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Old light switches

I am buying a house built c.1900, 2 story +basement. At the top of the list of renovations to do is replacing the fuse panel with a breaker box and replacing all of the K&T wiring. However, I do not want to use any modern toggle switches if I can at all avoid it. The house has a mixture of rotary, pushbutton and modern toggle switches in it. Idealy I would like to use all rotary switches but I can't seem to find any anywhere, I have found a source for new, vintage style pushbutton switches. Can anyone tell me where to find the rotary type switches?

I found another thread here where the OP was looking for vintage toggles. I checked out the resources listed in that thread and did not find what I was looking for and when I google anything with "rotary" and "switch" in it I get a bunch of automotive listings.

Any help would be appreciated.
Thank You,

P.S. I did find a couple on ebay that are similar to the switches installed in the house, I have attached a picture of one.

Re: Old light switches

The first question would be, do the existing switches work?
Although the picture of the switch cover is interesting it doesn't show the switch. Many old switches were made so the contacts could be replaced and the cover may be adaptable to a different switch.

Re: Old light switches

1. Yes the existing switches work, rather well with a nice solid "CLICK" when you turn them.

2. As near as I can tell that picture is of the entire switch. I can't find a picture of the backside of one. However, once I close and take possesion I will be more than happy to take one off the wall, photograph it from all angles and post them here (hopefully within the next 30 days)

The switch in the picture is much more ornate than the ones existing in the house. They are a ceramic base with what appears to be a bakelite knob. Also it would appear that they are surface mounted on the wall.

Thank you,

Blue RidgeParkway
Re: Old light switches

One of the potential problems using actual vintage switches is that they are not isolated and usually not grounded so if there is an arc or short it might transmit to you. the reproduction switches should be made to modern standards and can be grounded to the box if the box is metal and the box itself is grounded. The old bakalite can crack, be brittle, break up from age, heat, etc. and old products might have a high carbon content which allows the old plastic, or other material to conduct electricity, not insulate or isolate you from it. The old rubber membranes on some types of old push button type switches can also get brittle, crack, etc.

Just something to keep in mind when your judging the integrity of various parts of your electrical system.

Good luck with your purchase and future projects.

Re: Old light switches

Rejuvenation.com lists some NEW replacement, vintage-style pushbutton switches:


You might contact Rejuvenation and see if they have any resources for getting the turn-knob wall switches you seek. This company started out as an architectural salvage shop in Portland, Oregon in 1977 and now manufactures a lot of reproduction hardware based on vintage designs.

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