Friday, January 8, 2010

The Invention of Toilet Paper


Have you ever wondered what people used before the invention of toilet paper? I have. The ones in the picture above are pretty well-known, especially the catalogue, usually the Sears and Roebuck fondly tagged "Rears and Sorebutt." My grandparent's farm had an outhouse and as a child I couldn't believe they used pages from the catalogue for toilet paper. According to The Virtual Toilet Paper Museum - Toilet Paper in the News, the Farmer's Almanac had a hole in the corner (it still does as I saw one at the store tonight) so it could be hung on a hook. Per this article, other items used were stones, pieces of clay, sponges on a stick kept in a clay pot full of salt water, and the left hand which is still supposedly considered unclean in the Arabian region.



The first actual toilet paper dates back to the late 14th Century in China. Emperors ordered it in 2 foot by 3 foot sheets. The first packaged toilet paperin the United States was produced in New York by Joseph C. Gayetty. Pre-moistened sheets were medicated with aloe and named Gayetty's Medicated Paper. Rolled and perforated toilet paper arrived around 1880. One source, the Scott Paper Company wouldn't put their name on the product as it was a sensitive subject in Victorian times. They customized it for their customers. Waldorf was a big name in toilet paper as they ordered a lot for their hotels. The first splinter-free paper was introduced by Northern in 1935. Ouch! In 1942, a mill in England produced the first two-ply paper and the first toilet paper shortage occured in 1973. I didn't have time to research the reason for the shortage, so if anyone knows why there was one, please share it with us.

Note:  My friend Tiffany Green looked this up and reported that it resulted from a comment made by Johnny Carson on the Late Show. For full details, view her post on The Cactus Rose Blog.


One of the things my heroine in My Heart Will Find Yours missed most from the future was indoor plumbing and toilet paper. Well, actually, she missed a lot of things but not enough to go back to the future and leave Marshal Royce Dyson.

You can read chapter one of My Heart Will Find Yours and all of my other novels on my website.

I have a monthly drawing on my blog Linda LaRoque's Musings and give away an ebook -- the winner's choice. All you have to do is leave a comment.


Happy Reading and Writing!

Linda
Linda LaRoque ~Western Romance with a Twist in Time~ A Law of Her Own, Desires of the Heart, My Heart Will Find Yours, Flames on the Sky, Forever Faithful, Investment of the Heart, When the Ocotillo Bloom

31 comments:

  1. Linda, my dear--you have reached the bottom of the barrel here. Hahaha. Even I remember the outhouse and the Sears catalog, even though I hate to admit it. I enjoyed the journey back to my childhood. Celia

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  2. Great article Linda!

    Luckily I was born after that shortage in 1976 lol.

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  3. This is great. I grew up with indoor plumbing, but had to use an outhouse when we visited some relatives. This brought back not-so-fond memories.

    As for the 1973 shortage--I think we can blame that on my mother. Any time I'd go home to visit, she would have several 12-roll packs of TP because it had been 'on sale'.

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  4. Isn't researching just a bit of history fun?
    I love finding out about how things were years
    ago. Enjoyed your information, if not the subject. (giggle, giggle, giggle) I remember the outhouses and the catalogues... Only too well.

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  5. Hahaha, Celia. Yes I am but some of this info is so much fun. Thanks for stopping by.

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  6. Hi Tammie, you're just a youngster then, the same age as our son! Thanks for your comment.

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  7. What a great post! I had more fun reading this. Where did you come up with this idea?

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  9. Linda, I can't imagine an outhouse being the only facility. LOL! Your mother wanted to be prepared. One can never have enough tp.

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  10. Yes, research is so much fun. I'm with you, Allison, I can remember the outhouses and not wanting to visit one. Thank goodness for indoor plumbing!

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  11. Hi LuAnn, glad you enjoyed the post. It's a fun topic. I came up with the idea while searching for something to blog on for the Cactus Rose Blog. It's basically historical research.

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  12. Linda, what a clever way to promote "My Heart Will Find Yours." I loved the book, but have to say the issue of TP didn't interest me as much as Marshal Royce Dyson! lol

    A great post. Reminds me of the outhouse (a two-seater) on my grandma and grandpa's farm. (shudder)

    Sandra

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  13. Very Interesting post. I remember my grandfather
    taking about using Newspapers. I cannot even imagine, but then again, different generations
    did what they had to do, before New inventions
    took place. Thank Goodness for Toilet Paper.LOL!
    My Best, Geri

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  14. Hey, this gal was reared with using the outhouse. Nothing new to me, and toilet paper was only for those folks rich enough to have indoor plumbing! Can't really say we used old Sears. We used the circulars that came in the mail, newspapers, tore pages from old magazines, etc. And it was especially no fun in winter!

    Thanks for researching the wonderful invention of toilet paper. Never knew that one time they actually had splinters! "Ouch" is right! LOL

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  15. Interesting post, Linda. I grew up with an outhouse. We had to go to grandma's house for a real toilet. lol

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  16. Hi Sandra Kay,
    Thank you for the kind comments about Royce. He's one of my favorite heroes. Shudder is right. I can't imagine having to visit the outhouse on these cold days.

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  17. PuraAbarca,
    Thank you for stopping by and the New Year wishes.

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  18. Geri, thanks for stopping by. Yes, thank goodness for those new inventions we couldn't do without now.

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  19. Miss Mae and Sandy,
    You girls really did experience the past. Interesting Sandy that your grandparents had indoor plumbing as mine didn't. And yes, Miss Mae, in this weather, we'd be making a mad dash to and from.

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  20. Splitters? Oh, not fun! Loved that book, Linda! Thanks for sharing the info. Never really thought about it. Neat to find out how it all came about!

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  21. Thank you, Judith! I love interesting historical facts.

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  22. We're a little late, but just had to comment. What an interesting article. I often wondered how long it took humanity to see the need for toilet paper. And as much as I adore time travel books, I would never want to go back in time for anything more than a visit. I like indoor plumbing, fast food, dishwashers and air conditioning!

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  23. I loved reading this. I've heard the "Sears and Roebuck" story from my mom, but never the nick name. Thank you.

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  24. How quickly we forget. It's the little things we take for granted, like TP. It's funny, because my grandparents had an outhouse in southern Missouri in the early 70's so I'm one of those "fortunate" folks who can remember using it, yet I had no idea where TP came from. At least I DO know where babies come from, right? :)

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  25. Angelica and Z - I talk about how I'd like to go back but probably a day or two visit would convince me otherwise.

    You're never too late! I love to hear from you.

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  26. Thanks Linda. I didn't know about the nick name either. Love learning those little tid bits.

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  27. Hahaha, Autumn, I was almost grown before I knew where babies come from. Thanks for dropping by.

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  28. Linda. Loved this blog. I will remember 2 things. The nickname and 'splinters'. You forget that the farm did have indoor farming, sorta ;), and the outhouse was a 2-seater, or 3? Yes, Royce is wonderful, but thinking back on Seth's tight jeans and starched shirts, and how he brings out the best in people in When The Ocotillo Bloom puts him close to the top as well.

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  29. Hi Anna, the only indoor plumbing I remember is the kitchen sink. Did you mean the chamber pot??? Yeah, gotta love Seth too.

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  30. Yes, Linda. That wonderful bucket was great during cold or rainy days. I didn't like to go out 'there' at night.

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