Floorcloths

John Carwitham’s Various kinds of floor decorations in both plano and perspective is another resource for 18th century designs that may have been used on floorcloths.

Floorcloth-painters’ trade cards, with images of floor cloths

See also Of the Floor-Cloth Painter in The London Tradesman, 1747.

Eighteenth century treatises on painting

Not necessarily about floor cloths in particular, but these books provide instruction on how to paint and other useful techniques. The ability to imitate different sorts of surfaces would have been especially valuable; a 1760 Maryland advertisement for runaway convict servant John Winter describes him as “a very compleate House painter: he can imitate Marble or Mahogany very exactly, and can paint floor Cloths as neat as any imported from Britain.”

How to clean a floorcloth?

  • “Having well swept your floor-cloth, wipe it carefully with a flannel, and when all dust and spots are removed, rub it fist with a flannel slightly waxed, and then with a plain dry one. Or washing occasionally with milk, and dry rubbing may suffice without the use of the wax, and the floor-cloth will be less slippery.” (The Universal Cook and City and Country Housekeeper, 1806)
  • “The sides of stairs or passages on which are carpets or floor-cloth should be washed with sponge instead of linen or flannel, and the edges will not be soiled. Different sponges should be kept for the above two uses; and these and the brushes should be well washed when done with, and kept in dry places.” (The New London Family Cook, 1808; A New System of Domestic Cookery, 1808)

Nineteenth century images and references