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Acadian House Museum

Pot, Chamber

Accession number: 2005.19.07.02
Date: before 2005
Materials: Ceramic
Measurements: 23 cm Diameter x 15 cm Depth
Narrative: The use of chamber pots in history dates back to ancient times, and has been attributed to the Sybarites who were notorious for their luxurious lifestyles. Chamberpots quickly became a popular means of waste disposal because of their ease of use and ability to be removed effortlessly. Examples of early forms of such vessels can be traced to the 14th century BCE Egyptian site where a sand- filled vase was placed below a keyhole-shaped opening in a limestone toilet seat. The chamberpot as we know it today first appeared in the 14th century, and was commonly made of metal, however they were tin, lead, pewter, and copper were also used. Chamberpots of the working class were typically made of copper, although crockery and other inexpensie, lead glazed earthenware would also have been popular. As time progressed, the bodies of these pots changed from black or dark brown to red, reflecting the oxidizing atmosphere of modern kilns as opposed to sealed medieval kilns. Chamber pots for the rich and royalty were usually solid silver or even gold, depending on the wealth and status of the user. In many cases, such royal pots were placed within a closestool -a stool having a seat with a hole, beneath which a chamber pot is placed- that featured a hinged top and padded seat. By the mid 17th century, chamberpots began to be mass produced using earthenware and delftware. At this time, chamberpots became smaller and squat-bodiedwith a flat, slightly flared rim. These vessels featured handles that were anchored to the inside of the rim. They possessed little ornamentation or decoration, except for those used by royalty, which often featured elaborate design that could even include a portrait of the king. Among the lower classes waste was stored in chamberpots until it was filled, after which time it was disposed of by tossing the contents out doorws or windows into the streets or grass below. This practice would later be responsible for the creation of many laws and acts that regulated or prohibited this practice due to sanitation and health issues. Moreover,injuries caused by the far flung contents of the chamberpots, or missles of mirth as the ancient Greek dramatist, Aeschylus, would call them were regulated with laws including the Roman Dejecti Effusive Act, which fined a person who thew or poured anything out of an open window and hit someone and awarded damages to the injured party. Proper manners would prescribe warnings unwary pedestrians that a shower was on its way. Thus the cry of Gardez l'eau -pronounced Gardy-loo, and meaning Watch out for the water! would echo up and down the streets. Over time it evolved into English slang for the toilet, or loo. By the later part of the 18th century, the early forms of the modern toilet began to appear. Alexander Cummings, who invented the S-trap in 1775, was among those to contribute to quest for the flushable, stationary toilets we are familiar with in the 21st century. His toilet had a sliding valve underneath to hold the water, thus allowing for at least the perception of more cleanly facilities. Shortly thereafter, the invention of the water closet created by John Harrington in 1896 finally gained recognition. Fueled by the development as well as new sanitation regulations, inventors began the process of creating the precursors to the modern toilet. (Source: "The History of Plumbing_Roman and English" Legacy" Retrieved on 11 January 2007.; Powell, Christine A. " A Matter of Convenience.", Retrieved no January 2007.)
Description: White chamber pot features a handle and a scalloped design.