1921 Chicago Asbestos Table Mat Co. Advertisement

Advertisement for Chicago Asbestos Table Mat Comany
Source: The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book (1921

This 1921 advertisement for asbestos table mats reminded me of how much our knowledge base has changed across the years. A hundred years ago many products contained asbestos; today we know that it is dangerous.

Yet I’m old enough to remember when asbestos products were considered safe. The dining room table in my childhood home had a mat that looked almost identical to the one in the picture – and I’m now realizing that it may have contained asbestos which is a bit scary.

Some things it’s best not to think too much about. I think that I’ll focus on memories of the wonderful family gatherings around that dining room table, rather than focusing on the table mat (which may not have actually contained asbestos).

27 thoughts on “1921 Chicago Asbestos Table Mat Co. Advertisement

    1. It was fun to watch this old promotional video. It amost made me want to go out and buy some asbestos siding. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  1. We had a table cover too and it looked like that! But I have to hope that by the late 1950s, early 1960s, they weren’t putting asbestos in the dining room…

  2. Of course, even today there’s asbestos siding around. As long as it’s intact, it doesn’t pose much of a risk. Various sites contain notes like this: “It is when these materials are disturbed through sawing, sanding, ripping, or demolition that the fibers become mobilized and can pose a health risk if they are inhaled or otherwise ingested. If such materials are removed, extreme caution and special techniques are required, and the better strategy is usually to leave them in place or cover them up.”

    I suspect that table mats were equally benign — unless someone decided to cut them up for craft projects.

  3. It was fascinating to read this ad, Sheryl. They make the mat sound so great that a person would really want to buy one. After all it is the “only one insurance” in protecting the table and “hundreds of thousands” of them have been sold. It all sounds so believable until you get down to the name of the company who sells them. Sometimes your 100-hundred-year finds are so much like today, but not this one. Gratefully, we’ve come a long way when it comes to asbestos and learning its dangers.

    1. Thankfully some things have changed across the years. It’s fascinating how this company tried to engage people with the product and convince them to buy it.

  4. GAH! My 1924 mahogany dining room set has mats (original with the table) just like that! I think I’m going to bag them and store them in the trash for disposal…. just in case! Thanks for the info!

  5. We have a round table and I had a glass top made for it so keeping it clear of smudges is a challenge. But it is still clean and the beautiful parquet pattern remains like new.

    1. Glass makes a nice top for tables – though it’s important to keep the glass cleaner handy to wipe away the inevitable smudges. 🙂

  6. Oh, those were terribly popular. I am a ‘you have it, so use it’ kinda gal. I think that came from sitting on plenty of vinyl covered sofas as a child.

    1. Similarly to you, I remember thinking that it was a wonderful luxury (or maybe necessity) to have a table mat that protected the table.

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