While bath tubs of various styles were available in cities by the mid-nineteenth century, the American Old West didn’t have easy access to delivery of such finery until after the Transcontinental Railway in 1869 (followed by additional railroads bringing delivery nearer to home) eliminated freight by horse-drawn wagon. Historic images of Montgomery Ward & Co. catalogs and Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalogs illustrate available options–some of which are simply too ingenious to miss! Who knew a kitchen sink so easily doubled as a bath tub? Or that a five-and-a-half-foot bathtub could fold up? Price comparisons (then to now) show why it took a good long while for most folks to afford more than a public bath (next post) or a bowl and pitcher to make do.
Chamber pots were a necessary accompaniment to the outhouse (a.k.a “the necessary”). Illness, foul weather, the elderly, emergencies–all credible reasons to need a ready source of relief. It’s one of the least glamorous aspects of everyday life in Victorian America. Who knew such fancy chamber pots could be purchased through Sears Roebuck & Co. catalog?