This 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!
It’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.
My 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.
Here we have the classics — regent, linen and pearl textured laminates in all the typical 1950s colors.
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.
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.
This 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.
Another 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.
GE 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.
Among the practical uses for GE Textolite laminate — attractive and durable dinettes.
Another 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.
Look — steel counter top edging in the bathroom too. It works nicely with the hudee ring on the sink.
Laminate 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.
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: