January 27th: On this day in 1910, 106 years ago, Thomas Crapper died. He didn't know his exact birthday, so today is known as Thomas Crapper Day. What did Thomas Crapper do? He did NOT invent the flushing toilet, but he did do much to increase the popularity of the toilet, and developed some important toilet- related inventions, such as the ballcock (float inside the toilet tank).
He was noted for the quality of his products and received several royal warrants. In the 1880s, Prince Edward (later Edward VII) purchased Sandringham House in Norfolk and asked Thomas Crapper & Co. to supply the plumbing, including thirty lavatories with cedarwood seats and enclosures, thus giving Crapper his first Royal Warrant. His firm received further warrants from Edward as king and from George V both as Prince of Wales and as king.
It has often been claimed in popular culture that the slang term for human bodily waste, "crap", originated with Thomas Crapper because of his association with lavatories. A common version of this story is that American servicemen stationed in England during World War I saw his name on WC cisterns and used it as army slang- "I'm going to the crapper".
The word crap is actually of Middle English origin and predates its application to bodily waste. Its most likely etymological origin is a combination of two older words, the Dutch krappen: to pluck off, cut off, or separate; and the Old French crappe: siftings, waste or rejected matter (from the medieval Latin crappa, chaff). In English, it was used to refer to chaff, and also to weeds or other rubbish. Its first application to bodily waste, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, appeared in 1846 under a reference to a crapping ken, or a privy, where ken means a house.
Here are some vintage style Thomas Crapper toilets one can buy today:
Visit the website- they are quite pricey! http://www.thomas-crapper.com/Complete-WC-Sets/
The first and only time I used this style of toilet, where you pull the chain to flush, was in a little restaurant in Julian, CA. My husband says that when he was in New Zealand in the late 90s, these styles of toilets were everywhere, even in fancy hotels and resorts.