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Crane vintage bathrooms sinks, tubs and toilets — catalog from 1954

My stacks of vintage kitchen and bathroom brochures have been taunting me lately, so Ms. Scan I Am. This 1954 brochure from Crane is a beauty. Crane was top-of-the-line when it came to bathroom sinks, toilets and tubs. Gorgeous products! And, 1954 was an interesting year:  America was just beginning to move into a new era of post-war styling, yet, with many of the same pre-war Streamline products. 

Because these brochures were meant to be aspirational eye candy, there were very very talented interior designers working on the mockup rooms: They were fearless in their experimentation with spacial organization, materials, colors, pattern, scale — it was all so modern. The genesis of this blog was my collecting materials like this and scrutizining every single detail so that I could consider how to replicate these looks in my own house. So today: Let’s scrutinize some of the most beautiful and highest quality bathrooms of … 1954.

Above: We know it as a “Cinderella” bathtub, but in the Crane line, it’s the Neuvogue Receptor Bath. I love the color combination in this bathroom: Light blue, medium blue, coral and brown — warm, wonderful and today, unexpected.

The catalog cover was targeted at the Mrs.
Note the tropical wallpaper. Has everyone noticed how palm leaf frond wallpaper is So Popular again today. I *think* they know it’s retro. 

The color palette in this one is very well done — while kind of “somber”, which keeps it pretty “neutral”, the designers added interest with materials, pattern and design. The color-values of the tile on the tub surround are particularly well done; the tile mix on the diagonal is pretty wild, but because the colors are toned down and used only around the tub, the overall effect does not “scream”.

It’s milady-from-the-cover’s bathroom: A before and after! Again: Lovely colors. That green is one of the most timeless colors ever.

This bathroom is a harmony of neutrals, anchored by beautiful Crane French Gray fixtures. Note the mix of materials: Ceramic, glass, wood, cork, vinyl, grasscloth, laminate, chromium, boucle.

Above, indeed: “Even the Smallest Bathroom has Room for Charm.” Because, golly, this is how big most everyone’s house was, in 1954.

Crane bathroom colors in 1954:

  • Pale Jade
  • Citrus Yellow
  • Shell Pink
  • Persian Red
  • India Ivory
  • Sun Tan
  • French Grey
  • Sky Blue
  • White

Interestingly, this brochure has no Mamie pink bathroom. In ’54, Mamie madness was only really getting started; buckle up.

Above: Interesting that Crane would sell you a wood-look laminate vanity too. Note, they seem to have postformed the Formica countertop right around the usually-tiled- or hudeed-in sink. The text explains:

The Modular Unit illustrated here has two Crane Criterion lavatories with a Formica counter-top. Base cabinets include hamper, drawer, utility, and lavatory…. Modular cabinets are made of wood and have a laminated plastic bonded facing which provides a beautiful and practical finish. The top and sides are available in a selection of attractive patterns and colors.

Crane sinks, toilets, tubs and hardware from 1954:

Above: Note they have a Swing-Away Tumbler and Toothbrush Holder. Surely this must have been made by Hall-Mack. But who knows!

Thank you, Crane bathroom designers of 1954, for all the great ideas! You must have been mighty proud, and deservedly so.

  1. Reuben says:

    I have a Diana lavatory. The faucet handles – the things you twist to turn on the water – need to be replaced because the threading that connects the handle to the valve below is worn down. Does anybody know where replacements can be found?

    1. Pam Kueber says:

      Try deabath.com — they are Crane specialists. Be sure to tell them Pam from Retro Renovation sent you!

  2. Julie says:

    I bought my 1954 brick ranch in 2002. I loved the vintage bathroom fixtures and kitchen appliances (which are a Thermador wall oven and separate large range top…still working). I never knew what the bathroom fixtures were until I did some research to find repair parts for the cold water handle on the sink. I found the parts (deabath popped up) and a PDF of a vintage Crane advertisement catalog. I read about Henry Dreyfuss and his connection to Crane, and I discovered that I have a Marcia sink, a Criterion tub, and a Drexel closet…all in beautiful Persian Red. The tub surround and fixtures in the bathroom had been badly remodeled after the original owner and prior to my purchase of the house, to add a shower. Thankfully, the original wide recessed sink counter, laminate countertop, full wall mirror, and vintage vitrolite deep red and shell pink tile were left untouched. I just need to replace the insides of the cold water handle on the sink for now. I loved their vintage look from the first time I saw this house, and I am so excited now to know what treasures these really are!

    1. Pam Kueber says:

      Hi Julie, welcome — all that vintage Crane and in rare Persian Red! Lucky you, and lucky your-house to have you as its caretaker!

  3. RM says:

    Thanks! You’ve helped me identify the color names for the 1955 Crane Drexel shell pink and sky blue toilets in my newly-purchased home.

  4. ShariD57 says:

    This is a marvelous overview of a wonderful catalogue! I love all the wonderful color possibilities, considering we don’t seem to have much color “adventure” in our souls these days – everyone seems to be so very concerned with being “safe” instead of individual and adventurous and bright and personal. Pick out the colors that speak to your sense of beauty and style and design, and to your soul. Not just “blah” because you’re afraid that somebody else might criticize your taste! The possibilities here are almost endless. Especially with those neutrals and brights that can be put together to blend, the tan or the gray, along with the blue or the green, or that gorgeous red with gray together – I could have a field day running each of them together with the other, but in the separate compartments!

    I do have one question though- in the section above, underneath the picture showing the cover of the catalogue, with the word, “CRANE” in green letters, it says:
    “The catalog cover was targeted at the Mrs. Note the tropical wallpaper. Has everyone noticed who palm leaf frond wallpaper is So Popular again today. I *think* they know it’s retro.”
    I even asked my husband to read it, to make sure my little choo-choo hadn’t finally gone chugging round the bend, and he said it wasn’t me! ? I can’t make it out – what does it SAY? I’m just sure it’s some kind of processing error, but I surely can’t make it make a bit of sense.

    1. Pam Kueber says:

      Shari, there was a typo, here is how it reads when you parse it by line:

      “The catalog cover was targeted at the Mrs.
      Note the tropical wallpaper. Has everyone noticed how palm leaf frond wallpaper is So Popular again today.
      I *think* they know it’s retro.”

  5. Kathryn Nowosielski says:

    Wow! Great to see the catalog! Our 1957 ranch in MA has so many of those great Crane features. The grey Neuvogue bath tub in one, the Criterion sink and all matching fixtures in “Sun Tan” in another, and a bright yellow all matching fixtures in another. All three have “Conceal Away” compartments made by Marchand Inc, NYC for toothbrushes, tissues and toilet paper. One has an electrical outlet inside. I love that no one ever destroyed these beautiful things! Even the original tile is almost perfect. I wouldn’t change a thing!

  6. Renee Stark says:

    I have a Crane French grey Neuvogue Receptor Bath tub that has a chip in the porcelain by the drain spout, about 1/4”. Any ideas how to repair it?

    I have had to replace the Crane grey sinks and toilet with custom grey one ordered from Kohler. I love the grey fixtures.

  7. Karen (vintigchik) says:

    Very helpful article for my newly purchased 1950 almost time capsule house with all Crane fixtures. I have quite a few from this catalog, even the cabinet shower, although the door is missing :/

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