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Fascinating facts about the invention of
Toilet Paper
by Seth Wheeler in 1877.
Zeth Wheeler patents rolled and perforated wrapping paper in 1871. By 1874 he had is own business the Rolled Wrapping Paper Company, but the company couldn't turn a profit. In 1877, Wheller reorganized into the Albany Perforated Wrapping Paper Company and began selling Perforated Toilet Paper ('The Standard') on a roll. It sold in plain brown wrappers and fit conveniently into the American bathroom, which at the time was quite small.
Invention: Toilet Paper
Toilet Paper photo courtesy Scotts Paper
Function: noun / TP, lavatory paper, toilet tissue, bathroom tissue
A thin, soft, lightweight, sanitized paper used in bathrooms for personal cleanliness.Toilet paper, which differs in composition from facial tissue, is designed to deteriorate when wet in order to keep drain pipes clear.
Patent: 117,355 (US) issued July 25, 1871
Inventor: Seth Wheeler
Seth Wheeler photo courtesy Darci Place of Origins
Criteria: First to patent. Modern prototype. Entrepreneur.
Birth: May 18, 1838 in Chatham, New York
Death: Date unknown
Nationality: American
1391 Toilet paper first produced in China (for the Emperor's use). Each sheet 2' by 3'
1857 Joseph Gayetty sells first factory-made toilet paper  These were loose, flat, sheets of paper
1871 Zeth Wheeler patents rolled and perforated wrapping paper
1872 John Kimberly, H. Babcock, Charles Clark, and F.Shattuck open Kimberly, Clark and Company
1874 Wheller created the Rolled Wrapping Paper Company, but the company couldn't turn a profit,
1877 Wheller reorganized into the Albany Perforated Wrapping Paper Company
1877 Albany Perforated Wrapping Paper Co. sells Perforated Toilet Paper ('The Standard') on a roll.
1879 Walter Alcock, of England introduced the perforated toilet roll
1879 Scott Paper Company sells the toilet paper on a roll, which led to the popular Waldorf brand
1885 Oliver Hewlett Hicks patents package of toilet paper.and the manufacturing process
1894 U.S. Supreme Court invalidate Hicks patents in favor of Seth Wheeler's 1871 patent.
1935 Northern Tissue advertises its toilet paper as "splinter-free"
1942 First two-ply toilet paper from St. Andrew's Paper Mill in England; paper becomes softer
CAPs: Wheeler, Seth Wheeler, Joseph Gayetty, Walter Alcock, Oliver Hewlett Hicks, Edward Scott, Clarence Scott, Irwin Scott, John Kimberly, H. Babcock, Charles Clark, F.Shattuck, ARYs: toilet paper, TP, lavatory paper, toilet tissue, bathroom tissue, toilet roll, SIP, history, invention, stroy, facts, inventor, biography.
The Story:


History of Household Items   from The Great Idea Finder

Panati’s Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things
by Charles Panati / Paperback - 480 pages Reissue edition (September 1989) / HarperCollins
Discover the fascinating stories behind the origins of over 500 everyday items, expressions and customs.

Mommy! I Have to Go Potty! : A Parent's Guide to Toilet Training
by Jan Faull / Paperback - 140 pages /
Parenting Press (May 1996)
After years of managing child care centers and working in parenting education, Faull realized she could make a difference in children's lives by working through their parents. Fascinated by the topic, she returned to the University of Washington for a master's degree in early childhood education.
The World Market for Cut-to-Size Toilet Paper in Rolls or Sheets: A 2004 Global Trade Perspective
Download / Digital Format: Adobe Reader (PDF) / (WIN/MAC) / ICON Group International, Inc. (2003)
This report was created for strategic planners, international executives and import/export managers who are concerned with the market for cut-to-size toilet paper in rolls or sheets. With the globalization of this market, managers can no longer be contented with a local view.

Bathroom Tech
DVD / 1 Volume Set / 50 Minutes / History Channel / 73182 / Less than $25.00
From tub to toilet to toothpaste, here's everything you ever wanted to know about the most used and least discussed room in the house. From the first home bathrooms in ancient India, Roman latrines, and bizarre Victorian-era bath contraptions, to modern luxurious master bathroom suites, we trace the history of bathing, showering, and oral hygiene.

Household Wonders  
DVD / 1 Volume Set / 50 Minutes / History Channel / Less than $25.00
HOUSEHOLD WONDERS tells the story of seven taken-for-granted inventions that make modern life comfy, fast and clean: the stove, sewing machine, refrigerator, air conditioner, washing machine, vacuum cleaner, toaster and mixer.


Fun Facts
When and where was toilet paper first invented? Historical Facts presented by Toilet Paper World.
History of Toilet Paper
It's amazing how often we get some variation of the questions, Here are a few of the highlights in the evolution of toilet paper that we've compiled from various sources.
History on a Roll
Sometimes I amaze myself on what I find while doing this column. There are many things we take for granted; yet we must realize that someone has to invent those items we regularly use, even though we really never think or talk about them. One of those items is toilet paper. Article b
y Don Rittner.
Paper Museum
The Museum often gets questions of general interest concerning paper.The basic process, however, has remained essentially unchanged for thousands of years. We hope the answers to these questions interest you.
U.S. Supreme Court Decision
MORGAN ENVELOPE CO v. ALBANY PERFORATED WRAPPING PAPER CO., or Hicks sues Wheeler for patent infringement.
Wheeler Family Biography
Includes extensive article on Seth and his family.
Kimberly Clark and Scott History
in 1872, Kimberly, Clark and Company established in Neenah Wisconsin, with $30,000 capitalization.
(URL: )
Paper & Packaging
Seth Wheeler of Albany, NY received first U.S. patent for an "Improvement in Wrapping-Paper"; perforated wrapping paper; paper wound into rolls, easily torn off at perforations; saved cost of cutting, counting, bundling stacks of pre-cut sheets; made storage more convenient.
Scott Brand History
In 1879, Scott Paper Company was founded by brothers E. Irvin and Clarence Scott in Philadelphia.
A listing with links to Toilet Museums Around the World

"Maybe they should have a toilet paper museum. Would you like that? So we can see all the toilet paper advancements down through the ages. Toilet paper in the Crusades. The development of the perforation. The first six-pack."  - Jerry Seinfeld

How a Toilet Works - Until recently, gravity flush toilets were the most common types of toilets found in residences. But today, water conservation is the driving force behind a search for the most efficient flushing toilet, and we now have a variety of mechanisms operating our toilets


  • On December 19, 1973 comedian Johnny Carson causes a three week toilet paper shortage in the USA after a joke scares consumers into stockpiling supplies
  • The average American uses 57 sheets of toilet paper a day or more than 20,805 sheets a year, and is a $2.4 billion dollar industry.
  • In 1990, the paperless toilet invented in Japan (combination toilet, bidet and drying element)
Designated trademarks and brands are the property of their respective owners.
Reference Sources in BOLD Type. This page revised September 28, 2006.

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