Cowboy Bob's Dictionary

Gayetty's Medicated Paper

Advertising sheet for Gayetty's Medicated Paper

The only commercial toilet paper in the U.S. from 1857 until 1890, Gayetty's Medicated Paper (also known as "therapeutic paper") had to compete against free alternatives in the form of farmer's almanac and Sears & Roebuck catalog pages... and even corn cobs and leaves. To assure buyers that they had the genuine article, each sheet had inventor Joseph C. Gayetty's name watermarked on it. The "Medicated" term referred to the fact that the sheets were treated with aloe. Users still had to look out for the occasional splinter in the sheets. It wasn't until 1930 that Northern Tissue invented a "splinter-free" toilet paper.

(Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.)