reading!

  12. Katie says

    I don’t know if its a mid-century-correct option or not, but I’ve seen some really nice things done with painted floor cloths. Its pretty much what it sounds like, a piece of light canvas painted in an attractive pattern. Making a painted floor cloth using some of the designs you have here might be a way to get a similar look, without the brittleness of linoleum.

  13. Ranger Smith says

    These patterns really are amazing and worthy of envy, however I echo what has been stated above about the durability. My great-grandparents had these in their house in Nebraska, which they purchased during WWII. Don’t know when the linoleum when in but could have been then. By the time I was around in the early ’70’s the edges were all chipped away, although they were still carefully mainted with a high-gloss coat of wax. I would have to assume that any that are discovered now, will be quite brittle.

  14. Pat Webster says

    I’m also the proud owner of a linoleum rug. It was hiding under six other layers of flooring on the porch of our new “old” house. The porch floor had been updated so many times that the front door wouldn’t open any more. Peeling up layers of flooring was a trip through the decades: I was working my way through several layers of drab greys and browns, expecting to hit painted wood at any moment, when a riot of color and pattern appeared instead. Wow…a bold floral design on a green background with an orange border! The rug had been installed at an angle with other interesting linoleum bits pieced in around the edges. I wonder if it hadn’t been someone’s living room centerpiece before being relegated to the porch as underlayment.

    The rug is much too wonderful to discard. It rolled up nicely after warming in the sun and is in the basement for now. I haven’t been able to find any advice on storage but I’m sure that laying flat would be better.

    • pam kueber says

      What a great story, Pat! I’d love to see a photo of the rug if and when you unwrap it. And yes, I am guessing laying it flat would be a better way to ensure its longevity….

  15. Pat Webster says

    Pam, I have photos of the rug (lots!). Is there an efficient way to post one? I’d love to share them at this discussion.

  16. Mark E says

    Wow. This is major memory lane! The red, gray, and black “braided rug” version graced the screened back porch at my grandparents’ house. Thank you!

  17. Francesca says

    It’s not cheap, but a good linoleum installer can do some pretty amazing patterns and insets. It’s not quite the same as a rug, but you can definitely get rug-like patterns in the middle of a linoleum floor, or a funky boarder.

  18. Holly says

    I can’t find a 12 ft. x 12 foot linoleum sheet with yellow in the pattern to replace a 30-year-old kitchen floor covering. Can anyone help?

  19. Gin says

    The house I grew up in had a very patriotic red, white, and blue vinyl floor with eagles on it. By any chance is there anything like that in your 1954 catalogue? I’ve been searching for years…


  20. Anne says

    Can someone tell me how I send a photo to this blog? I have one in a Shutterfly album but don’t want to provide access to the whole album online which I think might happen. It’s a photo of a cowboy and indians linoleum rug.

  21. says

    I have an Armstrong Quaker linoleum rug that I am selling. (I actually have three of them that are in the bedrooms of the home I purchased, but only one is ready for removal, as I am remodeling.) It’s pattern No. 4565 and pictures are available on my website. If you are interested, please contact me via email to janine.m.allen at gmail.com. I am located near Buffalo, New York and you would need to pick it up or arrange for delivery. Here is a link to the pictures https://picasaweb.google.com/102926550774641843992/ArmstrongQuakerLinoleumRug?authuser=0&feat=directlink

  22. Scott says

    The Cherry, Mint, and especially Daisy Styletone rugs are so stunning I audibly gasped. I know recreating that exact look would cost a fortune today but I am going to try to let these at the very least inspire me to not settle for a for a yawn-inducing floor as part of my upcoming cost-conscious kitchen makeover.

  23. anne says

    I recently purchased an 1884 federal colonial. In the carriage house we found a brand new, in the original packaging, linoleum rug. We are not planning to use it and would like to sell it. Where could I list it to make sure those who would most appreciate it would see it?

    • Karma says

      Anne, Did you sell that linoleum rug yet? If not, I’m interested in it!
      What size, colors, etc. is it? Or, tell me where you are advertising it for sell.
      Many thanks,

  24. Kimi says

    My fella and I just bought a 1940 craftsman. pulled up an old carpet in one of the bedrooms and found the piece vinyl carpet! What I have uncovered so far looks to be in great shape. Its in a green and grey leaf pattern. My 17 year old daughter threatened to kill me if I didn’t use it in her room…lol! The kitchen held a surprise too in the form of the original floor tile in grey and red. As all the original metal Palley cabinets and red chrome edged countertops are still intact and in incredible shape, I am an excited woman!!!!!

    • pam kueber says

      sweet but please be aware: Vintage flooring may contain vintage nastiness – consult with a properly licensed professional to determine what you have so that you can make informed decisions.

  25. Diane says

    Have a linoleum are rug from a child’s room in excellent condition…..titled “The Big Top” and it is a circus theme with elephants, lions, trapeze artist, etc. Would love to sell. Have no idea of value. Has been “stored” in an old farmhouse under several layers of carpeting.

  26. 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

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. 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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