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The Hisotry of Toilet Paper

Toilet paper was first produced in China in the 14th century.

The first factory-made paper marketed exclusively for toilet use was produced by Joseph Cayetty in the United States in 1857. Cayetty's name was printed on every sheet.

Before this invention, wealthy people used wool, lace or hemp for their ablutions, while less wealthy people used their hand, defecated into rivers, or cleaned themselves with various materials such as rags, wood shavings, grass, hay, stone, sand, moss, water, snow, maize husks, or seashells, depending upon the country and weather conditions or social customs. In Ancient Rome, a sponge was commonly used.

In some parts of the world, the use of newspaper, or telephone directory pages were common. Old Farmer's Almanac was sold with a hole punched in the corner so it could be hung on a nail in the outhouse. The widely distributed Sears catalogue was also a popular choice until it began to be printed on glossy paper (at which point some people wrote to the company to complain). In Hervé Bazin's Viper in the Fist, a Catholic family uses pages of the Catholic newspaper La Croix after cutting off the image of the Calvary.

In monarchical Russia, some subordinates stamped the toilet paper with imperial arms for the use of the Tsar. In the court of King Henry VIII, the Groom of the Stool was given the job of cleaning the royal posterior with his hand. The Groom of the Stool was both a highly respected and coveted position. For security reasons, only a highly trusted courtier would be chosen and it was coveted because of the influence he might have with the king,daily having the opportunity to be alone with His Royal Highness.

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