Experience Our Heritage

Scalding hands no more!

Scalding hands no more!


Did you guess what the object was?  It was a spigot!  There are so many objects that we use every day that we simply take for granted.  One such object is the spigot or faucet.  According to Merriam-Webster, a spigot is a “device that controls the flow of liquid from a large container.” 

The spigot or faucet has been around for many years.  Plumbing was around during the ancient Greek and Roman times with their Bath Houses and pipes laid from the aqueducts to buildings.  To get the water in the tub, a faucet was attached to the pipe which allowed for hot or cold water to fill up the tub.  It was this technology that paved the way for plumbing today.

High Plains Museum | MC411 Barrel Spigot - Redlich's Warranted Faucets
High Plains Museum |
MC411
Barrel Spigot – Redlich’s Warranted Faucets

Here in the United States many important inventions and improvements have come about in regards to the spigot or faucet.  Hundreds of patents have been filed throughout the years.  Gtjstive A. Soderlund applied for his patent in 1897 for his Hot and cold water faucet which allowed the user to have hot and cold water separately or together.  In 1911 Everett Wesley Brague filed for a patent to improve the spigot.  His improvements relieved the faucet of the strain the spring pressed valvular member exerted on the valve body.  Wesson Paul B of the Hampden Brass Company filed for his patent in 1921 had the faucet having an automatic means of relief if the pressure in the tank became too much.

Even though the faucet or spigot had been around for thousands of years, it was Al Moen that revolutionized the faucet.  While washing his hands one night, he burnt them when a spurt of hot water shot out.  Due to the inability to accurately control the temperature with a two handle faucet, Moen invented the single handle faucet from 1937 to 1939.  A patent was applied for in 1945 which you can see here and in 1947 his company, Moen’s, began manufacturing single handle faucets that were sold for $12 each.  Over the years Moen continued to be a leader in plumbing with Al Moen retiring in 1982 with over forty-five years in his business and seventy-five patents to help plumbing.  There were several other companies that made strides in the world of faucets, including Delta.  Alex Manoogian founded the Delta Faucet Company and made a faucet with no washers which meant no leaks or drips.

The spigot we have in our collection at the High Plains Museum is a wooden barrel spigot from Redlich’s Warranted Faucets.  Most likely this spigot was used in a beer or wine cask and was made anywhere between 1890 and 1950.  There is very little information about the Redlich Manufacturing Co. so it is hard to pinpoint an ending date.  An interesting fact about the company is that they presented their spigot at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago.  Several of these spigots can be found on ebay and etsy.

Spigots and faucets have been around since ancient Greek and Roman times.  It was these spigots that helped pave the way for faucets today.  Al Moen made a huge break through when he invented the single handle faucet and helped his company make strides in the plumbing world.  We use a faucet on a daily basis but probably never stopped to wonder how it came about.

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