On this site, "Vintage Crane plumbing fixtures" refers to fixtures produced by Crane Co. from as early as 1886 until the mid to late 1970s. Of the many companies that produced plumbing fixtures at the start of the twentieth century Crane Co. was one of the few that has had great longevity. Founded in 1855, Crane Co. is still operational today.
Established as The R.T. Crane Brass & Bell Foundry in Chicago, circa1855, the name was officially changed to Crane Company in 1890. Crane Co. Began to sell plumbing fixtures and trim in 1886 and continued uninterrupted until it sold its U. S. plumbing operations in 1984. Crane was a major manufacturer of U.S. plumbing fixtures, valves, and fittings, and also had a great influence upon modern plumbing fixtures and systems. Even so, it would be safe to say that at no time was plumbing first and foremost of their many areas of development and manufacturing.
As I see it, there were three giants in the development and production of plumbing fixtures in the twentieth century. They were Crane, Standard, and Kohler. The reason I put Crane first is a matter of personal choice. I work on all manner of vintage plumbing fixtures, whatever I can get my hands on. Of all I have seen the Crane products best match my own internal sense of the proper balance of form and function. I think that most mechanics are in the area of about seventy percent function and thirty percent form. Personally I am more like sixty-forty. On occasion though I can understand forcing function to wrap around form. Look at the fixture pictured on my home page. The designer made the stems incredibly long so that the pedestal could remain closed. Instead of having a gaping mechanical area in the rear of the pedestal there are oval holes that the plumbing must pass through. The visible fixture components above and below are ornate and dramatic. This kind of high design engineering drives most plumbers crazy. I have had clients tell me the other plumber refused to work on their fine vintage Crane fixtures, the very fixtures I seek out to restore, and I have heard lots of grumbling from plumbers over the years about those darned Crane fixtures. In the early days of my journey toward only working on vintage plumbing, finding Crane fixtures to work on was a consistent delight to me. That feeling has been my confirmation that the direction I have taken is good for me and that in it I can find both my labor and artistic outlet.
Some of my clients over the years have given me some interesting monikers. I hear them second hand from new clients who tell me they were referred to me by a friend who called me things like the "The toilet whisperer", or "The Obi-Wan Kenobi of plumbing". Once, while I was browsing around at a local architectural salvage house, the man who ran the plumbing area pointed me out to a woman and said in my hearing, "There he is, that's The Crane Man." I originated "Plumbing-Geek" for this website but "The Crane Man" is still my favorite and working on vintage Crane fixtures is still my delight.
Crane Co. has a page on their site that extensively covers their first 150 years. To view it Click Here.