There is nothing quite as rejuvenating as relaxing in the bath, and people in the market for scaling up their nightly soaks will want to consider taking an in-depth look into antique clawfoot tub values. The popular design has consistently been reproduced by manufacturers since long after genuine clawfoot tubs fell out of fashion in the post-war period. Their rarity and elegance make these tubs incredibly desirable, and knowing how to authenticate and value antique clawfoots can help you get the most bang for your buck.
The Rise of Clawfoot Tubs in the Home
When most people think of clawfoot tubs, they envision the pristine white porcelain tubs of old sitting on top of a set of beautiful, gilded lion's feet. Many of these antique clawfoot tubs were designed to look just like this and were created to add luxury to the wealthy elite's bathroom experiences. These freestanding bathtubs generally come in three distinctive shapes.
- Single Slipper - A single slipper tub has only one end of the tub extended high enough to guard the bather's body from any onlookers and also provides bathers with a backrest
- Double Slipper - A double slipper tub has both ends of the tub curved upwards for maximum bathing privacy, and larger double slippers can accommodate two bathers at once.
- Flat and Roll Rimmed - Flat and roll rimmed tubs removed the protective barriers of the slipper styles and rounded out their edges into a completely horizontal 180°.
Identifying Antique Clawfoot Tubs
Two of the first things you want to do when looking over an antique clawfoot tub is identifying both its authenticity and its quality. These two factors significantly contribute to antique clawfoot tub values, so you want to be sure to do some detective work before you sign that check.
A few of the most helpful tips in determining if an antique clawfoot tub is truly antique is to verify the materials used and to look for the appropriate signs of aging. Original clawfoot tubs were made out of cast iron and then coated in porcelain enamel, and most of them will display some scratches and general signs of wear and tear in their enamel coatings. Even pristine tubs will have places in the porcelain that have been disproportionately worn or yellowed from continuous use over time. Be sure to investigate the claws of these tubs as well; some antique tubs were fitted with clawsfeet years after they were produced, and these tubs are worth less than original clawfoot tubs are.
Assessing Quality and Condition
Similarly, as antique sellers and buyers know all to well, the value of an antique rises or falls based on its quality and condition. Therefore, making sure you check for significant cracks in the tub's enamel or for small punctures in the base of the tub will help you better estimate antique clawfoot tub's worth.
Antique Clawfoot Tub Values
Since these tubs were originally designed to adorn the lavish bathrooms of the social elite, on average they're worth a few thousand dollars (in good condition). Tubs that bear the manufacturers' markings of historic companies like Crane, Mott, Kohler, Standard Sanitary Manufacturing, and L. Wolf Manufacturing can be sold for higher prices than those which bear no identifiable marks. In addition to authenticity and age, there are a few other characteristics that appraisers check for when valuing these antique tubs.
Although antique clawfoot tubs were cast out of iron, the feet-shaped pedestals that these tubs rest upon were made out of a variety of materials. The more expensive the material, the more expensive an antique clawfoot tub can be valued at, and precious metals like gold and silver can add a few thousand dollars to the tub's price.
Need for Restoration or Refurbishing
The severity of wear and cracking on an antique clawfoot tub can also impact these bathroom fixture's estimated values; if an appraiser suspects that a clawfoot tub will need to be restored or refurbished before it can actually be used, then they will normally lower their estimated values, and if you are looking to buy your own antique clawfoot tub then you will want to know straightaway if some DIY is going to be involved. Yet, there are numerous professional restorationists that can help you in bringing your clawfoot tub back to life such as Porcelain Industries, a company which carefully breaks down their pricing for restoration tasks like sand blasting, clear coating, and full refinishing.
Pricing at Market
Interestingly, most antique clawfoot tubs that you can find for sale have already been refurbished, and so they're a little more expensive than an untouched tub is going to be. For example, a restored 5' clawfoot tub was sold for $1,000, and a refinished 6' clawfoot tub from 1926 sold for about $2,500. Buying already restored clawfoot tubs will cost you more upfront, but they will also require less time and effort to make the tubs functional.
Whether to Buy Antique or Modern
Thankfully for clawfoot tub fans, many modern companies create their own clawfoot tubs that you can purchase cast out of acrylic or fiberglass, and if you're looking for tubs that come in a variety of colors, then modern is the way to go. However, if you want the option of a sturdy tub which comes in sizes often not available in contemporary editions, then you'll want to invest in an antique clawfoot tub; and, if you're like most lounge-lovers out there, then you'll want to find an already restored tub so you can immediately move it into your bathroom and soak your stress away.