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Zeth (Seth) Wheeler

Zeth (Seth) Wheeler

American entrepreneur and inventor
Zeth (Seth) Wheeler
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American entrepreneur and inventor
Was Inventor Businessperson
From United States of America
Type Business
Gender male
Birth 18 May 1838, Chatham, Columbia County, New York, USA
Death 22 May 1925, Albany, Albany County, New York, USA (aged 87 years)
Star sign Taurus
Mother: Harriet H. Hatch Wheeler
Father: Alonzo Wheeler
Spouse: Elizabeth Boyd Wheeler
Children: Children Edgar J. WheelerHarriet Wheeler MartinWilliam Alonzo WheelerSeth Wheeler
The details


Seth Wheeler or Zeth Wheeler (18 May 1838-22 May 1925) was an American entrepreneur and inventor credited as the inventor of modern commercially available toilet paper.

Early life

Seth Wheeler was born on May 18, 1838, in Chatham, New York, to Alonzo Wheeler (1805–1867) and Harriet H. Hatch Wheeler (1813–1880). 


In 1871, Wheeler created perforated wrapping paper for which he received a patent on July 25, 1871, (No. US117355A). His patent titled Improvement in wrapping-papers consisted of a "roll of wrapping-paper with perforations on the line of the division between one sheet and the next, so as to be easily torn apart." Before the development of perforated rolled papers, manufacturers would manually cut their paper into sheets, count them out into quires or half-quires, fold them, and tie them up into bundles, such as halfreams or reams. The existing process involved considerable manual labor and expense.

Improvement in wrapping-papers (US117355A)

In 1877, Wheeler incorporated Albany Perforated Wrapping Company (later known as APW) in a building on the Northwest corner of Montgomery and Colonie Streets in Albany. That building was occupied by Albany Terminal Warehouse after the turn of the century. 

His firm, APW, also produced cabinets and fixtures for dispensing their rolled papers and it manufactured a medicated paper "heavily charged with ointment approved by the profession," which by the 1880s received positive testimonials from across the country. According to a history of the company published in 1886, "their specialty is hotel paper with fixture," indicating a broader market than just home consumers.

Over his career, Wheeler received over a hundred patents in the United States, Canada, and Europe for both machinery and new developments with paper products, including several for improvements with perforations. On December 22, 1891, he patented Toilet-paper roll (Patent No. US465588A)—a toilet paper roll that "consists of a roll of connected sheets of paper for toilet use, said roll having incisions at intervals extending from the side of the web toward the center."

Toilet-paper roll (US465588A)

Wheeler is also often credited with patenting a bracket to hold those tubes. His other patents include: Fixtures for toilet paper (CA38180A, February 1, 1892), Improvements on portable writing cases (CA14227A, February 21, 1882), Ornamented paper (CA45219A, February 2, 1894), and Machine for folding and interfolding single or superposed sheets (US777761A, December 20, 1904.)

Personal life

Wheeler was married to his wife Elizabeth Boyd Wheeler (1839–1911) since 1860. The couple had four children: Children Edgar J. Wheeler (1861–1908), Harriet Wheeler Martin (1863–1944), William Alonzo Wheeler (1870–1953), and Seth Wheeler (1878–1941).


Wheeler died on May 22, 1925, in Albany, New York. By the time he died, APW was a flourishing company with headquarters on Broadway in Albany.

To cite the article
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Article Title: Zeth (Seth) Wheeler: American entrepreneur and inventor - Biography and Life
Author(s): PeoplePill.com Editorial Staff
Website Title: PeoplePill
Publisher: PeoplePill
Article URL: https://peoplepill.com/people/zeth-wheeler/
Publish Date: 21 Nov 2019
Date Accessed: 20 Oct 2020
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