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Toilet paper gets perforated

Toilet paper from 1887

Automated toilet-paper server

An early toilet paper fixture

Wingnut on a toilet paper fixture

Multi-roll TP holder from 1889

Fancy toilet roll holder

How toilet paper got perforated

Ornamental toilet paper

Bonus bosom pad

A recent social-media revival of the over-or-under toilet paper debate has brought new attention to the patents of inventor Seth Wheeler, of the Albany Perforated Wrapping Paper Company.

This patent from 1891 for "Wrapping or toilet paper roll" shows perforated sheets of paper. The patent illustrations quite clearly show an "over" arrangement for the roll. It may not settle the debate, but it's ammunition for the "over" crowd.

Related article: Why an 1891 toilet paper patent is all over Facebook

Caption by / Photo by Seth Wheeler

The era of modern toilet paper was just getting started in the late-1800s. This patent from Seth Wheeler dates to 1887 and shows an early version of the toilet paper roll. The patent reads, "This improvement relates to a new article of manufacture, consisting of a roll of wrapping or toilet paper with parallel ends composed of polygonal or curved sheets, the sides of each sheet having edges of broken or curved lines."

Related article: Why an 1891 toilet paper patent is all over Facebook

Caption by / Photo by Seth Wheeler

Inventor Seth Wheeler patented quite a few toilet paper-related gadgets. This "toilet paper server" is a surprisingly complex-looking device that achieves the simple goal of serving up a new sheet of toilet paper after the one in front of it has been pulled. The automated feed was a big step up over manually turning a toilet paper delivery device.

Related article: Why an 1891 toilet paper patent is all over Facebook

Caption by / Photo by Seth Wheeler

Toilet paper didn't always come on perfectly round rolls. This patent for a fixture by Seth Wheeler from 1886 shows a flattened roll of paper. "This invention has reference to improvements in the fixture by means of which an oval roll of paper may have a determinate and sufficient amount of paper cut off from it each time the fixture is operated," the patent reads.

Related article: Why an 1891 toilet paper patent is all over Facebook

Caption by / Photo by Seth Wheeler

While we live in relative luxury with our spring-loaded toilet paper fixtures of today, the bathroom-goers of yesteryear had to contend with a wingnut system on this fixture patented by Seth Wheeler in 1914. Otherwise, the roll holder looks very familiar to modern loo users.

Related article: Why an 1891 toilet paper patent is all over Facebook

Caption by / Photo by Seth Wheeler

While inventor Seth Wheeler's 1891 patent for perforated toilet paper rolls clearly shows an "over" approach to positioning the sheets, this 1889 patent for a multi-roll of paper could provide fodder for the defenders of "under" rolls.

Related article: Why an 1891 toilet paper patent is all over Facebook

Caption by / Photo by Seth Wheeler

Most toilet paper roll holders are fairly utilitarian. This roll fixture, patented by Seth Wheeler in 1890, shows a certain artistic flair to the design. It is made to mount on a wall, something that is familiar to all of us today. Wheeler is considered the father of modern toilet paper.

Related article: Why an 1891 toilet paper patent is all over Facebook

Caption by / Photo by Seth Wheeler

Wheeler patented this machinery for perforating toilet paper way back in 1888. The patent reads: "It consists in the use of perforators of a lancet-like form, by means of which the series of slits are punched into the roll of paper through its whole thickness."

Related article: Why an 1891 toilet paper patent is all over Facebook

Caption by / Photo by Seth Wheeler

Inventor Seth Wheeler wasn't just concerned with the practical aspects of toilet paper; he also had an interest in the aesthetics. He patented machinery and processes for creating ornamental toilet paper. This patent drawing dates to 1892 and shows a pleasing diamond pattern wrinkled into the paper.

Related article: Why an 1891 toilet paper patent is all over Facebook

Caption by / Photo by Seth Wheeler

Seth Wheeler, considered the inventor of modern toilet paper, didn't just patent bathroom-related items. He also patented this bosom pad in 1889. What's a bosom pad? It's a disposable fabric pad with ribs to hold it in shape. It goes into a dress form over a lady's bosom. Essentially, it's a Victorian-era falsie.

Related article: Why an 1891 toilet paper patent is all over Facebook

Caption by / Photo by Seth Wheeler
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