1860 Sitz Bathtub

Description
A bath in a sitz or sit tub was said to provide relief from inflammation of the brain and organs of the chest, as well as nervous fevers.* The bather sat partially immersed up to the navel, in cold water with the head supported at the back and the feet dangling over the edge.
Physician John Bell wrote A Treatise on Baths in 1859 in which he defined baths by the manner of water application to the body, by the bath’s temperature, and the parts of the body immersed in water. He categorized such a bath taken in this type of tub as a semicupium (lower half of body), cold (40°–70°), immersion type.
This tin tub, now worn and unattractive, shows evidence of a fomer beauty. Hints of red paint beneath the current chips of cream indicate that it was a red tub, with cream–colored striped accents on the base and a cream interior. The arm rests, ending in bold scrolls, lend elegance to the form.
For more information on bathing and bathtubs in the 19th and early 20th centuries, please see the introduction to this online exhibition.
* John Bell, A Treatise on Baths, (Philadelphia: Lindsay and Blakiston, 1859): 295-296.
Location
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1860
maker
unknown
place made
unknown
Physical Description
tin (overall material)
paint (overall material)
iron (ring material)
Measurements
overall: 23 3/4 in x 25 in x 33 in; 60.325 cm x 63.5 cm x 83.82 cm
overall: 62 cm x 68 cm x 65 in; 24 7/16 in x 26 3/4 in x 165.1 cm
ID Number
DL.238049.0084
catalog number
238049.0084
accession number
238049
Credit Line
Gift of Kenneth E. Jewett
subject
Bathing
Portable Bathtubs
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Domestic Life
Domestic Furnishings
Bathtubs
Family & Social Life
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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