City Readers Digital Historic Collections at the New York Society Library
Alexander Cumming (1733-1814)
Alexhander Cumming (sometimes referred to as Alexander Cummings) FRSE (1733 –8 March 1814) was a Scottish watchmaker and instrument inventor, who was the first to patent a design of the flush toilet, which had been pioneered by Sir John Harrington, but without solving the problem of foul smells. The S-trap (or bend) was invented by Cumming in 1775 to retain water permanently within the bowl, thus preventing sewer gases from entering buildings. It survives in today's plumbing modified as a U- or J-shaped pipe trap located below or within a plumbing fixture.