Friday, May 1, 2009

Researching our Trenton Potteries Si-Wel-Clo toilet

I've been using Google Books to do some research and try to figure out exactly when the toilet, a Si-Wel-Clo by Trenton Potteries, in my non-master bath was made. I haven't been able to find anything exactly like it in the literature I've seen for their products in 1925 or 1926, when our house was built. Google Books now allows you to cut and paste from books that are in the public domain (and probably some others, too).

The closest match I've been able to find is the one below, in The Architectural Review, from 1919. The tank, however, looks closer in shape to the one shown in the American Review of Reviews from 1915. While the shape of the tank is right on, the water supply for our tank is at the top, not the bottom.

Trenton Potteries published a hardbound catalog of their complete collection, under the title of The Blue Book of Plumbing. The 1921 edition, Catalogue R, came in at about 350 pages, the 1927 edition, Catalogue T, a mere 200 or so. As for Catalogue S, WorldCat lists no copies, so I cannot be sure, but I expect it would be somewhere between the two. These books, like many trade catalogues of the vintage, are extremely rare. WorldCat lists but five copies of Catalogue R and four of Catalogue T worldwide. There are no copies of catalogues O through Q, nor are there any listed before the letter N. As for their locations, there are two libraries that have all three of the catalogued catalogs - Rutgers University and the US Patent and Trademark Office. It'd be great to sit down with copies of these catalogs so that I could compare and contrast them.

[Note: this post brings to my attention that I really need to adjust the template I'm using to more readily show wider images.]

Text not available
Architectural record By American Institute of Architects - 1912

Text not available
The World's work a history of our time By Walter Hines Page, Arthur Wilson Page - 1914

Text not available
The American Magazine - 1915

Text not available
The American Review of Reviews By Shaw, Albert, 1857-1947 - 1915

Text not available
McClure's Magazine ... - 1915

Text not available
The Architectural Review - 1919

Text not available
The National geographic magazine By Henry Gannett, National Geographic Society (U.S.), Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor, Melville Bell Grosvenor, John Hyde, John Oliver LaGorce - 1922

6 comments:

Shane and Casey said...

Is your toilet "silent?" :)

Christopher Busta-Peck said...

I don't know. They only meant "silent" to the extent that it couldn't be heard outside the bathroom, and I haven't made a point of standing outside the bath door to listen.

Jayne said...

Doesn't it make you wonder how noisy other toilets of the time were? I mean, really, if it caused "mental discomfort"....

Why S? said...

Jayne, I wondered the some thing. Maybe they were just really, really sensitive then.

I love that they used the word "closet." How discreet!

Christopher Busta-Peck said...

It seems to be about as loud as the Kohler toilet we have in the basement of the same vintage. However, the Kohler has had the internals replaced with one of those generic rebuild kits, so that may have affected the noise levels. I have to imagine that five to eight gallons of water will sound louder than a mere couple.

Now I'm slightly tempted to put audio recordings up here of the toilets. Alas, I didn't make one of the Trenton Potteries toilet before it was rebuilt.

Anonymous said...

Hello,
I just bought a house with a similar toilet and was looking for information. Yours was very helpful. Do you have any idea how much one is worth? I don't plan to sell it, since it goes so well with my 1900-built house (as does claw foot tub too!), but I was just curious.