Thursday, July 10, 2014


On a trip to Mendocino, California in 1972, I found a molded and painted ceramic toilet I thought would be interesting to use as a plant pot.  The ferns I planted have survived on benign neglect ever since.
Old toilet reused as a planter
My curiosity about old toilets was sparked, but I didn't learn anything about them until I purchased a book in 1978 titled Temples of Convenience by Lucinda Lambton.  An expanded version of the book, Temples of Convenience: & Chambers of Delight was published in 2002.   The book features some gorgeous photos of transfer printed toilets, so I hoped I would eventually find one to replace the boring white toilets I had in my house.

Temples of Convenience by Lucinda Lambton St. Martin's Press, 1978
 The opportunity didn't arise until late in the 1980s when I spotted a floral printed toilet at a shop in Carmel, California.   The owner of the shop assured me that the toilet could be plumbed, but when I got it home it seemed a pity to use in the conventional way.  I put it next to my reading chair in the living room.  A friend gave me a piece of glass to transform the toilet into a table.

Dent & Hellyer Pedestal Hygienic toilet, ca. 1884

Dent & Hellyer toilet repurposed as a side table!

Inside the Dent & Hellyer toilet/the registry number places manufacture around 1884
A bit of Dent & Hellyer history

In 2013, the Transferware Collectors Club invited Terry Woolliscroft to give a talk titled The Tale of the Toilet at its annual meeting.  Terry's excellent talk transformed the way I thought about the humble toilet.  It is not merely a convenience, but a disease inhibitor. My toilet just serves as a side table to hold books (and sometimes a coffee cup).  It is also a conversation starter.

For more toilet information read T W Twyford Sanitary Pottery

Lovely old toilets

A lovely toilet!  An oxymoron?

No comments:

Post a Comment