Where did it come from, where did it go?
Last weekend we were blessed with the company of a lot of people who were gracious enough to tear my bathroom, the guest bathroom, apart, down to the studs and concrete floor. My cockamamy plans are to change the Jack and Jill bathroom into a single entrance bathroom with a huge shower, a vanity made from an antique dresser, a potty hidden behind a pony wall, and a clawfoot bathtub. This required the renting of a jack hammer and several trips to the hardware store, which is an hour away. It also inspired me to do some research on the origin of Clawfoot Tubs.
The clawfoot tub originated in the mid 18th century in the Netherlands. The claw foot was most likely inspired by the Chinese motif of a dragon holding a stone. From the Netherlands the design was introduced first in England and other European countries and then across the pond to the Americas.
In England, the design was popular with the aristocracy as bathing became more fashionable. The early tubs were cast in iron or possibly tin with a thin coat paint applied for appearance.
The tub took a huge leap forward when Scottish born inventor David Buick invented a process for bonding porcelain enamel to cast iron around 1880. That's right. The namesake of GM's China-pleasingest division was also the man who developed the enamel annealing process used to make cast-iron bathtubs white, which were the 19th-century equivalent of bathroom iPhones, and as such were a huge hit. Buick was, at the time, working for the Alexander Manufacturing Company. Both Alexander Manufacturing and Kohler Company began advertising the porcelain enameled cast-iron tubs as a "horse trough/hog scalder when furnished with four legs will serve as a bathtub." Evidently more people bought the "hog scalder/horse trough" so it sold better in that form than it did as a bathtub.
Clawfoot tubs come in four major styles:
Classic roll rim tubs, also called roll top tubs or flat rim tubs as seen in the picture at the top of this page.
Slipper tubs – where one end is raised and sloped creating a more comfortable lounging position.
Double slipper tubs – where both ends are raised and sloped.
Double ended tubs – where both ends of the tub are rounded, as opposed to the classic roll rim tub, which has one rounded end and one fairly flat end.
There has be a resurgence of the clawfoot tub in recent years and people realizing that the larger and deeper tub has a place in a functional and beautiful bathroom but modern models of the tub are not the heavy and sturdy cast iron of yesteryear. I will, if I can locate an antique and affordable model, have one in our remodeled bathroom.
A huge thank you to all of the wonderful Vaughan, Shaw, Saldivar, Contreras, Schauweker and Vick families!