How did people wipe on chamber pots?

I suppose that you’re right, I just have a really hard time wrapping my mind around this one. Thank god for indoor plumbing.

Well, was there? There wasn’t in the country when my dad was a kid, but then they were poor.

Thanks for this:

My own technique now seems decidedly unimaginative.

Thanks also for motivating me to look up Gargantua in Wikipedia, where I discover this concise synopsis of the 5th book in the Pantagruel/Gargantua series:

Sadly, the synopsis fails to record whether our hero used a chamber pot as a receptacle for his produce, or indeed which unfortunate beast was employed by him to wipe away the detritus from his nether regions.

Well, it’s been around in it’s almost-current form for about 150 years (first factory-made TP was produced in 1857), but I guess not everybody used it…

“Nockhole”. Heh heh.

Go to a slum in a third-world country, where many millions of people live. They eat and sleep in filth. They share the filthy spaces with animals, fleas, rats, wild dogs and their stinky bodies, all packed into tight quarters. The children play in it. The whole place stinks like something you can’t imagine.

You don’t need to time travel to answer questions spurred by the OP.

I’m laughing my ass off imagining someone trying to catch the goose the second time around. The first time, the poor, unsuspecting goose might be easy enough to catch, but the second time …?

Further information: in early to mid-Victorian London, it was the practice for nightsoil men to come around and take people’s poop for a fee, which would then be carted to the edge of town and sold. It was quite common for a house to have a cesspit underneath, which was essentially a basement you filled with poop until you had someone come and take it away by the ton.

Eventually, however, London grew to the point that the nightsoil men had to charge unacceptably high prices for their services (because it was such a long way to the edge of town), and many landlords stopped paying for it. In the poorer areas (and I don’t mean just slums, I mean the lower middle classes as well), human waste just piled up in cesspits, courtyards, and streets. In a house with several flats, poor people lived on the bottom floors with the filth, and middle-class types lived on the upper floors where it was cleaner.

Between the piles of filth and the elderly water pipes, the results were that most Londoners were in the habit of consuming poop on a daily basis. Poor people frequently dipped their water right from the pits, since there wasn’t anywhere else to get it, but the ordinary water pumps situated every few blocks were frequently contaminated too. Even wealthy people couldn’t avoid it, really. And so when someone brought cholera to London, it spread easily.

The story of the cholera and how London eventually dealt with its sewage problem is a fascinating one. It took decades, and even the Great Stink didn’t spur immediate action.

…and an attorneys bag…

“C’mere ya bastard lawyer, I’m, gonna wipe my nockhole on yer bag”

The Straight Dope

Where I grew up, in an undeveloped country, water is used for washing more that toilet paper or cobs. A pot with a snout is kept next to the chamber pot.

This thread is fun and it’s making me think, but who on Earth *purchased * poop?!?! For what reason?

I have this horrible scene in my mind now of a farmers market shop stall with all sorts of turds strung up like sausages. “Poo here, get your poo here, all shapes, all sizes, get your poo here!”

My Grandmother owned (which has since passed to her sister) a diary that her Great-Grandmother (Maybe Great-Great) kept when they first moved west. One of the entries was that (and I summarize here) she had, in the rush of packing, forgotten her extra cloths for menstruation, and had to borrow from her sister-in-law. (whom apparently she did not care for that much)

That would only have been 30 years or so from the setting of P&P, so I would assume most women did the same thing?

Fertilizer, is my guess.

Which is the only thing I could think of, but surely there was enough crap around from animals and the like that nobody would have that great of need for a few human turds.

Tanners. Not a good job.

Tanners? As in animal hides? I’ve seen it done on deer hide and I don’t recall having to smear poop on them. What purpose would human feces serve in the process of making leather?

Well, if you think poo in the chamber pot is bad, people used to save urine until it went “stale” (turned to ammonia) and use it as a cleaning agent. Particularly for things like sheep fleeces (I’m mean, a sheep has been living in that wool, and they don’t use toilet paper…) Inuit were known to use it as a shampoo. It’s a great degreaser

It’s my understanding that the poo was sold to farmers.

As it happens, I’m reading a nice little autobiography by a woman who grew up in my area 100 years ago. I just read the part about chores, and here is part of what she wrote about ironing day:

So it seems that each woman was responsible for caring for her own personal supply of cloths, right up until the paper ones were developed. Here, it would have been about 1910.

…and it makes a handy coolant when the Russians shoot a hole in your radiator.