Robert wants our help: Who made his vintage drainboard sink?

kitchen drainboard sinkWho manufactured Robert’s drainboard sink? 10 years of blogging, and I am stymied. I’ve never seen holes in the backsplash of a drainboard sink — holes presumably used for anchors for inserts and a … logo? Can anyone figure this out?

Robert writes:

Hi Pam, do you know the maker of my drainboard sink? I just had it re-porcelained in sky blue to match my Chambers stove, but there are two decorative panels on the backsplash that are missing and I’d like to find a picture of what they might have looked like so I can fabricate something to take their place. There’s also a hole for what I am guessing was the original badge/emblem, but it’s missing too. Any guesses? Thanks.

I asked a few more questions. Where did you get the sink? And, is it possible that someone drilled into the backplash at some point to cover it with another material? 

Robert replied:

The holes look too uniform.  I’m a pretty fair fabricator, and they look stamped in, and not drilled, so I’m thinking they are original.  But I might be wrong.

Hmmm. I looked in my archives and online for a while to try and find the answer. Youngstown made sinks with molded recesses on the backsplash like the ones seen in your sink. But, I can find, and can’t recall ever seeing one, or any other brand, with decorative inserts. 

Reader: Any ideas?

  1. Some seemingly factual replies and some good, but also questionable guesses or thoughts.
    As someone who deals with a lot of vintage sinks, I have not yet seen the small holes in the back splash. As a retired Tool & Die Machinist and someone who pays attention to detail, I have some offerings. I believe the theory or fact of an applique with company name, say in the long recess on the left or similar to the small recess on the right. However, on my PC It appears that there is another hole in the forefront between the two recesses. So it would need to be for a third applique Which is possibly for some little emblem. If you want to know if holes were punched one person offered accurate explanation about chipped finish etc. Another way to tell if holes were punched is the holes will have a radius on edges of the entry point of the punch and will appear to have more squared off edges at the exit point. Manufacturing practices dictate that all holes will be punched from the front of the sinks back splash surface. Depending on how often they sharpened the punch and die for the holes will effect how smooth the finish is around the exit hole of the punch. Quick lesson folks, the hole punch tool you use to punch holes in sheets of paper, say for your 3 ring binder is a punch and die. One for the sink will obviously be more elaborate and much stronger etc.

  2. Kent says:

    Not to go off subject but one other thing to keep in mind about this sink when shopping for a faucet is that the three faucet holes are spaced 3.5 inch on centers rather than the more common 4″ on center spacing.

  3. Kent says:

    I have seen quite a few of these sinks first hand and most were date stamped 1955. I have on the other hand never seen this style sink hole punched on the backsplash. If one was curious as to whether the holes were original or were drilled after the fact there would be a way to tell. All holes (faucet, drain, etc.) are punched prior to the sink being enameled and fired otherwise any attempt to punch or drill these holes after firing would result in a chipped or jagged enamel edge. So if the original enamel was smooth around the holes prior to any subsequent refinishing or reenamaling these would have been placed by the manufacturer. While the mystery remains unsolved I hope this helps.

  4. Robert says:

    Robert here. Thanks to all who replied. The holes are 1/8th inch in diameter. I will come up with some sort of decorative elements for the back splash of my sink. Not sure exactly what, but right now, if I can’t find pictures of the originals that will free me to get creative.

    I do have 5 fired-enamel European car badges from the… ’60’s? They are styled like coats of arms, and are from; Holland, Paris, Spain/Portugal, Lichtenstein and Madrid. They appear to be fired enamel over brass. I just might put them onto the backsplash just for color and pizzazz.

  5. Carolyn says:

    It looks as if Robert has been supplied with only a couple of choices to proceed: either it’s for faucet and accessories (sponge/soap dish) or an applique. If you’re going the faucet route, don’t only think vintage but check industrial/institutional sinks for something to adapt. If you’re fabricating appliques – whoo-boy! Customize it to your heart’s content! Make a few to pop in and out according to holidays, etc. Instead of metal, have it 3D printed – ?! Check your local high school/technical college to see if they have a printer – nice school project.

  6. Joe says:

    I’ve been obsessed with mid-century modern, way before the phrase was coined. I’ve studied a ton of vintage advertising, and I instantly recognized this sink. Those tiny little holes in the back were used for the pop rivet that held on the applique on the backsplash. This is where it gets complicated. Not to say anything negative against this sink, but it wasn’t manufactured as high-end. Major sink manufacturers would contract with appliance manufacturers or plumbing supply houses and make no-name sinks. After the sinks were made, depending on the order specs, either stylized metal appliques were pop-riveted on, or the appliance manufacturer’s emblem was installed. I’ve seen a ton of these featured in advertising for GE and Hotpoint kitchen appliance bundles, which were normally supplied to home builders. The present owner will have no problem solving this issue – he merely has to find a local sheet metal fabricator, who can make and install metal appliques for the backsplash.

    1. Pam Kueber says:

      I hear ya, Joe, but FIVE pop rivets? I’ve never seen that, and I’ve looked at a gazillion brochures too…

      1. Joe says:

        Old-fashioned pride in workmanship coming into play there! You should check out how they used to attach metal trim to cars before the 1970’s – pop rivets and spring steel clips – before they decided a couple of dabs of glue was “good enough” (which it wasn’t).

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