Bathroom fixtures in 7 retro colors from Peerless, plus, we compare Gerber and Peerless pastels

Peerless-retro colored-fixtures

Do you want to buy a new sink or a new, low-flow toilet in a retro pastel color? Well, thanks to this tip from reader Kelly, we’ve discovered another company — Peerless Pottery — that has the largest selection yet of retro pastel toilets and bathroom sinks. As you will recall, we became very excited when we learned about Gerber’s retro color toilets and sinks. Gerber doesn’t have quite the lineup that Peerless does. But is their retro pink “better”? I got my hands on hard-to-obtain color samples and today, also will do my best to give you some sense of the differences in the colors, company-to-company.

Uncovering yet another source for pink pastel potties was particularly pleasing. To start, I contacted John Bennett from Peerless Pottery, Inc. to get more information about this 111-year-old, made-in-America company. Here is a history of the company from Peerless:

Yesterday

Around the turn of the century, an industrious man by the name of Michael Helfrich, was granted a plot of land about a mile from the Ohio River, in southwestern Indiana. The original plan was to distribute the regions plentiful supply of hardwood. This led him to pottery manufacturing to complement his growing sales of water closet tanks and seats, which at that time were made of wood.

In 1902, Mr. Helfrich and his associate Harry Weaver, founded the National Helfrich Pottery. After changing the name to “The Peerless Selling Company” in the 1920s the company introduced the first close coupled water closet, the “Silent Knight.” It featured “extra heavy vitreous china, fitted with a silent elevated compound ballcock” and the famous “Don’t Worry No Pinch” seat, in natural or antique walnut or oak.

In 1941, after the death of Mr. Helfrich, the company was reorganized by Harry Weaver, his son, Charles, and several other investors, under the current name, Peerless Pottery, Inc.

Today

With over 100 years of manufacturing experience in vitreous china fixtures, our current facility is located on 90 acres in rural Spencer County, Indiana. We now occupy over 350,000 square feet of manufacturing space, manned by a dedicated, hard-working and highly skilled work force.

We annually transform tons of clay into quality vitreous china fixtures. All Peerless fixtures are produced under stringent conditions of cleanliness, precise time and temperature controls, with all hand operations performed by people with developed skills. Through each stage of production, constant quality control checks are performed on each product. Water flush testing of each closet bowl insures trouble free installation of all Peerless water closets.

Peerless looks confidently to the future. with fourth generation management, we are dedicated to the principles of quality and craftsmanship with have been an integral part of our past.

Comparing Peerless and Gerber colors

pink-fixture-comparisonComparing Peerless and Gerber pastel colors

I had received sample colors from both Gerber and Peerless. I’m working on my pink master bathroom remodel right now — so my first task was to compare their bathroom fixture colors with a sample of the classic Mamie pink tile from B&W Tile that I will be using in my bathroom.   As you can see, the Gerber Bahama pink appears to be slightly darker than the Peerless Venetian Pink, according to the samples that these two companies sent me. If you are using B&W tiles to construct a new pink bathroom, and would like a pink toilet that most closely matches the wall tile, then I would go with Gerber’s Bahama Pink. It is interesting to note that Gerber recommends using the Bemis or Church Venetian Pink/Bahama Pink toilet seat with their Bahama Pink toilet  — which leads me to believe that they are close enough to be considered nearly the same color in the eyes of manufacturers.

On the other hand, if you have a vintage bathroom in need of a new fixture or two, the Peerless Venetian Pink might be an exact match. After comparing the Peerless Venetian Pink chip to the vintage 1960s pink sink — purchased on Craigslist for my bathroom remodel — I found that they were a near exact match.

Bottom line: In my opinion, both the Venetian Pink and Bahama Pink are a close enough match to be a good choice for a pink bathroom, either new or vintage. The slight difference between the two pinks is not enough of a difference and to the naked eye, either pink would likely be at home in a vintage or newly created pink bathroom.

Remember: There were lots of vintage pinks back in the day — remember how Pam counted 95 different pink tiles in the replacement section of World of Tile?

Peerless-neutral-samples

My next task was to compare the neutral Peerless colors available — here they are, compared to a white 2×6 from Home Depot.

color-comparison-1

Above: When comparing Peerless colors to Gerber colors, the two Biscuit swatches are a near perfect match.

gerber-bone-wheat

Above: Peerless doesn’t have a color that matches Gerber’s Bone/Wheat, which is just a hair darker than Biscuit.

color-comparison-3

Above: Peerless Bone and Gerber Almond appear to be an identical color match.

color-comparison-2Above: Peerless Beige and Gerber Jamaican Beige are also an identical match.

Gerber-Color-chipsWhile I did not receive actual samples of Peerless’ Dresden Blue, Sterling Silver or Harvest Gold, one can assume, based on how the other colors compared, that they are most likely similar or slightly lighter than Gerber’s Dawn Blue, Silver/Silverado and Spanish Gold. Though, if you are thinking of purchasing any of these colors of Peerless fixtures, we highly recommend trying to locate actual samples first to verify my suspicion – although, *good luck with that*.

It appears the Peerless fixtures can be purchased by contacting a sales rep in your area, or by contacting the company directly to order. The price range for Peerless pink fixtures seems to be in line with Gerber’s pink fixtures.

Personally, I’ve been trying to order a Gerber Bahama Pink toilet for three weeks from my local dealer, who couldn’t get me an actual product chip to look at — only printed paper cards — and they had no sample chip board like the company sent to me at their showroom. My local distributor told me it would be at least four weeks to receive the Gerber Bahama Pink toilet and quoted me $407 for the complete toilet with matching Bemis seat. He told me shipping would be somewhere in the $100-$200 range, which would get the toilet to my distributor across town and not to my door. I ended up following a fellow reader’s advice — Mary Elizabeth — who ordered a Gerber Bahama Pink Viper Ergo-height toilet from DecorIsland.com. The ordering process was quick and easy and I’m promised to have my toilet (and a matching seat) delivered to my doorstep in 7-10 business days.

It will be difficult to get samples or see real fixtures in these colors, from my experience

The bottom line in the search for a retro color toilet or sink for your remodel or restoration — these color fixtures are out there, but it’s hard to get your hands on sample boards… and we can’t imagine any plumbing supply companies are actively stocking these colors for you to come look at, live. I was only able to get samples directly from the two companies because we are media, I believe.

In some areas of the country, it might be easier to find vintage fixtures for your pink bathroom instead of trying to order new fixtures. But old toilets likely do not meet new water use restrictions in place in many parts of the country. If you are in need of a low-flow pastel colored toilet to match your vintage pastel tiled bathroom, either Peerless or Gerber may have just what you want — just be prepared to be patient — it is not as easy as driving to the nearest big box store and loading one on the cart.

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Comments

  1. Jamie D. says

    I’d love to see the Dresden Blue chip! I had a difficult time locating a Gerber Dawn Blue chip to compare to my original 50s light blue tub. The only samples my local plumbing distributor had were plastic chips. Dawn Blue was just a smidge too aqua for my tub, which has more grayish periwinkle undertones. I suspect the plastic chips might not be terribly accurate.

    I’d love to check out the Peerless blue. I don’t need sinks right away but eventually want to replace my beige molded acrylic countertop with more accurate double sinks.

    I finally did find my blue toilet. Not an exact match, also a smidge too green/aqua, but close enough – a Kohler Cerulean Blue $75 Craigslist find, still new in box, sitting in someone’s basement for 35 years.

  2. Robin, NV says

    Thanks for doing this research. It’s good to know that with some effort, we can still get fixtures in pastel colors. But why is Ming Green a color that has never been reproduced?

    I’d like to make two points. First, having done a little bit of research into the matter (specificially for sinks), not all of the colors listed are available in every model of sink and toilet and forget about getting a new tub. Secondly, we tend to think of pastel bathrooms as the end-all, be-all for mid century bathroom renovations but loads and loads of mid century bathrooms had white fixtures and colored tile. I’d be willing to bet that pastel bathrooms were in the minority even in the 50s and 60s. My house has one green bathroom and one white bathroom. So for those of you “stuck” with white fixtures, don’t despair, if you really want a pastel bathroom, concentrate on what you can easily change – the tile. My white bathroom has Regency Blue tile and I plan to gussy it up by putting in blue mosaic tile on the floor.

    • Kate says

      This is true Robin, it is perfectly ok to have colored tile and white fixtures…my mint green bathroom has a green tub, salt and pepper white tile (with a few green tiles intermixed) and a white sink and toilet with a white tile floor. I could have gone with white fixtures for my pink master bath redo and I would have been perfectly ok with that, but I decided to take it the extra step and get a vintage pink sink and a new Gerber Bahama Pink toilet. I think it is a personal preference thing and it is good to know that there are some options available to have colored sinks and toilets — whether you choose to use them or not. :)

    • pam kueber says

      I agree that white fixtures are fine. That’s what I put into my three bathrooms when I needed to renovate. That said: Originally, all three had colored fixtures. I am going to guesstimate: By the middle of the 1950s, pastel fixtures ruled — peaked. Before and after that, white likely dominated. But that’s only a guestimate. I will need to start paying closer attention to assess this issue. All that said, we did these most recent stories out of AMAZEMENT that we finally learned about these pastel options for toilets and sinks. I’m into my sixth year of this blog — and only discovered these now. I’d be embarrassed, except that these are lesser-known retailers… and the colors are not highly promoted — and in general, not even easy to find at all on their websites.

      It’s always something. For pastel tile, reminder: B&W is the key go-to place for true retro pastels, and the price is terrific… Dal-Tile and American Olean (same company really) may have tile that works… and if you can swing it, the be-all end-all is authentic vintage from World of Tile. I’m itching for a new/old house that needs the bathrooms restored just so’s I could make World of Tile bathrooms. *bucket list*

      • Mary Elizabeth says

        My experience is the same as Amber’s. I ordered the Bemis pink toilet seat color #63, which is listed as matching American Standard, Briggs (my tub), and Peerless Venetian Pink as well as Artesian Bahama Pink and Eljer Blossom Pink. They say nothing about Gerber, but when I saw a NOS Gerber Venetian Pink toilet in the plumbing supply place, it matched my seat but was the wrong shape. Confused yet? Wait, there’s more! :-)

        The toilet seat matched my original 1959 Briggs Venetian Pink tub, my NOS Gerber Venetian Pink sink, and finally my brand new Gerber Bahama Pink toilet. In some lights, the toilet seat looks to be a slightly lighter shade of the same hue, if that’s the right term, than the toilet. But everything goes together very well. My feelings of success with color matching are predicated on the assumption that the “Granny and Grandpa ranch” ghosts of the former owners are not too particular as to whether I have reproduced the bathroom they had. I have strong vibes that they have been right next to us over the last two years as we restore the house and that they like our choices. In fact, I think Granny envies me my ergoheight toilet, my LED recessed light over the tub, and my wall-mounted hair dryer. She would have used them if she could have.

  3. Wendy M. says

    I have a related question- in your research, have you come across info on the use of wall-mounted toilets? Did they ever come in colors? We have two original white wall-mounts in our home and I’m curious if that was common at one point, a fad or if it’s unusual.

    • Donna says

      I have 3 wall mounted American Standard toilets in my 1961 house. One is Serene Blue (with matching double sinks), one is Carnation Pink (with matching sink and bathtub) and one is Emerald Green (with matching sink). Two of them have the original insides; things were certainly made to last back then. I don’t know if it was a fad, but the original owner of our home was an engineer and from the design of the house, he was pretty cutting edge at the time. The bathrooms have stood the test of time and look almost as nice as the day they were installed. I have the original colors flier from American standard, and there were at least 9 colors. Here’s a brochure featuring the exact toilet in our home. http://www.midcenturyhomestyle.com/inside/bathrooms/1960s/gallery/page01.htm

    • Jamie D. says

      We have an American Standard wall-mount toilet in a pinky-beige color in one of our bathrooms (sorry, I don’t know the actual name of the color). There are 2 matching sinks, one inside the bathroom and one at a vanity outside of the bathroom, both with Hudee rings.

      My plumber keeps warning me that if that toilet ever dies, I’m SO screwed because a replacement wall-mount will look very…institutional.

      • Wendy M. says

        Thanks for all the feedback on the wall-hung toilets- I’ve been curious about the topic since we bought our home. We recently had the seals replaced and the plumber replaced the inner-workings with a new kit (the old ones were pretty well worn out). He said overall they were in good shape. Mary Elizabeth- I was a little nervous about the idea of a bolt coming out of the wall until I saw the plumber take it apart- they are really sturdy! One hint I didn’t know until I talked to the plumber- he said one of the four bolts should NOT be tightened all the way down. It can crack the porcelain. I’m glad I learned that before I made a big mistake!

    • Mary Elizabeth says

      Yes, Donna, that really is exciting! Thanks for sending the brochure image. I have only seen one of these toilets once “in the wild,” in spite of my having owned three homes and done a lot of looking around. I guess it proves that these mid-century “sanitary ceramics” just last and last. I wonder who replaced the insides of the toilet for you and whether there are any old time plumbers out there who know where to get the parts and how to install them. My daughter had a heck of a time repairing her toilet, in which the bowl is not wall mounted but the water feeds directly from a pipe in the wall and there is no tank. It was designed to fit in a really small space and reminds me of a marine head. (She’s an engineer, so she figure out what to do, but had to research a long time to find the parts to replace the flush valve.)

      So the question that has come up before on this site is, aren’t you–er– afraid of sitting on something that is attached to the wall? What if a bolt comes off or something? :-(

      • Donna says

        Just about every public restroom in every office building has wall mount toilets and I have never heard of any of them falling off the wall! Good news, American Standard still makes a wall mounted toilet with a tank:
        http://www.americanstandard-us.com/commercial-toilets/glenwall-pressure-assisted-wall-mounted-toilet/
        Bad news, it only comes in white, linen and bone. One more thing, if they ever leak, the plumber must use a rubber gasket on a wall mount, not a wax ring as is used in floor mount toilets. Gravity pulls the was downward and it will eventually break the seal, leak and clog the discharge pipe. We learned that the hard way. Had a leak and our plumber removed the toilet from the wall and found a double wax ring sagging there. Replaced it with the proper rubber gasket and we’ve been dry since!

        • Jamie D. says

          Holy crap! (excuse the pun)

          I can’t believe the price of those. $800-$1100? Wow.

          I’m literally praying to the porcelain gods that we never need to replace our wall mount.

  4. Julie Wallace says

    Is B&W a retailer? Anyone know retailers that sell Peerless products? I called a Peerless rep. in Dallas and he was anxious to get me off the phone. Thank you!

  5. tikitacky says

    Kohler’s “blush” pink is also the exact color of our pink tiles in our bathroom. We bought two of these toilets off of Craigslist (along with 3 matching pink sinks and the pink bathtub.) They were taken out of an early 60s house, but while researching the toilet, I found the exact one still on Kohler’s website. I am sharing this because it looks almost white on the Kohler website, but it is like I said, the same color as the 1955 tiles in our bathrooms. And I am assuming this light pink we have is the same pink as the current blush pink (you know what they say about assuming…).

    • Mary Elizabeth says

      Ms. Tickytacky, I assume you live in one of those ” little boxes on thehillside”? :-) (Malvina Reynolds song, for you young people.) Don’t assume Kohler’s blush it is the same color. I have seen it in a showroom, and anyone who thinks they want it should do the same. To me, it did look almost white, not the 1950s pink at all. So take a little field trip.

      • tikitacky says

        Good to know, thanks! :-) The two vintage pink one-piece Kohlers we got off CL with three sinks and a bathtub all in pink, look identical to the ones on the Kohler website. I am glad to know they’re actually old. I figured that they must have been new and the seller just thought they were old having just bought the house they were taking the pink fixtures out of. Coincidentally, we too just bought our 1955 and found out from our new neighbors (who helped take them out) that the pink fixtures were still in our bathrooms until the house went on the market and they were just taken out. That was a waste of money for all of us since the first thing we did was get on CL and put pink fixtures right back in. Haha! Oh, and our house is part of a tract of modern houses all built in the mid-50s in West Covina, CA.

        • pam kueber says

          ugh (re the pink fixtures being taken out to put the house on the market…) yes, a waste waste waste and in “green-conscious” california, to boot!

  6. Susan says

    Kate, or anybody else following up on this article…I e-mailed John Bennett at Peerless asking about a color chip of the Venetian Pink (for a round, 19″ sink). I offered to pay for the chip. He e-mailed me back this morning asking for my address so he could e-mail the sample chip to me (said nothing about charging me for the chip). I also e-mailed Gerber about a sample of the Bahama Pink. Waiting to hear from them. My point in all this being that, so far, at least one of these companies seems willing to deal with the public “at large.” This is very exciting for me as I’ve been hunting for a pink sink (to go with my pink toilet/pink tub) for 6 months now. I’ll post again after or if I wind up purchasing a sink from one of these companies, to let others know about cost, shipping, etc.

  7. says

    Kate, or anybody else following up on this article…I e-mailed John Bennett at Peerless asking about a color chip of the Venetian Pink (for a round, 19″ sink). I offered to pay for the chip. He e-mailed me back this morning asking for my address so he could mail the sample chip to me (said nothing about charging me for the chip). I also e-mailed Gerber about a sample of the Bahama Pink. Waiting to hear from them. My point in all this being that, so far, at least one of these companies seems willing to deal with the public “at large.” This is very exciting for me as I’ve been hunting for a pink sink (to go with my pink toilet/pink tub) for 6 months now. I’ll post again after or if I wind up purchasing a sink from one of these companies, to let others know about cost, shipping, etc.

    • Susan says

      Oh gosh…sorry folks. I had in error in the first posting. I said that John Bennett would “e-mail” the color chip to me. I meant to say that he would mail the color chip. I corrected that in the 2nd posting. Taking up waaaay too much space. Boy, am I bad!

    • pam kueber says

      Thank you, Susan, for that clarification. Good to know that Peerless is able to send out sample chips.

  8. says

    I wanted to remind everyone that I work for Second Chance Inc. in Baltimore MD. They are open 9 – 5 pm 7 days a week! They sell salvaged bathrooms and kitchens… they have tons of colorful toilets and sink bowls and some tile accessories. The website is http://www.secondchanceinc.org 410-385-1700 1700 Ridgely Street 21230

    We want to keep things out of the landfill!

    • Jamie D. says

      I just checked out the website and looked at the inventory and WOW.

      I could never work there…I’d keep buying everything. Really great stuff!

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