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Vintage Plumbing BLOG - don_vp — LiveJournal
Vintage Plumbing BLOG

Hello all,
Don now has a blog, to talk about anything and everything victorian plumbing.
Lets give this a try, and see if it is worth maintaining.
I will use this space to discuss topics of interest to visitors of my website, www.vintageplumbing.com.
If you are an enthusiast of antique bathroom fixtures, I would like to hear from you.

To stimulate some conversation, here are two images of an extraordinarily rare toilet bowl made for the J.L.Mott Iron Works Co. by the John Dimmock & Co. Hanley Staffordshire Potteries, England in the late 1880s. This bowl was called the Grecian Vase and was connected to a wooden high tank, typically one with brass strap and bullets decoration, like the one shown below. This is a reverse washout or reverse "elephant trunk" style bowl and used a wooden seat that was fastened to the wall with small brackets. If anyone has a bowl like this still in use, let's hear about it.

Mott Vase Tank
42 comments or Leave a comment
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From: (Anonymous) Date: September 27th, 2006 10:17 pm (UTC) (Link)


Congratulations on your new BLOG... it looks great so far. Sorry, I have no antique plumbing question for you.
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 30th, 2006 10:45 am (UTC) (Link)

Urn-Shaped Toilet Bowl

I've not seen one of these and it's quite stunning! Do you know the provenance? New York City or environs? This was obviously a very high-end piece and there cannot have been many made. But I'm a little shocked that you haven't dug up one of those brass-strapped high tanks...yet!
From: don_vp Date: December 23rd, 2006 05:00 pm (UTC) (Link)

Mott Vase Tank with brass decoration

I have found the tank. Here it is shown with the brackets and with the guide/link chain, and pull handle.

For those that like fancy high tanks, I also show you a great high tank with bird and estlake carvings on it.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 6th, 2007 08:13 pm (UTC) (Link)

Enjoyed Perusing Your Blog & Site

Hello! I really enjoyed your sites. I too enjoy all old plumbing related things. For that matter just about anything antique & old. I run across articles about J.L.Mott on a regular basis in the old magazine 'The Manufacturer & Builder'.
I visited your sites, and its great to SEE these black & white illustrations that I have found in Manufacturer & Builder, as real tangible objects. =)
If you ever get a chance and want to, you can check out my collection of articles and things at http://victorianpassage.com (http://victorianpassage.com). I have a bit of everything but I do have some articles related to plumbing, most being here (http://www.victorianpassage.com/browse_by_subject/vicliv_interior_design/bathroom/).
Well I've bookmarked both your site & your blog and will be back soon!!
~ Jessica
From: don_vp Date: April 16th, 2007 03:32 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Enjoyed Perusing Your Blog & Site

Hello Jessica,
I would refer anyone interested in Victoriana, especially Victorian bathroom decor to your website, http://www.victorianpassage.com. I very much enjoyed the reference text and the illustrations that you provide. I am happy to hear that you appreciate my Vintage Plumbing website, and hope you come back often.
Thank you very much,
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 12th, 2007 03:58 pm (UTC) (Link)

L.Wolff Mfg. Co.

I recently installed a L. Wolff clawfoot tub in my bathroom. It had been a barn for many years but it was in good shape, the procelain is especially good. I am looking for any history of the company. There is a date of 1901 on the bottom.

Thank you,
Susie Lemmerhart
From: don_vp Date: April 16th, 2007 03:22 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: L.Wolff Mfg. Co.

the L. Wolff Mfg Co was based in Chicago, and no doubt dates back into the 1860s or 70s. I do not have any information on the company, because my reference material i.e. early catalogs does not provide any. My oldest Wolff catalog is 1897, and it gives no historical information on the company that I can see. We do know from seeing many pieces made by Wolff that the company made a very high quality product, of highly ornamental desgins, and very heavy construction. Most of the Wolff pieces I hear about come from the middle part of the country. Especially the upper mid west. Any additional questions, write to vintageplumbing@sbcglobal.net
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 23rd, 2008 11:27 pm (UTC) (Link)

Installing Old Cast Iron Pedestal Sink

I enjoyed finding your site and seeing all of the great pictures. I found it while looking for information on how to install an old sink. I am doing a restoration on a 1927 Bungalow and have found a cast iron tub and a cast iron pedestal sink to put in the upstairs bathroom. The sink is a 1924 Kohler, rectangular with an oval basin. It has 3 holes and will adapt to a new widespread faucet but I'm not sure how to secure it or if I need to - although I assume I do. The only bracket attachments I can see are two tabs in the casting, one on each side with approx 1/4" holes in them. However, the rear side of the sink looks much like the rim all the way around and doesn't appear like it ever was flush against the wall. The sink bolts onto the pedestal and is god-awful heavy. Could it just sit there like the tub? What will the plumbing inspector say? I could try to make up my own bracket (I am an engineer) but would prefer to find an original bracket - assuming they even exist. Do you know how these sinks were installed and if they can be reinstalled to code?

From: don_vp Date: January 24th, 2008 12:50 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Installing Old Cast Iron Pedestal Sink

Hi Dave, my best information is that the cast iron pedestal sinks that have top bolted to base were not attached to the wall, expect by the water supply pipes, and the drain pipe. Often the sink base was screwed into the floor through a hole in the back of the base. The back of the sink top was usually a couple inches away from the wall.
The old water connection lines were hard copper pipe, and of course the drain line/trap was heavy brass tubing. These hard connections would tend to help hold the sink in place. Today's connections are more flimsy and less heavy, and will not do much to keep the sink in place.
As to code, so far as I know the only code issue is the sput outlet at least an inch above the flood rim of the basin. If you ensure that, you have no other code concerm, but I still advise that you consult a plumber, which I am not.
Good luck,
Don H
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 27th, 2008 06:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for the great website- I've leanred a lot from it! As the owner of a circa 1910 home that is in dire need of an appropriate bathroom, I find myself with a growing list of questions about restoring these great old fixtures. Is there an appropriate place on your blog for newcomers to post their questions? I'm sure that most of my questions are ones that you've heard many times before, but us newbies have to start somewhere- and learning is half the fun!
From: don_vp Date: February 27th, 2008 06:41 am (UTC) (Link)

Newbie questions

Well, most people write to me with their questions at my email address of
I am happy to answer any questions I am able in that way.
I also see many questions posted on threads in the Old House Journal website in the Talk Section. http://www.oldhousejournal.com/talk/index.shtml
Suggest you give that a try.
But feel free to write me with any questions as well. I will answer as best I can.
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 2nd, 2008 01:10 am (UTC) (Link)

Clawfoot Bathtub

I am having a claw foot bathtub refurbished. I had no idea at the time it was given to me but when we turned the tub over it was stamped "Standard" and a date of 07 26 10. It has the original feet. Do you know what it might be worth. I don't want to sell it, I was just curious.
From: don_vp Date: November 2nd, 2008 02:03 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Clawfoot Bathtub

This is a "normal" and still extremely common claw foot tub, and it's value is literally what you paid for yours,,,,,,,,,nothing. I would not invest any money in it as far as "reporcelainizing", as you will be very disappointed in the results after a very short period of time. Better to buy an old claw foot tub that you might find on eBay for instance, that still has its original finish in good condition. They are still out there, and the cost of a good one will be cheaper than what you would pay to have yours "refinished".
Good luck,
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 8th, 2010 04:36 pm (UTC) (Link)

j.l.mott ironworks rack

i have a steel rack made by J.L. Mott Ironworks N.Y.
i am wondering what it was used for. Is there any way to send you some pictures? maybe you could help I.D. it
From: don_vp Date: May 8th, 2010 04:45 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: j.l.mott ironworks rack

please send email with pictures to my email address

thank you
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 31st, 2010 02:27 am (UTC) (Link)

toilet gasket

I have an old toilet; the water tank butts up against the wall. Recently I found out that the gasket from the tank to the toilet is leaking. I do not know the age of the toilet. My parents bought the house in 1937 and it was there. This is the first real problem that I have had that I don't know what to do. on the lid it says K 6948 18
1 3 36

I believe the K stands for Kohler; I have looked on there web-site, but found nothing. Sorry this is so long. Can you help? Katherine
From: don_vp Date: May 31st, 2010 03:08 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: toilet gasket

Well, a leaky tank/bowl gasket is a common plumbing problem that most any competent plumber should be able to solve. But, if you are unable to find a plumber that will do it, you may have to locate the gasket yourself, and replace it yourself.
I suggest you contact Locke Plumbing, a good resource for obsolete parts. at
you should have some clear digital images of your tank/bowl to send along with your request so they can clearly understand what the problem is that you are trying to resolve. I hope this is useful to you.
Good luck,
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 22nd, 2010 08:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

Great Collection!

Seeing your collection transports me to the movies my grandfather used to watch during Sunday. I am so surprised that there is someone like you that collects such great thing. Question, are you also a plumber? Minneapolis (http://www.plumbinginminnesota.com) museums do not showcase these kinds of collection. One of a kind!
From: don_vp Date: July 22nd, 2010 11:57 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Great Collection!

Yes, you are right, these old apparatus seem to be shunned by most museums. There once was however a Sanitary Plumbing Museum in Worchester MASS. I visited it, and it did not have 1/10 of what I had collected on display. Mostly faucets and parts, not to many of the fixtures like tubs, toilets, sinks, and showers. I have discovered that the museum still exists and has been upgraded and moved nearby to Watertown, MASS. Now it has a great many antique fixtures including several beautiful ornamental toilet bowls. It looks like a great place to visit if you love antique bathroom fixtures.
As for whether I am a plumber, no, I'm not, but I have joked for years that I may have been in a previous life. I may be a reincarnated plumber. I sure enjoy playing around with Victorian era plumbing fixtures. Anyway, thanks for your comment!
Re: Great Collection! - (Anonymous) - Expand
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 31st, 2010 02:54 am (UTC) (Link)

Crane Accesso Bath Fixtures


I found your site by searching for "Crane Accesso" in google and clicking on pretty much the only relevant link that comes up. It appears as though your restored one of these for someone.

Anyway, we are remodling my house (built in 1941) and we have the original bath fixtures it would appear. For the most part, everything seems to work fairly well except for the bath tub spout. When we use the diverter pull, the water does come out of the shower but the spout still flows pretty heavily, wasting quite a bit of water. We do have access (through a closet directly behind the fixtures with a small door in the wall) to the pipes.

Do you have any suggestions? Is there anything we could do that wouldn't cost a fortune or require machining parts?


You can email me at probe_us [at] yahoo dot com since I won't get a notification when your respond here, but I will check back.

Thanks so much!

From: don_vp Date: December 8th, 2010 02:17 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Crane Accesso Bath Fixtures

I am sorry to say that I have not been able to find a good solution for the leaking diverter problem on the Crane tub spout, and I have been asked about it quite often by others.
I have tinkered with that tub spout, and not readily seen how to get the darned thing apart. Crane was a great old company, but unfortunately famous for making one of a kind designs that no one else made, and now parts are not available in many cases. I have sympathy for your plight, but do not have any good solution for you.
thanks for writing and sorry to be so slow to see your post.
From: ext_301582 Date: October 28th, 2010 03:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Love this blog, and I love the Grecian Vase toilet. I wonder if someone could help me with something. I have a pair of old Kohler clawfoot tubs that came with an 1882 house. On the bottom of both is an engraving that says "84-05-07-s". Does anyone know - could that, by any wild stretch of the imagination, actually be their date of manufacture? It would be very cool if it is.
From: don_vp Date: December 8th, 2010 02:20 am (UTC) (Link)

Kohler tubs

Hi, and thanks for writing,
It is extremely unlikely that your tubs date from 1884, even though I think Kohler was in business back then. I could tell immediately if I saw photos of your tubs, but generally, tubs that old are quite different than the more modern ost turn of the century models. Generally the very early tubs which are seldom seen anymore were quite tall, and narrow, and usually had a wooden rim. Most likely your tubs are dated 1907. However, they may even be newer than that. I cannot say without seeing them.
thank you for writing,
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 8th, 2010 01:33 am (UTC) (Link)

Amazing site!

Hi there.
I love your website, and I've really enjoyed reading the blog too.
I have an old 1870s house, but the bathroom and toilet are 1960s. We'd love to restore them to turn of last century or earlier. We would probably end up being return customers with you, but the problem is, we are in Australia! Do you happen to know anyone closer to us who has a collection or deals in antique bathroom goodies.
Any help or info would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks very much
From: don_vp Date: December 8th, 2010 02:23 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Amazing site!

Hate to say it, because I so appreciate your comments, but my answer is no. I do not know anywhere else closer to down under. And, I just do not think shipping to down under is feasible for the things I deal in. That is unless you were willing to pay an ungodly sum of money for crating and specialized transport. I do not have a solution for you on this one, but want to wish you good luck in your efforts to restore your great old antique house.
Thank you for writing...
Re: Amazing site! - (Anonymous) - Expand
Our Rouse House From: Our Rouse House Date: February 6th, 2011 11:28 pm (UTC) (Link)

Crane Jan 12, 1924 Clawfoot Tub over 6ft numbered 1

What information do you have on a Crane castiron clawfoot bathtub stamped with the company name and the date of Jan. 12 1924 and a large number 1 on the underside. It is in need of restoration, mainly exterior but I am trying to find out the as-is value range and where to market. Thank you in advance for your speedy reply.
Our Rouse House From: Our Rouse House Date: February 6th, 2011 11:38 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Crane Jan 12, 1924 Clawfoot Tub over 6ft numbered 1

I also have a double washboard sided single-basin sink that is likely the same age and manufacturer. It has a high back and possibly the original faucet. Any info on that would be appreciated as well. Thank you!
42 comments or Leave a comment
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