Saturday, June 30, 2012

Novelty Door Stops: Cast Iron Birds, Cats, Dogs and Frogs Oh My – MYOH!

I would guess that simple door stops were probably invented a few days after the hinged door was invented. A wedged piece of wood or a heavy stone may have worked fine for a while but I imagine that it did not take long for the simple door stop to be transformed into decorative home accents. Once the door stop took more decorative forms, I am sure that the first cast iron door stops were introduced. Heavy and inexpensive, cast iron is the perfect material for creating decorative door stops. A craftsman’s unique door stop designs could be turned into patterns that iron foundries would use to cheaply cast over and over again replicas of the craftsman’s original design. As simple as the door stops purpose may be, there are actually available in two basic designs. Cast iron door stops are either smaller wedge-style door stops or heavier and typically larger non-wedge style door stops.

Recently, Shop 4 Classics added novelty cast iron door stops from MYOH, Make Your Own Home. MYOH’s cast iron door stops are available in a variety of novel animal shapes as well as traditional designs. Their collection of wedge-style door stops includes small mouse, frog and bird characters. MYOH’s larger non-wedge door stop collection includes novel black cat and terrier themed door stops. Whether you are looking for a decorative door stop as a unique home accent or in need of a door stop purely to keep an open door in its place, MYOH has a novelty cast iron door stop perfect for your home.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Clearly Vintage Clarion Farmhouse Drainboard Kitchen Sink

The farmhouse drainboard kitchen sink was a fixture (no pun intended) of kitchens from the early 1900's up until the start of World War II.  The Sign of the Crab cast iron Clarion farmhouse drainboard kitchen sink is a great example of a modern reproduction that authentically replicates its antique inspiration.  Today, we compare the Clarion farmhouse drainboard kitchen sink to antique kitchen sinks from the turn of the 20th century so you can judge for yourself.

Exhibit A: Cast Iron

Indoor plumbing was introduced in the 1870's.  Some of the first plumbed kitchen sinks to take advantage of this advancement were cast iron kitchen sinks.  The Sign of the Crab Clarion farmhouse drainboard kitchen sink is constructed of cast iron just as the original kitchen sinks.  The thickness of the iron ranges from about 1/4" along the back of the Clarion kitchen sink to about 1/2" to 3/4" thick through the rest of the sink.  A cast iron kitchen sink is very heavy and the cast iron Clarion drainboard kitchen sink is no exception.  The Clarion cast iron sink is so heavy, in fact, that Sign of the Crab recommends a minimum of 5 people for installation.

Exhibit B: White Porcelain Enamel

The first cast iron sinks were raw cast iron.  They may have been painted but cast iron presented two problems for early kitchens.  First, cast iron is difficult to clean and second, cast iron will rust when exposed to moisture.  Fortunately, porcelain had become more economical by the early 1900's and the interior of cast iron clawfoot tubs and sinks were coated with a porcelain enamel after that time.  The porcelain enamel helped preserve the cast iron sink.  The porcelain glaze also made cast iron sinks easier to clean which eased hygiene concerns in the wake of measles, small pox, cholera, and other epidemics of the previous couple centuries.  The porcelain enamel (and kitchens in general) was almost always white.  This was again largely in response to sanitary concerns of the time.  White made dirt and grime easier to see.  Like cast iron kitchen sinks from the turn of the 20th century, the Clarion cast iron farmhouse drainboard kitchen sink has a durable white porcelain enamel coating.

Sign of the Crab Clarion Farmhouse Drainboard Kitchen Sink

Exhibit C: Shape

First generation cast iron kitchen sinks included a shallow single bowl with a tall integrated backsplash.  Later, a second bowl for rinsing dishes was available on some kitchen sinks but the single bowl sink was most common.  After a dish was washed, it was placed on an adjacent drainboard.  The drainboard featured grooves to channel water back into the bowl while dishes dry. These early cast iron kitchen sinks initially stood on two to four legs, were wall mounted, or rested on cabinets.

Like vintage cast iron kitchen sinks, the Sign of the Crab Clarion cast iron farmhouse kitchen sink has a single bowl.  At about 9-1/2" deep, the Clarion sink’s bowl is deeper than most antique kitchen sinks; which is a welcome improvement if you've ever tried to wash dishes in the 4"-6" deep bowl found on many antique kitchen sinks.  The Clarion cast iron farmhouse kitchen sink has a drainboard on both sides of the bowl.  The integrated backsplash is 12" tall.  The Clarion farmhouse kitchen sink is available with two adjustable height legs or without legs so it can be wall mounted or placed on custom cabinetry.

Exhibit D:  Plumbing

Up until the 1930's, kitchen sink faucets were usually wall mounted.  Antique cast iron kitchen sinks had two holes in the backsplash for installing a faucet.  Separate hot and cold taps were used in kitchen sinks initially but around the turn of the century wall mounted kitchen sink faucets with mixing valves were becoming commonplace.  Early kitchen faucets did not offer sprayers.  A rubber hose attached to the spout was the only sprayer available for antique cast iron kitchen sinks.  The plumbing below vintage kitchen sinks was always exposed to allow for air circulation.  Health concerns were again at play.  Moisture was thought to harbor germs and diseases.  Proper air circulation provided by exposing plumbing under the sink prevented dampness and reduced the health risk.

The Clarion cast iron farmhouse kitchen sink has two 8" center faucet holes in the backsplash to support installation of a wall mounted kitchen sink faucet.  Although we no longer have the same concerns about contaminated water, the area below the Clarion kitchen sink is open to expose plumbing just as it would have been in vintage drainboard kitchen sinks.


By the roaring 20's, tiled-in kitchen sinks started replacing large drainboard kitchen sinks.  Although the porcelain-enameled cast iron kitchen sink on legs was still being produced up until the start of World War II, demand was dwindling and eventually these sinks disappeared from the market.  For many years, the only place to find one of these sinks was a salvage yard.  Fortunately, Sign of the Crab brought back the farmhouse drainboard kitchen sink a few years ago and it continues to be a favorite today. Even if the Clarion sink isn't the right fit for your kitchen, we are sure that you'll agree that the sink is a perfect homage to the original cast iron drainboard kitchen sink.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Vintage Clawfoot & Modern Freestanding Tubs: Ideal Replacements for that so 1990’s Giant Jacuzzi Tub

Oversized Jacuzzi style fiberglass drop in tubs were all the rage during the 1980’s and through much of the 1990’s. Jacuzzi bath tubs of this era were large, designed to comfortably accommodate two people. They, therefore, take a lot of water to fill them in order to properly activate their Jacuzzi water jets and if a warm bath was desired extra-large or multiple hot water heaters were also required. Today’s environmentally and economically conscious homeowners look upon these large tubs as wasteful of energy and water. The powerful water jets and often noisy internal pump motors of 1980 and 1990 era Jacuzzi tubs are no longer acceptable to modern homeowner’s that are wanting a relaxing and peaceful spa type bathing experience.

Summit Acrylic Double Slipper Tub
 Strom Plumbing by Sign of the Crab

When master bathrooms of the 1980’s and early 1990’s are remodeled, replacing these monster tubs with a stylish and much more practical cast iron or acrylic freestanding tub is often part of the plan. Removing old drop-in Jacuzzi tubs creates ample room to fit even the larger size freestanding tubs with ample free space around the tub to properly display the freestanding tubs attractive exposed plumbing fixtures.

Jacuzzi tubs were typically designed to use large deck-mount Roman tub faucets while today’s freestanding bath tubs are designed to accept a variety of tub faucet installations and often shower enclosures. Faucets and shower attachments used with both vintage clawfoot freestanding tubs as well modern freestanding tubs are generically referred to as clawfoot tub faucets and clawfoot tub showers. Clawfoot tub faucets and clawfoot shower sets are available in: tub deck mount faucet, tub wall mount faucet, freestanding bathroom floor mount faucet, and bathroom wall mount faucet options.

65 Inch Seneca Acrylic Soaker Tub
Shop 4 Classics offers freestanding tubs from a select group of popular name brands. Sign of the Crab also commonly referred to as Strom Plumbing, offers one of widest selection of freestanding bath tubs. Sign of the Crab’s collections of tubs includes both traditional cast iron freestanding tubs and lighter weight acrylic freestanding tubs. Sign of the Crab’s light weight acrylic tubs are ideal replacement for old Jacuzzi tubs especially if your master bath is on the second story where tub weight may be a concern while their cast iron tubs offer the look and feel of antique original clawfoot tubs. Sign of the Crab’s collection of cast iron and acrylic vintage style freestanding tubs includes classic roll-top tubs, elegant slipper and double slipper tubs, and large double-ended roll-top tubs. Sign of the Crab modern collection of freestanding acrylic includes shapely oval freestanding tubs and clean-line rectangular shape freestanding tubs.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Cast Iron Double Slipper Tub & Other Hardware That Promise The Moon

Were you aware that there was a partial lunar eclipse this week?  The moon passed in the earth's shadow on Monday, June 4.  For most of us, it did so with little notice and that's because the moon, like Rodney Dangerfield, gets no respect.  The moon's astrological limelight was overshadowed by Venus passing across the face of the sun also this week.  The Shop 4 Classics Old House Blog changes the moon's aura today with a look at moon-themed products available from your favorite resource for antique reproduction plumbing and hardware,

Moon Cast Iron Double Slipper Tub
Our lunar tribute begins with Sign of the Crab's Moon cast iron double slipper tub.  In general, Sign of the Crab's clawfoot tubs are named after lakes but the cleverly named Moon double slipper tub takes its name from its crescent shape.  The Moon cast iron double slipper tub is shaped like the moon in its crescent phase.  Sign of the Crab also offers a Crescent cast iron double slipper tub and a Luna cast iron double slipper pedestal tub.  Crescent is of course a phase of the moon while Luna is the Roman goddess of, you guessed it, the moon!  The difference between these three lunar named cast iron tubs is in their feet.  The Moon tub has peg style tub feet.  The Crescent tub has lion paw tub feet.  The Luna tub has a pedestal base.  All three tubs are 6' long and available with or without faucet holes.  When Sign of the Crab promises the moon, they deliver, wouldn't you say?
Eastlake Doorbell Button

Next on our moon tour is an Eastlake doorbell button from Waterglass Studios.  A crescent moon hangs in the night sky behind the owl in the elaborate design on the backplate of the Eastlake doorbell button.  The moon's appearance is subtle but worthy of attention.  The highly detailed backplate of the Waterglass Studios Eastlake doorbell button is a fine example of Victorian hardware.  The doorbell button is cast in brass and available in antique brass or oil rubbed bronze.

Moon Cabinet Knob
Our final lunar stop is the moon cabinet knob from MYOH.  Again depicted in its crescent phase, the moon shares the face of the moon cabinet knob with a collection of stars.  The moon cabinet knob is part of a celestial series of cabinet knobs that includes a sun cabinet knob and star cabinet knob.  These playful cabinet knobs are ideal for dresser drawers and cabinet doors in a daycare center, nursery, or child's bedroom.

When I was a boy and did something foolish, my father would say, "Boy, you got no more sense than a man in the moon for."  Grammatical errors aside, I never understood what he meant.  Father's Day is just around the corner so maybe I'll ask him to explain.  In the meantime, visit Shop 4 Classics for a great selection of antique reproduction hardware and plumbing; moon-themed and otherwise.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Home Hardware that Reflects the Nature of American Arts and Crafts Style

Greene Doorplate Set
Those new to Arts & Crafts style often assume that it is purely an American creation and in many ways it is. However, the origin of the Arts & Crafts style movement, like all the preceding style movements popular in United States, can be traced to Europe. The American flavor of Arts & Crafts style was quite a bit different from the original European Arts & Crafts style. These differences, however, were actually in complete harmony with one of the original defining concepts of European Arts & Crafts style movement. The Arts & Crafts style drew inspiration from the simple beauty of nature. Arts & Crafts artisans incorporated natural elements from their surroundings into hand-crafted items of all kinds. American Arts & Crafts artists and craftsmen created using materials, imagery, and a color palette inspired by the local flora and fauna that was very different from that of Europe. American Arts & Crafts style for this same reason also varied from region to region within the United States.

Modest, simple design is a hallmark of Arts & Crafts style. The simplicity of design was meant to highlight the natural materials used to create the item. Wood furniture, for example, was created using local oak species that were typically cut in quarter sawn fashion in order to highlight the beauty of oak’s heavy grain. Door and cabinet hardware design was also simple and crafted from more earthy metal like copper and iron compared to the ornate brass hardware popular throughout the preceding Victorian period. Arts & Crafts door and cabinet hardware design focused on complementing, rather than embellishing, the natural beauty of the piece of furniture or door.

Santa Rosa Quarter Sawn Oak Door Chime 
Shop 4 Classics offers Craftsmen Hardware’s door, cabinet and other home hardware items that are made in the American Arts & Crafts tradition. Craftsmen Hardware’s Arts & Crafts door hardware and Arts & Crafts cabinet hardware are made from hand-hammered copper and finished by hand with a rich dark brown patina. Among the many of other products made by Craftsmen Hardware are handsome door bell chimes hand crafted from quarter sawn oak as well as door bell chimes created from hand hammered copper. Click here to view our complete catalog of Craftsmen Hardware’s American Arts & Crafts home hardware products.