1880 - 1900 The Closet Folding Bathtub

1880 - 1900 The Closet Folding Bathtub

Usage conditions apply
With daily bathing becoming more accepted by the 1880s, many attempted to develop innovative ways to heat bath water and to incorporate the portable bathtub within a room setting. The Mosely Folding Bath Company advertised a folding bath in the 1895 Montgomery Ward Catalog. This tub, disguised as a mirrored wardrobe, folded down and out of its wood casing into the room, revealing the heater above.
This was similar to Bruschke & Ricke’s combined sofa and bathtub of the same period. The sofa’s bolster concealed a water tank and heater, while the seat unfolded to reveal a bathtub. Often, large rubber aprons protected the wood or carpeted floor. Accounts of igniting sofas and burned bathers dampened the product’s appeal. Since neither bathtub attached to plumbing nor pipes, used bath water drained into a basin and then required emptying.
For more information on bathing and bathtubs in the 19th and early 20th centuries, please see the introduction to this online exhibition.
Object Name
Tub, Bath
tub, bath
date made
Mosely Folding Bath Co.
place made
United States: Illinois, Chicago
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
iron (overall material)
glass (overall material)
tin (overall material)
overall: 24 in x 62 in x 26 in; 60.96 cm x 157.48 cm x 66.04 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Crane Company
Portable Bathtubs
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Domestic Life
Domestic Furnishings
Family & Social Life
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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I saw this bathtub in the Debbie Reynolds movie the Unsinkable Molly Brown inside her Cabin home. The one in the color movie was a gorgeous wood fold down bathtub. I had to google search for it since I didn’t know who manufactured it!
The wood cabinets containing the Mosely Folding Bath Tub were manufactured in Muskegon, Michigan by Gray Brothers - Frederick G. and Franklin M. Gray. Their two-story, 60-by-150-foot factory at Park and Hovey Streets had the capacity to turn out 100,000 feet of dressed lumber per day with a work force of fifty men.
Saw a Mosley Bathtub on American Pickers and wanted to know more about it. Thank you for having an article on it.
Saw a folding bathtub on American Picker and had to check it out.

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