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Is there a vintage plumbing expert in the house?

 
 
Reply Sun 24 Oct, 2010 09:35 am
We're getting ready to redo our downstairs bathroom.

The family doesn't really use this bathroom for showering or bathing but we do want to include a shower for when we have overnight guests.

This bathroom is really centrally located in the house -- it's the only one downstairs so it gets used by everyone who comes to the house.

I've been looking for smallish showers and I came across this photo:

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3443/3734177440_708e5d380f_z.jpg

I would REALLY like to find a shower (or reporduction) like this but I'm not having any luck finding anything like it by googling "vintage circular showers" and the like.

Does anyone know if this shower has a special name or how in the world anyone could find information on it?

Thanks!
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Type: Question • Score: 11 • Views: 10,687 • Replies: 38

 
High Seas
 
  3  
Reply Sun 24 Oct, 2010 11:13 am
@boomerang,
Look for "antique", not "vintage". This company appears to be reputable and have your shower in stock: http://www.antiqueplumbingfixtures.com/
http://www.antiqueplumbingfixtures.com/Shower1.jpg
PUNKEY
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Oct, 2010 11:20 am
Bet those cost a fortune.

See http://www.vintagetub.com/images/large/l_P0893EXTC.jpg

Maybe you can rig your own. The "tray" on the bottom will be an issue, too.
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Sun 24 Oct, 2010 11:22 am
@High Seas,
Yay!!!!

Thank you so much. I was at my wits end.

Now I just have to convince Mr. B....
High Seas
 
  2  
Reply Sun 24 Oct, 2010 11:58 am
@boomerang,
Here's a possible tactical approach: do you have a pool, or think of building one? Then you need a downstairs shower, guests or no guests Smile
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Oct, 2010 12:42 pm
@PUNKEY,
Shower pans are really easy to find or you can have one poured.

I'm sure you're right about them being expensive. But they're so totally cool!

We have almost that exact same bathtub and shower in our upstairs bathroom.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Oct, 2010 12:45 pm
@High Seas,
We talk about pools once in a while even though they make so little sense in Oregon. I convince myself I want one then the three massive birch trees start shedding and I can hardly keep the patio swept. THEN the enormous cherry tree starts dropping fruit and everything is a total mess.

Since I want to keep the trees I don't think a pool is going to happen.

Mr. B wants a shower he just wants something a "bit more practical".
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Sun 24 Oct, 2010 12:59 pm
Aha!

They're called "ribcage" or "needle" showers.

Quote:
A Discussion on Antique Showers

What is the deal with showers?
I receive a lot inquiries about adapting a shower or at least a hand sprayer to an old rolled rim bathtub that has standing hardware. And there is no good and easy way to do it. And people ask why that is, since the shower or hand sprayer is such a vital and fundamental piece of bathing equipment. Many, many people also comment to me that the bathrooms in their pre-1930s houses, and especially Victorian or Arts & Crafts era homes, lack a shower altogether. And many of these homes are upper class houses or mansions, and even they do not have so much as one shower anywhere in the house! People cannot fathom why that is, since a shower would be the first fixture you would put in a house today, after a toilet and a sink. To provide enlightenment on the history of residential showers in America, as well as to try to explain why antique showers today have to be so doggoned expensive, I offer the following information, most of which is taken directly from an article that appeared in the Nov/Dec 1994 issue of the bible for antique home owners, the Old House Journal. The writer is Stephen del Sordo, environmental engineer and old house historian and preservationist.




It was uncommon for homes built before the 1920s to have a shower in them. For homeowners of the time, a shower was an unnecessary expense. Besides the bill for the extra plumbing fixture and installation, there was the hidden cost of constantly repairing wood wainscot and plaster, the principal wall covering in pre-World War 1 bathrooms. Only a rubber or duck-canvas curtain contained the shower spray, and that did not work real well. Even where indoor plumbing was common, such as the big cities, showers were used primarily by men, and not women. Showers had been in use in barracks, gymnasiums and bathhouses since at least the 1880s, but those places were generally inhabited by men. The shower was strongly associated therefore with athleticism and men. Women were considered the weaker sex, delicate and fragile compared to men. The streams of water were widely felt to be harmful to women. Home décor authority Charles E. White wrote in 1914 that "……some constitutions cannot stand the rigors of shower bathing, a practice which should be resorted to only under the advice of a physician." So, well up until the 1930s, most women would not consider showering, so what need was there for a shower fixture in the home? Bathing was done in the tub. But showers did have a purpose in the home for those who felt the need, and the purpose was medicinal or therapeutic. Shower sprays were believed to stimulate the action of the skin, and make some people healthier. Not until the late 20s and 30s did new ideas regarding germs and hygiene trickle into the public consciousness and begin to have an effect on how people outfitted their bathrooms.




But, there were some people who specified showers for pre-1920 homes, and those people tended to be wealthy. The showers that had the most therapeutic value were the ones that had multiple sprays that would apply jets of water to specific parts of the body. These showers were called needle showers, since the fine jets of spray would strike the kidney area, ribcage, liver or spine like fine needles. These elaborate showers were very expensive, commonly costing from $300 to about $500. By comparison, Sears and Roebucks 1910 Home Builders Catalog list its most expensive complete bathroom ensemble, tub, sink and water closet with all necessary fittings to hook up, (without shower) for $49.95.

This might help explain the rarity of antique showers today, especially the ribcage or needle showers. They were mainly only found in a very few upscale homes, the ones most likely to be remodeled or modernized as tastes changed. And then, with their elaborate brass tubing and castings construction, they were strong candidates for the scrap metal yard. Brass has always been a highly sought after commodity, so these showers did not tend to hang around once removed from their original installation. They were scrapped out for brass, and lost forever. As a result of all this, they are rare as hen's teeth now, and highly sought after by some old house people who have seen them in magazines or in old catalogs
sozobe
 
  2  
Reply Sun 24 Oct, 2010 01:06 pm
@boomerang,
Interesting!

I like the look of those showers (the "ribcage"/ "needle" ones). Kinda steampunk.

The house I grew up in was built in the early 20's, I believe, and didn't have any showers. None had been installed by the time my parents bought it, either. They didn't install one until I was maybe 12 or so... I washed my hair in the sink and took baths (at this distance I can't quite remember why I didn't wash my hair in the bath... the sprayer attachment in the sink worked better for rinsing? I think we had a sprayer attachment in the bathtub too though so that wouldn't make sense).

At any rate, that meant shower = luxury and I still really really love 'em.
tsarstepan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Oct, 2010 01:21 pm
@sozobe,
Quote:
The streams of water were widely felt to be harmful to women. Home décor authority Charles E. White wrote in 1914 that "……some constitutions cannot stand the rigors of shower bathing, a practice which should be resorted to only under the advice of a physician."

But you're of the weaker sex according to this article Soz. How do you handle the devastating medical consequences of a shower on your weakened lady physique???
Shocked
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Oct, 2010 12:12 am
@tsarstepan,
Sounds like spendius wrote that "shower advisory". I think that the shower that Boomer clipped was used as the matter transmogrifryer in the Vincent Price version of "THE FLY".
0 Replies
 
SuperSam
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 Oct, 2010 06:24 am
@High Seas,
What an awesome idea! I'm remodeling my bathroom that is really small...this might be a great option for a fun shower that will also give me more room! Thanks!!
High Seas
 
  2  
Reply Tue 26 Oct, 2010 06:48 am
@SuperSam,
Thanks - but any credit for the whole antique shower concept belongs to Boomerang, who started this thread.

I've also had to deal with small-spaces in which to fit bathrooms and resolutely opted for the all-steel, industrial look >
http://www.alldoing.com/modern-bathroom-fixtures-with-luxurious-and-futuristic-designs/
> specifically the one near end of the page, with swinging components for sink, mirror, cabinets, etc. It does have to be explained to guests - one of them, after carefully reviewing the facilities in my home finally nodded and asked: "Are you training to be an astronaut?" Smile
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Tue 26 Oct, 2010 06:48 am
@SuperSam,
I should warn you that all of the ones I've found available are between $7,500 (in kinda cruddy condition) to $19,000 (fully restored) -- a bit over my budget but maybe not yours.

I haven't given up on the idea yet so I'm still looking and even thinking of trying to find someone who can replicate the cage part of it without the "needles".
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Tue 26 Oct, 2010 06:51 am
@High Seas,
So ARE you training to be an astronaut?

That contraption is totally cool!
High Seas
 
  2  
Reply Tue 26 Oct, 2010 07:15 am
@boomerang,
One of the metal components that swing outwards is the shower - you just have to install drain and grate on the floor. I know it's industrial design but I love it - plus it takes hardly any space and costs less than antiques. Have to save in order to buy the magnetic bed I really want:
http://www.engadget.com/media/2006/07/magnetbed.jpg
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 Oct, 2010 07:31 am
@High Seas,
What!?

How cool is that!

I love things that are so unexpected.

I also love industrial design -- all the thought that goes into creating something that meets so many needs in a cool package.
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 Oct, 2010 08:07 am
Here's a few cool, compact showers:

I think this style could be adapted to something I could use:

http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:j_wo6GLjEobWcM:http://www.sirwal.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Luxury-Interior-Bathroom-Shower-Design.jpg

Or, maybe, something like this:

http://homeshopsite.com/img_goods/bath/strom-plumbing-shower-pan.jpg

0 Replies
 
PUNKEY
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 Oct, 2010 09:30 am
Re: the second picture (which was shown in the link I posted above)

You can custom build these. You can get circular soapstone trays for the bottom and configure your own pipe design. The apparatus for holding the shower curtain can be circular, too.

Me? I always wanted a shower room, with no walls or stalls, but let the water spray wherever and it all drains to the center of the room.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Nov, 2010 07:34 pm
I still can't afford it but I did stumble across a company that makes reproductions of this shower: Catchpole and Rye

http://www.crye.co.uk/kc_images/prod_images_l/new_la_cage_1_229_2010930104126.jpg
0 Replies
 
 

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