Great Moments in Toilet Paper History

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It's truly amazing how far the industry has come. In the early part of the 20th century, the Scott Paper Co. was once so embarrassed that it was manufacturing toilet paper that it wouldn't put its label on the product. Today, the U.S. toilet paper market is worth about $2.4 billion a year, and the United States is recognized as the world's premier manufacturer of high-end goods.

"We can all be grateful for what toilet paper contributes to the American economy," says Kenn Fischburg, CEO of "I guess you could say it caught on."

Northern Quilted, now celebrating its 100th anniversary, underwrote the Neville Museum exhibit with an $87,000 gift. The company plans to further commemorate the event by unveiling the world's largest roll of toilet paper. It stands 5 feet high, 7 feet wide and weighs 2,000 pounds. That's the equivalent of 10,561 rolls or 2,207,000 square sheets of TP — enough to wipe the bottoms of a family of five for 17 years.

To commemorate the grand history of bathroom technology, Fischburg — a second-generation paper goods and cleaning supplies vendor — helped The Wolf Files compile this timeline, featuring great moments in toilet paper history. Great Moments in Toilet Paper History

500 B.C.-A.D. 500: Roman So-Called Civilization — All public toilets feature a stick with a sponge attached to its end, soaking in a bucket of brine. Citizens use the tool to freshen up.

1391: The King's Pleasure — Chinese emperors begin ordering toilet paper in sheets measuring 2 feet by 3 feet.

1596: A Royal Flush — Sir John Harington, a godson of Queen Elizabeth I, invents the first flushing toilet (a distinction often attributed to plumber Thomas Crapper). 1700s: Damn Niblets! — Colonial Americans wipe with corncobs, later switching to old newspapers, catalogues and almanacs.

1857: Every Sheet Bears My Name — New York entrepreneur Joseph C. Gayetty manufactures the first packaged pre-moistened sheets of bathroom tissue — called "therapeutic paper" — in packs of 500 for 50 cents. Gayetty is so proud of his innovation that he had his name imprinted on each sheet.

1861-1904: The Gifts of Thomas Crapper — British plumber Thomas Crapper revolutionizes the toilet with a series of plumbing-related patents.