While the history of bathing goes back to ancient history, the clawfoot bathtub as we know it is a fairly recent invention. The clawfoot tub copied its style from furniture, the design itself is from the 1700's in Holland. From Holland, the style moved to England and then to the United States. The two most common of the clawfoot furniture designs are the lion's paw style and the talon and ball style.
The tubs of this style became common in the 1850's, but they were cast iron with a painted inside surface. Over time, the paint tended to peel. It was not until the 1880's, that David Buick developed the process for bonding porcelain to cast iron. It was this process that allowed the clawfoot tub as we know it to come into existence. They were popular instantly.
The clawfoot tub was popular from the 1880's to the 1930's. It was the flu epidemic after WWI that was the downfall of these beautiful fixtures. People knew little about the illness, and became concerned with germs and cleanliness. Many saw the hard-to-reach spaces behind and under the tubs as potential breeding grounds for germs. While this wasn't true, it did cause changes in bathroom design.
The first answer that people came up with was to remove the feet from the tub and rest the rim on a platform, usually made of wood. They built a box around the tub and then they tiled the exposed sides. In 1911, Kohler came out with the first built-in tub, like we see in homes today. This would soon replace the clawfoot tubs in most homes.
Today we know that the flu virus was not encouraged by the beautiful clawfooted tubs, and the style is available and popular again. It is not hard to see why they are popular, as they add style and beauty to any bathroom. At Pelham & White, we believe you should have style in quality stand-alone tubs. Contact us for more information.