Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Antique Sinks & Faucets: Now We're Talking Taps

The holidays have passed so its time to get serious. Today we discuss antique sinks and faucets to fit them. If your New Year's resolution is to restore an inherited antique bathroom sink, you may discover that the faucet holes in the sink are unevenly spaced or irregularly sized. Restoring the sink is appealing but locating a faucet to fit the sink poses a problem. Often antique reproduction basin taps are the solution. Authentic reproduction faucets not only look appropriate on an antique sink but they may be the only suitable solution.

Ironically, antique reproduction basin faucets are not only a solution but a source of the problem. These self preservist little faucets have completely independent taps for hot and cold water that, combined with the fact that plumbing standards were still being defined at the time, allowed early sink manufacturers to space faucet holes at irregular distances apart.

Modern widespread faucets do provide variable centers but they require three faucet holes. Antique sinks often only have two faucet holes or, if they have a center hole, the hole is too small for a spout. Basin taps only require two faucet holes; one for the hot tap and one for the cold tap. The small center hole in antique sinks was likely there for a chain stay. The chain stay anchored the drain's rubber stopper to the sink so it could not get misplaced.

Separate hot and cold taps were popular from the early days of indoor plumbing until the 1930's when mixing faucets began to dominate lavatory sinks. Mixer faucets, such as modern widespread lavatory faucets, allow water temperature to be moderated through a single spout. They facilitated washing, shaving, and brushing teeth with running water controlled from one spout. Separate taps require the water to be mixed in the sink bowl. The bowl is filled to provide temperate water for washing. This may not be as convenient but it suggest that basin taps were a bit ahead of their time in regard to water conservation.

Its lack of conformity to modern standards can limit the number of faucet options available for an antique sink but as long as there are antique reproduction basin faucets, the sink will not be rendered obsolete. The minimalist nature of antique reproduction basin taps also means these faucets are relatively economical. So if you are feeling a bit "tapped out" after the holidays, an antique reproduction basin tap shouldn't prevent you from completing your resolution to restore an antique sink.

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