Chambers of delight

Or: What we lost when we lost the thundermug.

Progress– in its endless forward push there is an implicit trade-off. Improvements are made and something new is gained, but something old is usually lost as well. Possibly something unreplaceable. An example? When improved technology and health concerns collided to make indoor-plumbing a near necessity humanity gained the toilet. What we lost was the chamber pot. “The chamber pot!?” You ask. “Who would ever miss a filthy stinking little bucket of excrement?” Well, no one. But when we lost the thundermug we lost something else with it. Where in our modern lives can we find the wholesome pleasure of taking a midnight crap right on someone’s forehead? Not counting the use of your spouse or children… nowhere. This is a pleasure chamber pot users enjoyed which progress has taken from us. They could drop a steamer on a politician’s face, or let loose with a hot stream right into the iris of a peeping eyeball, anytime, day or night. I’ve reproduced a few images from Lucinda Lambton’s 1983 book Chambers of Delight to give you an idea of what it is we sanitary moderns are missing.


1850’s Yorkshire. Wedding present.


19th Century. Napoleonic cartoon pot.


1850’s Lustre pot.
Reads: “Keep me clean and uze me well
And what I see I will not tell.


1850’s Sunderland. Notice the sculpted frog pressed up against the side of the pot. Evidently these were used in the smaller mug-sized pots to create an “amusing glugging sound.”


1850’s Garrison pottery pot.


1850’s Sunderland. Another frog pot, this one evidently intended to make “vile noises” when emptied.


19th Century Kate Greenway pot. “I C U”


19th century Political pot with the face of Gladstone.


1830’s “anti splash thunder bowl.”


Late 19th Century hand-painted French “eye-pot.”


See what fun we are missing with our humorless sloans?

Alright I take it back, we lost nothing, the invention of the toilet was a win-win.

For a bit more info on the “potty” check out:
Musings of a Privy Digger and 1earth’s page on chamber pots.

09.27. filed under: !. history. life. play. 7