Why Some Bathtubs Have Claws



bathtubs,clawfoot bathtubs

Clawfoot bathtubs are enigmatic bathroom fixtures, to say the least, especially when you consider the fact that a good amount of people find it perfectly normal for a bathtub to have feet ...

... with claws.

But, why is that? Why are a bathtub’s feet clawed, and why do people think that’s pretty normal?

Why do bathtubs have “feet” at all?

It’s easy to imagine a bathtub without feet; we see them all the time, which begs the question why a bathtub would have feet of any kind, much less ones with claws.

Well, as it happens, the bathtub ascended in popularity faster than modern plumbing did, and as bathing became fashionable (because, as crazy as it may seem, there was a time when it was not) people needed a way to drain their new tubs. Of course, it was better to drain it from the bottom rather than bail it out with a bucket, and feet made complete draining easier.

It was also a matter of portability, as the very first bathtubs (in the West, anyway) were meant to be at least somewhat moveable. Plus, it didn’t hurt that bringing the tub up off the floor helped avoid damage from condensation and water transfer, and helped the whole affair look a lot less like a hog trough.

Finally, of course, it was a matter of design. Many tubs of the day were cast in a basin shape that, without support, would just roll over and dump the bather out onto the floor along with the bathwater. Over time, several design options and soaking tubs would come to challenge “the bath on feet,” as advertisers called them, but clawfoot bathtubs would endure.

Yeah, okay, but why the claws?

Call it a confluence of design: The “ball and claw” just happened to be a popular style feature that was in fashion when tub designs were taking off. The clawfoot tub is thought to have originated in Holland in the 18th century and then spread throughout Europe from there, although the design itself may have been inspired by the ancient Chinese imagery of a dragon holding an orb.

The European aristocracy really took a shine to the look on their bathtubs, which likely plays a part in why the clawfoot design carries notes of luxury to this day.

Barclay''s cast-iron clawfoot tub features a rolled top and comes in six different finishes.

This clawfoot tub from Cambridge Plumbing comes in a slipper design that offers a deep and luxurious soaking experience. 

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