1940's bathroom- what is this sink thing?

skylynAugust 22, 2006

I have a very original 1940's bathroom (only the floor and the toilet was replaced). We just bought this house a few weeks ago and in the bathroom there is this extra sink thing that is like a urinal but way too high! The bathroom fixtures are very much like the ones below (yes, they are pink). The red arrow is pointing to the thing I'm talking about... What's the deal with these things (I've never seen one before)?

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I've never seen one of those anywhere.
You might be able to find out from Vintage Plumbing. I've seen mention of 40's-50's pink bathrooms there.
Can't hurt to ask them.

Here is a link that might be useful: vintage plumbing. com

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 3:20PM
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I've never seen it either, but I would kill to have all of the pink fixtures. Our sinks were removed so I only have the tub and toilet. Shipping to Alaska is just too much for me to replace the newer vanity with a pink sink set-up.

Let us know what you find out.


    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 3:28PM
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Thanks for the input. We're currently using it as a 'toothbrushing station' LOL! Water runs from under lip in the bowl, so when you spit, it all gets flushed down. I'll have to get some close of pics of it to post. The whole bathroom is just fantastic. (although it needs some paint and light fixtures).

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 3:37PM
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Hi Skylyn.

In the same way that a Trilobite is a useful index fossil to the Paleozoic Era, and a spa tub is to a 2005 bathroom, so is a pastel toothbrushing sink to an upper-middle class bathroom of the Interwar period. Like the Trilobite & like the spa tub, the toothbrushing sink appeared suddenly and quickly filled a niche, a niche that had previously gone unfilled, if it such an empty niche had, indeed, ever been noticed at all.

And, likewise, both the toothbrushing sink & the Trilobite died out just as suddenly as they arrived: with the entry of our country into WWII & its consequent material shortages in one case, and with the Permian Extinction, the greatest species die-off in geologic history, in the other.

As to how much longer spa tubs will survive, I don't give them long. Too useless. There's a big difference between being the 'must-have' designers & plumbing salesmen make them out to be, and being in any way necessary. And in 90% of the houses I know, after a few obligatory bubble-baths, spa tubs tend to fall quickly into obolescence & disuse, which, historically speaking, is a pretty good indicator of future extinction. Hence the notable lack of toothbrushing sinks in today's spa baths.

Anyway, your toothbrushing sink is the plumbing equivalent of a rare dinosaur egg, with the added advantage that your sink is shiny. And pink. Take good care of it.


    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 4:03PM
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yep... spit sink!... what fun!!!!! I am envious.

And I must be as rare as a dino agg since we use our tub 4-6 times per week so the hubby and i can soak and talk about our day... it's a wonderful luxury to spend 30+ minutes a day just paying attention to each other!


    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 4:44PM
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MAGNAVERDE, your comments cracked me up! Thanks! So, there is no 'fancy' name for this thing? Nothing French, like La Spiterine? Anywho, below is a pic of the thing in its natural habitat:

    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 6:55AM
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Wow, it's like a precursor to the double vanity, only more cool. I hope you plan to keep your fixtures, they look awesome!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 10:43AM
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Honestly, when we first looked at the place, I thought we would need to gut this bathroom. But I've really grown to like it alot. It just needs some flooring, period appropriate fixtures and some paint (and lots of cleaning).

    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 12:45PM
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Maybe a dentist built the house? Only kidding. The fixtures look like ones I had for a doll house too many years ago. Are you going to try to find pink venetian blinds?!!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 2:22PM
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My aunt & uncle have a 1950s ranch house in Pennsylvania. Their bathroom fixtures are the powder blue. No spit sink, though.

The pink and yellow were in the kitchen.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2006 at 3:47PM
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Kinda like the rarely-seen bidet in US bathrooms.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 8:35PM
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I'll bump this up just for fun ;) Below is a pic of the matching pink sink (as you can see, it is just like the one in the ad from 1940):

    Bookmark   August 30, 2006 at 8:43AM
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skylyn some friends of ours bought an older home in New Hamphire and every bedrm had a sink like that in it, it really cramped their style when it came to decorating, the house has been torn down and a new trophy house in its place..all good things come to an end.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2006 at 11:40AM
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I lived in a dormitory built in the early 1900s (1920s?) at the University of Arkansas for three years. It was the oldest unrenovated dorm on campus, had no air conditioning, radiators that were always overheating your room-- and there was ALWAYS a wait list to live there. Each room had a tiny sink much like these built in to an alcove between the two built-in dressers. We loved them-- it was amazing how much better it was to live in a dorm room with those tiny sinks than in a room without one.

Here is a link that might be useful: Gibson Hall

    Bookmark   September 4, 2006 at 1:39AM
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we use the whirlpool tub every night and the bidet several times a day. some things will never become obsolete. PS I adore pink.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2006 at 11:57AM
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I think it's extra swanky that you can rinse your foamy spit with either hot or cold waters! Unless the two faucets are his and hers water access. :) Magnaverde, I loved your reply!

The bidet that my parents put in was pretty much used for washing feet in the summertime.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2006 at 2:21PM
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Oh, that little sink just rocks.

I am SOooooo jealous. What a great idea.

BTW, I've always liked a bidet, too, but not for washing feet...LOL

    Bookmark   September 11, 2006 at 2:42PM
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It was common to have lavatories (sinks) in bedrooms in the 1920's and beyond. Toilets were often off by themselves in out of the way places. Just think about it...new innovations back then, everyone was used to backhouses...plumbing inside a house was revolutionery...hadn't got it all worked out yet regarding what goes where and why. Many folks didn't think washing the dishes belonged in the same room as cooking food. Maybe they thought toilets and lavatories needed seperate rooms too? I remember seeing pics of early 20th century bathroom fixtures featuring "footbaths" along with bathtubs in the same bathroom. Now how decadent is that? If you have 'em, keep 'em, they are priceless. Besides, you can wash the dog or the kids in them.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2006 at 1:38AM
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That is so cool! My (regular) sink looks EXACTLY like yours except it is white. It has the same legs, towel bar, and bowl. Doesn't have those handles anymore though. Unfortunately the previous owners put horrid blue carpeting in our bathroom... and the walls, while they are super-nice to wipe down, being made of shiny boards, they are blue floral that I'm very tempted to paint over.

Anyway, I LOVE your little spit sink! What is the rectangular metal box in the wall above it?

    Bookmark   October 3, 2006 at 11:10AM
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Glad to see this thread bumped back up! That box is a rotating toothbrush/soap holder (i.e., you push on the side and it spins around and there is a holder on the other side).

    Bookmark   October 3, 2006 at 3:26PM
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Very interesting. With the rim washdown, this closely resembles a modern "clinic service sink" used in hospitals for cleaning out bedpans. I've never seen a washdown sink intended for toothbrushing before.. it's really quite a nifty idea.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2006 at 10:48PM
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Will '40s-'50s bathrooms soon become the new "vintage" look to strive for? For the avant garde, '40s kitchens have already arrived. Give me that old-time linoleum, shiny chrome and bright red leatherette.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2006 at 10:54AM
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I hope so...I've got a house full of it. I'll try and post a pic of the matching pink bath tub later (the trifecta!). It is square and has one weird glass wall...!

    Bookmark   November 14, 2006 at 2:25PM
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What a great thread! Laughed, a lot! It is indeed a "new" fashioned "spitoone" for brushing teeth. The pink is a classic color and value is increasing. Keep that in mind, when you get tired... if you do. Spas, have been popular since the Myans. They are NOT going anywhere...

    Bookmark   November 15, 2006 at 2:31AM
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Wow! I love the little spit sink. You can just imagine the 1940's advertising! I can just see little ones lined up to brush their teeth, bathe and wash thier faces while mom and dad look on, great for big families! My mom had the exact same tub,sink(with towel bars) and toilet until just a few years ago. No little spit sink though. She replaced them all with modern white pieces and couldn't give away the old pink stuff! I'll have to show her this. She should have tried to sell them online! Live and learn!

    Bookmark   November 21, 2006 at 2:55PM
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Does anyone know where I might find the type of towel bars shown on the sides of Skylyn's pink sink, above? I just bought a 1925 home with the original pink (maybe it's peach)Standard bath suite (tub, smaller wall hung sink and toilet. The last owner had a vanity custom made from formica for the sink and removed the towel bars, the metal buttons they were attached to are still on the wall. Thanks
Sorry, I don't know how to post photos otherwise, i would love to

    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 10:40PM
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I'd watch ebay. Anything you're looking for shows up eventually if you're patient and dilligent. I'd start with the subcategory "hardware" within "architectural and garden" within "antiques" and just try to search at least once a week. If you can do it more often, that would be even better.

We're doing an addition on our old house and we've found all our hardware, all or lighting and a couple of doors on ebay.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 8:52AM
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Your pictures bring back such memories!! My grandmother's bathroom looked just like that...(It was built when my mom was a small child) I used to love playing with the toothbrush holder thingy that spun around in the wall. My sister and I used to hide things in it!! I had forgotten all about it until I saw the picture.

After she passed away in the early 90's, the new owners totally tore out everything and replaced it with new... I wonder if they are kicking themselves in the behind yet for doing that LOL

Thanks for bringing back the memories!

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 1:17PM
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I had a small sink like that (white not pink) in my 3rd floor bedroom of our row house in Baltimore (in college). It was the greatest - not to have to walk downstairs to brush my teeth, wash my face.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2007 at 4:26PM
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I just put our old pink sink out on the curb for whoever would like it. Silver towel bars and all. Still have the pink tub, but the toilet must have gone years ago. The sink had made in USA, Standard, 1952 imprinted on the bottom. The faucet and valves stuck out horizontally from the back wall of the sink instead of vertically from the top. No spit sink here.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2007 at 4:20PM
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Our house had 3 bathrooms with this kind of 40's to 50's stuff; in seafoam green, light blue and fleshy beige. Our beige sink is nearly identical to the pink one above with the attached side towel bars! We're keeping the beige, but changed out the others.
I went back and forth on keeping them all, but the green toilet was missing the tank lid and had a wooden, home-made job for a lid, the green sink faucet kept failing after repeated repairs, and we just didn't really like the styling enough to retain them after all was said and done. We've kept and are rehabbing everything else in the house that's old *except* for the majority of the bathroom stuff. We really need a larger vanity top to put things on and in that respect these old sinks are difficult to deal with in reality. I'm tired of picking stuff up off the floor that falls off the sink because there isn't any room to set things.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2007 at 9:22PM
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thompsoe, the sink and towel bars that you just threw out are exactly what i've been looing for. i've been trying to replace the silver towel bars on a sink in my new home. :-(

    Bookmark   November 11, 2007 at 9:26PM
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I am pea green with envy over your pink bathroom and a toothbrushing sink? [Swoon]

And you were thinking about gutting it??? [rose fanned herself quickly]

    Bookmark   November 19, 2007 at 6:59AM
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I'm another owner of a pink-and-gray bathroom (toilet is stamped American Standard 1954).

Pink sink and toilet, gray tile, except inside the shower, where the tile is pink. No tub.

I, too, reflexively thought "you have to rip out a pink bathroom". But that's just stupid. You don't "gotta" do nothin'. I now think it's really funny.

The pink bath stays.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2007 at 3:05PM
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I think this should be renamed the Pink bathroom Thread. I, too, have a pink bathroom, although it's only the wall tiles. Pink with a grey bullnose running around the top. The previous owners put an acrylic shower/tub over the tile so it's only three walls of chest high tile- but it's been three years and I'm just not sure I can love it....but if I redid the bathroom i would just glaze the tile white, so no tiles would be harmed in the renovation of the bathroom:)
Growlery i believe I may have the same toilet.....

    Bookmark   January 9, 2008 at 4:17PM
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I have a blue version of this -- trying to attach a picture -- and yes -- the former owner who installed it was a dentist....

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 1:58PM
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i have had bidets added to my last house and this house. not having one seems a little uncivilized to me (grin)

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 2:18PM
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Oh how funny! When I first read the description I thought "bidet" but then I squinted at the little picture and noticed it was way too high! I immediately thought of the little sinks that dentists used to have; I WOULD KILL FOR THAT SINK!

Every morning my DH gets up, clears his throat (at a very loud decible) and HAWKS A LOOGIE right into the bathroom sink. A feeble rinse and splash does not always rinse it down (he doesn't have his glasses on at this point) so I get greeted with the mucus monster.

How much do you want for it?

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 8:49PM
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Ewwwwwwwww! Too much information. :]

    Bookmark   July 24, 2009 at 2:05PM
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The homes I've stayed in in England had sinks in the bedrooms. I thought it odd but fun. I wonder about the feng shui of having a hard porcelain item in a soft bedroom. But I still like it. Here is a bedroom from the Farrow and Ball website, really makes me want to put a sink in my daughter's bedroom.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ciara's bedroom--with sink

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 12:17PM
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I, too, would love to have that sink. I have a small bathroom that serves a four-person family, and an extra toothbrushing sink would save us considerable jostling at times.

Even better is the thought of a sink built into the kids' bedroom! Slateberry, the idea of a little sink in a girl's bedroom is a tremendous idea. Think of all the preening to be done as she grows... and how much it would free up a shared bathroom!

    Bookmark   March 13, 2010 at 6:35PM
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OK, that does it. We are keeping our "wedding mint green" tile in our 1947 Master Bath. We've covered it with paint and carpeted the floor...awful...can't wait to uncover the tile. Maybe it is sea foam green?? It has the chest high tile with the white top just like described above...someone took out the original sink...dying to know what it was...pedestal maybe?

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 1:57AM
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This is indeed a rare, wall-hung dental cuspidor. They were first popular in the late 1919s when it was considered unsanitary to brush one's teeth where one washed the hands. They were first added by the wealthy. They gained popularity in the next twenty years and then as quickly were gone. Here are pics of two such dental cuspidors from a Victorian mansion that my sister is considering rehabbing. Simply gorgeous. These were not originally intended to hold water and most did not have facets, but rather spouts, and most did not have stoppers to allow water to be held.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 2:07AM
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Sorry this is the much fancier one from the master suite.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 2:09AM
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lov_mkitchenIOWA zone 6b

You need to visit retro renovation! Everything you are discussing here is covered there! Click on Save the Pink Bathrooms button.

Here is a link that might be useful: retro renovation

    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 9:51AM
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lov_mkitchenIOWA zone 6b

Thought you might not be able to find the link if you've never been there.

Here is a link that might be useful: Save the Pink Bathrooms

    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 8:38PM
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came back here too, 'cause of retro renovation. That first bath in ttiger12's bathroom -- WOW. I love the tile so much -- it looks like that terracotta/sage Frankoma color (blanking on the name)...off to find out whether Frankoma made tile.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 1:42PM
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The name is "prairie green" and it appears that Frankoma did indeed make tile, although not much of it. The owner's home features a lot of custom made Frankoma tile, but if this bathroom was/is Frankoma, it would be extremely special.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 1:48PM
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