Linoleum


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mike disch

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I have been told that the linoleum on the floor in front of the grand staircase was the first time linoleum had been walked on or seen by anyone ever, and that it was more expensive than marblel. Can anyone confirm this? Any documentation on this. (I've discovered it's not uncommon for "neat" stories to get passed on as fact, without any real basis in fact.)
 
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Daniel Ehlers

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Yes, linoleum tiles were used in the grand staircase on the Olympics. It was a very new invention in 1912, and yes it was very expensive. Whether or not it was more expensive then marble, I don't know. As for the first time it was EVER used, I'd have to say this is pretty doubtful, though I have no proof to back this up...

Hope this helps!
 

Dave Gittins

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A little dig round the Internet suggests that linoleum was not very expensive in 1912, though that used on ships was doubtless heavier than average. It had been around since 1862, when and Englishman called Frederick Walton started factory production of it. Long before 1900 it was being made in the USA.

When I was a little kid I used to play on the linoleum. We couldn't afford a piano!
 

Bill Sauder

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Sorry folks, the Linoleum story is a Titanic urban legend.

As Dave points out, Linoleum had been around for decades before Titanic, had been used in dozens of ships before her, and was comparatively cheap.

I have price quotes from Harrods of 1895 and when I get back home in a few days I will post the price per square yard. BTW, I recall that they offered it in "sheet" and "parquet" form.

Bill Sauder
 
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mike disch

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Mr. Sauder, I'm playing EJ at the CA Sci Ctr, and almost met you the other day. Mark (the designer) who lauded your expertise, said you would be by later that day, but I didn't get the chance to meet you, although I did remember your name from previous responses to my posts. If you get a chance, please contact him at the Sci Ctr, and he will know who to contact to get my cell #l. All us "Historical Performers" have many questions, as we're trying to be as accurate as possible. Thanks for all ur help so far.
 
Nov 9, 2002
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Hey,
I was going to start something on the linoleum too! So isnt that kind of trashy flooring for Titanic? Well me myself think it was weird, but I dont know..........All the Best

Sahand
 

Dave Gittins

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Sahand, I think that linoleum varied in quality quite a lot. My own memories of it are that it was trashy. When laid over slightly uneven floorboards, it soon formed ridges and wore unevenly. I'm talking of cheap stuff that I lived with in the 1940s and 50s.

Made thicker, and laid over a smooth and stable surface, it performs much better and is returning to favour, partly because it's "clean and green".

On ships, there was a good case for linoleum. It was easy to clean, especially when compared with carpet. Carpets were easily spoiled in rough weather by flying food, not all of which came off plates.
 
Nov 9, 2002
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Hey,
LOL that would be a mess to clean......well thanks for that info! Also, was the Turkish bath floors in Tile or Linoleum?

Sahand
 
Nov 23, 1996
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Bill et. al:

Just thought I would comment on this issue of Linoleum, as you, Ken Marschall, or your brother might be able to comment on this further.

Durning the Titanic Exhibit in Boston, one of the main artifacts that was displayed was a reconstructed section of the Titanic's First Class Dinning rooms inlaid color linoleum tile. This colored tile was of the same pattern used on the Olympic, which can be seen illustrated in several artist renditions of the main dinning room of the Olympic.

For reference refer to the large Plate II in the Shipbuilder reprint around page 89 depending on the edition. Quoting from Page 71 of Shipbuilder "The floor is covered with Linoleum tiles of a Unique pattern".

If I remember correctly (Tarn you can comment on this also) it was an interlocking pattern of red/blue/yellow and green.

Shipbuiler Figure 75, illustrating the Bay window in the First class Dinning Saloon also shows in detail the linoleum pattern which consists of several inlaid interlocking piece's not the standard 8" to 12" square tiles we all think about when we think of modern linoleum

I remember discussing this Linoleum in great detail with George Tulloch and Jack Eaton and since it is known that the Dinning room was carpeted, were this tile might have come from and if it was laid under the carpet which as added at a later date.

Their answer was possibly however more research was needed.

In digging further into this topic of Linoleum I managed to find an illustration in color of the recovered artifact. Please refer to page 28 of "Titanic The Artifact Exhibit by Judith B. Geller. In the upper left hand corner of this page is an illustration of the recovered Linoleum in question.
 

Bill Sauder

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Steven:

As I understand it, the source for the carpeted dining room comes from steward F. Dent Ray and I believe he is mistaken.

Dining rooms are very rarely carpeted because of the obvious problems with spillage and no easy way to clean up and deodorize the mess.

Perhaps Ray was thinking of the reception room, which was carpeted, or the deluxe Restaurant.

Are there any other sources for this story besides Ray's long-after-the-fact interview?

Bill Sauder
 
Dec 7, 2000
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All,

The Turkish bath floor was rubber linoleum, not tiles.

The link below is from Ken Marschall's 2001 wreck report, which can be found on Parks Stephenson's excellent web site. This link shows the first class Dining Room tile from Titanic:

http://titanic.marconigraph.com/ps03.jpg

I might be wrong, but it is my understanding that Olympic's tiles had a lighter blue, but were otherwise the same.

On the subject of tiles and sizes, does anyone know how big each linoleum tile was in the staircase foyers? I once estimated about 19" and the same for the Smoke Room. Anyone with more definite figures?

Daniel.
 
Nov 9, 2002
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Hey,
wait I thought the Dining room wasnt carpeted right? Because up there Steven said it was. I think I hear some where that some of it was carpeted and some tiled. Now we are going in another subject! This always happens!

All The Best,
Sahand
 
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mike disch

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Mr. Sauder, did you ever have a chance to check your Harrod's catalog for prices around 1910. I'm still getting people saying it was expensive. It would be nice to have a documented source to quote. Thanks.
 

Bill Sauder

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Hello Mike,

Sorry for the late response, I looked the figures up when I got back home and then neglected to post them.

Here is a sampling of floor coverings from Herrod's 1895 Catalogue. All prices are in shillings per square yard and in increasing cost:

1.75: Carpet, cheapest Dutch twill (bottom of line)
1.75: Linoleum, cheapest sheet
2.50: Carpet, cheapest Brussels
3.25: Linoleum, superior sheet
3.95: Carpet, cheapest Wilton and Axminster
4.00: Linoleum, solid parquet (as used on Titanic)
5.00: Bath Mat, Cocoa Fibre
5.25: Carpet, best quality Wilton
6.50: Carpet, best quality Axminster Rug (top of line)

As you can see, linoleum is on the cheap side of floor coverings, the "parquet" style as used on Titanic commanding the highest price because of its relative thickness and the fact that the color goes through the material, rather than applied to the surface.

I don't have a figure for marble flooring of the period, but don't see how it could be cheaper than the cost of the best rugs of the time, given weight, transportation costs, installation costs, and finishing.

Sorry to have missed you at the Science Center early in February. It was nice to be able to finally visit one of the Titanic exhibits as just a tourist. If you or any of the other of the reinactors have any questions, please feel free to contact me off list. Personal letters tend to get quicker replies than questions in public postings since there is so much going on right now.

Bill Sauder
 
May 8, 2001
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Hi Bill. Do you mean I wont get to meet you at the exhibit? (drats!)
Most interested in the floor coverings you mentioned. Does the said catalog happen to show examples? It would be fun to look at different styles of the time period.
Regarding the cost of flooring. I too am surprised, and can see where people would say that it seemed a little on the expensive side for 1912. For example. The cost to put wood flooring in my home nowadays is running around 20.00 a ft. (which is still between 18,000.00 to 32,000.00, and wont happen in my lifetime, unless I win the lottery.
wink.gif
)
Thank you again for an interesting post.
 

Bill Sauder

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Hi Colleen:

Thanks for your kind comments regarding my post.

As I mentioned, the figures come from a Harrod's catalogue from 1895 and there are no illustrations for the patterns offered. In fact, compared to, say a Sears and Roebuck catalogue from the period, there are perhaps 50% fewer illustrations.

Harrod's may have felt that the illustrations were unwarranted since a huge percentage of their business came from London, and interested parties would probably examine the merchandise in person.

Also, keep in mind that the prices quoted are very upscale retail. Sears prices are considerably lower, and the wholesale prices charged to Harland and Wolff, considerably lower as well.

Bill Sauder
 
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Nathan Good

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Hello all,

Mr. Sauder, thanks for the insights and very interesting information from that catalogue. Everyone seems to believe that the Titanic's 1st Class Dining Room was floored in linoleum. But wasn't it said that the makers of 'Titanic' (1997) used the same print and materials as specified by the company that supplied the carpet to the Titanic? Is this source incorrect? Was the reception room carpeted? Any information would be appreciated.

Thanks

All the best
 

Bill Sauder

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Hi Nathan,

I worked on Cameron's film in 97 and can say that while a serious attempt was made to model the miniatures and movie sets after the real Titanic, the movie is hardly 100% correct.

My only advice is that the movie gives a great overview of the ship and her fittings *if you are just getting into the subject** however, once you get started in Titanic seriously, it must never be used as a study piece. It is not a documentary, nor is it a museum piece on film.

Although plans and experts were available, there are frequently other considerations that made a completely authentic re-creation of the Titanic impossible. Money, Time, Story Considerations, Current (1997) Fashions, and Audience Expectations all have to be factored in. Plus, of course, mistakes are made that prove prohibitively expensive or time consuming to fix.

Regarding the flooring itself: Photos of Olympic show the "Persian Rug" pattern, with a wall-to-wall carpet (laid in strips, not a sheet) in the Reception Room. So far as I know, there is only one photo existing of either room for Titanic: a very poor quality Father Browne shot that does not show the floor.

A dining room steward has reported in an interview long after the sinking of the ship that Olympic had no carpet in her dining room, but Titanic did. However, fragments of the "Persian Rug" linoleum pattern has been brought up from the wreck site.

Some have suggested that the dining room linoleum was carpeted over on Titanic, however, this does not seem reasonable. The dining room was huge and had been outfitted with the most expensive linoleum onboard (owing to the complicated nature of the pattern). It seems foolish to carpet over this investment. In addition dining rooms are typically NOT carpeted onboard ship for obvious reasons. (The a la carte Restaurant is an exception because of the tremendous amount of money generated there offset the labor and materials damage from spilled food, etc.)

Therefore, I have come to the conclusion that the steward was innocently either "gilding the lily," or confused the carpeted reception room with the uncarpeted dining room.

Bill Sauder
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Nathan,

Walter Lord interviewed Baker Charles Burgess, who stated, "Like the Olympic, yes, but so much more elaborate. Take the dining saloon. The Olympic didn't even have a carpet, but the Titanic -- ah, you sank in it up to your knees. Then there's the furniture: so heavy you could hardly lift it. And that paneling..."

That is the stuff of legend. We have many experts in this forum who specialise in Titanic's interior design and will attest to the fact that the furnishings aboard Titanic were, with the exception of her unique rooms, identical to Olympic's. If Burgess's memory favoured Titanic over Olympic in the matter of furniture and paneling when facts have subsequently proven otherwise, what does that say about his memory regarding the carpeted deck? Especially when fragments of the tile, the pattern of which was unique to the Dining Saloon, have been recovered?

A few years ago, I contacted the company (BMK, Ltd.) in Ayrshire that produced the Axminster carpet for the movie. They claimed only to have the pattern that was used in Titanic's Reception Room, but further research brought even that claim into question. Confronted with specific questions, the company acknowledged that invoices and receipts from that period no longer exist...they depended completely on corporate memory and pattern catalogues to reconstruct what they believe was the pattern originally purchased for both Olympic and Titanic. The pattern for the Dining Saloon was a complete fantasy...there are no invoices or contemporary descriptions that can be used as a reference for even the basic assertion that a carpet was ever supplied for the Dining Saloon. The Dining Saloon pattern that was used in the movie did exist in 1912, but there is not a shred of evidence that would tie it to Titanic. Cameron chose to rely on Walter Lord's quote and accepted BMK's best guess. To give due credit, it was the best information available at that time. The manufacturer of the original carpet produced patterns that they claimed were installed aboard Titanic...why wouldn't they be believed? No one had reason to seriously challenge their claim; in fact, everything seemed to support what was claimed in ANTR, the Bible of the Titanic world. The tile fragments that would ultimately corroborate the Dining Saloon pattern had not yet been brought up from the wreck.

Sometimes it takes inaccuracies in a movie to motivate people to focus their investigative abilities on a particular subject. At least, that's what I attempt to do. I know others attempt the same. The corrected information can then be turned around to make for a more accurate depiction at some later date; for example, some inaccuracies from "Titanic" (1997) were corrected/updated in "Ghosts of the Abyss," thanks to exhaustive research, investigation, and analysis that was conducted by a number of people in the interim. There may even be inaccuracies in GotA that will be corrected in some future project...I seriously doubt that we will hear the last word on Titanic this year, especially since the wreck continues to yield new information. Another method of dealing with movie inaccuracies is public ridicule, but I personally do not understand how that method could ever yield any constructive results.

Parks
 
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Tom Pappas

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Au contraire, mon ami. Public ridicule is an art form. It is practically the sole sustenance of Bill Maher, David Letterman, Jay Leno, Al Franken, Dennis Miller, George Carlin, and others too numerous to mention. Legions of editorial cartoonists have made, and continue to make, a decent living at puncturing stuffed shirts, and political commentators from Mark Twain to Will Rogers to H.L. Mencken have delighted the public with their ascerbic observations on human frailty, especially that of self-important prigs who would place their values systems above those of everyone else.
 
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