When I first started doing my blogs I never though I would be writing about toilet paper one day, but due this upsurge in the fascination with toilet paper , caused by the Covid 19 crisis, I felt compelled to have a quick look at the history of toilet paper.
Below are just some key events in relation to the evolution of the paper that has become such a popular item recently.
Prior to the use of paper these implements were used to clean one’s behind.
The use of toilet paper in human history dates back to the 6th century AD, in early medieval China. In 589 AD the scholar-official Yan Zhitui (531–591) wrote about the use of toilet paper:
“Paper on which there are quotations or commentaries from the Five Classics or the names of sages, I dare not use for toilet purposes”
During the later Tang dynasty (618–907 AD), an Arab traveller to China in the year 851 AD remarked:
.”the Chinese] do not wash themselves with water when they have done their necessities; but they only wipe themselves with paper”
The rise of publishing by the eighteenth century led to the use of newspapers and cheap editions of popular books for cleansing. Lord Chesterfield, in a letter to his son in 1747, told of a man who purchased
“a common edition of Horace, of which he tore off gradually a couple of pages, carried them with him to that necessary place, read them first, and then sent them down as a sacrifice to Cloacina; thus was so much time fairly gained”
Other times political manifestos were used to wipe one’s bum as a matter of protest.
Joseph Gayetty is widely credited with being the inventor of modern commercially available toilet paper in the United States. Gayetty’s paper, first introduced in 1857, was available as late as the 1920s. Gayetty’s Medicated Paper was sold in packages of flat sheets, watermarked with the inventor’s name. Original advertisements for the product used the tagline “The greatest necessity of the age! Gayetty’s medicated paper for the water-closet.”
Seth Wheeler of Albany, New York, obtained the earliest United States patents for toilet paper and dispensers, the types of which eventually were in common use in that country, in 1883.Toilet paper dispensed from rolls was popularized when the Scott Paper Company began marketing it in 1890.
The rolled toilet paper that we use today, which is perforated, was created in the 1880’s. Toilet paper varies immensely; size, roughness, weight, resistance, residues, water-absorption, etc.
The bigger companies invest time and money in surveys to figure out which requirements sell best. This can lead to the adding of aloe in the paper, for a softer feeling paper.
The manufacturing of this product had a long period of refinement, considering that as late as the 1930s, a selling point of the Northern Tissue company was that their toilet paper was “splinter free” Imagine that up until 1935 cleaning your butt was a dangerous business.
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