Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Down and dirty with the Indy's toilets

Posted By on Wed, Mar 9, 2011 at 4:03 PM

At the risk of appealing to absolutely nobody — not to mention leaving myself open to charges of super-nerdy navel gazing — please know that the Indy’s bathrooms, or at least a few of them, are full of bad-ass post-World War II porcelain appliances of no small renown.

For reasons baffling to even myself, today I wondered about the avocado green sinks and toilets we’re greeted with every day. After some Googling, turns out they’re part of the Crane Company’s now-defunct Drexel line of appliances.

Crane, a company I had never heard of prior to today, has an interesting history of mass manufacturing. In 1936, Fortune magazine wrote, “You can’t run a railroad or build a dam, operate a paper mill or lay a sewer, dig an oil well or heat a hospital, or launch a battleship or even take a shower without using one of the more than 40,000-odd products that are made by Crane Co.”

For more on our unique toiletries, I e-mailed Patty Pierce at DEA Bathroom Machineries in California, a company that professes to be “the only company currently reproducing parts for the Crane Drexel and Marcia integral spout faucets.”

“We have found that those who have Crane fixtures are pretty keen on maintaining the historical integrity, rather than replacing with new,” writes Pierce. “For instance, the porcelain used by the company was of a higher quality, as was the workmanship into their products. Crane parts are mainly split into two manufacturing phases: pre-war (before 1942) and post-war (after 1948). They closed out the plumbing section of the company in the 1980s.”

If you’ve read this far, you’re probably interested to know that ours are of the post-war variety, characterized by round sink knobs made of chrome-plated zinc, which Pierce warns tend to deteriorate over time as ours, in fact, are.

Actually, a stamp on the bottom of the lid of the toilet — an appliance one of our arts editors will be horrified to learn is apparently ridiculously wasteful with water — confirms it was manufactured on Feb. 8, 1951. It’s also stamped with the company’s seal of authenticity, and has the company’s logo in red script, an uncommon look, say Drexel aficionados. (Yes — there are Drexel aficionados.)

So if you’re into antique toilets and sinks — of which one sells for around $800 — you might have enjoyed this post. But since you’re probably not, thanks for making it through.

The sinks ...

... seal ...

... and logo.

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