In honor of World Plumbing Day, we present for your consideration the Nautilus Wave and Rocking bath, which popped up on author Lee Jackson's Victorian London twitter account. It was intriguing because a) it uses only three pails of water (because that's how people filled their baths then) and b) it was only four pounds, ( in 1891, which translates to £390.20 according to this calculator. That's US$561. But also because of the claimed health benefits.
Doing a search on it, I found that of course, Matt Novak of Paleofuture had dived deep into the tub and even found a description of it in my new favorite magazine, Lloyd's Weekly:
In this both the water can be set in motion by rocking, producing a sensation very much like the waves of the sea, which will delight and benefit especially invalids, delicate people and children. Only three pails of cold or hot water are required, and there is no splashing in the room to be apprehended. By placing a wedge under the curve of the back the bath can be made to serve the ordinary purposes of the tub.
Novak notes that water cures were a big deal, with spas opening all over Europe and America, and like those whirlpool tubs people put into their homes today, this was the home remedy.
The rocking bath simulated what it might be like to visit a body of water with real waves, allowing water's magical healing properties (according to some Victorian-era doctors) to wash over you naturally. Patients didn't even need to leave the house.
The other feature of that rocking bath is that it didn't appear to weigh too much and could be stored away when not in use. This is an aspect that might be useful today, as we live in smaller spaces: why have the tub take up all that room when it's only used occasionally? Why not have a modern version of the Robinson tub:
An absolutely new invention that has taken the entire country by storm. Nothing else like it. Gives every home a modern up to date bathroom in any part of the house. No plumbing, no waterworks needed. Folds in small roll, handy as an umbrella. Self-emptying and positively unleakable.
The other virtue of the portable bath is you don't have to be stuck in a little room, you can put it anywhere. There are a lot of people who identify bathtubs with reading; here are our two favorite tubs from TreeHugger:
Imagine time passing pleasantly - you are enveloped in warm foam; you’re reading a book, watching a movie, feeling the air and the light on your skin. You're bathing in creamy foam. More than a new style of bathing, this is something that will liberate a new horizon of human desire.More: "A New Desire" From LIXIL Is A New Kind of BathingSkinny house puts a bathtub in the library
The Victorians thought tubs were good for the body, but many others find that they are good for the mind. Screenwriter Dalton Trumbo did his best work in the tub; I wrote last year that "The stirring words "I AM SPARTACUS!" may well have been written while submerged, cigarette and whiskey close at hand. Designer Tom Ford takes baths five times a day, writing "I just lie in the water and kind of think. Or not think." That post had a poll, which I have reset, wondering: