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Sink Faucets
Here are the two basic type of faucets that were normally found on ca1900 and earlier bathroom sinks in upper middle class homes in American cities. The first is the compression type faucet, which was the type that remained in production throughout the 20th century. Of course the design of the faucet changed over the years. The second is the "fuller-ball" type faucet that became obsolete and was not made after about the 1930s-1940s. This type uses a handle stem that has an offset inside end, that has a rod connected to it, much like a crankshaft and rod in an engine. There is an acorn shaped rubber ball washer on the end of the rod that is lifted and lowered by the turned handle, and seats against an orifice inside the faucet. This opens and closes the flow of water
.photo-91       photo-88

There were also mixer faucets made at the time, when the separate Hot and Cold faucets were the norm. The third faucet shown is a fuller style mixer faucet. The popular terminology for faucets in the 19th century was "cock". So what you see here are compression, fuller and fuller mixer cocks.
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From: (Anonymous) Date: September 29th, 2006 01:41 am (UTC) (Link)

Fuller Ball Faucets

I've heard from many sources that fuller ball faucets cannot cope with the high water pressure provided by most modern public utilities and well pumps. This leads to constant leaking -- I'm told -- and hammering upon closing of the valves. I would like to install fuller ball faucets in our 1896 home but I'd like to hear from current fuller ball faucet users (the house is located in New York City and draws on the public water supply which tends to have fairly strong pressure).
Thanks, Steven
From: don_vp Date: September 29th, 2006 01:57 am (UTC) (Link)

fuller basin cocks

I have heard this same theory and have to admit I have never had the opportunity to use fuller ball basin cocks, but I have worked on many of them for people who do put them to use. I have not heard negative feedback. I think the water pressure theory is false however because the faucets close WITH the water flow. The ball washers sit on the inlet side of the orifice, not on the spout side. So the incoming water is pushing on the ball against the orifice, not trying to push the ball away from the orifice. So I do not think water pressure is the problem. But that does not mean these faucets are not a problematic design. They are, but the reason is the orifice can and does get irregular, and the ball tends to harden, get misshapen and can, depending on which direction the handle is rotated, (it can be turned either way) the ball will sit against the orifice differently and not seal well. I think this is the problem.
Please, if there is anyone out there using these cocks, let's hear from you.
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 5th, 2006 07:57 am (UTC) (Link)

Fuller Ball

I have a set in use...no problems in several years. A friend has a set in use that leak but he's having trouble finding new rubber to rebuild them. Does nobody cast new ones? They wouldn't be expensive to make.
The pressure theory doesn't hold water. Many of the old homes in Vancouver, BC have no pressure regulator. I've had the pressure so high at my house when I first purchased it & before installing a regulator, that it tripped the check valve on my hot water tank flooding my basement!
The Fuller valves....no problem & still working like new.
No hammering that I've ever heard.
Nice addition to the site Don!
Your Canadian Pal.
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 4th, 2008 12:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'd love to know where to obtain rubber fro the fuller ball faucets that I have. Right now they are destined to be removed and replaced which would be a shame considering they have been on the tub i have for 100 years! Any tips on where I can find some? (mick-at-maguire-dot-net)
From: don_vp Date: May 11th, 2008 06:06 pm (UTC) (Link)

Fuller - ball washers

Hi Mick,
fuller ball washers are still available to my knowledge from MAC the Antique Plumber in Sacto CA. The rub is he only stocks small sizes (i.e. lavatory faucet size washers).
Most of the early bathub valves use large size washers more the size of a walnut than an acorn. I do not know anywhere to find washers that size.
Good luck
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 24th, 2008 07:41 am (UTC) (Link)

Like your website...

Hi Don - I, too, am an enthusiast of antique bathroom fixtures. I tend to be more mid-century - the 1930s through the 1960s. My email address is thesmart67@msn.com. I'd like to chat with you. Thanks - Jim, Palmdale, CA
From: don_vp Date: September 24th, 2008 04:13 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Like your website...

thank you,
I will drop you a note from normal email
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 6th, 2009 08:04 pm (UTC) (Link)

Porcelain enamel refinishing

While my sink is not Victorian, I have a 1950 American Kitchen that I need the sink refinished. I am very leery of these "re-bath" type refinishing businesses so I started a web search of someone who could actually re-fire my sink. Now this may not apply to anyone who reads this blog, as the process I found only works on steel, not cast iron. Mine is steel and I plan to have it refinished by these folks. Should anyone be interested or know anyone who would be, the company is Independence Porcelain Enamel, 703 S Cottage Ave, Independence, MO 64050, 816.252.8180
From: don_vp Date: April 7th, 2009 04:01 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Porcelain enamel refinishing

As this writer points out, there are companies around the country that refire actual porcelain enamel, and some that will even try it on a piece of cast iron. But I have never heard of a successful process on old cast iron. The new product is just too thin, and not lead based like old product was, and it does no fill the rough casting of old cast iron like the porcelain enamel process did. I have heard of several instances where people sand-blasted an old tub, and then had it refired, and the final result was hideous. Don't waste your money on it. It does however work on pressed steel fixtures, like 1950s kitchen sinks.
Good luck !
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 31st, 2009 05:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

Crane earthen/clay tub stamped 1945

Hey all
I just ripped out an earthen tub made by Crane. I was so close to giving it the sledge hammer but have never seen a tub quite like this. it is very square inside and out, almost like a 60" porcelain box. On the side of the tub it is stamped 11/7/45, I assume that it is made of clay because metal was in short supply durring the war? The tub is in fine condition but for a small chip and hairline crack in the finish. If there is a market for this thing, I would love for it to be reused, otherwise I am afraid its destined for the landfill. Thanks for any input.
From: don_vp Date: June 1st, 2009 01:49 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Crane earthen/clay tub stamped 1945

please write me at my email at

there are people who would want to buy your tub, but you would need to market it somewhere such as Craigslist or eBay.
Let me know what more I can answer....
thanks for writing
Don H
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 28th, 2009 07:46 pm (UTC) (Link)

tub and sink

I have a four and a half foot Kohler clawfoot tub and a Wolf pedestal sink I would like to get rid of but I don't want to just throw it away. In south Florida - email GlenJeanMiss@aol.com
From: don_vp Date: December 28th, 2009 09:02 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: tub and sink

please write me at my email at

there are people who would want to buy your tub and sink, but you would need to market them somewhere such as Craigslist or eBay.
Let me know what more I can answer....
thanks for writing
Don H
Re: tub and sink - (Anonymous) - Expand
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 14th, 2010 12:52 am (UTC) (Link)

bathroom faucet

hi,i was wondering if anyone knows in 1975 which company from spain was selling brass finish faucets?..the one i got has a lot of work on it.....like the swan style that still exists in the market.....
From: don_vp Date: February 11th, 2010 03:06 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: bathroom faucet

Sorry, no info on foreign made products or anything as recent as 1975. Good luck in your search for information..
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 3rd, 2010 08:38 pm (UTC) (Link)

Mixer for hot and cold faucet

I have a circa 1900 victorian and on the bathroom sink sits a hot faucet, a cold faucet and then in the middle another faucet that makes warm water. Does anyone know what this "middle" faucet is called. We are looking to refurbish or replace (if necessary) it and I can't find any info on it. It was manufactured in Chicago.
From: don_vp Date: March 3rd, 2010 09:35 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Mixer for hot and cold faucet

I have seen turn of the century sink faucet arrangements where you had the normal Hot and Cold faucet, and then also had a third faucet that was above, with a swivel spout. I believe this would be connected to a cistern in the attic, to provide "city" water, rather than the well water that most homes used. Or if the house was on a city water system, then the odd faucet might be connected to a cistern that would provide pure rainwater for drinking. They had funny ideas about water back then. You will not have much luck replacing that faucet, but you can get it refurbished.
Please write me at
vintageplumbing@sbclgobal.net to discuss.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 10th, 2010 05:35 pm (UTC) (Link)

Beekman Toilet?

We acquired a vintage toilet from a Portland, OR salvage company and installed it in our 1908 orchard house in Medford,OR. I can not find any info on who or where this manufacturer was. It has a transferware label in black "BEEKMAN" logo centered on the top of the front rim. There was a pioneering family here in Jacksonville OR named Beekman. Cornelius Beekman was a banker in town, and their home and bank are managed by the So. OR. Historical Society. But Cornelius's children died without issue.
I doubt the families are related.
Any info would be appreciated.
From: don_vp Date: July 10th, 2010 07:32 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Beekman Toilet?

The name Beekman is the model name of that particular toilet bowl. Beekman is a street in NY City, that the J.L. Mott Iron Works mfg company was located on back around 1890-1920. I have seen Beekman model toilet bowls, and they were made by The J.L Mott Iron Works Co, and had the Mott name on them somewhere. If yours does not also say Mott on it, I am surprised by that. Please visit my website at
www.vintageplumbing.com and go to my Mott page to read more about the Mott company.
and if you care to send me a photo or two of the bowl, please attach to an email to
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 30th, 2010 12:26 am (UTC) (Link)

vintage sinks and new faucets

Hi there
I got a vintage (turn of the century) sink for my bathroom renovation. The problem is, when I bought the new Kohler handles they don't fit!

The holes for the taps are only about 1" in diameter and the modern faucets have piping that is much wider.

Can I
1 - somehow grind the holes bigger without shattering the porcelain sink?
2- adapt a modern tap with some sort of connector piece that is big enough
to fit the tap underside - but small enough in the inside circumferance to fit through the sink holes
3-or should i return the modern taps and only buy antique ones?

your help is greatly appreciated.
From: don_vp Date: September 30th, 2010 12:54 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: vintage sinks and new faucets

1- there are people that will drill holes or enlarge holes in porcelain coated cast iron, but they are hard to find. It takes specialized tools, and know-how. It is a tricky thing to do without causing serious damage.
2- not sure how this would be done.
3- your best bet if you want to be sure to have something that would fit. Old sinks were not standardized as to hole sizes as they are today, and many used proprietary hardware that it impossible to replace if it becomes lost as is so commonly the case after so many years. Contact me at
vintageplumbing@sbcglobal.net and send some images of your sink top, and if I have some old hardware fittings that will work on your sink, you can buy them.
thanks for your inquiry
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 16th, 2011 05:17 pm (UTC) (Link)

fuller ball faucets

Fuller-ball type faucets were made at least up until the early 1980's. I'm a retired plumber and I plumbed a bathroom for a friend using these faucets distributed by a company called Restoration Hardware. I'm looking for a source of Fuller balls so I can repair his faucets.
From: don_vp Date: July 16th, 2011 07:31 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: fuller ball faucets

if you are a plumber and installed them, t hen you certainly would know if they are fuller ball faucets or not. To my knowledge, fuller ball faucets have not been made since about WW1, and the faucets that Restoration Hardware sells that outwardly appear to be fuller style faucets are normal compression faucets, made to look like fuller faucets. But, in any case, I have some old fuller ball washers, and I believe as written above that you can also get them from Mac the Antique Plumber. Write me at my email address
John Malone From: John Malone Date: February 3rd, 2012 04:56 pm (UTC) (Link)

Kitchen Farmhouse Sink

I have searched high and low for installing a farmhouse sink and everyone suggest putting them in a cabinet. I bought a original and am installing it in my 1912 Home but am stuck on how to hang it to the wall. The ANTIQUE DEler where I purchased it gave me the brackets but I beliecve they are not for the sink. I just need a little suggestion on hanging this. I have come to the realization that I may have to invent a hanging device. Any help would be most appreciated.

St Paul, Mn
From: don_vp Date: February 4th, 2012 01:31 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Kitchen Farmhouse Sink

the old farmhouse sinks are pretty straight forward when it comes to hanging them on the wall, especially if they have a high backsplash like the ones you see on my website. There are lugs that hang down from the top back inner edge of the backsplash, that fit into little pockets on the flat iron or steel brackets that you hang on the wall for this purpose. Please send me an email at
vintageplumbing@att.net and include some images of the back of your sink, and the brackets you have and I can try to help you further. Thanks for writing
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 1st, 2012 08:40 pm (UTC) (Link)

Fuller faucet handles

I'm doing some research on our museum's historic house which has a few fuller faucets. I know that some companies offered these with ivory or ebony handles. We've got two that have a light brown colored handle and I can't figure out what they're made out of. They don't appear to have any grain like you might expect with wood. And they really don't look like ivory either. They're light weight and smooth. The house was built in 1893 and renovated about 1900. Any ideas about the available composition of materials used in fuller handles?

From: don_vp Date: June 1st, 2012 09:11 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Fuller faucet handles

Hello Pat,
I would love to see some images of your faucets and other fixtures. You can send them to my email address of vintageplumbing@att.net
I have seen ivory insert fuller faucet handles, as well as ebony wood, and china. You could have a very light colored ebony wood or a darker ivory than is usually seen. Or you may have some different material such as another type of exotic wood. I know from reviewing the old catalogs from the 19th century that the well to do home owner could order almost anything he wanted from the old manufacturing companies. If the owner wanted say birdseye maple inserts in his faucet handles, he could have it, for a price. As well as almost any design of fixture that he wanted, again for a price. I appreciate your writing to my blog!
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