Date Made/Found: Around 1790
Material and Medium: Old Sheffield Plate
Dimensions: Overall: 88 x 104 x 275mm (3 7/16 x 4 1/8 x 10 13/16in.)
Department: Decorative Art
Accession Number: L1943.310
This object is a ladies urinal or ‘bordaloue’, made of Old Sheffield Plate in the late 1700s or early 1800s.
The curved shape of this chamber pot is designed specifically for women to use when a public convenience was not available. It helped to make long journeys by carriage bearable, as with the assistance of a lady's maid, it could be slipped beneath skirts and used while standing. The heavy silk petticoats worn by aristocratic ladies could make it difficult when nature called, so this handy device offered a neat solution.
The origin of the name is uncertain. One theory is that it comes from the name of a French preacher whose sermons were so lengthy that ladies were obliged to make use of the chamber pot during the course of the service.
Old Sheffield Plate was a cheaper alternative to silver, as it was made from a thin layer of silver fused to a base of copper. For an aristocratic lady an item like this fashioned in silver plate might have made it more appealing, but also the silver was resistant to tarnish and thus a practical choice too. Many cheaper versions were made of more basic materials such as tin or leather.