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Book toilets are so 18th-century France.

Aaron Robertson

February 20, 2020, 3:40pm

Books are very, very useful, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise

I’ve heard of people using them as purses and safes, doorstoppers and vases, wallpaper and even, uh, a bit of kindling.

In addition to interior edification, books have also been known to provide a bit of external relief to boot. As Atlas Obscura noted last month, certain prosperous households in 18th-century France boasted commodes made to resemble leather-bound books and folios.

Next month, the iconoclasts among us will get a chance to purchase one of these rarities when it goes to auction in New York.

For a mere $1,500 (or higher, depending on your fellow bidders), you can own your own fully functional, wooden book toilet complete with iron hinges, clasps, and latches. The title along the “spine” reads Historia Universalis, something like “the universal story” or, in my own loose translation, “all you need to know.”

Fortunately, the artifact doesn’t seem to show signs of use.

You could use it as set piece, sure, but wouldn’t you rather live the kind of life where you can take your favorite read into the restroom and truly be engaged with two books at once? Still haven’t decided whether you want to take your chance at the auction? That’s okay.

Sit on it.

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