Toilet Paper Takes Center Stage Amid Coronavirus OutbreakHistorians in the News
tags: hygiene, consumer goods
In olden times, sailors used the frayed end of a rope dipped in salt water.
Rural folk, legend says, once used corn cobs hung in outhouses.
Stones, moss, currency, newspapers, catalogues, almanacs, literature and government proclamations served until, by most accounts, a New York City inventor named Joseph C. Gayetty came up with the first commercial toilet paper around 1857.
It was “Gayetty’s Medicated Paper.” Made of hemp, it had the inventor’s name proudly watermarked on each sheet.
Now the novel coronavirus and consumer panic-buying have made Gayetty’s creation scarce, and prompted a look back at the history of toilet paper and its predecessors.
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