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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.

2019 UPDATE: Alas, this product now appears to have been discontinued. I will leave this story up for historical purposes — and perhaps a reader will discover a proxy.

But, note: For replacement ribbed covers only, reader John contributed this comment/research:

After searching many, many sites I was able to find one manufacturer of the ribbed, U-Shape lens that everyone seems to be coveting at 1800Ceiling.com. Minimum order is two and the price is very reasonable but the shipping is a bit more due to the oblong length of the packaging. Hope this helps everyone.
https://www.1800ceiling.com/ribbed-white-wrap-around-item-4113p-256rw

Readers, be sure to understand the wattage specifications — talk to the company to make sure you are getting what you need and what is safe. Thanks, John, for this tip!

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):

  • 2019 update. Ugh, appears discontinued.
  • TIP: Read comments, some readers have provided other possibilities…

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.

The light above is in this category on the AFX website.

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.

  1. David says:

    Hi!
    Our midcentury fluorescent inset ceiling fixtures need replacement milk white ‘plastic’ shades. They are rectangular, with curved/rounded corners and side edges. The plastic shade attaches to the ceiling fixture via four pins, with corresponding metal reinforced holes in each shade, two each side. Any ideas most welcome!

  2. John says:

    My mom is selling the house my grandparents built in 1945 in which the original bathroom has these vanity fixtures. They degraded a long time ago and my Dad never replaced them so we had to replace them before the selling the house. After looking at all the comments on this site and the manufacturers site and retail site as well as electrical suppliers provided and in my home area, I found that the light is no longer manufactured, which is a pity because it’s a classic and simple retro design. In fact, the thing that should be different about it is only the lens cover, which everyone seems to have trouble finding. Variable lens covers for this simple light design would make it very cool. That said, after searching many, many sites I was able to find one manufacturer of the ribbed, U-Shape lens that everyone seems to be coveting at 1800Ceiling.com. Minimum order is two and the price is very reasonable but the shipping is a bit more due to the oblong length of the packaging. Hope this helps everyone.
    https://www.1800ceiling.com/ribbed-white-wrap-around-item-4113p-256rw

  3. Pam Kueber says:

    Hi David, I don’t know the answer to this one. Sorry for the late reply. I paused this in moderation for a bit to think about it but then it just sat.

  4. pam kueber says:

    I’m closing comments on this story, as they are getting redundant. For fixit issues, consult with professionals!

Comments are closed.