thomas elkins chamber commode patent image

A throne invented in Albany

thomas elkins chamber commode patent image cropped

Here's a larger, uncropped version of the illustration submitted with the patent. (Also, check out Elkins's signature -- the guy signed with a flourish.)

Patented 144 years ago this Saturday by Dr. Thomas Elkins of Albany: The Chamber Commode. From this application:

My invention relates 'to a new and useful article of chamber furniture which I denominate chamber-commode; and consists in the combination of a bureau, mirror, book-rack, washstand, table, easy-chair, and earth-closet or chamber-stool, or a combination of a number of the said articles in such a manner as to render the said piece of furniture capable of affording the several accommodations and conveniences to be had only in the several articles as they are now constructed, the object of this invention being the rendering of a single piece of furniture capable of serving in several capacities, whereby the several pieces of furniture now required for accommodation and convenience in a chamber may be dispensed with.

It's a dresser! It's a vanity! It's a book rack! It's a washstand! It's a chamber pot! It's all those things.

Noted: "The bottom of the said earth reservoir is made funnel shaped, as shown in Fig. 4, to carry the earth to a proper point back of the chair (l. A suitable valve or gate is provided to cut off or permit the fall of earth from or to the vessel placed in the chamber J, which valve or gate may be operated by any of the known methods now used."

The Chamber Commode wasn't the only invention from Elkins -- he also invented a device for refrigerating corpses and a combination dining/ironing/quilting table.

More importantly, Elkins -- who was African-American -- aided the Albany portion of the Underground Railroad From a short bio written by Paula Lemire over at the Albany Rural Cemetery - Beyond The Graves blog:

For a time, he lived a few doors away from Stephen and Harriet Myers on Lumber Street and actively took part in their work. He is identified as a member of the local Vigilance Committee which assisted slaves fleeing The South. As a trained doctor, it is more than likely he was able to offer medical assistance to those fugitives in need of such care. During the Civil War, he served as a medical examiner to the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (the unit made famous in the film Glory).

Elkins lived to the age 82 and he's buried in Albany Rural Cemetery.

[via Rick Brutti]

Earlier on AOA: Toilet paper was invented in... Albany

image via Google Patents


Robin: "Holy crap, Batman! Look at what I found in the batcave!"

Q: "Now pay attention, 007. Always have an escape plan when you use the new Chamber Commode."

Major Marquis Warren: "Move a little strange, you're gonna get stuck. Not a warning, not a question... [pause]... Just stuck!"

Earth Closet! Now that's poetry in motion.

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