|Source • Brands||
Price • Origin
Barber Wilsons North America
P O box 1236
Riverhead, NY 11901
Barber Wilsons & Co., Ltd.
London N22 6AH
(Meets North American Standard)
This Company In BriefBarber Wilsons makes both kitchen sink and bathroom faucets, all manufactured in London and the Midlands. Its kitchen faucets are nice, but unremarkable. But, the bathroom faucets are distinctive — for the most part unmistakably English in three basic styles covering the Victorian to Art Deco periods as well as some transitional styles in tune with a more contemporary bath. These a luxury faucets, expensive but well made and impeccably finished.
They are not, however, legal to sell or install in North America.
We, frankly, do not think most $1,000 faucets are worth the money. Let's face it, a perfectly fine faucet that will give years of trouble-free service can be bought for under $100, if one shops carefully. So why pay $1,000 and more for a faucet?
It would certainly have to be something spectacular: exquisitely designed with flawless workmanship and a hand polished finish showing luster and depth that almost reaches Katmandu.
Fortunately, for those who love to surround themselves with beautiful things, there are such faucets in the world. The German company
Barber Wilsons, a family owned and managed company manufacturing water fittings in England, is one of the oldest members of the club. The company has been in business in the same location and under the same family's control since its founding in 1905 "whilst Edward VII (1900-1910) was king by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas..." as well as "Defender of the Faith" and "Emperor of India".
Established by Edward Barber with brothers William and Walter Wilson as a partnership in 1905. The company opened its factory on Crawley Road, off Westbury Avenue in London that same year and began manufacturing plumbing fittings — a new and exciting industry in the first years of the 20th century. It did not begin to concentrate on decorative fittings, however, until the 1980s when it resurrected its traditional Edwardian and Art Deco designs that take up most of its current catalog. According to Companies House records in London the company was subsequently incorporated on November 17, 1908 and has been in continuous existence since that date.
We have been looking at these faucets for years, hoping to acquire one for an examination. Fortunately a generous reader agreed to let us examine her new Barber Wilsons faucet provided we returned it unblemished. We were impressed. It was gorgeous — well made and impeccably finished. There is nothing about the quality of this faucet to complain of.
The company makes both kitchen sink and bathroom faucets, all manufactured in London and the Midlands. Its kitchen faucets are nice, but unremarkable, similar to the kitchen faucet styles available from several high quality manufacturers. But, the bathroom faucets are distinctive — for the most part unmistakably English. The three basic styles (which the company calls "ranges") are an (unnamed) series centered on 1890s Edwardian, the Regent, also an Edwardian style identical to the unnamed series, but with with "easy-clean" shrouded head parts., and the Mastercraft range based on 1930s Art Deco designs. These are well suited to any Victorian or Arts & Crafts bath. There are, in addition, some transitional styles in tune with a more contemporary bath.
The standard Barber Wilsons valve is the tried and true compression valve — a good choice for areas with very hard water as it is not as likely to be damaged by the inevitable mineral build up inside the faucet. The disadvantage of the valve is that it requires periodic maintenance to replace the compression washer, a minor annoyance, but simple to do by anyone who can wield a wrench and a screwdriver without risk of substantial injury to self or others.
The company appears to be slowly transitioning to a ceramic valve for all of its faucets, but it's not there yet. Some, but not all, faucets are now available with the well-respected ceramic cartridge manufactured by the German firm Flühs Drehtechnik, GmbH. This is a cartridge that unlike most others, does not require a lubricant that can dry up over time making the faucet hard to operate, and is the preferred cartridge of many high-end manufacturers such as If your "druthers" is for a ceramic valve, look for faucets that identified with the code "CD" in the catalog. Presumably this stands for "Ceramic Disk".
The company's published catalog is full of these odd codes that require considerable deciphering, in turn requiring a careful reading of the catalog's introduction to find out what they mean. The use of codes is an unnecessary complication. If an 1890s style (GA) faucet is available with a ceramic valve (GCD) or with a shroud over the head parts (R) also with a ceramic valve (RCD), just say so. There is a lot of unused white space in the catalog on which the options available for a faucet could be clearly and simply stated in regular, ordinary, quite understandable English. Forget the codes. They are not needed and promote confusion and misunderstanding.
The company offers a wide range of finishes sufficient to fit anyone's personal style: polished chrome, polished brass, polished nickel, weathered bronze, satin chrome, satin nickel and gold (which the company calls "Inca"). These are plated finishes, not the more modern PVD finishes, and some will require considerable maintenance. The polished brass finish, for example, is not coated with any sort of protective film, and will stay polished only so long as you polish it. Otherwise, it will turn an interesting shade of green-brown.
The standard for residential faucet warranties in North America is "lifetime", which generally means "for as long as the original purchaser owns the home in which the faucet was initially installed." The company offers a lifetime warranty in North America (but only 1 year in the U.K) on any failure of the faucet caused by a manufacturing defect. It will replace any parts found to be defective. The warranty is silent regarding whether a proof of purchase is required, but one normally would be.
The Barber Wilsons' catalog notes that "[m]any of our fittings are sent for testing to the WRC Evaluation & Testing Centre and, therefore, comply with the requirements of the current Water Bylaws". The Water Bylaws, however, are a British standard that has no applicability in North America and does not indicate that the faucets are safe, reliable or legal for use in Canada or the U.S.
And, unfortunately, none of Barber Wilsons' faucets have been tested or certified for the North American market, and are not legal for sale or installation in these former colonies. It is not illegal to buy them, but is illegal or sell them, and the penalties for such offense may include some serious civil penalties, hefty fines and even a term of imprisonment for a second offense. And, even though you can legally buy them, you cannot lawfully install them in any drinking water system in the U.S. or Canada.
At one time Barber Wilsons faucets were certified by CSA Group, but that certification lapsed with the more stringent lead content rules under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act that went into effect in January, 2014.
Barber Wilsons faucets have not been submitted for testing under the new, stricter, requirements, which suggests that management has some doubt that they will pass. Introducing faucets into commerce that do not comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act lead limits is a federal offense subjecting the offender to hefty penalties. Installing the faucets in a water system, public or private, that provides drinking water is also an offense.
Imported faucets comparable to Barber Wilsons include the solid, English made,
For an American-made faucet of this caliber, look to
If you have had an experience with a Barber Wilsons faucet, — good, bad or indifferent — that you would like to share, please contact us or leave a comment below.