Flushed With Pride - The Story of Thomas Crapper

Front Cover of
Flushed With Pride - The Story of Thomas Crapper
Back Cover of
Flushed With Pride - The Story of Thomas Crapper
Evidence that Thomas Crapper Really Lived!
This is the most wanted book among collectors. My sister gave it to me for my birthday in 1997. Being an avid library and book enthusiast, she took it upon herself to somehow locate a copy of the book.
The front and back covers are shown above along with a January 1977 report reprinted from the Potomac Basin REPORTER which states "Crapper Lives!" which was fortunately still taped inside the front cover! In the article, the writer claims he was upset about an article which appeared int he May 1975 Smithsonian which stated that "Crapper is a myth". The author took time during a London vacation to find Crapper's grave. He made a crayon rubbing of the gravestone and shows it to anyone not believing in Thomas Crapper. He went one farther and located someone who had found a drain cover with Crapper's name on it. He obtained the proper permission and then made a rubbing. That rubbing is the 3rd picture shown above. It says T. Crapper & Co Ld - Sanitary Engineers - Marlboro Works - Chelsea London.
The back cover is hard to read in the image above. It says; Thomas Crapper & Co., Patentees and Manufacturers ..OF.. Sanitary Appliances. Engineers by Appointment to His Majesty the King ..and.. H.R.H. The Prince of Wales. Marlboro Works, Chelsea, London, S.W.. Show Rooms and Offices: 50, 52, & 54 Marlborough Road, Chelsea, S.W. Catalogue and Price List, May, 1902. (Subject to alterations without notice.) All Previous Issues Cancelled.

From time to time, I receive corrections to what I have in print. The following is a response from a visitor to the Outhouses of America tour. I have no reason to dispute his claim. It does add a bit of mystery to the story about Mr. Crapper!
As a British plumber, I would like to correct some of your assumptions concerning one Thomas Crapper, plumbing Engineer, of Chelsea, England.
Crapper did not invent the water closet. (as far as can be ascertained from MUCH research done on this subject, he did not invent anything!)
Crapper was not Sir Thomas, although he and the company which he founded did work at various royal households, including Windsor, his company were plumbing installers.
Crapper did hold several patents, but not for water closets, some of the patent numbers in his advertising were not owned by him, although they did apply to the equipment he was advertising. All these patents are still in existence, so are very easy to check, and I feel that this is where much confusion has arisen.
It was very common in Victorian England for equipment like water closets, cast iron fittings and fireplaces etc. to bear the name of the installer, NOT the manufacturer. Catalogues of Crappers wares showed designs reproduced from manufacturers catalogues, emblazoned with crappers name at the factory where they were made and supplied to him in bulk for his company to install. There are still very many identical cast iron cooking ranges in good working order all over Yorkshire, each one bearing the name of the local blacksmith, or ironmonger, but he was the installer, not the maker. the maker was sometimes a local foundry, making a product to a standard design purchased as a license from the patent holder, but most were supplied from large foundries with two holes, 2 inches apart, tapped 1/4 whitworth and ready to take the installers nameplate, also made at the same foundry!!! This is the reason that Crapper manhole covers (along with many other names) can be found around London, it means installed by, and not necessarily made by or patented by!
The first patents for water closets belong to Cummins (1775) and the redoubtable Joseph Bramah (1778) the first reference to a washdown water closet is much earlier!
In 1597 Queen Elizabeth's godson , one Sir John Harington, published a tract entitled "Ajax", (a pun on the word "jakes" the common word for privy). In it he described and illustrated in diagrams the workings of a flushing (washdown) toilet and cistern. He claimed to have got the idea from an Italian! The Queen, who had a sensitive nose, had one made and installed in her palace at Richmond, where it proved a great success! (source: Eureka, an illustrated book of inventions. 1976 Thames and Hudson, London)
The etymology of the word "crap" can be easily traced back to before crapper was born, with variations in many languages, and references near to crappers lifetime are in Print when crapper was only ten years old. For more go to this link but be sure to return to the Outhouses of America tour.
In short, he did exist, the works he has left show he was a damn fine plumber, he was probably also a damn fine self publicist, or was it just a case of the right name at the right time? who knows.
Phil Whitley E.T.E (dist.)

But Wait!!! Hot News Just Off The Presses in August 2000
As amazing as this sounds, on August 11, 2000 I received an Email from someone at the actual Thomas Crapper factory in England. Their Email said:
Dear Sir,
May I draw to your attention the fact that Thomas Crapper & Co. Ltd. are trading again! (Yes this is the original company established in 1861.)
Please have a look at our web site. Here is the link to it so you can see for yourself!
I am sanitaryware enthusiast (I have no idea why) and have been restoring and supplying antique bathroom fittings for the past fourteen years. I also collect trade catalogues, salesmen’s samples and even full size W.C.’s and washbasins. Whilst doing some research upon my favourite company (T.C. & Co.) I was amazed to discover that the company still existed. It was dormant, i.e. not trading, but alive. Most people understood that T.C. & Co. went bust in 1966 – in fact they were SOLD in that year. The managing director lived abroad so that was the last anyone ever heard of it – until now!
After a great deal of persuasion I managed to acquire the firm and after two year’s work Thomas Crapper & Company Limited (established 1861) is producing the finest sanitaryware once again. Rather than producing ordinary ‘reproductions’, we produce ultra-authentic replicas – as a collector and dealer I know how these things should look.
I would like to comment upon Mr. Whitley’s remarks on your ‘Crapper’ page. Much of the time Thomas Crapper is credited with too much; he did not invent the W.C., the cistern, the syphon or the water trap. However Mr. Whitley goes too far the other way and dismisses Crapper as no more than an installer.
Thomas Crapper had his own factory (the "Marlboro’ Works") and produced his own goods from there in addition to having special and exclusive items made by others to his specifications. He also "bought in" standard lines from other manufacturers, as almost everyone did in those days. (We no longer do this – every product marked "Crapper" is exclusive to us.)
Crapper & Co.’s manhole covers were especially important to the company – they were their own products and held patents for them. ‘T. Crapper’ on a manhole cover means exclusive to, patented by and installed by Crapper & Co!
No less then four Royal Warrants were received – Westminster Abbey and Sandringham still posess Crapper products.
Crapper was a shrewd businessman and a self-publicist. In the process he promoted sanitary reform and brought sanitaryware "out in the open" – up until then bathroom suppliers and manufacturers were discretely situated in side-streets. Imagine the fuss when Crapper’s opened up in the King’s Road, opposite Royal Avenue, with W.C. bowls in the windows!
As far as etymology is concerned, ‘crap’ is a very old word although it fell out of use in Great Britain in the 1600’s. However, the Founding Fathers took it with them so Americans have always used the term. It was not used in Victorian Britain so Crapper’s name was not amusing or remarkable.
During the Great War the American servicemen stationed in London DID find it funny – they saw it on so many Water Closets that they began to call the W.C. a "Crapper". Though crude, the sobriquet made sense and it stuck. Therefore, ‘crap’ is an old word but "Crapper" for the W.C. is named after our man. In etymological circles, this process is called a ‘back-formation’!
Incidentally, we have a complete Reverend Henry Moule Earth Closet in our collection. We intend to go back into production of these splendid E.C.s – the most environmentally-agreeable loos on the planet? If you know anyone who wants one, ask them to contact us.
I will send some photographs of some of our collection for your interest. Please let me have your address.
I remain, yours sincerely,
Simon Kirby,
Managing Director.

What else can you see in the images shown? Many times a photo is worth a thousand words and I've only elaborated with a few so here is your chance to add some "color commentary" to my collection. If your addition is worthy, you will find the quote added on the Comments to the Curator page. You can use Email to respond. If you choose to go to the Comments to the Curator page, be prepared to relax with a large beverage of your choice. The reading is spectacular!

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Most recent revision August 23, 2000