Collecting Bedpans and Urinals
Almost everyone gives me the "look" when I tell him or her of my unusual collection. It's a look that says: "Are you out of your ever-loving, freaking skull?"
It's usually followed with, "You collect bedpans and urinals?? Aren't those for…like…you know…'going'…in the hospital?"
Yes, they are.
Then I most always get this follow-up response: "I hope you wash them first."
Yes, I do.
Bedpan collector Eric Eakin
I realize that most people have a hard time understanding how someone who, by all appearances, is mentally healthy and normal (generally, I would say this is mostly correct) could devote time to collect things into which sick people 'go.'
You have to see this collection to understand it. Verbal, or written, descriptions alone do not do it justice.
I have about 200 antique and unique bedpans, fracture pans, urinals and related items in my collection, some dating from the late 1700s.
I have paid as much as $60 for one particularly beautiful, "tiger-eye" glazed round bedpan; I have paid as little as, "here, you can have this. I was going to empty my car oil into it until I heard you collect them."
I have ceramic bedpans in a wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes, some even fashioned to look like birds. I have them in Rockingham, Bennington. There are metal ones, enameled and uncoated, plain and fancy, some with lids, some without. There are plastic bedpans, fracture pans (for washing), even bedpans made from recycled newspaper.
I have bedpans sized for children or adults; I have little potties for use by girls and boys while traveling. I even have a Tommy Tippee-brand travel urinal for children from the 1950s.
I have male and female urinals of glass, metal, plastic and ceramic, in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.
I have urine-specimen bottles from Canada; novelty bedpans used for advertising; bedpan ashtrays; bedpan-themed get-well cards; teeny-tiny bedpans used in doll houses (for infirm dolls in doll hospitals?); bedpans used as artwork ("The James Traficant Bedpan of Justice" by noted bedpan artist Dave Sparks and other painted in an American Indian motif); bedpans from Israel and Great Britain; even molds used to make ceramic bedpans.
I also have enema cans; an inflatable bedpan; a plastic urinal signed by the 13-year-old girls on my daughter's soccer team on the event of my birthday; even a urine-collection bottle used by crewmembers aboard B-52 bombers.
I even have a urinal from China that was used much like chamber pots were used here years ago.
You see, I have not gone into this bedpan-collecting thing lightly. I got in at the bottom. We all have heard of the guy who didn't have a pot to piss in. I'll never be that guy. My house has three bedrooms and almost 200 bathrooms.
I can say with some certainty that more than 90 percent of the people who have gone into my basement and seen this collection first hand come away with a better understanding of these efforts.
I would venture to say that most are fairly impressed, if that is the appropriate term.
"How did this all start?" I can hear you asking.
It started when my mother visited friends in England. As she was departing for home, they gave her a key to a locker at the airport, telling her that her going-away gift was to be found there. Lo and behold, it was a very large, white ceramic Boots-brand slipper-type bedpan. Much to her chagrin, and her hosts' devilish delight, she was forced to carry this item through customs, onto the plane, through customs again, onto another plane and back to Bay Village.
It sat for many years, trophy-like, on the top of a commode in a small lavatory, filled with plastic flowers. She somehow found another just like it (a child's size) and put the bigger one into the bigger bathroom, the smaller into the lavatory.
When she passed on and my father moved away, I inherited two bedpans (among other things), and two of anything is the start of a collection. My wife like antiquing and I began to notice these items, unwanted, unloved, misunderstood, un-proudly displayed under tables and beneath more-valuable items. I knew they just needed the right home, the companionship of brethren, to realize their full potential.
This collection has garnered a bit of notoriety for my family and myself. A segment we taped ran on MTV for about eights month on a show called "MTV News: Unfiltered." We have appeared on local television shows and been written about in newspapers.
Now, thanks to www.clevelandseniors.com, this collection and its story is on the Web for the world to see and marvel.
I can only hope this exposure, combined with the education and enlightenment you have just received, cuts down on the "looks" I get.
Bay Village, OH
What do you think of Eric's collection? Do you collect something unusual? Let us know.
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Some Responses to Erik's collection:
I also have a bedpan/urinal collection, not as extensive as yours and I do not intend to acquire any more pieces. My collection consists of 11 pieces and being a retired nurse, I like my display and guests often have something fun to say about them. I enjoyed looking at your photos, thank you.
Amy Kenneley wrote, "Viewing his wonderful collection, I was holding……my breath!"
Just found you website with photos of all of your unique bedpans, and was surprised to find that I'm not the only crazy person collecting bedpans.
Are you selling any of yours, or are you buying? Am especially interested in where you got your porcelain ones and what you had to pay for them. Am assuming those are among the ones you got from England.
I LOVE IT!!! I ALSO PLAN TO SHARE THIS WITH ALL THE NURSES I WORK WITH AND HAVE WORKED WITH IN THE PAST…THEY WILL GET A KICK OUT OF IT.
HOW DOES ONE GO ABOUT VIEWING YOUR COLLECTION? I WOULD LOVE TO SEE IT IF I AM EVER IN THE CLEVELAND AREA. BETH
Hi, my name is April and I think that his collection is awesome. I know that everyone has something they collect usual and unusual. I feel that whatever you collect represents who you are....and collecting bedpans are unique and he must be unique and fun with a caring spirit.
I collect bedpans too. I have only about 90 though at the present time. But I also collect old outhouses.
If they are dilapidated and free, I give them a "facelift" and the support they need, and I put them in my 3-acre garden and plant flowers around them.
I was so excited to come across another collector. My wife thinks I am a little crazy, but she humors me.