Where to find vintage style light bars and u-shaped plastic replacement shades

In production since at least 1947, research indicates

vintage-bathroom-lightIn an exhaustive search that took nearly a year, reader Kerry finally found a new bathroom vanity light bar that is practically identical to the worn original in her 1954 home’s main bathroom. The 18″ AFX Aspen series vanity light is made in the USA by AFX, formerly American Fluorescent, a company that has been manufacturing light fixtures since 1938 and which seems to have been making this fixture since at least 1947-1948. There are four sizes available, AND, we built on Kerry’s research by getting part numbers for you to order just the shades, if you need replacements for your old light bars in the same style.

mid-century-ranch-houseKerry writes:

Your site is awesome! It has been my “go to” source for the past four years — three of them were spent dreaming about our future 1950s ranch house in Texas. We closed on our 1954 dream home in March 2013, and it’s been an adventure finding sources for 60-year old lighting, plumbing and steel window hardware. Our house is intact, and we want to maintain the original design, while upping the fabulous factor (just a wee bit!)

vintage-bathroom-lightingYou may already be aware of this source, but I have to share this success story! Many of your readers may be looking for just the same thing, as the originals got brittle and fell apart (presumably ours did and they were thrown away.) I was looking for u-shaped ribbed plastic shades for the 18″ fluorescent light fixtures in our main bathroom. It was almost year-long search, and at several points, I thought I’d have to replace the fixtures entirely, but I finally found them!

mid-century-bathroom

It is the AS Series Collection. They come in several lengths – 18″, 24″, 36″ and 48″.

We had to buy the fixture and shades [Editor’s Note: We were able to get the part numbers to order just the shades, see below], but that was okay as one of our existing ballasts is going bad. Additional bonus – The fixtures have stickers that indicate U.S.A. manufacturing!

Ironically, my parents’ 1951 ranch in Ohio had the same style fixture (36″ version) in their powder room. During my arduous search on the web, it seems that fixtures with similar shades were marketed as early as 1947-48.

vintage-bathroom-light-fixture

Kerry compares the original light to the nearly identical Aspen light. Kerry told us, “YES they are identical with one difference – the casing on the sides of the new fixtures are chrome [we think they may be aluminum], while our originals are factory finished in white enamel.  Both our originals and the new model have chrome end caps, an appliance outlet and an on-off switch.  [Importantly, she notes:}  Additional bonus – the ribbed u-shaped new shades actually fit our original fixtures perfectly.

Last night, I checked the manufacturer’s label inside and it reads: “American Fluorescent Corp., Waukegan IL”. More sleuthing revealed that American Fluorescent has re-branded itself as AFX . The fixture I purchased through Bellacor, one of AFX distributors, is actually named “Aspen” on the AFX website, thus the “AFX AS Series” name on Bellacor’s website. AFX started out in 1938 and seems to be driving innovation in fluorescent and LED lighting fixtures.

Wow, Kerry, great detective work. It is amazing that the same company that made your original bathroom light fixtures is still producing the same style, which really speaks to the timeless design and functionality of this light.

Part numbers to get replacement shades for your vintage light bar

Pam says that she often gets questions about replacement shades for this style of light — now we have a solution. I contacted AFX to see if there was a way to order replacement shades for these lights and the customer service agent I spoke with said they typically do not sell directly to the general public, but if you have the model number for your light fixture, they can direct you to a local distributor where you can order a replacement shade.

  • 18″ shade — I inquired about Kerry’s 18″ Aspen light shade and was told the replacement part number for that shade is 400004. Order it through your local big box store or lighting retailer.
  • 24″ shade:  Replacement part number is 4000006
  • 36″ Aspen — 4000010
  • 48″ Aspen 4000012.

Where to buy complete light bar sets

According to the AFX website, the Aspen style is available in 18″, 24″, 36″ and 48″ widths. We found them all on Amazon, here are the links (which are all affiliate links, cha ching that helps keep the blog boat afloat):

retro-bathroom-vanity-light-fixture

fusion-vintage-style-light-fixture

AFX has several other light fixture styles that would be at home in a midcentury modern bathroom, in particular, their Wrigley and Fusion vanity fixtures have a retro look.

green-and-white-vintage-bathroomKerry also wanted to add some tidbits about her beautiful green vintage bathroom:

Note, the decorative tile cap above the mirror was one of the few changes that was made by the previous (and only) owner. It must’ve been some crafty thing to paint on tile – 1970s? Going through the trash does pay off as I salvaged the original green tile caps from a trash bag in the garage. The seller’s realtor was going to throw it out!

Yeah, I know the lights look awfully close to the wall mounted soap dish and cup holder. I’m wondering if the fixtures were lowered at some point for children or the mother-in-law, who lived in the house. Perhaps they installed the soap and cup holders before buying fixtures and then realized – oops! The sinks are Eljer with American Standard faucets and they have both have soap recesses. There are a few quirky things about our house’s finish work that have me guessing. The original owners were a petroleum engineer and a home economics major. I often ponder that the engineer thought he could solve any problem, but blending function with aesthetics weren’t always his strong suit!

Thanks, Kerry, for sharing your awesome vintage bathroom and the results of your terrific detective work.

Be-Safe-graphic2.3

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Comments

  1. Sue says

    I wanted to let you know that I have the same type of light fixtures in my 1941 cape. I grew up in this house and my parents put them in back in the 60’s. I don’t know what was originally there when they bought the house in 1960. The bathroom is tiled in vitrolite glass tiles in jade green and black. My mother papered the walls with a shiny silver art deco paper that is still up and is absolutely perfect with the tile. I too was having trouble finding covers to replace the original fixtures. The other problem I had was the length of the fixture. It does not match the AFX offerings. I ruled out the idea of purchasing new ones because I would have to repaper. So, I read an article on a website for “apartment renters” on making a ceiling light to cover an ugly one. In the article they used clear chefs cutting mats as the diffuser, and eureka! I got the notion to use chefs mats as the replacement for the plastic covers! I ordered a pack of large chefs mats from an online restaurant supply co. and they worked beautifully! The material is flexible and can slide right into the fixture and the color is perfect. I just cut them so I could curve it to fit the fixture.
    I have leftover mats to use later since I don’t know how long they will keep their color. I don’t leave the lights on forever since there is some heat from the lights. I do use them every day to put on makeup and the material does not get hot to the touch.
    I posted this as an alternative idea in case there others who have fixtures that are an odd length. Anyway, I have much more to do on the old homestead and I hope this info is useful!

  2. says

    The Fixture is working fine, just the plastic shade was brittle and broke in parts..The Philip 20 watt light oblong shade is 24 inches long. The fixture may be 36 inches long. the shade is all I need.

    Thank You

    Inez Woodard

  3. Kimmy says

    OMG thank you, thank you, thank you! I thought I was going to have to do major drywall, tile, and electrical work just because our existing light had gone bad. Our house was built in 1968 and this article is a life saver – not to mention a money saver!

  4. says

    Kerry
    You mentioned you searched for sources for hardware for your steel casement windows … please share what you found as I’ve been rehabbing my steel windows for years and am always in need of new hardware. Or Pam, can you help me get in touch with Kerry?
    Thank you!

  5. says

    Excellent! this is exactly what I needed to find. Found out I needed a plastic shade on a 36″ fixture just this afternoon and this was the first link I clicked on. Thank you for all your wonderful research and sharing of information. This is exactly what the internet is for!

  6. Jo Ann Robinson says

    Thank you so much for this information. I have a vintage bathroom that I am touching up but I want to keep that old charm. I really needed to find replacement shades for the light fixtures on my old medicine cabinet and you gave me just the information I needed. Thank you, thank you!!

  7. says

    Does anyone know where to find L-shaped ribbed plastic bathroom lighshades? My fixtures each hold 4 regular lightbulbs and I can’t find these things anywhere. Mine are dried out and cracked, but I’m trying to keep my house 60s style. I’d be grateful for any help.

    Janice

  8. James E Davidson says

    I’m looking for plastic florescent light covers that go on the sides of an older medicine cabinet. The plastic has little vertical ridges and is white. The size I need is : 19 3/4 inches long and 1 5/8 inches wide and 2 1/4 inches deep. These are almost square and long to cover the lights that go beside the mirror on the cabinet.

    • pam kueber says

      Hi James, I don’t have the answer to this except to suggest asking the same company we just wrote about here to see if they also supply these or can suggest a source…

  9. Roxanne says

    I was unable to find the 18 ” length on Amazon or Belabor, but after an extensive search I was able to fine it on American Lighting Store.
    Can’t wait to get my new lighting.
    Thank you for the info.

  10. Laura says

    Hi there! I am looking for some advice/knowledge about my house’s bathroom vanity lights. I can’t tell if they are supposed to have covers; right now they are bare fluorescents that are turned on by turning a switch at the bottom. I don’t like how the bare lights look, so it would be great if they originally had covers and I could somehow find them. Here’s a few pics: https://plus.google.com/101543299636004954075/posts/3zBHmcgcaiv

    I’d love any advice! Thanks so much

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