“Banjo top” sink — Rare vintage bathroom sink with integrated long curvy counter top

Readers David and Laura knew: Sinks with attached counters are called”banjo” tops

vintage sink rareSarah, owner of the groovy round house, has an eagle eye and a cell phone that takes photos and she knows how to use it: So here’s some retro reconnaissance (aka “retro recon”) spotting of a vintage bathroom sink with a long wacky shaped countertop all in one piece. In green. This is a great one!  Sarah writes:

 Dear Pam,

My dads friend went to visit his childhood home earlier this week and took some photos. This sink caught my attention… I’ve never seen one like this before! It is all one unit, sink plus counter! Love it!!!!! And the decorative tile, sooo cute!

Sarah (roundhouse Sarah)

Thank you, Sarah! Our first woddity of the year!

Can anyone identify the maker and the year? I’m thing early 1980s by the look of that pedestal base… And maybe the whole counter top thingie is designed with the idea that it would span the top of an adjacent toilet? All kind of clever if you ask me. You can almost never have to much easy-to-clean counter top space in a bathroom near the sink.

Readers, have you ever seen a sink like this before?
What year do you think it’s from?

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Comments

  1. Allen says

    Judging by the tub, which appears to be American Standard, the color, Ming Green, and the mud set tile, I tend to doubt that this is a 1980’s installation. I would tend to think that it is more along the lines in a 1960’s experimental type deal. Just my two cents based on circumstantial evidence! Fun sink and bathroom whenever its from! Thanks for the photo.

  2. Janet in CT says

    Wow, that is neat! I have no clue as to its age, but if her father’s friend grew up there, maybe she can ask him if he knows if it was original to the house when it was built. That really is the oddest configuration. Frankly, I can’t understand those extended shelves over a toilet, although I have seen that often enough. How on earth does one get arms and hands in there to replace the valve or flapper? That would be a really difficult chore! The tile looks newer to me – was that twisted rope tile available years ago, does anyone know? I thought it was something only recently produced and dont’ recall seeing it way back when. I was thinking sixties with newer tile, but I don’t know much about tile and bathroom stuff.

      • Janet in CT says

        I know this one doesn’t have it, but I have seen them with the toilet under that shelf, which is what I don’t get. Not much room to remove the lid and definitely hard to access the parts in the tank. My aunt has one but not this unusual.

  3. Nancy says

    I would thinks that the depth of the angle is too deep for going over a toilet tank. But – whatever – I neeeeeeed this for our tiny bathroom! (Except going in the reverse direction.)

  4. says

    That’s a great look. Seems late 50’s or so. If those decorated tiles have little fishies on them they may be made by Pomona in CA. Rope border accents go back at least to Victorian times in tile

  5. Jay says

    Oh wow! Really sharp looking and I like the green color. I never saw this in porcelain before. I don’t think this would have enough clearance to accomodate a toilet, probably intended as a dressing table. I have seen old episodes of Property Virgins that were filmed in Canada and it appears common to extend the sink counter over the adjacent toilet as a narrow strip over the T. tank. I always thought it strange but since I now have a toilet with a curved top and everything slides off, I really like the idea. You just have to pray your toilet tank innards don’t need repair because then you have to remove the toilet to service it. Would like to know more about the fixtures and house.

  6. TappanTrailerTami says

    That is a very cool sink! I vote anywhere from 1940-1960, based on color and tub design, and if I really had to narrow it down, I’d say late 40’s to early 50’s, the heyday of colors and ingenuity in bathroom designs (think Cinderella tubs!)…..

    Great find, and good on Sarah for snapping photos for the woddity museum!

  7. brad says

    looks like it was not originally installed, based on the decorative wall tiles which look much newer than the sink….the extendo-counter looks like a commercial piece for motels etc…circa late 50s-early 60s

  8. Catherine says

    I lived in an apartment with a 1970’s-era bathroom, and the laminate vanity top extended, in a narrower strip, over the the toilet. To those wondering, the trick is that there was a hidden hinge underneath, and that portion flipped up to allow access to the toilet innards! The laminate had a swirly pattern, and the seam was not noticeable. In all, I found the arrangement really convenient. More problematic was that the mirror covered the entire wall behind the vanity and toilet–great for me, but my husband found it disconcerting to watch himself pee.

  9. Edd Miller says

    I am the ‘friend of Sarah’s dad’ who lived in this home! I was surprised and honored to learn this picture had been posted here. I hope to answer some of the questions and comments. My father was an architect and designed this as his dream home which was built in 1958 when I was 2. This bathroom was my sister’s bath. The same-colored (and still original) toilet is to the left out of view. Everything you see is all-original as the owners that bought the home in 1972 made a point to preserve the home in its original glory. This walk-thru was my first time back inside the place since we moved from there in 1972. To be honest, it was an emotional thing for me, amongst other reasons, that my dad passed away in 1966 so only got to enjoy his “dream” for a mere 8 years. Anyway, the design on the tile runner strip are little waves, and the other tiles have a series of “sprites” or whatever you call it. Even the bath faucets were original with very little decay to them. The sink faucet had been replaced. I do not know where my dad got this piece, but there are many other features in the home that are quite unique and had to have been special-ordered. I wish I knew more about every detail. One of the features that I loved most was a built-in stereo system in the living room (with 3 12″ speakers each side of an alcove where you lifted a lid to access a turntable) which still has the original Garrard turntable in working order! Additionally, he installed a speaker in each and every room with individual controls tied also to a central intercom system along with the turnable, and we went to bed nearly every night with a stack of records to listen to while in our beds. Very cool… Thanks, Sarah, for posting this!

    • TappanTrailerTami says

      Edd, thanks for posting your memories of your childhood home, and of your dad. I’m sorry about his passing so early in your life. It is very heartening to see the owners who bought the house left it intact and took very good care of it, though. Wish there were more folks like that out there!

  10. Richard says

    The sink dates from around the mid 1950s because the same sink but in white, was installed in the Statler Hilton bathrooms in downtown Dallas. I dont know who made it but I did find a picture online of one covered in pigeon poo(many of hotel rooms stood open to the elements for years) in the hotel with a commercial tollet under the angled counter to the right. The hotel took 3 years to build and opened in 1956 and was just saved not too long ago from the wrecking ball by a developer from San Antonio who hopes open it as a hotel or condos. if you search online using: Statler Hilton Dallas tx you will find a wealth of info on this iconic mid century hotel.

    • TappanTrailerTami says

      Wow, that pretty much nails it down age wise…if the hotel opened in 1956, this sink had been on the market at least a couple of years by the time this 1958 home was built. I always kind of wondered how long a “run” any one product design had in those days. It could likely be that it was really more for commercial installation, but Edd’s dad being an architect (see post above) would have had easier access and/or forethought to place a commercial application item in a residential home.

      Very cool!

  11. says

    I remember seeing them in my growing up years in the 1970s. They called them banjo sink tops or countertops. I never really thought the name made sense, but I guess if you squint it looks like a stringed instrument, sorta. The one pictured is unique because it has a pedestal, and I always remember them in combination with cabinetry under the sink and the “wing” (or neck of the banjo?) over the toilet.

  12. Brian Plumleigh says

    Hi I saw two of these in white at the Habitat for Humanity Re-use store in Monterey,CA awhile back. Still kicking myself for not getting them. They were fairly cheap, too.

    • pam kueber says

      Yes, I think if I saw them I would have to add them to my hoard. For a rainy day. Along with the 9 other sinks I have hoarded. For a rainy day. :)

  13. Bethany in Memphis says

    I have almost the exact same tile in the bath of my 1952 house: White squares with same 2-color green “wave” border, but no accent “sprite” tiles. The toilet and sink have been replaced with new white ones, but the bath is the original ming/jade green.

  14. Marissa says

    Oh some of the older dorm rooms at the university I went to had these in the bathrooms! I believe those particular dorms were built in the late 60s or 70s, but I don’t know for sure. I always thought they were interesting. It’s cool to find out more about them!

  15. Mary Elizabeth says

    I lived in an apartment once (late ’60s, early ’70s building) that had a bathroom sink set in a laminate vanity counter that extended over the toilet. It had hidden hinges so that you could flip it up and over (like a bar top does in a restaurant) and replace the toilet parts and then flip it back. You couldn’t do that with porcelain. When updating the master bath In our former condo, we put a removable shelf over the toilet to add to the counter space. If you do laminate counter tops (as in the ’50s and ’60s), you can do either method.

  16. Rob Gaudet says

    This was my moms bathroom, bitter sweet for me since my mom passed away when I was 13.
    Edd Miller who visited and shared the photo is my uncle. I was 5 when the house was sold in 1974, so memories of the place are pretty foggy. It’s been 40 years since it was sold, but the home has been a fond part of the Miller family vernacular since I can remember.

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