Magazine Antiques

Reproduction floorcloths

Reproduction floorcloths

Allison Eckardt Ledes

The canvases from which these floor coverings were made (in widths that are not available today) were painted four to seven times on each side before the freehand or stenciled design was applied. As early as 1739 John Carwitham, an Englishman, published Various kinds of Floor Decorations represented both in Plano and Perspective: being Useful Designs for Ornamenting the Floors of Halls, Rooms, Summer Houses, & c. Whiether in Pavements of Stone or Marble or With Painted Floor Cloths, which contained illustrations of twenty-four fascinating designs. Floorcloths were most often used in entrance halls, parlors, and later in rooms set apart for dining. The painted designs ranged from simple geometic patterns (sometimes copying marble or other expensive flooring materials) to simulations of elaborately patterned carpets.

In dining rooms, floorcloths were often used on top of expensive carpets to protect them from falling crumbs and food. At the president’s house in Washington, D.C., Thomas Jefferson installed a floorcloth over the grass matting in the dining room. By the mid-nineteenth century, when they were generally called oilcloths, floorcloths were recommended for use in kitchens because they were so easy to maintain, and some household manuals even gave directions for making them. By the last quarter of the nineteenth century the trend was toward simple floorcloths rather than ones imitating more expensive floor coverings.

Eighteenth-century techniques and materials that approximate those of the period are used to create historically accurate floorcloths at the Black Dog Gallery, recently established by Ginny Lascara. She has reproduced several from Carwitham’s book, examples of which are illustrated below and at bottom. She also execute custom work (in any size) and can match paint, wallpaper, or fabric samples if desired. The estimated delivery time is four to six weeks. The floorcloths can be seen at Period Designs in Yorktown, Virginia, and many are illustrated on that firm’s Web site ( under the Black Dog Gallery option. To obtain a price list telephone 757-886-9482 or fax 757-877-9086.

COPYRIGHT 1998 Brant Publications, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning