The bucket is a form of container which was already used in the past to transport liquids or solid goods from A to B - a use which it has maintained. Even old versions of buckets had some sort of handle, so the form hasn't changed much either. There was a time when a bucket was also a unit of measurement for volume. A hundred litres fit into a barrel, ten litres fit into a bucket, like the ones used for cleaning. "One bucket" was an accepted and recognized cubic measure until well into the 19th century. The bucket is an old form of container, biblically old. The first buckets were used to transport liquids.
In Reute, near Ravensburg in Baden-Würtemberg, Germany, an old wooden bucket was found which historians dated back to 3,700 BC. Several other finds, made of bronze and beautifully decorated, apparently date even further back, as far as the 6th century BC. These early buckets were found in Austria, Slowenia and Northern Italy.
From what we know today, the handle was invented by the Romans, who used buckets carry wine in.
Later, in the 18th century, the bucket gained additional importance: Karl Theodor, Elector and Count of Pfalz, issued a decree in 1722, with the aim of preventing large fires. Every household had to have a full bucket of water ready in case of a fire. The name of the owner of the house had to be on the bucket, too. In addition, each municipality had to provide a specific number of buckets, based on the number of inhabitants. Anyone who wanted to get married or enter the count's services first had to provide a bucket, engraving his name and the year. In some museums in the Pfalz region, these old, leather-wrapped buckets are on display.
There is a funny little story, an anecdote, about the history of the bucket, too. On his visit to a top-security mental hospital, a visitor asked the head of the facility which criteria he had for taking a patient in. The head doctor explained: "We fill a bath tub right to the brim with water. Then we give the patient a tea spoon, a mug and a bucket and ask him to empty the tub." The visitor replied smilingly: "Oh, I see. Anybody sane would of course go for the bucket because that's the quickest way to empty the tub, right?" "Well, no" the head doctor replied.
"Anybody right in their head would pull the plug... Sir, would you like to have a room with or without balcony?"