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Portland Rug History

We keep a keen eye out for rug related ephemera. A few years ago we stumbled across the original typeset for a long gone Portland rug retailer Cartozian Brothers Rugs Inc. for sale in of all places, Chicago, I had to have it. 

In 1906 Tatos Cartozian and family fleeing genocide immigrated to the USA and Tatos settled in Portland, Oregon. Shortly thereafter, Tatos started selling rugs and in 1922 opened a rug retail shop in Portland near the corner of 10th and Washington. In 1923, Tatos applied for US citizenship in Portland to Judge Robert Bean with Bean finding Tato's ability to speak and read English sufficient, Tato's was granted provisional citizenship.

Portland rug dealer

Tatos Cartozian

In 1924, the United States government challenged the validity of Tatos citizenship and sought to revoke it based on his ethnicity ”United States v. Tatos Cartozian" (1925) US prosecuting attorney, John S. Coke, stated- “It is the contention of the government that it makes no difference whether a man is a Caucasian or not or what the racial and language history of his people may be if the man on the street does not recognize him as white.” 

Thankfully, John Coke and the US government lost its case and Tatos, became a US citizen. Tatos Cartozian's survived genocide, racism, and his business weathered 2 world wars and the great depression Tatos passed away February 14, 1953. What Cartozian Rugs could not survive was the shifting trend in the 1950-60s from hand-woven Oriental rugs to broadloom wall to wall carpet Cartozian rugs business closed their doors in 1963. Some of the best antique rugs I've seen in Portland bear Cartozian labels. 

You can read more here about Tatos legal case…/tatos-o-cartozian-with…/…

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