|Source • Brands||
Price • Origin
Clawfoot Supply, LLC
2700 Crescent Springs Pike
Erlanger, KY 41017
(Far Below N. American Standard)
This Company In Brief
Clawfoot Supply, LLC is a corporation that trades as Signature Hardware selling Chinese and Taiwanese faucets, sinks, tubs, and other fixtures as well a accessories and furnishings from its Erlanger, Kentucky office/warehouse complex. The company's faucets and other plumbing fixtures and accessories are private label products, purchased wholesale and re-branded for retail sale under the Signature Hardware name. The company sells through its own web site and printed catalogs.
Signature Hardware is a trading name under which Clawfoot Supply, LLC imports and sells Asian-made faucets, sinks, bathroom and kitchen fixtures, decorative hardware, furnishings and home accessories.
Founded in 1999 by Kentucky natives Mike and Matt Butler, Clawfoot Supply was one of the successful specialty web retailers at the dawn of the age of e-tailing, selling upscale antique reproduction tubs, faucets and other bath fixtures modeled on those available in the late Victorian Era.
In 2005 the company registered "Signature Hardware" as a legal trading name and ceased conducting business as Clawfoot Supply. The original Clawfoot Supply web site is now redirected to the Signature Hardware site.
The company's faucets and other plumbing fixtures and accessories are private label products, purchased wholesale and re-branded for retail sale under the Signature Hardware name. The company sells through its own web site and printed catalogs. The company also sells through on-line retailers that host third party sellers such as Amazon and Sears (on-line only) as Nottingham Brass — a name that was once a major Clawfoot Supply in-house brand, but which since has been deemphasized almost to the point of extinction. It's web site is closed. It is now just a redirect to the Signature Hardware web site.
Signature Hardware carries not only bath and kitchen fixtures, but also home lighting, and decorative hardware for doors, windows, and cabinets; much of it organized into a series of coordinated collections that can extend even to matching floor registers and air return grills.
This faucet, listed in Heshan Khone's catalog as the Berya Series K66709-196C Single Handle Basin Mixer is sold by Signature Hardware as the Sinistra Single-Hole Bathroom Faucet.
All of the faucets sold by Signature Hardware appear to be straight out of the standing inventory s of the Asian manufacturers that make them. None, as far as we can determine, is designed for or exclusive to Signature Hardware. The company's chief competitors are
• VTB, Inc., trading as Vintage Tub & Bath, which sells many similar products including its private label line of faucets, showers, tubs, and accessories;
• Restoration Hardware, an upscale retailer that markets its own line of very good faucets, and other decorative sanitary wares;
• Northern Central Distributing, a retailer and distributor of its own private brand
• an English internet retailer that sell faucets in the U.S. and Canada from its base in Lancashire.Signature Hardware goes to extraordinary lengths to conceal the actual manufacturers of its faucets and the countries from which the faucets are imported even going so far as to decline to certify Signature Hardware faucets as compliant with U.S. and Canadian safety, reliability and lead-free standards for fear the published certification listing document might disclose the faucets' true origins.
Brett Greenhalgh, the company's chief financial officer, in a private e-mail, characterized the identity of its manufacturers as "proprietary" — not to be shared with the general public. We, however, are all about sharing with the general public, and after research through customs and import records for the past five years, are entirely confident that Signature Hardware's faucets are manufactured in China and Taiwan.
We have so far identified the following faucet suppliers:
• Yuhuan Kingjoy Metal Products Co. Ltd. a Chinese company that also manufactures faucets for Home Product America, Inc., a Canadian importer selling through Costco under the Ancona brand;
• Deluxe Brassware Co., Ltd. (Taiwan); which sells faucet in Asia under its Lolat brand and manufactures the faucets, bath fillers and showers sold by
• Rin Shing Metal Co., Ltd. (Taiwan), also the manufacturer of a few
• CAE Sanitary Fittings Industry Co., Ltd. (China) which manufactures for as well as making faucets for Signature Hardware. CAE is known for casting its faucets from DZR brass, an alloy that resists a chemical process called dezincification. Brass is an alloy of mostly copper and zinc. In contact with water passing through a faucet the brass tends to lose its zinc molecules, which over many years can leave the brass weak and spongy. DZR is very resistant to the process, but manufacturing with DZR is a little tricky since very precise temperature control is required during casting and other hot-metal operations to ensure that the brass does not lose is zincification-resistant properties.
• L.S.H. Faucet Co., Ltd. (China) an manufacturer that has only recently begun selling faucets in the U.S. under its own L.S.H. brand, primarily through
• Heshan Khone Sanitary Ware Technology Co., Ltd. a Chinese manufacturer that sells its own Zhien and Khone brand bathwares in China, including several faucets on which it has received Chinese design patents.
• Duratak Co., Ltd., (Taiwan) a manufacturer of brass faucets, primarily for the bath.
• NCIP, Inc., a Taiwanese manufacturer of brass faucets that also manufactures faucets for
The collection has been assembled by someone with an eye to coordinating styles, but there is nothing unique or novel about the individual faucets themselves. The are relatively inexpensive, generic Taiwanese/Chinese faucets that appear to be right out of the each manufacturer's They are neither designed by nor created expressly for Signature Hardware.
• The Portnoy Kitchen Faucet is manufactured by L.S.H. and appears in its web catalog as the LH 88502B2 Spring Kitchen Faucet;
• The Bellvue bridge kitchen faucet is listed in the Rin Shing catalog as the 728-1 faucet;
• The angular and dramatic Willis widespread waterfall lavatory faucet was designed by Kingjoy and appears in its catalog as a port of the KJ806 series of lavatory faucets;
• The Vivian wall-mount pot filler is made by Rin Shing and appears in its catalog as the PF-35 pot filler; and
• The Sinistra single-hole bathroom faucet is straight out of Khone's catalog where it is listed as the K66709-196C single handle basin mixer.
• The Crisscross widespread bathroom faucet is made by NCIP and identified as the T80945 Crisscross Widespread faucet in the NCIP catalog.
• The Signature Hardware Ariza Kitchen Faucet with Spring Spout (photo at top) is also sold by as the VG-02001 Kitchen Faucet; and
• The Intrigue widespread bathroom faucet collection sold by is virtually identical to the Signature Hardware Freja faucet.
Clawfoot Supply started out importing faucets to complement its main business, clawfoot tubs, so the faucet collection is still tilted toward Edwardian and Victorian styles, but contemporary designs are increasingly available, as are designs suited for the Arts & Crafts and Art Deco decors.
Signature Hardware faucets are not leading edge designs. Asian designs rarely are. They tend to be middle-of-the-road and to follow the pack rather than lead it. The goal of Asian faucet manufacturers is to sell as many faucets as possible, which means keeping their designs well within the mainstream to appeal to as many potential buyers as possible. Few design adventures take place in China or Taiwan. Asian designs are largely adopted from Europe and the U.S faucet styles that do well in the marketplace. It does not take long for a design that sells well in these major markets to be imitated by Asian factories. The lag time is usually 3 to 5 years, by which time the "new" designs are no longer new.
At one time Signature Hardware sold faucets manufactured in Europe and the U.S. including faucets from Sign-of-the-Crab (which at the time were made in the U.S — now they are also made in Taiwan.) Its European faucets included the upscale faucets from England and a few Italian faucet lines. In 2009 it was selling some Franz Viegener faucets made in Argentina. These were all nice faucet lines, well designed and well made, but we have not seen them on the company's web site for a number of years, so these relationships seem to have have ended some time ago. Perrin & Rowe faucets are now sold in the U.S. and Canada by and Herbeau faucets by Herbeau Creations of America, Inc..
As late as 2010 the company disclosed the country of origin of at least some of its faucets. It no longer does so.
The mechanics of Signature Hardware faucets are about average. While the faucet bodies are typically all brass, handles are sometimes the less expensive zinc or zinc alloy: ZAMAK. The company's faucet cartridges are generic Chinese, and it is likely that each manufacturer uses a different Chinese cartridge. We could not identify the manufacturer of the ones we examined, but, as there are literally dozens of Chinese cartridge manufacturers, and most of the cartridges do not show maker's marks and look very similar, that's not all that surprising.
We do know that some of the cartridges are made by Sedal S.L.U., in China. Sedal has a reputation for making a good quality ceramic cartridge. Others appear to be KGC cartridges manufactured in China by Kuching International, Ltd. — again, not the best cartridge made, but one of reasonable quality. (For more in-depth information about ceramic cartridges, see "Faucet Valves & Cartridges".)
The company's web site is very visual, well-designed and easy to navigate. In a previous test of the site, we found multiple problems with the accuracy of the site search function — especially for multi-word searches. In our most recent test, however, the site search function worked acceptably.
However, the information provided about faucets on the site is not as complete as it should be. In a sampling of faucet pages, we found the technical information section for most faucets contains almost nothing in the way of actual technical information. Often it is nothing more than a dimensioned drawing of the faucet. This is where we would expect to see detailed specifications, certifications, and a parts diagram.
Faucets are an important part of drinking water systems in North America, and every part of a drinking water system is strictly regulated at all levels of government: local, state and federal. All plumbing codes in effect in Canada and the U.S. require faucets to meet certain standards1 in order to be connected to community water supplies, and many state and provincial laws require compliance for the faucet to be sold within the state or province2.
These standards and the tests to be used to confirm compliance with the standards are set out in ASME A112.18.1/CSA B125.1 which establishes the joint U.S./Canadian requirements for the safety, integrity and reliability of faucets, and ANSI/NSF 61/9 which specifies the North American "lead-free" requirements and test for other toxins such as arsenic and mercury. Faucets that do not meet these standards may not be legally installed, and in most cases cannot be lawfully offered for sale in the U.S. or Canada. Nor can faucets that have not been tested and certified.
Certification is particularly important if the faucets are made in China where lead poisoning has reached epidemic proportions3 and where the government has not established any lead safety standards and deliberately downplays the enormous risk to children 4 from lead in consumer products.
At one time the company identified at least some of the faucets on its web site as "UPC Certified" meaning that the faucets had been tested and certified by IAPMO-RT (see more about this organization below) as complying with ASME A112.18.1/CSA B125.1. It no longer does so. Likewise, the company as late as 2013 identified many (but not all) of its faucets as low-lead compliant or sometimes "AB1953 lead-free compliant", which means that a faucet had been tested and met the then applicable lead free standards. After January, 2014 when more stringent nationwide lead free standards required by the amended Safe Drinking Water Act began to be enforced, we no longer could find these claims on the company web site.
But, Signature Hardware customer agents have assured us as by e-mail recently as April, 2014 that all Signature Hardware faucets are "certified lead-free, period". We doubt this claim, however, for the simple reason that we can find no certificates issued by IAPMO-RT or any other authorized testing organization showing that Signature Hardware5 faucets are in compliance with either ASME A112.18.1/CSA B125.1, ANSI NSF 372 or ANSI/NSF 61.
We initially searched for Signature Hardware's faucet certificates in 2011, but did not find a single one. So we asked the company for its listing file number(s). Each certificate has a file or registry number, making it easy to quickly find a listing. Our request was met with a series of evasions, half truths and delays for most of three years. During that time, the company identified just one file number — and it was for another company — not Signature Hardware. When we pointed that out, the company refused to provide any more certificate numbers.
In January, 2015 we received a letter from Brett Greenhalgh6 who identified himself as the Chief Financial Officer of Signature Hardware. The letter restated the company's claim that its faucets are certified as complying with ASME A112.18.1/CSA B125.1 and with the lead-free requirements of ANSI/NSF 61/9, but once again declined to provide the company's listing certificates. He stated:
We have these certificates and provide them to legitimate customers. We do not post them publically (sic) nor do we carelessly distribute them. These certificates contain important supplier information that we deem to be proprietary. Publically (sic) posting these certificates would publish our supply base to our competitors, which we elect not to do.In other words, "We have the certificates, but they're secret....".
Listing certificates, however, cannot be secret. Listing certificates are, by definition, public documents, the purpose of which is to permit plumbing code officials and the general public to verify that a faucet is indeed certified safe and reliable by looking up the brand and model of the faucet in the list maintained by the certifying organization. There is no such thing as a secret list. Such a list would defeat the goal of the open disclosure of testing and certification results.
There is also no such thing as anonymous certifications. A valid listing certificate must clearly show the company name, brand name (if different) and the model number (or name) of the faucet being certified. A company cannot certify a faucet under an alias or fictitious name. Nor can one company certify another company's faucet unless the second company's name is added to the certificate. The certificate then becomes a multiple company listing for two (or more) companies: a "primary" listing company and one or more "additional" listing companies.
As of the date of this review, none of the seven organizations7 authorized to test and certify faucets for the U.S./Canadian market list Signature Hardware or Clawfoot Supply faucets as being tested and certified. We know that because we carefully searched the listing data base at every single one of these organizations, then confirmed our findings with a follow-up telephone call.
Faucets from a faucet company that does not have a listing certificate in its own name on file are not certified faucets. Faucets that cannot be shown to be certified by an independent agency as complying with both the safety and reliability standards of ASME A112.18.1/CSA B125.1 and the lead-free requirements of ANSI/NSF 61/9 may not be lawfully installed in any water system subject to a plumbing code in North America, all of which require that faucets be tested and certified as complying with these standards1. All of North America is subject to a plumbing code. There is usually a state- or province-wide plumbing code supplemented by individual county and municipal codes. If a county or town does not have its own code, the state code applies.
Signature Hardware's lifetime warranty is one of the strongest among the Asia Importers companies, which as a group are noted for relatively weak warranties. Other Asia importers offer a little as a one year gurantee. It is alwo a full warranty and not the limited warranty offered by most faucet companies. (For an explanation of the difference between the two types of warranty, see How to Win the Warranty Game).
A warranty is the company telling you exactly how much confidence it truly has in its products. It can go on and on, ad infinitum in its catalog and full-color, glossy brochures about how it's faucets are the world's best and most reliable sink faucets. But, this is all puffery that costs the company nothing but the price of the ink in the page. Only when the company is forced to stand behind the faucets with actual dollars does its true opinion of its products emerge, and that true opinion is contained in the company's warranty.
What Signature Hardware's management is telling you with its warranty is that it is completely confidence in the quality, durability and longevity of its faucets, and will stand behind a faucet for as long as the original buyer owns it.
If it has the parts, that is. And, that may be a problem.
Signature Hardware does not have an organized replacement parts program. Its ad hoc solution to the spare parts problem, according to several customer service agents we have spoken to, is to scavenge parts from other faucets as needed, or, if the faucet is no longer being made, to replace a defective faucet during the warranty period with a "comparable" faucet — with the company having sole discretion over what is and is not "comparable". After the warranty period, you can forget about parts unless the company happens to have a left-over faucet from which it can scrounge. In consequence, the odds are very good that if your Signature Hardware faucet breaks there will be no parts to fix it.
For more detailed information, see the sidebar: "Signature Hardware's Replacement Parts Problem", above left.
Our tests of the company's post-sale customer support were satisfactory. There were no down-checks. Formerly long waits for responses were a problem. But, this seems to have been cured. Some consumers have complained that the agents are sometimes rude. Our impression was that they are often rushed and, as a consequence, a little brusque, especially with some of the incredibly dumb questions our testers can come up with, but nothing that was scored as actually rude. The Better Business Bureau rates the company any A+ on a scale of A+ to F for satisfactorily handling consumer issues. The company is BBB accredited which entails an extensive vetting and an agreement to adhere to very high business standards.
Imported Asian faucets comparable to those sold by Signature Hardware include
We give Signature Hardware a big thumbs down because its faucet do not comply with the laws and regulations of the U.S. or Canada and are not legal to sell or install in any drinking water system in North America. If you are in the market for an inexpensive Asian-made faucet, another of the suppliers listed above would be a better choice. All sell faucets that are known to be certified safe, reliable and lead free, legal for sale in North America and authorized for use in U.S. and Canadian water supplies.
If you do decide to buy a Signature Hardware faucet, demand a listing certificate showing that the faucet fully complies with ASME A.112.18.1/CSA B125.1, and with ANSI/NSF 61/9. These are often separate documents. The minimum requirements for a listing certificate are that it:
• Must be issued by one of the seven organizations authorized to certify faucets (see the list in the footnotes, below),Be aware that SH often passes off a manufacturer's certificate as its own. The fact that a manufacturer makes some certified faucets does not mean that the faucets it sells to Signature Hardware are in that category. Only if Clawfoot Supply is identified on a manufacturer's listing certificate as an "additional company" can you be sure that the manufacturer's listing applies to Signature Hardware faucets.
• Must identify the standard being certified under either ASME A.112.18.1/CSA B125.1, NSF 372 or ANSI/NSF 61,
• Must contain the name "Signature Hardware" or "Clawfoot Supply" on the face of the certificate as the listing entity or as an additional listing entity,
• Must clearly show the model faucet you are intending to purchase as one of the faucets listed by model name or number on the certificate. If the company tells you that the Acme model you are asking about is actually the same as the ABC model appearing on the certificate — that's not good enough. The Acme model name must actually appear on the certificate. If the model you are buying does not appear on the certificate under the model name appearing in the seller's catalog or web-site entry, then it is not certified.
• Must be dated indicating that it is a current certificate.
Do not rely on certification marks such as "UPC" that may be stamped into or imprinted on the faucet. According to IAPMO-RT, the certifying organization that owns the UPC Shield trademark, Signature Hardware faucets are not certified and the company is not authorized to impress the mark on its faucets. For an explanation of the various certification marks that may appear on faucets, see Keeping Faucets Safe.
If you actually do manage to get a listing certificate from Signature Hardware (and good luck with that, even if you are what Mr. Greenhalgh describes as a "legitimate customer"), send us a copy. We'd like to verify its bona fides.
If you have had an experience with a Signature Hardware faucet, — good, bad or indifferent — that you would like to share, please contact us or post a comment below.
1. Certification for compliance with ASME A112.18.1/CSA B125.1 and NSF 61/9 is required by all state and provincial plumbing codes in use in North America.
• International Plumbing Code, Section 424.1 - Faucets and Fixtures, Approval: Faucets and fixture fittings shall conform to ASME A112.18.1/CSA B125.1. Faucets and fixture fittings that supply drinking water for human ingestion shall conform to the requirements of NSF 61, Section 9.
• Uniform Plumbing Code, Section 403.3.2.1: The following standards are adopted as plumbing material, performance requirements, and labeling standards for plumbing fixture fittings. Faucets, aerators, and shower heads shall meet either the ANSI/ASME standard or the CSA standard: ASME A112.18.1, CSA B125-1....Fixture fittings covered under the scope of ANSI/NSF 61 shall be in accordance with the requirements of ANSI/NSF 61.
• National Standard Plumbing Code: Section 3.4.6: "Limits on Lead Content: "materials used in the potable water supply system, including faucets and valves, shall not contain more than an average of 0.25 percent lead" and "drinking water system components shall comply with the lead leachate requirements .... of NSF 61.9". ASME A12.18.1/CSA 125.1 is identified in Table 3.1.3: as the safety and reliability standard for faucets. Published by the National Association of Plumbing Heating-Cooling Contractors since 1933, Louisiana and New Jersey are the only two states still using this model code as the basis for their state plumbing codes.
• National Plumbing Code of Canada: 184.108.40.206. Supply and Waste Fittings. 1) Supply fittings shall conform to a) ASME A112.18.1/CAN/CSA-B125.1 “Plumbing Supply fittings”....”For a complete list of the plumbing codes adopted by each state, see Keeping Faucets Safe.
2. See e.g. Régie du bâtiment du Québec: "After October 2, 2008, the sale or lease of materials, devices or equipment intended for a plumbing facility that have not been certified or approved by an accredited body is prohibited." (Emphasis supplied)
2 Sharon LaFraniere, "Lead Poisoning in China, the Hidden Scourge", New York Time, New York Times Company, June 15, 2011, Web: July 17, 2015.
3 Michael Martina, "China Downplays Risk to Children from Lead Poisoning: Report", Reuters, Reuters, July 15, 2011, Web: September 26, 2016.
5. The seven organizations testing for compliance with ASME A112.18.1/CSA B125.1, NSF 61 and NSF 372 are:
• International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO-RT): Authorizes the use of the "UPC" mark and shield logo on certified faucets. The "UPC" mark was imprinted on some Signature Hardware faucets we examined, but IAPMO-RT spokespersons assured us that the faucets are not certified by IAPMO-RT and use of the mark is not authorized.
• International Codes Council - Evaluation Service (ICC-ES): Authorizes the use of the "ICC-ES" mark and logo on certified faucets.
• CSA Group (CSA): Formerly the Canadian Standards Association, authorizes the use of the "CSA" mark and logo on certified faucets.
• Intertek Testing Services NA (ETL): Authorizes the use of the "ETL-US" mark and logo on faucets certified to U.S./Canadian standards.
• NSF International (NSF): Formerly the National Sanitary Foundation, authorizes the use of the "NSF" mark and logo on certified faucets. The organization tests primarily for compliance with ANSI/NSF 61/9 and rarely for compliance with ASME A112.18.1/CSA B125.1.
• Underwriters Laboratories (UL): Authorizes the use of the "UL" mark and logo on certified faucets.
• Water Quality Association. (WQA): Authorizes the use of the "WQA" mark and logo on certified faucets.
For more information on how faucets are regulated and certified for safety and reliability, see Keeping Faucets Safe.
6 Brett Greenhalgh, identifying himself as the Chief Financial Officer of Clawfoot Tub, LLC, has denied us permission to display the Signature Hardware logo or any proprietary images of Signature Hardware products in connection with this review.
7. In addition to searching all data bases for "Signature Hardware" and all variations of the name, we also searched for "Clawfoot Supply" and all variations of that name. We found no certificates under either name certifying compliance with A112.18.1/CSA B125.1, NSF 372 or NSF 61.