|Source • Brands||
Price • Origin
Samuel Heath & Sons, P.L.C.
139 E. 35th St.
New York, NY 10016
(212) 696 0050
Samuel Heath & Sons, P.L.C.
Birmingham, England B12 0UJ
$800 - $3,200
(Far Below North American Standard)
This Company In Brief
Samuel Heath is nearly in its third century as a foundry that manufactures decorative hardware and plumbing fixtures, including faucets, from brass. These are well designed high quality faucets made in Birmingham, England.
They are expensive faucets. Prices start at the point where faucets from most other companies top out. Still, these are designs available nowhere else, and considering the quality of the product, the faucets are a reasonable value for those looking for a luxury faucet to grace an upscale kitchen or bath. the only limitation is the company's warranty which is far below the North American standard "lifetime" faucet warranty.
Only a limited range of faucets and finishes are available from a few on-line retailers. For the full line of faucets and finishes the only sources are showrooms located in major cities.
Since its founding as a partnership between Samuel and his son, Alfred William Heath, the company has been casting, machining and finishing brass. In 1890 the partnership was converted to a public liability company, and remains so today.
Its "SH&S" mark has been impressed into nearly everything that can be made of brass. The company has manufactured boilers, bedsteads, camp stoves, kerosene lamps, pots, pans and tea caddies among many other products. It has expanded over the years by acquiring other companies: RM Manufacturing and Engineering, Ltd. in 1950, Perkins and Powell in 1958 and Adams Tap Co., in 1995.
It is still family-owned. The current chairman of the board and principal stockholder is Samuel Bonython Heath. It manufactures decorative brass products in Birmingham. There is no evidence from import or customs records indicating that it sources any components, parts or materials from outside the European Union. Samuel-Heath products appear to be entirely home grown.
In addition to sink faucets, the company makes a variety of hardware items including showers, tub fillers, bidet faucets, bath accessories, cabinet and door hardware, door closers (inherited from Perkins and Powell) and miscellaneous hardware items. This review concerns only its sink faucets. We do not review the other products the company manufactures.
We have been looking at Samuel Heath faucets for years, hoping to acquire one for an examination. Fortunately a generous reader agreed to let us examine her new Samuel Heath 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 bath and kitchen hardware products are organized in 13 collections, some of which (Royal Crown Derby, Style Moderne, Fairfield, Xenon, Georgian and Antique) contain faucets well-coordinated with the other items in the collection. Others are hardware collections that do not include faucets. Styles range through most design eras from Victorian through contemporary.
Samuel Heath's finishes are impeccable, thickly plated and hand polished to a deep luster. They vary by faucet. The company offers 14 finishes in total, but no faucet that we could find is available in all finishes. Some offer just chrome. Others chrome and nickel. A selector on the company website makes it fairly easy to figure out which faucets are available in which finishes. The faucets, however, are never pictured in any finish other than chrome, which makes it difficult to visualize how a faucet will look with a different finish.
Most faucets are available with a variety of handles, providing different looks from a few base faucets. For example, the company sells just two base kitchen faucets, a bridge-style faucet in the Fairfield collection and a two-handle faucet in the Xenon collection. But, by switching handles the Fairfield faucet offers eight different appearances. The same is true of its lavatory faucets. Four basic Fairfield lavatory faucets are turned into 36 different faucets using nine handle styles.
We have no information about the ceramic cartridges used in Samuel Heath faucets. We invited the company to identify its cartridges, but it did not respond to two written requests. The faucet we examined contained a ceramic cartridge, and we think all Samuel Heath faucets are probably fitted with ceramic cartridges, but the website is silent on the issue so we cannot be certain. We could not visually identify the cartridge used in the Samuel Heath faucet we examined. It was not marked with identifying information, and none of our examiners recognized the brand. If you intend to buy a Samuel Heath faucet, you should insist that the seller identify the cartridge manufacturer, then make sure it is a reputable and reliable brand. For more information, see Faucet Basics: A Homeowner's Guide — Faucet Valves & Cartridges.
The fact that we are unable to identify the cartridges used in Samuel Heath faucets affected its rating. If we could establish that the cartridges are a brand known to be reliable, we would probably upgrade its rating to 6-8.
Samuel Heath sells in the U.S. and Canada through selected showrooms in major cities and in a very limited way through some on-line retailers. A retail source ("Stockist" in British English) directory is on the company's website. Most of the "stockists" we contacted do not actually stock the products other than a few samples, mostly in chrome. In fact, as far as we can determine, the company maintains no stock in North America. It fills orders directly from the U.K. Faucets are assembled and finished in Birmingham only when ordered, so expect long lead times, especially for exotic finishes. North American customer support is provided by a representative located in New York City, but this support is limited to little more than a voice on the telephone. There is no replacement parts inventory in North America, so actual support comes from the U.K. and can take a considerable amount of time to arrive.
The company's North American web site is identical to its U.K. site except for some minor differences in terminology (A faucet is a "tap" in England). Both are crisp, visual and striking. Navigation is not, however, as intuitive as it could be. The site search function is primitive; limited to finding products. Searches on terms like "warranty" or "finish" produce no results. The description of each faucet is somewhat sparse, and barely supplemented by a downloadable .pdf specifications sheet that is only a little more detailed. Dimensioned CAD drawings are available to professionals logged into the site, but, although the website claims to contain CAD 3d models, there are, in fact, none to be had.
Some information critical to the faucet-buying process is lacking entirely. There are no installation instructions and no exploded parts diagrams. Plumbers usually like to read the installation instructions in advance of ordering to see if any particular difficulty or special tools are involved. The source of the cartridges used in the faucets is not identified. The identity of the cartridge is the usual way plumbers determine whether a faucet is likely to be durable over time.
Faucets are shown on the website only in chrome, and in only one three-quarter view. Multiple views would aid in visualizing the faucet, or, better yet, a 360° feature that permits the faucet to be turned and viewed from any angle using the mouse such as is provided by
Samuel Heath faucets are not for the budget-minded. The faucets are expensive. Prices start at the point where most faucet lines top out. Any finish other than Chrome can add as much as $1,000.00 to the base price.
Similar English faucets designed to invoke the late Victorian and Edwardian eras from about 1880 to 1910 include faucets from
Of these companies, only Perrin & Rowe is both manufactured in England and certified to U.S. and Canadian Standards. Although chartered in the U.K., Lefroy Books does not manufacture in England. It out sources manufacturing to China. Barber Wilsons, while made in England, is not certified to U.S./Canadian standards and cannot be legally sold or installed in a drinking water system in North America.
French-made faucets loosely evoking the Belle Époque of the late 19th century include
We judge the faucets to be a reasonable value in a luxury faucet. Expensive, yes. But, high style combined with high quality and European craft-shop fabrication is expensive. The process produces some amazing faucets, but it is labor intensive and time consuming. Samuel Heath faucets are not much more costly, however, than faucets available from the comparable luxury faucet companies identified above. If you are building a luxury bath or kitchen in an English style, or just want that one luxury touch for an otherwise modest re-do, Samuel Heath may be the answer. The quality is impressive and the finishes as close to perfect as mere mortals can get. The only downsides to the line are the company's failure to identify its cartridges and its very unimpressive warranty — down-scores in our ratings which cost the company a full rating point.
We are continuing to research the company. If you have experience with Samuel Heath faucets, good, bad or indifferent, we would like to hear about it, so please contact us or post a comment below.