Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Royal Throne: A Brief History of Toilets

Bathroom Toilet

The Ancient Throne

It is not actually known who invented the toilet. Historians have found evidence in Scotland dating as far back as 3,000 B.C. that suggests primitive bathrooms. Ancient Greece also had buildings with earthenware pans with terra-cotta pipes connected to a water supply. More famously known is Ancient Rome, who had public bathhouses and commercial lavatories; however, these were not used daily, with many Roman citizens throwing their waste onto the streets. Medieval England even had castle garderobes, which were protruding rooms with an opening which royalty could excrete waste into the moat below.

Plumbing and sanitation have come a long way since ancient times though. In fact, it was in the 1500’s when toilets started to resemble our modern idea of the design, using a raised cistern (the tank of water often found on the back of a commode) with a small pipe that released water when a lever was pulled. This idea was built upon 200 years later with Alexander Cumming's invention of the S-shaped pipe under the basin.

One name prominently known in the plumbing industry is Thomas Crapper, whom many misbelieve to have created the toilet and its popular name “crapper,” both of which are not true. Mr. Crapper did patent many inventions and was the first to showcase toilets in a storefront showroom, but the term used for our modern latrine stemmed from a word which meant rubbish. At the time of Thomas Crapper’s popularity, this term was no longer used in Britain but was more popular among the early English settlers in America. The humorous phrase caught on at the end of WWI when American serviceman, having seen Crapper’s name on cisterns and water closet (another name for a flush toilet) bowls in England, returned home.

The Modern Throne

Nowadays toilets come in a variety of sizes, colors, and styles. Each toilet has a uniqueness to the other, making it a bit difficult to decide on a style. Round fronted toilets are considered the standard toilet and are the most common type, however, elongated toilets are a close rival with comfortable seating and larger water surface for a more sanitary bowl; this particular style is a more luxurious look. High tank pull chain toilets will definitely create a focal point in the room. This antique style separates the cistern and bowl of the toilet from each other, mounting the cistern high on the wall, leaving the beautiful pipes exposed and a long pull chain as a flusher. Wall mounted toilets are a complete opposite to the high tank pull chain toilets as they have a modern style, with the toilet hanging from the wall and tank placed inside the wall. For people with disabilities, a one-piece toilet is best. This style connects the bowl and tank into one piece.

Fun Facts You Didn’t Know:

  • The first commercially-available toilet paper was believed to be introduced in New York in 1857.
  • Thomas Crapper did not have a middle name, even though many believe his full name was Thomas John Crapper. This also was not where the term “john” was originated.
  • We visit the bathroom on average of 2,500 times a year.
  • Around 3 years of your life is spent in the bathroom.
  • ¾ of sewer blockage is caused by items not meant to be flushed.
  • November 19th is World Toilet Day and is a recognized UN day to promote sanitation worldwide.
Source: Time Health, World Toilet Organization & Thomas Crapper & Co.

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