How to Properly Identify Vintage Wash Stands

vintage wash stands

Vintage wash stands were the standard household furniture for homes without indoor plumbing until the 20th century, though now, there is still a lot of interest in these furniture as a unique piece of decor in modern homes. While it is important to acquire the right piece of wash stand, here are some tips from Dusty Old Thing and eHow on how to properly identify vintage wash stands.

Tips on How to Identify Vintage Wash Stands 

  • Wash Bowl Cutout – The majority of old wash stands look like tall tables with two vertical shelves, and there is a round cut out on top where you could put in a wash bowl. However, this is not the standard feature, but shall you see such as feature, you would know that it is a wash stand indeed.
  • Size – As the years went by, vintage wash stands actually increased in size, as they needed to accommodate a basin and other accessories such as soap and toothbrushes. As thus, if you see wash stands that are smaller in size, they are likely to be older and more valuable than bigger pieces.
  • Top – Wash stands only became to be made of marble tops around the 20th century. This will help you decide which period the wash stands were made.
  • Hardware – Check the hardware such as the types of hinges and nails on the doors of the wash stands, as they can tell you which time period the wash stands were built. Brass were used for hinges in the 1800s and early 1900s.
  • Wood – Determine the type of wood. Most vintage wash stands were made from oak and some fancier and rarer ones could be made from mahogany or rosewood, with raised panels on the doors, and porcelain caster on each leg for portability.
  • Pitcher/Basin – A wash stand with a basin and pitches is an excellent antique piece. Look at the pitcher or basin for markings on the bottom that could give indications of the manufacturer of when the item was manufactured.
  • Drawers – A true antique wash stand will have the drawer sides affixed to the front of the drawer by a series of dovetails. Note carefully that if the dovetails are uniform and there are at least 5 or more, the wash stand is not an antique. A rare, antique piece of wash stand would have non-uniform, hand-carved dovetailing, and 3 or 4 per side.
  • Tower Bar – Antique stands usually have some type of towel bar on the stand’s back, side or on top.
  • Finishing – Run your fingernails over the finish and if you detect a line of lighter wood beneath, it is probably an antique piece of wash stand. A recent furniture will not have the line.
  • Power Saw Blade Marks – If you can spot a circular power saw blade mark, it is not a true antique piece.

Vintage Wash Stands – How to Restore Them

So there you go – by now, you probably would know enough to go about looking for pieces of vintage wash stands. After the purchase, you might want to find out how to refurnish them for your home too. Here’s a piece I wrote previously on how some experts restored them beautifully. Do check it out!

Main Photos courtesy of Collectors Weekly and Dawn Gonzalez.


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About Bei

60s music advocate. Bacon aficionado. Unapologetic web geek. Collects everything from Star Wars and PlayMobil to matchboxes. Scared of cats and roller coasters, in that order. Connect with her at

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