Two rare vintage Universal Rundle bathroom faucets (plus a sink)

universal rundle bathroom faucet vintageWoddity week continues here on Retro Renovation. Lookie this: A Universal Rundle bathroom sink faucet with sort-of lever handles that sit underneath a big clunky… spaceship?… turtle? This is pretty wacky — and wonderful!

universal rundle faucet

We help Donna identify her mystery faucet!

And then UPDATE — reader Donna left a comment that her vintage bathroom sink had originally has a similar U-R faucet, only squared-off>>

j-n-faucetuniversal-faucetDonna told us:

Finally! Five years ago we purchased a small Aladdin kit home from the original owners who built it in 1959. Like many homes of that era, there was just one bathroom. However, the master bedroom had a long vanity with custom built-in drawers and a large oval sink with a wide sloping edge. The sink’s faucet was the most unusual and beautiful vintage plumbing fixture I had ever seen. Unfortunately, after a year of our ownership the lever for the cold water broke off. My husband took the faucet to a half dozen plumbing supply stores on the hope we could find a replacement part, but no one had ever seen anything like it! We scoured salvage plumbing parts to no avail.

By now, you have probably figured out that our faucet was a Universal Rundle! Our faucet was more rectangular in shape than the one featured in this article, and so unique I have kept it despite being broken. I spent countless hours trying to research it’s maker — but mistakenly thought it was “j/n”, not “u/r”. When we gave up looking for parts, we purchased and installed a new faucet that is complimentary to the vintage design of the sink. That was a real trick though, since the sink had only one large diameter hole designed to fit the Universal Rundle faucet. We had to get real creative with a repurposed escutcheon plate, but eventually we made it work. I must admit that It is nice to have the spout further from the back of the sink — esp. when rinsing toothbrushes! I’d be happy to send you a picture of the Universal Rundle faucet we own if you’d like to add it to your “woddity” file for Universal Rundle faucets.

[Pam emailed Donna for photos, and Donna added:]

(The j/n plate (upside down u/r) lifts off to reveal the installation screw below.   The knob you see at the center back is the drain plug lever.   The drain plug has the same u/r logo inscribed on it, but it is more faded due to wear. )

Your site has been a phenomenal resource for me over the past 5 years. THANK YOU!    It’s my pleasure to send you the faucet photo.   – Enjoy!

Universal Rundle Sink — New Old Stock!

universal rundle sinkrare vintage bathroom faucetBut wait! The ebay seller also has an entire assembly — a vintage Universal Rundle bathroom sink. Looks like this turtle/spaceship faucet is specifically designed for the sink. The “shelf” is angled.

universal rundle bathroom faucet

Precautionary Pam reminds:

When buying vintage — including New Old Stock — with the intention of installing it, be sure to research whether the item is up to current building code and safety standards. For example: Vintage lighting, even if new old stock, should have its wiring checked — and there may be other issues — get with a pro. Vintage plumbing pipes may not be up to current standards for, for example, lead. Get with your own properly licensed professionals to help you assess what you have so that you can make informed decisions.

New Old Stock hardware store being unpacked as we speak!

The first faucet faucet was among the finds of ebay seller nomoredrama4me, who told us in our story last week:

Indeed, I followed up with the seller, who said:

Thank you! I have literally an entire warehouse of new old stock items. It’s all very fun to look through. 100’s of sinks and 100’s of light fixtures. My father-in-law used to buy out old hardware stores in the 60’s and put everything he bought in a warehouse thinking he would go through it all someday and never did. He has given me free reign in selling it off. If there is anything in particular your followers like let me know and I will get it listed so you can have pics.

Read our first story: Hardware store New Old Stock – “100s of sinks, 100s of light fixtures”

To check out this rare vintage faucet… the sink… and to see the other items coming out of the warehouse daily, go to the following (*all affiliate links):

vintage-lightingAbove: Some of stuff being that was being prepped for listing last week. More to come! Oh My.

Be-Safe-graphic2.3

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Comments

  1. Carolyn says

    Dang! that must’ve been a drag to keep clean after using the old Bon Ami on the handles!
    In the area where I live, we saw a surge of Kohler handle-less faucets and hand dryers in the last few years. This meant we had to learn how to get the water or air to come out which was frustrating at times since some seemed to have a “sweet spot”. It was even more confusing when in a locker room to try to discover if there was a ring near the floor to step on or sensors to trip!
    To explain (somewhat) why some designs were presented and later discarded, check out Don Norman; he is best known for his books on design, especially “The Design of Everyday Things”.

  2. ineffablespace says

    I think this design fell out of favor because you couldn’t really get your hands under the water without touching the back of the sink. Plus those particular handles would be very hard to turn on and off (with old fashioned valve fittings) for someone who had the least hand strength/dexterity issues.

    From a design standpoint it looks kinda sweet, but the ergonomics are not very friendly

  3. Mary Elizabeth says

    Yes, I think it would be difficult for young kids to reach “way” over the deep sink and then to figure out which faucet is hot and which is cold, what is on and what is off. Remember when temperature of water coming from your hot water heater was not regulated by code? So many chances for a kid to scald himself/herself.

  4. Donna Steinebach says

    Finally! Five years ago we purchased a small Aladdin kit home from the original owners who built it in 1959. Like many homes of that era, there was just one bathroom. However, the master bedroom had a long vanity with custom built-in drawers and a large oval sink with a wide sloping edge. The sink’s faucet was the most unusual and beautiful vintage plumbing fixture I had ever seen. Unfortunately, after a year of our ownership the lever for the cold water broke off. My husband took the faucet to a half dozen plumbing supply stores on the hope we could find a replacement part, but no one had ever seen anything like it! We scoured salvage plumbing parts to no avail. By now, you have probably figured out that our faucet was a Universal Rundle! Our faucet was more rectangular in shape than the one featured in this article, and so unique I have kept it despite being broken. I spent countless hours trying to research it’s maker — but mistakenly thought it was “j/n”, not “u/r”. When we gave up looking for parts, we purchased and installed a new faucet that is complimentary to the vintage design of the sink. That was a real trick though, since the sink had only one large diameter hole designed to fit the Universal Rundle faucet. We had to get real creative with a repurposed escutcheon plate, but eventually we made it work. I must admit that It is nice to have the spout further from the back of the sink — esp. when rinsing toothbrushes! I’d be happy to send you a picture of the Universal Rundle faucet we own if you’d like to add it to your “woddity” file for Universal Rundle faucets.

    • Dave Walter says

      Hello Retro Renovation,
      Just came across your site by way of searching for Universal Rundle vanity faucets. Saw the posting by Donna (March 2, 2016) about her sink/faucet. I have a faucet similar to hers, but it came with a wall hung sink, not a drop-in. I’m in the process of rebuilding the faucet now, and will be having two handles cast in brass to replace the aluminum ones. If you can contact Donna, let her know I’d be glad to have a handle made for her if she still has the U/R faucet with the broken lever. This design is just too cool to not use. So exciting.

      Thanks for a great website! Fantastic!
      Dave

  5. Angela D says

    It is interesting seeing all the things that were once brand new and wonderful but now we don’t have a clue about them. I like your news letter. Keep up the good work.

  6. ineffablespace says

    I think another reason for design obsolescence in this case is the single hole for the faucet. Now there would be a number of options for Donna’s sink because it mounts flat on the deck, but for the yellow sink with the slanted mount, there still isn’t anything new, to my knowledge, that would fit the bill.

    How many single hole faucets were there between the 1950s and 1960s when these were made (and stopped being made) and the upsurge in the American single holed faucet designs around the turn of the 21st century? I don’t think there were many except lab faucets. Most of the single handled, close coupled designs of the 1960s-1980s were three hole, 4″ center sets underneath.

    So I think a lot of these sinks disappeared because when the faucet had to be changed, the sink had to be changed because of lack of options. In my experience you can find new replacement parts for old style faucets if you have the right kind of plumbing supply place and they are willing to look for it, but it’s often easier and may cost about the same to pull out the old sink and faucet and install something completely new.

    I had a client recently replace a faucet and a shower mixer completely because they were dripping rather than even trying to attempt to replace a part. Many plumbers would rather do this and for a DIYer it’s probably easier than repairing.

      • ineffablespace says

        You are right, it looks like it would require two or three holes in a spacing proprietary to Universal Rundle plumbing. Although fixed single-, two-, or three- holed sinks and fixtures on standard 4″ or 8″ centers makes for some repetitious design, it’s understandable why some standardization is necessary.

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