The Cooper Hewitt Library has a number of linoleum catalogs. Carpettes Linoleum is our newest, and to date, earliest one. This flooring trade catalog from Lancaster, England was printed for distribution to French consumers, who like many other European and American buyers, liked the durability, versatility, cleanliness, and the variety of designs available in linoleum flooring. The company Lancaster Linoleum was the empire created by “The Lino King” of England, Lord Ashton (James Williamson Jr., 1842-1930). He transformed his father’s more modest oilcloth floor cloth works into a vast and successful enterprise, and by 1887 specialized in cork linoleum production. Lancaster Linoleum had a large export trade to Europe, Scandinavia and South America. This catalog would have been used by sales agents employed by the company abroad.
Like linoleum manufacture in later years and by other companies, this 20-page full color catalog, “Carpettes,” features designs that imitate parquet wood flooring, traditional floral rug designs, ceramic tile, and designs that incorporate the distinctive stylized elements of Art Nouveau, a style popular at this time.
Elizabeth Broman is a Reference Librarian at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Library.