96-Year-Old Looking for Heir for His Toilet Seat Museum

Barney Smith has 1,350 decorated toilet seats on display, but it's time for him to pack it in
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 23, 2018 10:20 AM CDT
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In this May 16, 2018, photo, a visitor looks at some of the 1,350 decorated commode lids at Barney Smith's Toilet Seat Art Museum in Alamo Heights, Texas.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
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(Newser) – FOR SALE: One tiny kingdom, with many thrones. But it doesn't come with a title. That belongs to Barney Smith—the undisputed "King of the Commode," reports the AP. "There's a lot of me in there," he says, in front of the garage he's dubbed his Toilet Seat Art Museum. There's a lot of everything in there. Smith has one seat decorated with a chunk of the Berlin Wall and another with insulation from the doomed Challenger space shuttle. There are lids festooned with flint arrowheads, Civil War Minie balls, Amtrak train keys, Pez dispensers—even $1 million in shredded greenbacks from the Federal Reserve Bank in San Antonio. Every inch of door, wall, and ceiling is covered. But after five decades and countless offers, the king says everything must go. "At 96, I come out here with a cane. I've gotta hold onto everything to walk," says Smith. Still, it will be hard. "This is my life's history here."

It started more than 50 years ago, as a way to display hunting trophies. Smith says his father spent hours cutting out, sanding, and varnishing wooden shields to mount his antlers. The son figured a toilet seat lid would do just fine. "Well, I'm a master plumber, retired," he says. "I thought I ought to stick with my trade." Smith promised his wife, Louise, that he'd stop at 500. That was 850 toilet seats ago. "If I would have just read my Bible as many hours as I spent on my toilet seats, I'd be a better man," he says with a twinkle in his eye. People have told Smith that he's sitting on a pot of gold, but he's not looking to cash in. "I want all 1,350 to be intact in another museum somewhere," he says. "It's not the highest bidder." Smith would love for the collection to remain where it is. But if it must move to remain intact, so be it. "I'm ready to give it up and let it go to London," he says. The Loovre, perhaps?


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