Claw foot tubs are commonly found for sale on Internet auction sites or sitting outside local antique stores. There are several factors that help determine the value of a vintage tub and considerations to keep in mind both when selling or buying an old claw foot tub.
ClawfootTubs.com dates the first claw foot tub to ancient Crete 3,000 years ago. It was reportedly 5 feet long and made of pottery.
The first American claw foot tub was reportedly crafted by the J.L Mott Ironworks Company in 1873. Its enamel interior was easy to clean, and it was embraced by the American people, making it a popular household item.
Cast iron claw foot tubs were covered in liquid enamel, creating the sought-after smooth surface. These tubs were manufactured in the United States until the 1930s, which saw a shift in popularity toward the built-in bathtub, according to ClawfootTubs.com.
There are four types of claw foot tubs:
Slipper – One raised end designed for lounging.
Classic Roll Rim, Roll Top, or Flat Rim – Smooth, curved edge for easy movement in and out of tub.
Double-ended – Designed for two people with the faucet fixed in the tub's center.
Double Slipper – Both tub ends raised and sloped.
The value of an old claw foot tub relies on condition, size and originality, according to Vintage Tub & Bath.
A claw foot tub in original condition will net more than one with nicks, cracks or stains. It is normal to have superficial scratches that can be removed with refinishing. A cracked tub that cannot hold water is undesirable.
The 5-foot roll rim tub is the most common claw foot tub. Tubs that are smaller or larger will net more, especially if they have special elements such as ornate feet. To compare, the 5-foot roll rim tub could net $50, whereas a French, double-ended tub the same size could net $2,000.
Original feet mean stability; retrofitting feet to an antique tub can create instability and long-term damage. Antique tubs made by American Standard, Crane, Mott and Kohler are sought after, as they were the limited manufacturers of vintage claw foot tubs.
Home Improvement Web warns that refinishing might not be the solution for a defected antique claw foot tub. First, refinishing can cost $500 to $1,000. This process includes sanding, acid-etching, priming and painting to revitalize the tub’s interior. The tub's outside is also sanded, primed and painted to create a new look. But this new look does not equal longevity; a refinished tub requires more gentle treatment than does a brand new tub.
Before selling an antique claw foot tub, clean it thoroughly. Contact local antique dealers to help avoid the shipping process and costs for such a heavy item. Contact local scrap yards secondarily. And Online auction sites are also venues for selling antique claw foot tubs.