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Child’s rocking chair commode, Europe, 1751-1850

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A commode is a chair that has a chamber pot underneath. As such, this chair was likely to have been used by a sick child who was unable to reach a toilet. Diarrhoea was a common cause of sickness and death among children. Made from mahogany and pine, this example measures just over 620 mm high. In 1700s England, chamber pots were often emptied on to the street, allowing human waste to wash down the roads.

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Glossary: cabinet chair

A piece of furniture that conceals a chamber pot. Used as a toilet.