1933 – 1934: Kohler at the Chicago World’s Fair

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We are really looking forward to selling Kohler products from our new showroom. As a bit of a “pre-launch” we decided to write a bit about Kohler and it’s History.

During the research process we found this brilliant article from Angela Miller. She bet us to it! So we thought we’d share the article with you.

Angela is busy rummaging through the Kohler Company archives to give us some information on their history. Lucky girl! The pictures are exciting.

It’s always fun to look back at the history of a company but particularly interesting & informative when it’s a company like Kohler. I hope you enjoy the article and the great old pictures particularly the pictures of some fantastic fine sanitary ware.

1933 – 1934: Kohler at the Chicago World’s Fair

SEPTEMBER 1, 2011 BY  9 COMMENTS


The Chicago World’s Fair was huge. For those not quite into history the way I am (hey, it’s my job), it can be difficult to comprehend the sheer size and impact the fair had on the world. It was 427 acres of innovation: new products, new buildings, and new ideas everywhere you turned.

The original Chicago World’s Fair occurred in 1893. However, in 1933, the city decided to celebrate its centennial in a big way. This second fair was dubbed A Century of Progress International Exposition, a name chosen to show how scientific discoveries changed industry and everyday life.

  

The fair offered a chance for businesses like Kohler Co. to showcase their products to millions of tourists. The exposition, held in the middle of the Great Depression, was a symbol of hope for a more prosperous future.

Kohler Co. was feeling the effects of the Great Depression, but forged ahead anyway, with plans to construct a building that would showcase their latest innovations.  Plumbing, heating and power system products were on display in front of floor-to-ceiling images depicting Kohler factory life and the Village of Kohler.

The building itself was designed by world-renowned architect Ely Jacques Kahn, the same architect who used Kohler plumbing fixtures in a Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibit.  Kahn’s building had a 132’ long gallery, that displayed Kohler products along with model bathrooms. The highlight was a children’s bathroom, a new and original idea at that time.

When the fair reopened in 1934, Kohler increased the size of the building, adding two large wings to the east and west sides and moving the entrance to a more prominent location on the main thoroughfare.  The new entrance walls featured murals by six artists that depicted scenes from places around the world where Kohler obtained its raw materials.

The murals impressed many visitors and caught the eye of the media.  The building itself, which embodied Kohler’s view on the importance of art in industry, earned recognition in Architectural Forum magazine.

The fair finally closed on October 31, 1934, but not until after nearly 40 million people visited the sites. In a time of economic hardship, fair-goers walked away with a sense of  hope and the promise of future prosperity.

      

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FILED UNDER HISTORY

About Angela Miller
I am the historian digging through the corporate archives of Kohler Co.

TAP REFURBISHMENT & REPAIR SERVICE

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A very popular service we provide is tap refurbishment or reconditioning and re-plating. The finishes available for replating are CHROME, NICKEL and GOLD.

Our workshop has been refurbishing taps for over 20 years. Our clients base ranges from owners of traditional home owners, interior designers, fine country homes, Banking establishments and Royal Palaces.

We have facilities to restore and and re-plate Modern, Art Deco, Classic and Vintage taps. We mostly refurbish original Antique Victorian or Edwardian Taps. However we can restore and replate all types of mixer taps, bath taps, basin taps, chain stays, and other bathroom fittings. Below are some traditional lever taps refurbished and plated.

Sometimes the taps are that old and worn parts are impossible to find. In our facilities we will replace parts by making them if need be. We are confident that we can restore ALMOST any tap. And if we can’t probably no one can.

PRE ART DECO MIXER TAP CICA 1916

If your waste or overflow is covered in lime-scale or tarnished we can refurbish and re-plate them if necessary. This is particularly helpful in antique baths where the wastes or overflows are often unusual sizes and are no longer available & cannot be replaced with new. On a re enamelled bath this can be the finishing touch to the bath that makes it pristine.

If your antique Victorian or Edwardian taps affected by lime-scale, hard to turn on or off or even not working at all then you can send them to us for restoration in our work shop. We aim to refurfish your taps so well they can be used for another 100 years!If you so wish we can then have them plated in Chrome, Nickel or Gold. Alternatively if the tap is originally a brass finish you can have the taps fully reconditoned and then polished. This is more popular with antique Victorian or Edwardian taps. They can look quite spectacular.


Above are John Bolding basin taps and John Bolding Bath/Shower mixer taps. These are rare taps and it’s fantastic to have restored a matching set.

For the re-plating process the taps are taken apart completely and chemically stripped. The taps are then polished to a flawless finish before being re plated to the clients specification.

Chrome plating is very popular but Nickel plating proves the most popular for Victorian bathrooms. Chrome does give a mirror like finish whereas Nickel has a slight champagne hue to it. Traditionally taps would have been either brass or Nickel in Victorian or Edwardian times. Chrome began to be used in the mid to late 1920’s with the advent of the ART DECO era. Below are some typical GLOBE TAPS that have been fully restored and plated. They could also have been finished in polished brass and would look equally fantastic.

Once the taps have been restored and re plated we put them back together again and then test them for a second time to make sure they are working perfectly. We are very thorough in our testing regime.

We have restored Jacob Delafon, John Bolding & Sons, Thomas Crapper, Porche, George Jennings and Aston amongst others. Your original antique taps are in good hands.

 

For taps that are originally finished in brass you may wish to have them polished after refurbishment rather than have them re plated to chrome or nickel. A polished brass finish does require a lot more maintenance and polishing to keep them in the pristine condition you recieve them in. Due to this some of our clients prefer the Nickel over the Brass finish but both finishes look great in a traditional bathroom. Below is a traditional restored Bath/Shower Mixer tap in a polished brass finish.

Whether you own a fantastic antique bath or wash hand basin with tarnished and worn taps or waste or a spectacular Art Deco bath with matching taps you can now use our refurbishing service to bring your fine sanitary ware back to it’s full and former glory. You can even create a completly unique look can be created with a modern bath fitted with luxury antique taps fully restored.

We can also restore the feet on cast iron baths. Original Ball and Claw feet can come to look very old and rusty over time. Once we clean them up and Silver Nickel or Chrome plate them. They look absolutely stunning!

All the taps shown here are original taps we have refurbished and plated. They are all for sale now. Do fill out the quick quote form if any are of interrest to you.

You will require a plumber to remove your bath taps, basin taps or overflow and have them sent to our workshop if you require restoration services. Contact us via the quick quote form and we will provide you with a quote. If you can also email us a picture of your waste, overflow, taps or claw feet that would be most helpful. Our email address is thebathbusinessuk@hotmail.co.uk Alternatively call 01342324577 and ask to speak to Teresa Kane.

REPAIRING A SMASHED WASH HAND BASIN

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We often get calls from clients asking us if it is possible to repair cracked sinks or even broken sinks. Until recently basins with extensive damage could not be repaired. However we at The Bath Business are continualy trying and testing new procedures for all our bath re enamelling work. We can fix all of these problems with a sink or wash-hand basin due to our innovative research and work. Our technicians are highly skilled and the best in the repair & re enamelling business as far as we are concerned. Despite our confidence in our ability to do a good job for our clients we had never had a basin that had been completely smashed. So a smashed wash hand basin was new for us.

I got a call in the office from a chap called Colin Slater. He had bought a beautiful basin and was very excited about getting it home. He was busy renovating his property with his partner (an architect called Singa Govedi) and this wash-hand basin was part of their renovations. They had searched for the perfect basin for their bathroom. Colin worked long hours as a Deputy Head Teacher in a London school. As you might imagine it was hard enough to fit everything in with work and also work on the property at the same time.

The Clayton Sink was perfect for their project and completely in keeping with the style of bathroom they wanted. As well as being a lovely sink it also had a gorgeous cast iron wall mounted frame that it sat in. It was a lovely antique basin. It was being delivered from Yorkshire. Colin was so excited about the basin arriving he was looking out of his window as the van pulled up. To Colin’s horror he watched in slow motion as the package was DROPPED out of the back of the van. The results were not surprisingly devastating. The basin was completely smashed to pieces. Colin was very upset as this was an important part of their restoration work.

By the time Colin had called us he had already spent around 60 man hours putting the wash-hand basin back together. His partner had then spent around about 240 man hours filling and sanding the basin. It was a very labour intensive undertaking but they loved the sink so they wanted to have it saved from the rubbish dump. After all it was an antique and had survived so far.

Colin and his partner had done a great job thus far but they now needed to have the basin re enamelled professionally by a reputable expert restoration company. They wanted to keep the logo. Also they wanted the original colour to be maintained. This meant we would need to do some special restoration work to retain the logo and make the colour of the basin to get a perfect match.

They were delighted with the result on the sink and the fact we’d retained the logo whilst resurfacing the rest of the sink. What do you think?

As you can see in the above photo the basin is fully restored and has the logo retained. Apparently the basin causes gasps of amazement from Colin & Singa’s guests.

This wash basin is a good example of a Victorian basin with cast iron frame. If you would like to purchase an antique basin such as this or any other traditional design contact us at The Bath Business. We can source original antique basin supply quality reproductions, or, if you are looking for something particularly special let us know and we will source this for you.

For more information on our re enamelling and restoration works please contact us on 07967333030.

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