Not too many people have claw footed tubs these days but they can be a real thing of beauty. Here is some history courtesy of Vintage Tub and Bath.
image from pinterest
**snippet of article from vintage tub and bath. go to the website for the rest of the article
Tub A Brief History of Bathing in General and the Clawfoot Bathtub
The earliest plumbing systems ever discovered date back nearly 6000 years to the Indus River Valley in India where copper water pipes were excavated from the ruins of a palace. Fast forward 3000 years to the island of Crete where the ancestor of a pedestal tub was unearthed – five feet long, made of hard pottery, its shape resembling the 19th century clawfoot tub.
The Roman Empire from 500 BC through AD 455 championed the daily ritual of bathing and raised the bar for acceptable sanitation. They used lead and bronze pipes, marble fixtures, and created a comprehensive sewerage system. During this period, public baths were most common, and private baths resembled indoor pools usually encompassing an entire room.
After the collapse of the Roman Empire and descent into the Dark Ages, sanitation virtually disappeared. Bathing was replaced by the use of perfume. Waste was thrown out into streets or emptied directly into rivers that also served as the drinking water supply. In fact, the slang term for toilet, loo, is reported to have derived from the practice of the French yelling out the warning, “Gardez l'eau!” (pronounced gardy loo – meaning “mind the water”), before emptying the chamber pot from an upper level onto the street below.
Really great article from Old House Journal
snipped from article: Before indoor plumbing, bathtubs—like chamber pots and washbowls—were moveable accessories: large but relatively light containers that bathers pulled out of storage for temporary use. The typical mid-19th-century bathtub was a product of the tinsmith's craft, a shell of sheet copper or zinc. In progressive houses equipped with early water-heating devices, a large bathtub might be site-made of sheet lead and anchored in a coffin-like wooden box. Later, there were ingenious (though ultimately impractical) hideaway alternatives, like the portable canvas tub (similar to a pot-bellied cot), or the Mosby folding tub—an armoire-like contraption with a hinged door that pulled down like a Murphy bed to reveal a bathing saucer. However, for decades, the bathtub most Americans knew best was the one available in a 1909 hardware catalog: a tinware plunge bath with wood-covered bottom painted in Japan green (a type of pre-1940 enamel paint).
This article is not about Claw Footed Tubs, but Portable Tubs over the centuries. I thought was a fun article to share about tubs in general
**Snipped from an article on the Smithsonian Museum website. check out the page for more interesting tubs...
Portable Bathtubs: Tub Bathing from the Early 19th and 20th Centuries
Bathing, from the early 19th to the early 20th centuries, required stamina and fortitude. Without indoor plumbing, bathing involved filling small portable tubs with water, bucket by bucket. This, as well as different attitudes about cleanliness, meant that few people fully immersed themselves in water.
Just for fun... did Taft REALLY get stuck in the White House tub???
Snipped from the History Channels website
Topping the scales at over 350 pounds, William Howard Taft was a true political heavyweight. Although “Big Bill” was the only man to serve as both U.S. president and Supreme Court chief justice, what most remember about Taft is that he supposedly became stuck in the White House bathtub. The story, however, apparently doesn’t hold water. No documentary evidence backs it up, and according to Brady Carlson, author of the book “Dead Presidents: An American Adventure into the Strange Deaths and Surprising Afterlives of Our Nation’s Leaders,” the story didn’t arise until two decades after Taft left the presidency. Carlson says the sudsy tale first surfaced along with other presidential dirt in longtime White House usher Ike Hoover’s 1934 memoir, “42 Years in the White House.”
With daily bathing becoming more accepted by the 1880s, many attempted to develop innovative ways to heat bath water and to incorporate the portable bathtub within a room setting. The Mosely Folding Bath Company advertised a folding bath in the 1895 Montgomery Ward Catalog. This tub, disguised as a mirrored wardrobe, folded down and out of its wood casing into the room, revealing the heater above.
This was similar to Bruschke & Ricke’s combined sofa and bathtub of the same period. The sofa’s bolster concealed a water tank and heater, while the seat unfolded to reveal a bathtub. Often, large rubber aprons protected the wood or carpeted floor. Accounts of igniting sofas and burned bathers dampened the product’s appeal. Since neither bathtub attached to plumbing nor pipes, used bath water drained into a basin and then required emptying.