John Douglas Co.

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The John Douglas Co. were makers of plumbing fixtures and most famous for their toilets.

The John Douglas Co of Cincinnati, Ohio was one of the great 19th and early 20th century American plumbing manufacturing companies, that probably went out of business in the depression, like so many others.

It was first established in 1887. The company's trademark was the moon in crescent and the logo "The best is cheapest", and the label markings on a Douglas toilet are among the best ever seen on old antique toilet bowls. Usually the company name is written in large stylized lettering on the back or front rim surface, or the logo is at the back near the seat hinge holes, and the model name is down inside the bowl under the back rim.

They seem to have been a water closet (toilet) company first and foremost since their catalogues start out with information on toilet sets and the very high quality of their wooden tanks. The largest part of theircatalogues  is devoted to toilets. But they also made everything else for bathrooms and kitchens including Bathtubs, Showers, Kitchen sinks and brass work.

Some of the Douglas toilet models that were most common were called Gloria, Royal, Favorite, Leader, Excelcius, Yale, Empire, Capitol, and Avon. These bowls date from around 1900 to the mid twenties.

One antique bath fixture legend that is popular is that the slang term for the toilet, "the John" comes from the company name,,,,The John Douglas Co. I have never confirmed it though and have no way to know if that is true. My feeling is that it probably is not true, but who knows?

It seems that the company was founded by a John Douglas before 1905.

The petitioner, The John Douglas Company, is a corporation organized under the laws of the State of Ohio on June 10,1890, with its principal office and plant at Cincinnati. It is engaged in the manufacture and sale of sanitary plumbing fixtures and plumbing supplies. The business of the petitioner was started by John Douglas, a plumber, who invented and patented the Douglas rubber-ball valves used in flush tanks. Prior to 1905 the principal products of the petitioner were wooden tanks and wooden seats for water closets. The water closet bowel was purchased from factories in and near Trenton, N. J. It and other fixtures were assembled at the petitioner's plant and sold as a unit. The flush tank was made of wood and lined with zinc, copper, lead or tin. Wooden tanks are unsatisfactory because of warping and cracking. Iron and enamel tanks are subject to rust.

Whilst the 'Gloria' was a John Douglas product, it appears that 'The Original Gloria Toilet' was created by John Douglas Ridenour, owner of the John Douglas Plumbing Company, Cincinnati OH.  His father, Charles E. Ridenour, was the first plumber in Springfield, Ohio and owner/proprietor of the Charles E. Ridenour and Co. Plumbing, originally located at 37-39 West Highland Street in Springfield, OH ( Circa 1910). One specific model, inscribed to Ridenour, was given by Douglas as a gift for achieving Ohio State President of the Master Plumbers Association in 1910!

John Douglas is known to have bought property in Pleasant Ridge on part of the land that made up C.E. Brockmann's farm. Christian E. Brockmann was a potter. He was born in Germany, July 4, 1834 and arrived in Cincinnati around 1848. He founded and owned The Brockmann Pottery Company. Douglas built the current house, a beautiful four-square house (now 2927 Douglas Terrace), probably demolishing the former Brockmann house. In the late 1920s, Douglas began selling off his farmland for development.

A family relationship between John Douglas and John Douglas Ridenour has not been found.



Sources for this article include:
  • Vintage Plumbing- Richmond, VA.

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    Last modified: Thursday, 16 January 2020