Since its invention in the late 19th century, the clawfoot tubs have been a traditional symbol of luxury. As a result, it commands attention, unlike any other bathtub.
Add a clawfoot tub to maintain the historical feel of your bathroom, or combine old and new clawfoot tubs to create a really modern vintage bathroom that will leave everyone in amazement.
Since authentic antique claw foot tub went out of style in the post-war era, tub manufacturers have faithfully re-created the iconic form. However, this vintage tub can cost or fetch you a few thousand dollars, depending on which side of the bargain you are.
These antique clawfoot bathtubs are highly sought after due to their rarity and elegance, and understanding how to identify and value antique claw feet will help you get the most for your money.
Brief History of The Clawfoot Vintage Tub
It seems like claw foot tubs are always in vogue. They have had a reputation for being a high-end, luxury item since the late 1800s. The early clawfoot tub was first constructed from a cast iron basin with a porcelain coating.
You can get a new clawfoot tub that is much more economical today because the new tub consists of less expensive materials like fiberglass and acrylic coatings.
The clawfoot tub in the United States originates from the history of leisure.
People will manually fill tubs by hand before indoor pipe water work entered the privileged lifestyle in the early 1800s.
A freestanding tub became a prestige symbol because of its grandeur and vastness, which allowed staff to attend to the bather from all sides.
A deep bath was a luxury that the servant class could only afford due to the lack of piped water.
But as the 1800s went on, more individuals of all socioeconomic levels had access to pipe water features.
A young Boston architect created the first hotel with an exclusive indoor pipe water feature in 1829, and the White House got indoor plumbing four years later.
Cast-iron manufacturing came from England to the U.S. east coast in the early 19th century. After establishing a national plumbing code in 1848, cast-iron pipes and household equipment became more common during the following few decades.
The American Standard Company, Sanitary Manufacturing Company and Kohler developed a new surface finish for cast-iron clawfoot bathtubs in 1883. Enamel made up most of the coating, producing a smoother, easier-to-clean surface.
He created the first bathtub in 1883 through a horse trough made of cast iron, gave it four ornate feet, and then gave it an enamel finish.
He then joined Jacob Vollrath and others to build the Kohler Company in 1873. When he constructed the first contemporary clawfoot tub in enamel, their company’s initial focus on making steel or cast iron products shifted drastically.
Bathtubs just weren’t widely used in the U.S. until the late 1870s, when plumbers discovered how to effectively vent waste lines, making domestic pipe work a viable option.
Around this time, clawfoot tubs started to appear, but it wasn’t until the early 1900s that they really took off.
Many historic homes in uptown New Orleans were constructed around this time, coinciding with the peak of the clawfoot craze in the United States.
Many claw feet got melted down into WWII artillery after 1930. After the war, attitudes toward luxury and the American home had shifted.
The lighter, freestanding clawfoot bathtub became more favored over the lower, double-walled modern installation because it was simpler to clean.
But today, a wonderful home still has character and a stylish bathroom, which is why clawfoot tubs are so common in bathroom renovations today, especially in older homes.
You might have an original clawfoot tub that can pass through refinishing fine s and get incorporated into the design for the vintage bathroom remodeling.
Many customization possibilities are available if you want to include some historical elements in a contemporary home. Choose a material and the clawfoot tub style that best meets your needs (particularly if you intend to add a shower). Keep in mind that cast iron is classic yet weighty.
White is a classic color choice; however, nowadays, producers paint the tub’s exterior to provide a coordinated pop of color.
Your choice of foot design may have an impact on the color you pick. Feet come in chrome, brass, antique bronze, and nickel finishes.
Other early companies involved in antique tub manufacturing include Crane holdings and Mott.
Different Styles of the Vintage Clawfoot Tub
The typical image of a clawfoot bathtub is one of the old-fashioned, spotless white porcelain enamel tubs perched atop a pair of exquisite, gilt lion’s feet.
The wealthy elite’s bathrooms have their design made with elegance in mind; thus, many of these antique tubs have their styling tailored to look exactly like this.
There are typically three distinct styles available for these freestanding tubs.
Flat Rim Claw Feet
Tubs with flat and roll rims eliminated the slipper types’ protective barriers and shaped its top edge to a 180° horizontal angle.
The faucet and optional showerhead are situated at the bathtub’s head in this traditional design. The tub’s rim is level and straight, with a curved lip all the way around.
Single Slipper Antique Clawfoot Tubs
The single slipper clawfoot bathtub is, as you might have imagined, shaped like a slipper! A higher, elevated edge creates a deep basin at one end of the tub. The other end is shorter and typically rises to the height of a standard bathtub.
The intention is to shield the bather’s body from outsiders, and bathers are also given a backrest.
Double-Ended Clawfoot Tubs
The double-ended tub features a flat edge and rounded lip, just like the traditional version of this tub. However, the location of the faucet and the showerhead are different.
The faucet is located along a crosswise edge in the middle, forming “double ends,” as opposed to being at the head of the tub.
Double Slipper Clawfoot Tubs
The double-ended and single-slipper clawfoot tubs make a harmonious union in the double-slipper clawfoot tub. The faucet and showerhead have been fastened along one side of the longitudinal edge in the middle, just like the double-ended clawfoot.
The “double ends” of the tub and the raised end of a single slipper are the same. However, the middle of the double slipper is shallow, while the ends are deeper.
A double slipper tub has its ends curled upward for optimal seclusion when bathing. More enormous double slippers may hold two bathers simultaneously.
Clawfoot Tub by Materials
Not all clawfoot baths are constructed of porcelain and cast iron. Not really. Historically, that is, without a doubt, notably the most preferred choice. However, modern tubs offer more diversity and are lighter and less expensive, thanks to the introduction of new materials.
Porcelain Coated Cast Iron Clawfoot Tub
The conventional porcelain enamel finish on a cast iron tub is the classic and continues to be my favorite. It is durable and long-lasting, and the finish can readily go through the refinishing process repeatedly through reglazing.
Is that terrible news? Tubs made of cast iron are bulky and challenging to move. The joyous news If you currently have one in your home, you may restore it without having to move it for much less money than buying a new tub!
Another benefit of cast iron bathtubs is that they do not flex or shift when water (and humans) are added to them.
There is something to be said for having a sturdy, well-built tub that will survive a few centuries, though this is less concerned with clawfoot tubs than it is with built-in tubs.
Acrylic and Copper
When cast iron is an option, why would someone choose acrylic? There are several of them:
- Compared to other materials, acrylic tubs are substantially cheaper.
- They are incredibly lightweight and portable.
- Its modest weight can be a tremendous aid when placing it on the second story of an older home, which might require an additional floor assembly structure to accommodate a heavy cast iron tub.
If you don’t like all-white bathrooms, a copper tub (often on a pedestal) can be the ideal choice for you. It is historically correct for bathrooms built before the 1920s and extremely fashionable now.
The copper is usually sealed to prevent it from becoming green over time, but it’s still crucial to maintain it clean because it can display wear differently than a porcelain tub would.
How to Identify Antique Clawfoot Tub Worth Money
A few elements tend to affect pricing, even if the value of each given tub can vary based on its condition and provenance.
These bathtubs are typically worth a few thousand dollars because they were initially created to embellish the opulent bathrooms of the social elite (in good condition).
You can purchase tubs with the manufacturer’s markings of respected firms like Crane, Mott, Kohler, Standard Sanitary Manufacturing, and L. Wolf Manufacturing for more money than ones without any identifying marks.
Appraisers look for a few different qualities in addition to age and authenticity when determining the value of these antique bathtubs.
Type Of Material Used
Both collectors and homeowners highly prize antique clawfoot tubs; cast iron or other precious metal tubs typically have a higher value than porcelain or enamel ones.
This is due to the fact that metals like cast iron are more resilient and survive longer than porcelain or enamel. In addition, they are less likely to crack or chip; thus, their value will last longer.
Additionally, collectors prefer metal tubs because they are frequently more elaborate and ornamental than their porcelain or enamel counterparts.
Verify Its Authenticity
Verifying the materials used and keeping an eye out for the right symptoms of aging are a couple of the most valuable hints for figuring out whether an antique clawfoot tub is indeed antique.
Most original clawfoot tubs will have superficial scratches and other signs of wear and tear in their porcelain coatings because they were cast iron in the beginning, and porcelain enamel was applied afterward.
Even spotless bathtubs will have areas where the porcelain has unusually faded or become yellow due to prolonged use. Investigate the claws on these bathtubs as well; some antique bathtubs that had clawfeet added years after they were manufactured are less valuable than those with genuine claws.
Although some tubs come in a 60-inch standard size, the usual diameters for cast iron bathtubs are 66 inches and 72 inches.
An antique clawfoot bathtub’s length is difficult to value because it can go either way. If a larger tub is in good shape and has a lovely design, it will be worth more; nevertheless, the buyer will be responsible for paying for its transportation and installation.
A larger tub that needs remodeling will also cost the buyer additional money out of pocket. In addition, if it has previously undergone renovations, the price may increase significantly.
The degree of wear and scratching on an antique clawfoot tub can also affect the estimated value of these bathroom fixtures. If an appraiser believes that a clawfoot tub needs to be restored or refurbished before usage, they will typically lower their estimated values.
If you’re looking to purchase your own antique clawfoot tub, you’ll want to know upfront if any it will require and do it yourself. However, several expert restorers can assist you in bringing your clawfoot tub back to life.
It’s interesting to note that most antique clawfoot tubs you can locate for sale have previously been restored, so they cost a little more than a tub that hasn’t been touched.
Purchasing clawfoot tubs that have already been refurbished will cost you more upfront, but it will take you less time and effort to get the tubs working.
One such company is Porcelain Industries, which clearly outlines the costs associated with restoration services, including sandblasting, clear coating, and complete refinishing.
As with other antique items, the condition is very important when determining the price of clawfoot tubs.
While any antique may experience wear and tear, if your tub is overly peeling or damaged, you’ll probably need to renovate it. A claw foot tub’s normal refinishing will typically cost around $1000 to repair.
If the tub requires a lot of restoration work, its sale price will reflect this. However, many individuals still hunt for these tubs to recycle as planters or for decoration if they don’t want to refurbish them.
The tub will be worth more if it has previously been restored. First, verify that your bathtub still has its original clawed legs. Antique bathtubs have had their legs replaced or even put on.
Previous and Current Market Prices
When checking for the value of antique products, it is ideal to go online to check previous prices sold by other vendors and current prices. This will guide you to fix your price along with the market trend.
There is a vast range of costs to be noticed when it comes to vintage clawfoot tubs. This is caused by a variety of elements, including the tub’s size, age, and state.
A smaller barclays double-ended tub from the same era with a rolled rim may sell for up to $2000, but a smaller roll rim tub from the early 1900s could fetch as little as $50.
You might be shocked to learn that most antique clawfoot tubs on the market have previously undergone restoration, making them slightly more expensive than unaltered ones.
For example, let us look at his 100th anniversary Kohler antique clawfoot tub we found online:
Determining the Age of Your Clawfoot Tub
If you intend to buy or sell an antique tub, do some study first. Dating an antique tub requires some knowledge. Also, the cost of these tubs may change depending on where you live.
Tub manufacturers identified their items with stamps, frequently including the production date.
The best approach to determine the age of a particular clawfoot is to find the stamp, but if it has its stamp missing, you might have to guess based on the tub’s condition and other factors.
Because restoration requires a lot of labor and takes a long time, the condition is another important consideration. Has this given you any ideas?
Find The Stamp
Although contemporary clawfoot tubs may be made of acrylic or fiberglass, the first ones were made of cast iron and were porcelain enamel-coated.
The outside and bottom of the tub are usually composed of exposed cast iron; the manufacturer’s stamp, if there is one, is frequently easy to see. On occasion, you’ll simply see the phrase “Made in the USA.”
This mark might be on the tub’s bottom or the back, right where the faucet and shower head drillings are.
You frequently find the date of manufacture in the month/year format next to the manufacturer’s name or the “Made in USA” badge.
For instance, the manufacture date is shown by the digits 11 41 as being December 1941. Another number, such as 5 1/2, may also appear. This number indicates the tub’s length in feet.
The L. Wolf Manufacturing Company, Standard Sanitary Manufacturing, Crane, Mott, Kohler, and Standard Sanitary Manufacturing were among the first businesses in North America to manufacture clawfoot tubs.
The presence of an SSM mark instantly identifies a vintage tub because Standard Sanitary Manufacturing joined with American Radiator to form American Standard in 1929.
According to a catalog provided by the Encyclopedia of Chicago, the L. Wolf Company of Chicago manufactured clawfoot tubs in the late 1800s and early 1900s; the company’s stamp is another indication of age. Tubs made by Crane, Mott, and Kohler may or may not be old.
The manufacturers of early clawfoot tubs preferred the color white. However, it wasn’t until the post-World War I industrial boom, when tubs began to be mass-produced in earnest, that they started utilizing pastels, and it wasn’t until the 1930s that they gained popularity.
An evident indication of aging is a yellow tinge on the tub’s interior surface covering, which is otherwise white. Years of bathing are required for that to occur. But, a knowledgeable bathtub refinisher can restore the white color.
Visit online stores and websites that discuss vintage clawfoot tubs. Try to find images of the type of vintage tub in question and see if the feet appear to be authentic. This will further help you date the tub. For example, a clawfoot may have been replaced, and this may indicate your tub is older.
However, tubs that have had their original feet replaced are often of less value due to the possibility of structural damage during replacement.
Where to Sell Antique Clawfoot Tub
There are a few places to go if you’re looking for an antique clawfoot tub for sale. Try first going to an antique shop or flea market in your neighborhood. Then, you can look up local antique dealers on directories like Antique Trader or Antique Store Finder.
Searching online is an additional choice. Hard Tops of Iowa and Vintage Tub are two websites that specialize in selling old clawfoot tubs. Lastly, you can inquire with salvage yards or businesses that market old-fashioned plumbing fixtures.
You can find the perfect clawfoot tub for your house with a bit of perseverance and work. Other online platforms to explore for antique clawfoot tubs are:
Nothing compares to relaxing in a clawfoot tub. It is understandable why these tubs have become more and more popular in recent y
ears, given that the historical design is both elegant and practical.
Do your homework and locate an antique clawfoot tub that is the correct age, condition, and rarity for you if you are thinking about buying one.
An antique clawfoot tub’s worth can vary significantly depending on its age, rarity, and condition.
In general, older, rarer tubs are more valuable than modern, more prevalent ones. Like any antique, the actual value will vary based on the particular item.
It’s crucial to consider the age, uniqueness, and condition of an antique clawfoot tub when estimating its value. These bathtubs can last for many generations with a small amount of maintenance.
Please don’t hesitate to drop any additional information about antique clawfoot tubs in the comment section.