• GE Textolite laminate patterns from 1953

    GE TextoliteLet's-decorate-1953This week’s vintage catalog explores one of our favorite subjects here on Retro Renovation — vintage laminate patterns. And what a terrific find this is: A catalog full of GE Textolite laminate patterns, colors, uses and construction tips fresh from 1953. We can add these vintage GE Textolite patterns to the list of laminate we’d love to be able to buy today — right next to the vintage GE Textolite samples Pam scored from the 1960-1965 era. Oh if only there was a fairy retro godmother who could use her magic wand to transform some of today’s laminate options into a few of these retro styles. Pam predicts: It will happen yet!

    GE-Textolite-vintage-kitchen-with-laminate-countertopsIt’s interesting to know that General Electric manufactured and marketed laminate back in the day, isn’t it? Pam lives one town over from the home of the former GE Plastics. Located in Pittsfield, Mass., GE Plastics was one of their GE’s most storied divisions (GE sold the division in 2007.) Pittsfield, Mass. and nearby Lee, Mass., also have lots of connections — even today — to the laminate industry. Note in the photo above: Cabinet pulls that are also kitchen towel rods.

    Retro-GE-Textolite-patternsMy absolute favorite among these 1953 designs is “Medley” — especially in Cherry or Spruce. So bright and happy — perfect for a sunny vintage kitchen. I’ve never seen any Cross Current or Ming in the wild — but I love their random patterns, too.

    Vintage-GE-Textolite-colors-and-patterns

    Here we have the classics — regent, linen and pearl textured laminates in all the typical 1950s colors.

    GE-textolite-colors-and-patterns-retro

    There is even a selection of wood tone laminates and a “Hyaline” apparently designed to look like slate. And look at the text in the bottom right hand corner: Knotty Pine laminate! We sure would give an eye tooth to see that in its natural habitat.

    edges-for-vintage-laminate-counters

    This catalog details the available edging methods, too. We have sources for many, maybe even most, of these style — in aluminum and in stainless steel — if you’re looking, please see this story. 

    Vintage-kitchen-with-red-laminate-counters-and-metal-edgingThis kitchen is classic 1950s — the red laminate counter tops, the laminate backsplash, steel edging, sink with hudee ring. The laminate is so easy to keep clean that she has ample time for flower arranging — sigh.

    vintage-green-and-yellow-kitchen-with-laminate-counter-topsAnother happy customer — enjoying her Monotop laminate counter as she reads by the kitchen window. Notice that with this Monotop design, the laminate is “postformed” — meaning the counter top is all one piece — the laminate is molded… bent … to create in integral backsplash and edge — no piecing on a backsplash , no separate counter top edge. This was a major advancement in counter top design… once into the 1960s, use of metal edging was on the decline in favor of the post-formed edge. We do not know if GE was first with this innovation. But at least now, we have the date of 1952 to work with.

    vintage-kitchen-green-and-yellow-retroGE Textolite also campaigned for cabinetry and table tops made of laminate. The laminate door cabinets look clean and fresh, and the built-in dining area with shelf is a great idea. The red interiors of her upper cabinets have me thinking about painting the insides of my kitchen cabinets a similar shade.

    vintage-GE-Textolite-dinetteAmong the practical uses for GE Textolite laminate — attractive and durable dinettes.

    Laminate-laundry-cover-panel-retroAnother great idea — make a fold down panel to cover the laundry and add extra work space — especially if the washer and dryer are located in the kitchen.

    vintage-pink-laminate-vanity-in-bathroomLook — steel counter top edging in the bathroom too. It works nicely with the hudee ring on the sink.

    vintage-laminate-furniture-retroLaminate is a great choice for coffee tables — no coasters needed.

    Thanks to the Building Technology Heritage Library and archive.org for making this catalog available via creative commons license.

    SeeAllOurVintageCatalogsSMALL

    Tips to view slide show: Click on first image… it will enlarge and you can also read my captions… move forward or back via arrows below the photo… you can start or stop at any image:?

    Finally…Want to see more Textolite? See Pam’s story on the sparkly 1960s samples in her personal collection:

    1961-ge-textolite-laminate-1

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    Comments

    1. Janet in CT says:

      Very interesting! One thing I always liked that you can’t seem to get any more is that strip from over the backspash of the inside corner to the front corner. We re-used one many years ago because we couldn’t afford premade to fit countertops and it worked beautifully to cover the seam. I have never seen a fold-up laundry cover like that but then again, I have never seen any older laundry without a backsplash either. I love that textolite coffee table too! Always something “new” and different showing up.

      • pam kueber says:

        Hmmm. I would bet this is jimmy-able.

      • I would thing gunk would get caught in that metal strip thingy when wiping down the counters. Or is it designed some way so that doesn’t happen?

        • Janet in CT says:

          I have one on my countertops now too, and there is a trim piece all around the stainless countertop on one cabinet. They do get gunky, but I run a paring knife down the side edge from time to time to clean it out. I much prefer doing that to seeing a crack where the seam is!

          • Adrienne says:

            Clean out the gunk with toothpicks. My aunt taught me that.

          • Diane in CO says:

            I have this same metal strip at the back of the 1959 countertops at our summer house in WI. I carefully use a paring knife too, to clean along it. It only gets gunky behind the sink. A toothpick sounds like a great idea – will try that!

            I have to say, after all these years it still looks pristine and sharp, and complements the stainless steel double sink. I will never change it! Love the look.

    2. Beth Colvin says:

      Laminate has always bewitched me, even as a little kid. I just reupholstered 4 chrome dinette chairs in what WE today call ‘cracked ice.’ The table is in near mint condition, now the chairs are earth shakingly gorgeous. In my research for the set’s manufacturer, I kept coming up wit h ‘mother of pearl’ for this pattern. Here it is again in ‘pearl’ -hmmmm. So where did we get cracked ice?

      • pam kueber says:

        Yes, I don’t know if I put it in this story… if not, I just wrote it somewhere else… but the materials expert Grace Jeffers calls this “mother of pearl” — NOT cracked ice. I don’t know when/why/how/who so effectively changed the name to Cracked Ice or Crackle Ice. New campaign: Revert to calling it Mother of Pearl.

        • Beth Colvin says:

          Yes, in the interest of authenticity (and I am a stickler for that because I am a toy historian and writer on said topic), I agree…. please initiate a campaign to return to the correct term…. mother of pearl.

          You rock, Pam. You’re my Hero-Queen of retro home-ownership.

          Beth (from the Atlanta ‘burbs… proud owner of a way cool 1977 ranch full of great MCM *and shortly thereater* stuff)

        • Yep, just checked under my table and hand written underneath by the mfg it has: 261 pearl and 386 green – which is I assume the color number & style name. My table has the grey pearl on the top and green pearl around the under edge. The chairs still have the original manufacturer paper on the bottom of the seats, it’s a Kuehne Khrome dinette set.

    3. Janet in CT says:

      Just looking at the photos again and in the first one with the towel bar handles on the lower cabinets and in the one with the fold-up countertop, the upper cabinets are really odd looking. I would assume they are GE but I have never seen them before. They look to have curved rounded bottoms and in the first photo, it even looks like there are little curved cabinets below the regular ones. Very strange. Has anyone here seen them before?

      • pam kueber says:

        I noticed the towel bar handles, too, and was planning a follow up story to spotlight them. They seem like a great idea.

        I didn’t notice the wall cabinets. Good catch. I have no idea.

        • Just this weekend we attended a historic homes tour in a neighboring town. One house was MCM, and had towel bars in one bathroom exactly like these. Wonder which space they were originally designed for – or if they were intended to be multifunctional from the get-go!

          Can’t help but notice that the young lady in the “Cabinets” foto seems to be posing for a spot as an extra in a Boris Karloff film…interesting facial expression!

          • Robin, NV says:

            Haha! I suspect that the photos are hand tinted and that her “creepy” eyes are a result of the artist getting a little carried away with the white.

            Personally I like the cartoon husband and wife in the first picture – hubby looks so cute with his pipe and apron.

      • Janet, I noticed the cabinets as well – the rounded bottoms are very stream lined. I thought the fold up counter over the laundry equipment a novel idea but would have lost appeal once the 60s arrived with the dashboard controls. I remember the Bendix dryer from when I was a kid, one knob in the front that was a timer switch.

    4. Robin, NV says:

      I wish I was brave enough to go for red countertops. But the yellow countertops look great too. Glad to see a yellow/turquoise combo, since that’s what I’m going for with my kitchen. My ’62 ranch has postformed countertops, although I’m not entirely sure they’re original .

      In the red kitchen, what do you suppose is the function of the cabinet door with the vertical pull and “light switch” is? Is it a dishwasher?

    5. RangerSmith says:

      As always, these are a really cool insight into what marketers perceived cunsumers wanted their kitchens to look like and how they should “operate”. The picture with the red laminate appears to have a dishwasher, which I would assume was fairly deluxe for 1953. I wonder if it was a GE dishwasher.

    6. My washer is in my kitchen and either the dryer is joining it or the washer is leaving – tbd.

      At any rate – I would love the folding counter, but today’s top loaders are generally found to have the control up top and raised up at that unfortunately…

    7. Randerson says:

      These old laminate catalogs are a great resource… and a real hoot! Growing up back then, it all looks so familiar. The house we had from 1953-68 outside of Baltimore had the GE Green Linen countertops with metal edges, and the WILDEST green linoleum you have ever seen – it was almost an Emerald or Kelly green, with bright yellow, red, and white drops and splatters of color, almost looking like something Jackson Pollack would have done. Never seen anything remotely like it since. Are there old threads showing early 50s linoleums like that?

    8. My knees just gave out. So many amazing colors, patterns and ideas here.

      Seeing the red countertops with the backsplash that reaches up to touch the cabinets I am 100% sure red is the right choice for me and my original 1954 honey-colored wood cabinets.

    9. Joe Felice says:

      We all sit on a bar stool & read by the kitchen sink. LOL Oh, holy, Lord! I forgot all about the fold up counter top for the laundry! You bring back so-many memories with these catalogs. If you really want a hoot, look at the ads for vacuum cleaners. You’ll see the ladies vacuuming in dresses, high heels, and pearl necklaces, and they’ll make it look like there’s nothing to it. And they always have beautiful nails. The idea was to make everything look easy and quick.

    10. Formica makes a design-line of laminates called “weft” that we used in our 52 kitchen remodel. It looks like the “medley” Textolite pattern above. And we did use one of the Eagle trims found thanks to Pam on this blog. Good reviews so far!

    11. We are about to order the new red Formica for our countertop and want a metal edge…is this going to be difficult to find?

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