Dec 17, 1996

I was at the RMS Titanic INC artifact exhibit in New York City this past week and one thing that caught my attention was a small linoleum tile. At first, I was confused by it because I wasn't sure if I've ever seen it before and wanted to get more support in figuring out where it was from on the ship.

Included is this picture of the tile: [photo of tile]

You can read the plaque below stating the tile was "probably from third class or crew working area" of this ship. Unless there was this type of tile that I have not read/seen and information of, I believe that this is actually a first class private bath tile missing its outer edge: [illustration of tile]

I am hope to find out if I am correct or not, since this is the only image of tile that I can match this artifact to. My problem with this is why would a bath tile, an area prone to wetness, be made of linoleum when other bath tiles (the octagonal public first class tile and second/third/crew black and white bath tile) were heavy-duty encaustic tiles? Having a private bath afforded luxury to the feet with lino tiles? [photo of bath]

The other question is the color. True, all I have seen is black and white photos and illustrations, so the color of the tile in the photo was a bit surprising. The sea has an effect, as well as time, to change slightly the color of the lino tiles, so I was wondering what color were the tiles in first class private baths regardless if this is indeed a fragment of one on display? [re-colored tile illustration]

Any help would be appreciated, I'm hoping to continue my better knowledge and understanding of the design of Titanic and Olympic's flooring from this post. Thanks.


Matthew DeWinkeleer

Colin Renner

Mar 12, 2009
I went to the artifact exhibit while it was still in Las Vegas, and I believe I saw that particular tile. I've done what research that I could (which usually includes either consulting whatever 'known-to-be-accurate' books I have, or in most cases, the internet) and all I've come up with is, like you said, b & w photos or illustrations. I have one here from the Harland and Wolff website of an 1911 advertisement illustration of a first-class bathroom.
I'll probably sound slow when I say this, but like the images you posted, there are striking similarities. The problem, I have learned, is that sometimes there where similar tile patterns around the Olympic-Class ships, that had different color arrangements from each other.

Now that I look at it, the tile in you b & w photo look similar to the ones near the bottom of the advertisement I posted. Odd that it doesn't the same arrangement in the picture compared to the photo, but I shouldn't be surised as the picture was made in 1911.

P.S. Though, I'm most familiar with the octoganal white tiles because, and as funny as it sounds, once while I was still living in Germany, my mother, sister and I were walking through a flea market like we did every other week (long story). Anyways, we came across this man who was selling these beautiful stoneware dinning set with these red colored images of plants, and european villages and such. The man was selling the the entire set for a mere 100 pence (this was before the euro came into being). Mom bought the set there on the spot, along with a book about the history of the company that made these dishes. While reading some threads here not to long ago, I found out that the bath tiles were made by a Villeroy & Boch; turns out they also made dishes. Just to humor myself, I took a look at the back of on of the dishes...of all the things, it was made by Villeroy & Boch, and dated 1950. (Sorry if I bored you with this long, needless story)

Bill Sauder

Nov 14, 2000

The tile is part of what I call the "harlequin" pattern, and was used in the private first class baths and in adjacent private hallways, such as on C Deck.

As you mention, this is just the "core" of the pattern: the surrounding frame is missing.

Here is the pattern in use on Olypmic:




Most of these images are from Harland & Wolff and have been pushed in Photoshop to show the patterns.

The ceramic (encaustic)tiles were used in public lavatories because of heavy wear due to foot traffic. Private baths were fitted with linoleum tiles (Section "F", Britannic Hull Specification Book)

Linoleum is regularly used in wet areas because the floor covering is impervious. The problem is the subflooring: On Olympic/Titanic this was Litosilo, which not only absorbed water, it expanded as it did so, making domes in the deck. Therefore, I am sure it was laid over concrete in these wet applications, as was done for the encaustic tile flooring.

As for color drift through sea-water immersion: I have handled almost all the tiles brought up from the wreck, and have carefully examined them for color fading or leaching. I am sure the colors that the tiles now present are essentially the same colors they were manufactured with.

Many people have suspected the color of the floor tiles have changed because the shades are so jarring: something must be wrong.

Color harmony, however, is entirely subjective, and the Victorian British had a very different color sense than we have today, and constantly made choices that we consider "wrong". (browse through a catalog of authentic 19th century wall paper.) American movies are largely to blame here: Victorian costume dramas frequently keep the gilding and the curly-cues, but colors and hairsytles are almost correct for the period the film was made.

As for the caption about the tile being from third class/crew areas: Not that I've ever seen. In many of these areas, it's just the raw Litosilo subfloor that is polished and waxed.
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Bill Sauder

Nov 14, 2000

Yes, Litosilo caused corrosion problems in the underlying steel deck -- *sometimes*.

It was very hard to predict if/when/how much corrosion was going to take place. In extreme cases, steel decks could be corroded through in less than two years. Other times, Litosilo served the entire length of the ship's career with no problems at all.
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May 28, 2018
Hi everyone,
Just joined on here, I have a question?

I was told a few years ago that it was possible to buy floor tiles from H&W. These tiles were intended for use on the Titanic, as there were excess tiles purchased I am led to believe that theses were in fact laid in the offices of H&W. Can anyone please help me in locating any of these floor tiles?
Many thanks,
Mel x
Nov 14, 2005
Hi and welcome Melanie. Some show up at auctions. Some have been listed even on Ebay. But i would be careful. Lots of fake Titanic stuff out there. Read this thread about the floor tiles. It might answer some of your questions. Titanic floortile
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