Antique Dry Sink: What is a Dry Sink and How is it Used?

Your house can quickly acquire a retro aesthetic by installing an antique dry sink without taking up too much room or requiring pricey remodeling. Whether you prefer Victorian or primitive style, you may discover a dry sink that will blend in perfectly.

Dry sinks were very popular in the nineteenth century, and they appear to be making a huge resurgence in the twenty-first. Even though we now have water running freely from our faucets, vintage dry sinks have grown to be in-demand home decor accessories.

You might have discovered a vintage dry sink in your great-attic grandmother’s and are trying to figure out what to do with it. You may learn everything you need to know about old dry sinks in this post, including how to use them.

What they are, how they’re used, what you can do with them, and how to identify an antique dry sink from a replica are all covered in this article. To understand more about vintage dry sinks, read on as we bring you to the 19th century.

What is an Antique Dry Sink?

What is an Antique Dry Sink
Black Distressed Vintage Dry Sink Cabinet (Sold $525.00)

A dry sink that is old is an antique dry sink. A dry sink is more precisely a modern sink that lacks the comfort of indoor plumbing. Rather, it is a piece of furniture that is used to contain a water pitcher and a washbasin.

In the 19th century, you may find these sinks as a commonplace or a need in any well-equipped home.

Dry sinks are normally placed in the bathroom, bedroom, or kitchen. However, some farmwives kept a dry sink on their porches. With this, a person may pause on the way to the house to wash their hands.

The furniture designers applied a special finish to the wood to prevent water from frequently dripping onto the counter or dry sink. The dry sink lasts longer because of this.

A cabinet with a recessed region at the top is essentially what a dry sink is described as. While someone washed up, this hollow area of the dry sink served as a containment for the water from the pitcher and the bowl or basin.

You should also be aware that the more premium dry sinks had a recessed zone that was coated with copper or any other waterproof surface.

History of Design

Unusual 1800 Grain Painted Dry Sink
Unusual 1800 Grain Painted Dry Sink

To prevent extra water from splashing on the floor or walls, the early dry sinks had a more adobe-like appearance with a recessed top panel. Most dry sinks from the Victorian era had flat tops and tall backsplashes. With carved wood features, more ornate designs had marble or copper tops.

Commonly painted with a recessed top, larger double-wide dry sinks were created specifically for the kitchen. Smaller, more Victorian-inspired wooden dry sinks were frequently maintained by homeowners in bedrooms.

Other Additional identifying features:

  • Connecting to a towel bar is a tall backsplash
  • The backsplash-attached upper shelf
  • Sculpted by hand, unequal dovetail joints
  • Old-fashioned nails

What was a Dry Sink used for in the past?

ANTIQUE GOLDEN OAK 1870-1890 Hotel Home WASHSTAND (Sold 575.00)

People had access to a dry sink where they could wash their hands, produce vegetables and fruit, clothes, or even groom. After learning how important hygiene was, people started utilizing dry sinks. Therefore, in the 19th century, it was good to practice better hygiene.

Usually intended for use in kitchens, the larger, double-wide dry sinks were larger. The smaller dry sinks with more Victorian-style ornamentation, in contrast, were left in the bedroom by the homeowners.

The water would be poured from the container into the big basin and used as the dry sink. The individual would wash their hands in this sink while also washing other items.

The water would then be dumped of after the user has finished using it and the basin has been removed.

Additionally, the vintage dry sink gave users access to storage spaces, such as one or two cabinets, where you could place your shampoo, clothes, soap, and other personal belongings. For hanging your napkins and towels, the dry sink typically also has a hook or bar.

How to Identify a Fake Dry Sink?

Ironically, one of the most replicated antiques is the dry sink. In a couple of hours, dishonest vendors can convert a brand-new dry sink into an outdated or basic model.

Any beginner collector may make the dry sink appear well-used by removing fresh components, repainting, sanding, and utilizing other techniques for distressing.

Other methods include creating dry sinks that have an antique appearance using recycled wood. However, if the object is clearly identified as a reproduction, there is nothing inherently incorrect with this technique.

How do you identify a fake dry sink then?

You should pay close attention to the drawers’ dovetail joints first. There shall be at least five machine-cut, even dovetails on reproductions. The three that an old piece typically has won’t be identical. Both the shapes and the method of cutting will vary slightly. These were hand carved, which will be visible.

The collector should also examine any boards’ ends that they may see. Swirls in the cuts indicate that the wood was cut with a circular saw. Simply pay close attention to nail holes and regions where the holes have been to determine whether wood is reclaimed.

How to Determine the Age of Your Dry Sink?

Rustic Antique Dry Sink Maple Spindle Legs and Pine
Rustic Antique Dry Sink Maple Spindle Legs and Pine (Sold $259.00)

Although examples can be discovered up until the middle of the 20th century, the 19th century saw the greatest popularity for dry sinks. You can use a few key attributes to estimate about when your dry sink was made by using a few different ballpark ranges.

Examine the design features

Examine the design aspects. Design elements might point to a certain artistic movement and so provide a hint at a particular time. Sinks from the late 19th and early 20th centuries often had pure woodwork and no adornment but sinks from the mid-century tended to have painted cabinets and a farmhouse design. In the end, it’s the little things that count.

Verify the materials’ quality

Unfortunately, as the 20th century progressed, furniture quality tended to significantly deteriorate. Accordingly, authentic hand-crafted, intertwines, high-quality wood dry sinks are most frequently discovered from the 19th century; specimens from the mid-century tend to be made of thinner, less expensive wood, and have less adornment.

Look for the manufacturer’s marks

A maker’s mark is one of the greatest ways to date a piece of furniture since you can use it to infer age in several different ways. It is possible to determine a certain date or range of years that your object was made because many manufacturers modified their marks over time.

Dry Sinks: Where to Find Them

Antique Lift Top Washstand Zinc Wet Dry Flame Mahogany Cabinet Drawers
Antique Lift Top Washstand Zinc Wet Dry Flame Mahogany Cabinet Drawers (Sold $699.00)

Sooner or later, almost each neighborhood antique shop will provide an antique dry sink due to the continual desire for furniture among these establishments. A thrift store may occasionally have one or two of these, although this is quite unusual. If you chance to live close to a historically significant area of the city, keep an eye out for garage and tag sales as well. Oftentimes, folks will get rid of everything prior to an estate sale since it would be too stressful to sort through everything beforehand.

Searching online is your best option if you need to find one immediately. Consider the following sites:

  • e-Bay– The dry sink of your dreams can be easily found on eBay, one of the greatest sites to find beautiful pieces of vintage furniture. It’s also ideal if you’re considering selling because they provide a very user-friendly e-commerce feature and can reach a sizable global audience.
  • Ruby Lane– Since their auction stream is sourced via more conventional methods, Ruby Lane is, it must be said, a little more constrained in the number of dry sinks that are offered at once. It’s a good idea to constantly checking their inventory, though, as they are one of the biggest online auction houses, to see if they have what you’re searching for posted.
  • Etsy– Since people frequently discover these dry sinks in their grandparents’ homes across the nation, internet marketplaces like Etsy are among the greatest places to find a ton of these pieces on sale.

Antique Dry Sinks for Sale

Here are a few examples of vintage dry sinks for that were on sale. You can better understand the range of prices and the styles by using these examples.

Antique Primitive Dry Sink

Antique Primitive Dry Sink
Antique dry sink (Sold $3,500.00)

A sunken basin top is a feature of this antique dry sink. Two ceramic-knobbed doors on the base open to reveal an interior with shelves. This Antique Primitive Dry Sink sold for $3,500 on Etsy.

Antique Victorian Dry Sink Washstand

Antique Victorian Dry Sink Washstand
ANTIQUE Dry Sink (Sold $599.00)

It’s a vintage dry sink in the Victorian design. The cabinet is in fantastic shape and has what appears to be its original finish. It sold for $599.00 on Etsy.

Antique Victorian Marble Top Washstand Dry Sink

Antique Victorian Marble Top Washstand Dry Sink
Victorian Marble Top Wash Stand High Back Splash (Sold $875.00)

A raised burl panel and a marble top may be seen on this elegant dry sink. Two shelves are included into the extra-tall backsplash. It sold for $875.00 on Etsy.

Antique 19th Century Ohio Cherry Dry Sink

Antique 19th Century Ohio Cherry Dry Sink
Beautiful antique 19th century Ohio cherry dry sink cupboard (Sold $3,495.00)

A lovely dry sink cabinet from the 19th century with four pull-out dovetailed drawers that have Chamfered edges and the original hardware. It costs for $3,495.00 and is still available for sale on Etsy.

What Makes Dry Sinks So Valued?

Age, rarity, and ornamentation all boost the value of antique dry sinks. Dry sinks often have a value of about $100 even when they are damaged by the elements and worn out, with nicer pieces growing in value into the mid to upper hundreds. Of course, those that are in the thousands are typically in near-perfect condition (i.e., unrestored) and contain some unique attribute, such as a rare manufacturer or design element. It’s interesting to note that age appears to be a major determinant of demand, with the traditional medium-toned wood dry sinks from the 19th century selling in higher numbers than later, more styled versions.

It’s helpful to know what kinds of dry sinks are currently in demand if you’re thinking about purchasing or selling one. To give you an idea, here are a few other dry sinks that have recently sold on eBay.

What can you do with a Vintage Dry Sink Today?

You can easily incorporate this style of furniture into almost any area because it is so adaptable. It might provide a nostalgic touch to a big rural kitchen that is overflowing with memorabilia like cookie jars. It may be converted into a bathroom vanity and looks perfect in a Victorian bedroom when paired with a pitcher and bowl.

Other applications for vintage dry sinks that may better suit your way of life include:

Vintage wash stand dry sink restored floral cottage garden coffee bar buffet
Vintage wash stand dry sink restored floral cottage garden coffee bar buffet
  • Side tables


How was a dry sink used?

In the upper left corner was the wash and rinse basin, and the clean dishes were arranged to the far right on the elevated portion of the cabinet. The bottoms of the basins occasionally featured holes that were corked. It would pour into a pail under the sink after being uncorked.

Are dry sinks still manufactured?

Even though they are no longer needed for their original purpose, dry sinks are nonetheless widely used today. Most buyers of vintage dry sinks do so because the furniture complements their style, whether it be country primitive or Victorian.

Get your Hands on these useful Antiques

Your décor is greatly enhanced by antiques. You will undoubtedly find a use for a piece of multipurpose furniture like the antique dry sink in your house when you incorporate it.

We hope that after reading this post, you won’t just throw away the antique dry sink you have in the attic. You’ve learned a lot about them. Instead, you may reuse it and breathe new life into it.

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