Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Did He Really Exist?

Wc, Toilet, Public Toilet, CleanIf you watch, enough television, you'll hear the name Thomas Crapper mentioned in association to the toilet.  Did he exist or is he a total myth.  Well, its a bit of both.  Thomas Crapper was born in 1836, probably sometime in September because he was baptized in September 1836.  Although his death is listed as July 17, 1910, it was more like July 27, 1910 as proven by his headstone and death certificate.

He had a successful career as a plumber and sanitation engineer between 1861 and 1904 in England. It is claimed he was never a plumber but according to sources, he apprenticed to a master plumber at the age of 14. 

By the time he was 25, he owned his own shop.  When people talk about flush toilets, people usually give Thomas Crapper credit for inventing it but that is not quite correct.  Although he did hold nine patents covering drains, water closets, manhole covers and pipe joints, he never actually filed a patent dealing with toilets.

Thomas Crapper had little to do with the invention of flush toilets because one was built back in 1596 but its cost was so expensive that few people could afford it. The first real flush mechanism appeared in 1775, well before he was born.  People believe he invented a silent valve to improve the flushing action of a toilet so it would work better with a half full cistern but again, that was someone else.

One reason people believe he invented the silent valve is because he marketed the product in his store.  No one is sure whether he purchased the patent from the inventor or whether the man worked for him and allowed him to sell it.  Either way, he became known for the Crapper Plumbing stores which were showrooms for bathroom fixtures such as tubs, toilets, sinks, etc.

At this point in history, it was scandalous to display plumbing fixtures out where people could see them but over time, he changed public opinion and created a market for these items.  Eventually, there were three Crapper Plumbing shops in the UK. When he retired he sold his two businesses to his partners who continued running all three stores until 1966.

Apparently, the term "crapper" as a nickname for toilet came from the Doughboys who passed through England on their way to the front lines during World War I.  They saw the name "Crapper" on the toilets and thought it was slang for toilet. Or at least says one story.

Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

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