Where to find vintage Textolite to restore a 1964 GE Americana refrigerator

glitter laminateJohn Jowers is the owner of Antique Appliances — one of the longest-standing companies known for restoring vintage ranges and refrigerators. Golly, I’ve known about his company for more than 20 years. It first came into my view when I wrote my first story ever about vintage homes, a story about vintage stoves for the Sunday “At Home” section of the now-defunct Ann Arbor News. So, I was kinda geeked when he wrote me last week to ask where he could find a sheet of glitter Textolite to restore the “countertop” of a 1964 GE Americana range that he is working on. John, I don’t think you’re gonna get the answer you wanted to hear…

He sent me a few photos and wrote:

Any assistance in locating a sheet of GE Textolite TX-4500 in White Gold would be much appreciated.

And what fun is this! He added:

The last image is my dad, Marvin Jowers, in 1964 at a GE Appliance product preview in Las Vegas.  The lady is the GE home economist, demonstrating the new style refrigerator.

GREAT photo, John!

Where to find vintage sparkle laminate?

John, you are surely right that the laminate used on the GE Americana was Textolite. That’s because GE also owned Textolite. Tidbit: I live in Lenox, Mass., one town over from Pittsfield, Mass. Pittsfield was the longtime home of GE Plastics, until the company was sold about a decade ago. Laminates are plastics — and we still have some companies around here that are tied to the laminate industry.

Alas, John: This glitter laminate is not made any more. We have done several stories about this issue in the past. Glitter laminate was first introduced by Formica in 1957, and other companies quickly jumped on the sales trend. Because of the incredible popularity of this laminate, I started archiving vintage samples and so far, have identified 42 historic designs of glitter laminate from Formica, Wilsonart, Textolite, Wilsonart, and more.

glitter laminateThe only way that I know of to find this laminate today is to scour places like the ReStore for Humanity and look for a piece that you can repurpose. I was at my local ReStore on Friday and spotted a decent-sized piece of Textolite Primrose Twilight, above. 

Additional notes:

  • I have bought three pieces of sparkle laminate from the ReStore over the past five years or so. So, it is around — but it may take time.
  • I recall that some readers have commented that the glitter can oxidize over time and change color. So that ups the ante further, in terms of trying to find a good, usable piece. (All of the pieces I have are in great shape. It’s like… that stuff was almost indestructible.)
  • Be Safe/Renovate Safe: If you are considering trying to strip the laminate off the old substrate, be aware that vintage materials and their layers may contain hazards. Best to get with your own properly licensed professional to assess what you are dealing with. For more info, see our Be Safe/Renovate Safe page here.

Other laminates to use as a proxy?

retro laminate patternWill your customer accept a reproduction of a different 1960s laminate? If so, how about “Compre” by Wilsonart. This is a document pattern from Wilsonart’s archives and could work for the ’64 Americana given the laminate is predominantly white and with the gray flowers, would harmonize the chrome on the refrigerator.

Wilsonart has the largest selection of retro laminates — including our “Retro Renovation by Wilsonart” boomerang laminates 🙂

There are some other tone-on-white laminates to consider in this story.

And to dig in to all our research, see our Kitchen Help / Countertops subcategory.

Good luck, John!

Readers: Check out John’s company, Antique Appliances, here. He has all kinds of treasures to see, including this hard-to-find 1949 Roper Town & Country — it’s ready to be completely remanufactured for a new home — maybe yours?!

  1. Kathryn says:

    My mother had this refrigerator in brown in her home when she died in 1998. I wanted to keep it but did not a place for it. This thing was huge. It was at least 4 feet wide and close to 6 feet tall. Most kitchens today do not a space for it. She used a space that was to hold a washer and dryer in her last home. The freezer still worked like a charm. It had a feature to auto fill the ice cube tray. Slide the drawer out, flip and slap the back of the tray to release. Replace the tray to it’s original position and the tray would fill when the drawer was closed. She bought it when the house my parents bought in 1965 has no counter space. The counter with a light in the back was the perfect height so the grandsons could make their own PB&J’s. Those grandsons are now in their 50’s with their own grandchildren.

  2. Siobhan Greene says:

    Oh my! I love this appliance…never have seen it before. Raise your hand if you think that the designs of old were a lot more fun and innovative?! I would love to take a field trip to his store with a stack of cash.

    1. CarolK says:

      I’m raising my hand, Siobhan!

      We actually had or maybe even have that laminate in my kitchen now. The countertops were covered by a green marble-y Formica about 20 years ago and the backsplashes were tiled over, but the tops of the original backsplashes are still visible. If the white gold glitter is not totally ruined by it being tiled over, I’ll see if this guy wants it or donate it to ReStore which is getting my upper cupboards which are in relatively good shape. I’d like to save my scallop over the kitchen window.

    2. ChrisM says:

      You are right, I think.
      My Grandmother had a pink refrigerator and if I remember right, it had swing out shelves to get items out of the back. I think the shelves were aluminum. They bought that Florida house around 1959.

  3. Evan says:

    I live in Oregon and have posted here a short while ago that there is someone with PINK glitter laminate for sale a 10′ x 4′ piece I believe. I don’t have a use for it myself or it would be gone, lol. If you search Corvallis/Albany you may find it still listed.

  4. Cindy Friday Beeman says:

    The issue I have with the newer laminate is that it doesn’t have a shiny finish, like the old Formica and other older laminates did. Why is this? I like the WilsonArt patterns a lot, but they are all matte. I don’t want the cracked ice laminate for a countertop, but that seems to be the only option if you want shine.

    1. Pam Kueber says:

      I think the reason is because this is limited production — they can offer only so many options / the cost to expand choices cannot be made up in sales given the relatively small size of the retro market.

      You can still get glossy finishes in most stock laminates from the leading makers, I believe…

      One thing that matte/satin finish has going for it: Does not show scratches as much as glossy.

  5. Kimberly Dronet says:

    I have turquoise glitter formica on 6 tables in my home ec kitchen. It’s still decent looking after all these years.

  6. paula says:

    He might also try Craiglist. I just did a search in Oregon for Vintage Formica and found thishttps://corvallis.craigslist.org/mat/6092710002.html

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