How One Albany Inventor Revolutionized Toilet Paper

Meet Seth Wheeler, the man with the practical potty patents.

This 1891 patent illustrates two of Seth Wheeler's most notable inventions: the toilet paper roll and the paper's perforation.

OK, this may not technically be “Made in Saratoga,” but this Capital Region patent is just too good (and timely) not to bring up. While toilet paper—one of the COVID-19 pandemic’s hottest commodities—was officially invented in 14th-century China, an inventor in Albany named Seth Wheeler was the first person to think of putting it on a roll, an invention that he patented in 1871.

That’s right: rolled toilet paper was invented in the Capital City. And that’s not all. Wheeler was also responsible for adding perforations to the paper, creating the toilet paper square, for which he nabbed a patent 20 years later.

Over the course of his lifetime, Wheeler, a Chatham native, would go on to receive more than 100 patents. Some might say he was on a roll.  

Natalie Moore

Natalie Moore is the director of content at Saratoga Living and Capital Region Living.


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