We get inquiries all the time from readers wanting to know more about their large size, pre-war glass wall tiles, so Pam sent me on a hunt through the vintage catalogs of Archive.org to see if I could find some examples. I didn’t find glass tiles, but I uncovered this Sani Onyx vitreous tile — a possibly rare(?) glass tile made from fused rock bu Marietta Manufacturing Company of Indianapolis. Sounds like the pre-war version of solid surface countertops to us. Readers, have you ever heard of this before?
From the catalog:
Sani Onyx is a modern vitreous building material of far greater strength than either marble or tile. This remarkable present-day product is fused from rock ingredients, at 2,600 degrees Fahrenheit. It is as enduring as a wall of solid flint, and will actually outserve the building itself.
The natural fire-polished surface of Sani Onyx is absolutely uniform, and as softly smooth as glass. Moreover, Sani Onyx is proof against all of the common enemies of other building materials.It does not stain or discolor; nor is it affected by warmth, moisture or salt air. Unlike marble, tile or plaster, it does not crack or check even under severe strain. Climactic conditions do not alter Sani Onyx in the slightest degree and it is impermeable to water or any liquid, including all acids except hydrofluoric.
Easy to Install
The installation of Sani Onyx is a comparatively simple operation. In order to secure the best results, however, Sani Onyx should be installed over a base which can be water-proofed — that is, over a rough plater, brick, stone, or concrete wall. By referring to the illustration, you will see the method used in installing Sani Onyx. A plastic cement is used, which “gives” with the settling of the building; this cement never becomes dry or hard and, because of this fact, Sani Onyx walls never crack, a feature which should receive the architect’s most careful consideration. In remodeling, Sani Onyx may be readily installed over old plaster walls — Because Sani Onyx comes in large units, it may be installed with amazing speed and ease.
Sani Onyx Finds its Place in Nearly all Types of Buildings
Sani Onyx was marketed for public spaces as well as residential homes and was commonly found in bathrooms, kitchens, stairways, dens, laundry rooms, nurseries, even living and dining areas.
Pam with her broken arm adds: We are accustomed to seeing glass tile today used in kitchens and bathrooms, but it is usually in small mosaic patterns. In the pre-war era, glass tiles were made in these large sizes — Pam believes they were likely quite expensive…sanitary, streamline moderne in style…used in kitchens, but especially bathrooms. In the post-war era, glass tile faded from view in favor of less expensive ceramic tile.
Sani Onyx in the popular “hospital gray”
Sani Onyx is rapidly gaining in popularity with the leading hospitals. The new “Hospital Gray” in combination with Ivory, as pictured in this Surgery, makes a unit scientifically correct for perfect lighting. No objectionable glare. The sanitary features of Sani Onyx make it doubly desirable for hospital use.
Another notable tidbit from this vintage catalog — the popularity of “Hospital Gray,” which was promoted, with “no objectionable glare.” So for all of today’s ‘trendsetters’ decorating their homes from top to bottom in gray, they can take comfort in the fact that their decor is the perfect backdrop for conducting surgery.
A huge thanks goes out to the Canadian Centre for Architecture and Archive.org for making this vintage catalog available.
Readers: Does anyone know more about this material?
Is fused rock the same as glass?
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