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2010/76/1 Linoleum design samples (31), paper, various makers, England / Australia, 1927-1930.. Click to enlarge.

Linoleum design samples

Since the British arrived in Australia many different floor coverings have been used in homes, ranging from earthen floors and matting to luxury carpets. Oil cloths were widely used in the nineteenth century, however they were superseded by the more durable linoleum by the start of the twentieth century.

Linoleum was invented by Frederick Walton in 1860 in England. Linoleum was made from linseed oil, cork dust, tree resin, wood flour, ground limestone and pigments. This mixture of materials was then applied to a linen or jute backing.

Linoleum became a popular material used for floor covering because it was water-resistant, durable and easy to maintain. It came in a variety of colours and patterns and could imitate other more expensive floor coverings such as exotic carpets and marble. It declined in popularity during the 1950s due to the introduction of vinyl flooring that was cheaper.

Linoleum is a natural product and causes less environmental damage to produce than vinyl, which is made of chlorinated petrochemicals. In recent times linoleum has made a comeback as a popular material for flooring. Its resurgence has been bought about by consumers' increased awareness of the environment and the negative impact of using non-renewable resources.

These linoleum design samples are significant as they document the popularity of linoleum as a floor covering in Australian homes from the late nineteenth century to the 1950s. In addition, these design samples represent a link from earlier linoleum floor coverings to the new styles of today.


Object No.


Object Statement

Linoleum design samples (31), paper, various makers, England / Australia, 1927-1930.

Physical Description

Linoleum design samples (31), paper, various makers, England/Australia, 1927-1930.

A variety of linoleum design samples. The designs have been printed on paper. The samples have different patterns and colours. Many of the patterns have the maker or style printed on the back or in a border on the front of the sample. There are pencil written notes in the borders or on the back of some samples.

Makers or styles of the samples include: 'Barry's Linoleum Carpets', 'Armstrong's', 'Staines', 'Barfelt', 'Z Linoleum', 'Y Linoleum', 'Silver Star Congoleum', 'Empire Inlaid Linoleum' and 'Brunofelt'.




Various makers. Many have been made in England.



These linoleum design samples were found in the donor's grandmother's home. Her grandmother lived in a sandstone house built in 1879. She moved into this house between 1927 and 1930. When she moved in she re-decorated the house and had linoleum put in many rooms.

It is likely that these samples came from this time period when the donor's grandmother was choosing the designs for her linoleum floors.


Credit Line

Gift of Wendy Lowe, 2010

Acquisition Date

28 November 2010

Cite this Object


Linoleum design samples 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 19 October 2020, <>


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