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False Teeth

Page history last edited by Iris Du 8 years, 3 months ago

False Teeth




false (adj.) Look up false at Dictionary.com
late Old English, "intentionally untrue, lying," of religion, "not of the true faith, not in accord with Christian doctrines," from Old French fals, faus "false, fake; incorrect, mistaken; treacherous, deceitful" (12c., Modern French faux), from Latin falsus "deceptive, feigned, deceitful, pretend," also "deceived, erroneous, mistaken," past participle of fallere "deceive, disappoint," which is of uncertain origin (see fail (v.)).


teeth (n.) (OED definition)

(a) In plural, the hard processes within the mouth, attached (usually in sockets) in a row to each jaw in most vertebrates except birds (but also in some extinct birds), having points, edges, or grinding surfaces, and serving primarily for biting, tearing, or trituration of solid food, and secondarily as weapons of attack or defence, and for other purposes; in singular, each of these individually.


Figure 1: Ivory dentures 1780-1790


False teeth became a novelty invention of the eighteenth century, where substitutes for the organic, human material of bone were being readily created in a large variety of methods and materials. Teeth that fell out from infection or neglect of cleaning could be replaced by a whole host of materials; some of which would be from artificial materials, such as wood, or alternatively (and more popularly), natural substances such as ivory and teeth from living and deceased humans and animals. The eighteenth century civilian became quickly obsessed with the possession and attainment of a healthy-looking set of teeth, seeking out those materials and processes that would make the most convincing appearance. Even the public figure of George Washington famously owned a host of false teeth from different materials; "everything from elephant ivory, walrus tusk, and hippopotamus tusk, to the teeth of a fellow human" (Darnton ix). 


In a fast, industrial era of trade, human appearance and beauty were becoming more specifically defined by the cultural eye, and the public person became revealingly preoccupied with perfection and trade. The human body through teeth were being literally traded and monetised as the popularity of dentistry rose. In a disease-ridden society where human teeth experienced the results of bad diet, infection and venereal infection, many aimed to conceal and replace their natural molars, in exchange for a healthier, wealthier appearance.


There was an emphasis on genuineness, for "false"[ness] stipulated by the Online Etymology Dictionary deems it a branch of direct deceit. Along these lines, hiding one's corroded or damaged teeth with replacements or artificial substitutes was not simply seen as a restorative process. Instead, those that practised the supplementing of their natural teeth were associated with lying, vanity and often a hiding of the "truth" by those who had money - for the dentistry involved was not cheap. The term dentures, even, did not arise until the latter half of the nineteenth century (1874) as there was no standardised production of them. There were no specified alternatives to natural teeth; instead, many different techniques and materials were used to achieve the perfect smile. This led to a rise in dentistry literature, the frequency of false teeth in satire, an influx of medical journals and generally, a rise in discussion about oral beauty and health, and the fascination with teeth in general. The incline of interest is represented by the Google NGram graph below which charts the appearance of 'teeth' in literature across the eighteenth century. As it can be seen, a steady but steep incline of the word rose throughout the century, indicating the eighteenth century's growing interest with the subject, an obsession that would soon permeate into the culture of appearance and economy. 




The Purposes and Functions of False Teeth


The creation and utilisation of false teeth originated as a means to improve the health and lifestyles of those with damage and infection in their mouths. Therefore, teeth would have to succeed in certain functions to be deemed 'useful'. In A dissertation on artificial teeth in general by Nicholas Dubois de Chemant, he decrees that teeth, false or otherwise, should be made in accordance to the following three purposes; failure of which would be considered unsatisfactory of its primary functions:


a) Mastication

b) Articulation

c) Ornament


a) Mastication:


"they observed by my teeth, which they viewed with great exactness, that I was a carnivorous animal; yet most quadrupeds being an overmatch for me, and field mice, with some others, too nimble, they could not imagine how I should be able to support myself, unless I fed upon snails and other insects, which they offered, by many learned arguments, to evince that I could not possibly do."


(Swift 93, GULLIVER'S TRAVELS: A Voyage to Brobdingnag)


Mastication, or the ability to be able to eat and break down food with one's teeth, is the function most related to the individual's health. In purely practical terms, teeth were considered essentially useless if one could not eat with them. Moreover, if a client could not adequately break down their food, or experienced pain during the process of chewing from the shape of the tooth and thus could not do masticate properly, it could open up an entire host of digestive problems. However, mastication also became the function that was most quickly forgotten. Consumer culture and a growing obsession with the appearance of objects instead of their use value slowly caused people to value mastication less highly. 


This is seen most clearly in Frederick Hoffman's reference to ivory false teeth in A Treatise on the Teeth that states that they "serve only for Speech and Ornament, and being of no use in Mastication, are so contrived as to be taken out in eating-time" (48), where the taking out of the tooth is both done as it does not adequately provide the pressure to chew, but also to reduce chances of the tooth staining. This clearly displays the growing redundancy to the false tooth's practical functions, usurping a false tooth's function to one linked closer with achieving a desired appearance that has minimal damage to the aesthetics. 


b) Articulation:


Figure 2: Classified ads: Sun (London, England), Saturday, May 28, 1796; Issue 1146.


The inability to articulate with no teeth, or badly made false teeth, would render a person incomprehensible. This would affect one's agency and voice in social situations which would create preconceptions about one's education in their eloquence and how they could pronounce certain words. Speech, or lack of speech in some cases, would greatly affect social perceptions, which encouraged the production of false teeth to focus more on the comfort and shape of the tooth; namely how it sat in the mouth alongside the tongue and the jaw. Therefore tooth production also fed into the cultural discourse of social impressions, for people would not want to be misperceived or associated with a lower class in their inability to articulate resting on the quality of their teeth.


In the above image from the classified adverts of the Sun in 1796, a man who is being searched for is identified by his false teeth and the speech impediment that they create. This detail could perhaps have been highlighted due to its accordance to the criminal advert in which he is featured and the vilification of artificial teeth causing a 'dumbness'.


Dubois even mentions that "Old people, and those who have lost their teeth at an early period, are so many proofs of this unquestionable truth. They cannot make any distinct and perfectly articulated sound... cannot be comprehended" (14). The alignment once again to an underprivileged demographic (the elderly) which were often cast aside and ignored, emphasises the social importance placed on being able to adequately speak and use one's voice and not allow a physical handicap to prevent this. 


c) Ornament:


Figure 3: Description of the appearance of teeth being of utmost importance (A dissertation on artificial teeth, 6)


The ornamental values of teeth were perhaps the most difficult to secure. Even when the unattractive appearance of a rotted tooth was replaced with a false tooth, it often very quickly also lost its untouched appearance. Often, "Artificial Teeth soon lose their Colour, and become disgusting, instead of Ornamental" (Jullion 59). Therefore those who wanted perfect teeth would be frantically seeking a new material or process of tooth-keeping that would allow for their false teeth to remain white in colour and solid in structure; from a purely aesthetic standpoint. Sometimes, this meant having to buy several copies of the same sets of false teeth to allow for swapping them round, as keeping false teeth within the mouth for long periods of time would result in their discolouration and disintegration. The fact that people would even buy multiples of the outrageously expensive false teeth (worth discussed in more depth later) demonstrates a willingness to make financial and bodily sacrifices to improve one's outer appearance. 



The Social Influence of the Dentist


Vested Interest


Naturally, alongisde the rising popularity of false teeth and tooth transplantation, dentists became important, influential and desired social figures. They had a certain kind of power for being able to create a substitute for human bone, and would be often aligned as artists or godly figures in the craft and artistic skill needed in their creations. The dentist lay in antithesis to the doctor, who would operate on a largely restorative manner and cause, whilst dentists were far more invested in working to improve one's appearance. Due to their associations as a kind of eighteenth century beautician, the relationship between dentist and patient would be of a clientèle dynamic, lending clear social power and respect to be had towards the dentist. 


In addition to the servicing of clients and the literal practise of making false teeth and transplanting them, the eighteenth century saw the rise of a surplus of medical journals, dissertations and essays written by said dentists. These publications would provide dental health advice and "recommendations" for processes of action to those with damaged or fallen teeth. A prominent problem with this however, was the vested interest of dentists. As the authors and publishers of these health manuals, they would often refer the reader to their own services, or ask them to seek immediate medical attention by a trained dentist. It cannot be discerned whether the immediacy of these problems were as genuine as one would think, or if the dentist-authors were quite simply directing a line of customers to their businesses. It could be suspected that a majority of the medical transcripts were just another means to generate money and direct attention to the dental market and trade. This is one of many instances where the dental trade and transplantation process is ambiguously fraught with its associations with money, investment and personal gain. 




Figures 4 and 5: Dentist Paul Jullion drawing attention to his own business and talents.


For example, in the above example, Paul Jullion, a well-known dentist of the eighteenth century, writes the above statements in A practical essay on the human teeth, making clear reference to himself as the "Judicious Dentist" as well as describing his own dental inventions and developments as factually superior materials to the other options he heavily criticises in-text. As the above footnote (fig 5) is present after an immediate point of criticism of Ivory teeth, the entire text could be read with a degree of suspicion, especially as Jullion goes on to include several customer testimonies, arguing for the unbridled success of his artificial mineral teeth. As mineral or synthetic teeth involved far more craft than the extraction process of living or dead teeth from other humans and animals, these would be charged more highly, which could explain the sheer aggrandisement of this method as a solution to Jullion's readers.  



Le Grand Thomas: A Case Study


One such dentist with incredible social power was a peculiar figure from eighteenth century Paris. He was known as Le Grand Thomas (the Great Thomas), an unlicensed dentist cum tooth-puller who would station himself on the Pont-Neuf of Paris as a "standard fixture, a living legend" (Jones 103). The Pont-Neuf was a bridge that would often be the site of business for many of these unprofessional tradesmen and Quack Dentists. Thomas therefore received some healthy interest on a daily basis, and would be considered a respectable alternative to licensed professionals by the public. In fact, he was frequented to such a popular extent that a mock-epic poem called A Monsieur Thomas was written about his "triumphant" nature (Jones 104). He is pictured in the illustration below with a pulled tooth in one hand with the other atop the head of an apprentice, as he stands at an enormous height, literally encompassing the social view of him as the "Grand" Thomas. 


Figure 6: Le Grand Thomas (c. 1729)



The Expense of False Teeth: Forcing Opposite Groups Together




Replacing one's teeth and the dentistry industry was not a inexpensive endeavour. Live-tooth transplant and having the luxury of using human teeth was possibly the most sought after option, as it was seen as a fashionable improvement to one's body because of its high price. The only type of false teeth that would have been more expensive than transplanting one living tooth would be to buy entire full sets of artificial uppers and lowers. The living, human tooth was the most expensive as it was the most authentically appearing replacement. This meant that only the most wealthy could afford human teeth, where the realistic nature of its falseness introduced an interesting class difference between the wealthy and the underprivileged, where the rich could set themselves further apart from the lower classes by acquiring the appearance of better health.  


The prices of false teeth differed between materials and the dentist that was charging, but some approximate examples are as follows:


  • To transplant a dead tooth: two guineas (approx. £178.84)

  • To take out a tooth: £1.1s each (approx. £88.99)

  • To put in an artificial tooth: £5.5s each (approx £444.94)

  • To put in a whole lower row of teeth: £42 (approx £3,559.50)

  • To put in a whole upper row of teeth: £63 (approx £5,339.25)

  • To make and implant an entire set of false teeth: £105 (approx. £8,898.75)

  • To implant a natural (human) tooth: £10.10s each (approx. £889.98)


(Haslam 246, converted using http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/currency/results.asp#mid for currency conversion) 


False teeth that were made as separates would have to be attached and fastened in the mouth. They were often secured to remaining teeth and gums "with Gold or Silver wire" (Hoffman 48), which in addition to being a strong material, was used more so for an aesthetic luxury, of appearing expensive and excessive. As the colour of the wire would be visible, the wearer would quite literally be able to advertise their wealth in their mouth in an unmissable visual form. One such example is found in an analysis of Merulus Alexandrinus "who, as his Teeth came out, used to fasten them with Gold Wire, for the sake of expression" (Hoffman 48).



Class struggles


Whilst the rich displayed their wealth by undergoing operations to implant human teeth into their bodies, the underprivileged would also be subject to this painful operation, but through donating their teeth and becoming the vessels of which the rich used to take their false teeth. They would be paid a high amount to donate their teeth, and it soon became a popular method the lower class used to generate money. However, in interacting with both the consumer demand for human teeth, and the poor's desperate need for money, the trade of teeth only widened the gap between classes in the eighteenth century (Blackwell). Interestingly, this created both an expanse between the classes and a fusing, for the upper class were literally making contact with the lower class, appropriating their body parts in a clear transfusion of bodily material. By taking this part of the lower class, the upper class were ironically elevating their wealthy appearance even more, bettering themselves through the accumulation and commodification of the poor.  On the cusp of modernity, this interaction created an interesting strain on both trade and the role of the body. Bordwell interesting discussed this idea, stipulating:


"Indeed, the curious role of the donated tooth as both a commodity available for purchase and a

living part of the body makes it a locus of modernity. " (24)




Operation and Transplantation


Rather perversely, when seeking live teeth for transplantation, the perfect donors would be children from the ages of 12 to 15 and would therefore be often much younger than the transplantee (Geraudly 38). This created an interesting divide not only between the rich and the poor groups, but between the young and the old, where the passing of the tooth between mouths would be the only bridge between these binaries. Adults were making themselves more 'beautiful' through the disfiguring of the young, displaying the hierarchy between eighteenth century groups. 



Figure 7: Transplanting of Teeth (1787) by Thomas Rowlandson. Engraving hand coloured on paper.


The print above by Thomas Rowlandson illustrates through caricature these processes of tooth transplantation both the poor and the rich would undergo where a tooth was taken from one person and implanted into the other. Although the print circulated amongst the popularity of satire in the eighteenth century, these operations were still very much happening in reality, and were particularly popular within the upper classes.  A sign on the door quite explicitly states: "Most money given for live teeth", which creates an immediate connection between the teeth transplantation business with money and the affluence surrounding the donation. The print pictures a quack dentist (an unqualified physician who would be operating unlicensed to make money), operating on a sickly, inky-coloured boy, whose colour is both a suggestion of his lower status as a chimney sweep, but also exaggerates the corruption of his youth and sets him apart from the brighter coloured, wealthy adults in the image. His shrunken size foregrounds his youth, as with the size of the other children on the left side of the print (who seem to also have had their teeth extracted), which creates another visual point of separation between the rich and the poor. Ultimately, Rowlandson's print is thought to comment not so much on false teeth culture, but more on the disparate differences between classes. This is heavily highlighted by the man in the background, who is seen to have attention only for his brand new teeth -taken from the mouths of poorer children - and his own reflection, devoid of any attention to others in the room and the horrors that are happening literally in front of and around him. 



Teeth pulling and transplantation in literature


This transplantation process is also depicted explicitly in Victor Hugo's Les Misérables, a mid-nineteenth century text that takes place in the early 1800s where the eighteenth century obsession with the possession of healthy teeth is still continuing. A central character, Fantine, falls into a lowlife of poverty and prostitution in order to pay for medicine for her daughter, and is shown to tragically resort to giving up her teeth to a Quack Dentist, as the last resort for a healthy monetary reward:


As she crossed the square, she saw a great many people collected around a carriage of eccentric shape, upon the top of which stood a man dressed in red, who was holding forth. He was a quack dentist on his rounds, who was offering to the public full sets of teeth, opiates, powders and elixirs.

Fantine mingled in the group, and began to laugh with the rest at the harangue, which contained slang for the populace and jargon for respectable people. The tooth-puller espied the lovely, laughing girl, and suddenly exclaimed: "You have beautiful teeth, you girl there, who are laughing; if you want to sell me your palettes, I will give you a gold napoleon apiece for them."

"What are my palettes?" asked Fantine.

"The palettes," replied the dental professor, "are the front teeth, the two upper ones."

"How horrible!" exclaimed Fantine.

"Two napoleons!" grumbled a toothless old woman who was present. "Here's a lucky girl!"


* * *

Fantine had grown ten years older since the preceding night. 
"Jesus!" said Marguerite, "what is the matter with you, Fantine?" 
"Nothing," replied Fantine. "Quite the contrary. My child will not die of that frightful malady, for lack of succor. I am content."  
So saying, she pointed out to the spinster two napoleons which were glittering on the table.  
"Ah! Jesus God!" cried Marguerite. "Why, it is a fortune! Where did you get those louis d'or?"  
"I got them," replied Fantine.  
At the same time she smiled. The candle illuminated her countenance. It was a bloody smile. A reddish saliva soiled the corners of her lips, and she had a black hole in her mouth.  
The two teeth had been extracted.  
She sent the forty francs to Montfermeil.  
After all it was a ruse of the Thenardiers to obtain money. Cosette was not ill.


Even in this fictional representation of live tooth transplantation, the entire process is riddled with deception, as the outcome to the process is revealed to be pointless. The novel as a whole reveals just a brief insight into the complex relationship between the rich and poor through the inclusion of the cultural commodification of teeth, where the tradesmen of the lower class themselves can be deceptive to gain money, and Fantine, representing a source of innocence, is very quickly corrupted, where parts of her body are literally taken piece-by-piece away from her.



(Video 1)



Does False Teeth Mean False Beauty? : False Teeth In Satire


Teeth were deemed as the epitome of beauty during the eighteenth century, and therefore those that used artificial, unnatural substitutes were seen as questionable. In particular, this was seen especially in females, where many were mocked in satire to display this fragile tension between beauty and vanity. The novel possibility of being able to artificially construct one's beauty through the appropriation of false teeth created social rage and suspicion surrounding beauty, which was often understood as highly deceptive due to the access to certain objects and instruments that could be used to 'artificially' enhance one's appearance. In addition to false teeth, Cosmetics and Wigs were other accessories that could have been used to "falsely" construct the appearance of beauty, or rather, what was defined as beauty in the eighteenth century. 


This mockery and pressure on female beauty and a female utilisation of false teeth is expressed in the health manual An appendage to the toilet by Hugh Moises, written as a guide to dental hygiene in a highly sarcastic yet truth-referring tone. He dedicates the text "To The Ladies" (iii) stating:


"Yet must every woman be attractive and pleasing who has been so fortunate as to preserve a beautiful and good set of teeth... what would be the echo of admiring nations were they told that my fair countrywomen were daily robbed of an essential part of their beauty by imprudence or neglect in the management of their teeth" (iii-iv).



Figure 8: The deception of false teeth in Excursions to Parnassus (1787).


Teeth are also referenced in the beginning of Excursions to Parnassus, or the entertainment of a summer's vacation (1787) as highly deceptive and therefore improper aids of beauty quite simply, for their artificiality and nature of attempting to camouflage one's appearance as 'natural beauty'. This introduces a double bind in eighteenth century definitions of beauty; one was expected to appear healthy and therefore many were encouraged to implant false teeth if their natural ones were rotting or unseemly, to only then be seen as deceptive and grotesque for concealing an "ugliness" beneath.



Figure 9: Six Stages of Mending a Face (1792) by Thomas Rowlandson


A Gender Problem


Another example that reiterates this definition of beauty is the Thomas Rowlandson's satirical piece, Six Stages of Mending a Face (1792). Read from right to left, it depicts what appears to be an old hag, who through putting on a wig, glass eye, cosmetics, and a full set of false teeth, transforms into a beautiful young woman. The caption of the print reads: "Dedicated with respect to the Right Hon-ble. Lady Archer" a reference to the familiar eighteenth century figure Sarah Lady Archer. Lady Archer was a female who was infamously recognised for enhancing her beauty, especially towards her older years. She was heavily mocked by the eighteenth century public eye, including by satirists such as James Gillray and Christopher Anstley for her "excessive" use of cosmetics (McCreerey 236). It is perhaps important to consider this dedication to an older woman (Lady Archer would have been 51 in the year the print was published), as the older one was, usually the worse their teeth would be, and thus it would have been highly likely that Lady Archer would have considered the option of using false teeth. By assimilating the pictured lady with a woman whom would have considered wearing false teeth and by directly incorporating the putting in of false teeth into the visual storyline, Rowlandson satirically comments of the process of improving one's appearance as self-indulgent, but more controversially, feminine. As the appearance of the pictured lady both reverses into a younger and more "beautiful" countenance, the print makes a direct comment on age as well as beauty. Lying about one's teeth would have been on a similar level to lying about one's age, as seems to be deduced here.


Colin Jones in The Smile Revolution: In Eighteenth Century Paris, assesses the role of the smile in Six Stages, of the lady who "seductively dares to reveal her egregiously glossy white teeth" (162). By taking this further, the inclusion of teeth in this print is interesting, as it is only the woman's rotting, imperfect set of teeth that are ever shown in their full state in the first image as she screams, open-mouthed. As she transforms into a "beautiful" young lady and wears the false teeth, her mouth closes, becomes more demure and her teeth are predominantly covered by her lips. The teeth as a tenet of the woman's beauty no longer seems to matter for they are largely unseen. What seems to be emphasised more is the lack of beauty, or rather the earlier frames as the antithesis to beauty. Therefore, subtly, Rowlandson aligns these objects of improving one's beauty, false teeth being one, as inherently and ironically ugly - for they are deceptive and hold no other function than highlighting this fact. Vanity and concealment is explicitly connected with one another in the print as an omnipresent mirror stands alongside the lady, only disappearing in exchange for a mask which the lady holds in the last frame, tilted backwards towards the viewer as if the viewer were to put it on. The mask, alongside the lady's eye contact with the viewer in the last frame provokes the viewer to consider their own vanities, and what is truly meant by "beauty". 


Again however, this commentary seems to only be placed onto to the female body when comparing it to Rowlandson's companion print Six Stages in Marring a Face (1792). In this alternate satirical print, Rowlandson uses a male figure instead, whose marred appearance is built upon him in reverse. More insight into the gender differences of these works can be read at the page on Boxing.



Jonathan Swift


Similarly, Jonathan Swift wrote several pieces of boudoir poetry, such as The Lady's Dressing Room (1732) that follows a similar narrative to Rowlandson's satirical print that all surround the process of women getting ready; their transition into "beauty". A example is in Swift's The Progress of Beauty (1719) where he makes reference to a mystical 'Celia' whose beauty leaves much to be desired. One stanza declares:



To see her from her pillow rise,

All reeking in a cloudy steam,

Crack'd lips, foul teeth, and gummy eyes,

Poor Strephon! how would he blaspheme!


(Lines 13-16)



This stanza intensely demonises the female, presenting her as a grotesque figure through her physical traits. Specifically, her teeth are used to satirically compare and align her with, quite essentially, a corpse; bad in smell and ashy, "reeking in a cloudy steam" and "from her pillow rise". Bad teeth were therefore presented, in both fiction and reality, as a marker of true ugliness and unnaturalness.  Later in his career, Swift wrote a similar poem, A Beautiful Young Nymph Going to Bed (1811): 



Corinna, pride of Drury-Lane

For whom no shepherd sighs in vain;

Never did Covent Garden boast

So bright a battered, strolling toast;

No drunken rake to pick her up,

No cellar where on tick to sup;

Returning at the midnight hour;

Four stories climbing to her bow’r;

Then, seated on a three-legged chair,

Takes off her artificial hair:

Now, picking out a crystal eye,

She wipes it clean, and lays it by.

Her eye-brows from a mouse’s hide,

Stuck on with art on either side,

Pulls off with care, and first displays ’em,

Then in a play-book smoothly lays ’em.

Now dexterously her plumpers draws,

That serve to fill her hollow jaws.

Untwists a wire; and from her gums

A set of teeth completely comes.

. . .

(Lines 1-20)


(Read the full poem: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/180935




Figure 9: A later print by Rowlandson, A French dentist shewing a specimen of artificial teeth and false palates (1811).


In both Swift's poem and this piece of satire in Rowlandson's later work - published in the same year - the ameliorative perception of false teeth begin to head in a slow decline, being seen in a critical instead of solely admirable light. A French dentist shewing a specimen of artificial teeth and false palates illustrates a lady, who despite now having an almost perfect new set of teeth, is still displayed as anything but beautiful, where her heavy rouge coincides with the "concealment" of her teeth. In A Beautiful Nymph Going to Bed, Swift maintains the presentation of the foul-appearing female, where the act of taking out a pair of false teeth is part of the annulment of her beauty that reveals her true ugliness. This feeds into a dialectic, where bad, but authentic teeth are presented as a marker of ugliness, and yet the wearing of false teeth is also criticised as a marker of pretence and falsity.


In these many portrayals of false teeth in literature and visual satire, it can be concluded that false teeth were a contestable object. They fed into the cultural perceptions of female beauty as an unattainable ideal that could not be fully achieved or satisfied; they created and revealed the separation between classes and status; and split users and witnesses into antagonising opinions. False teeth, despite being an enormous eighteenth century commodity, still could not fully satisfy the strict personal ideals of the public mentality.



Figure 10 and 11: Illustrations from A dissertation on artificial teeth in general




Annotated Bibliography



Primary Sources:


Anon. Excursions to Parnassus, or the entertainment of a summer's vacation. By a gentleman of the University of Cambridge. London, 1787. Historical Texts. Web. 2 Jan 2016.

Used as an example of a popular poem that vilified those, in particular women, who would use false teeth as a way to cover and hide a lack of natural beauty.


Dubois de Chémant, Nicolas. A dissertation on artificial teeth in general. ... By M. Dubois de Chémant, ... London, 1797. Historical Texts. Web. 5 Jan 2016.

A very useful text by a dentist practitioner who advises readers of his opinion of artificial teeth, most predominantly of their differing materials and his preference over those made of mineral material rather than living bone of animals or other humans for their disintegrative nature. He believes that the mineral tooth is far superior, which notably is what he produces in his business, recommending the advantages of his own products.  


Geraudly, Claude Jacquier de. L’art de conserver les dents. Paris, 1737. Google Books. Web. 21 Feb 2016.

Comprehensive introduction to dentistry, based in and around the practises in Paris, France. Particularly helpful in discerning information about false teeth materials, methods of attaching to the mouth and processes within the transplantation process.


Hoffman, Frederick. A Treatise on the Teeth: Their Disorders and Cure. In which the Several Operations on the Teeth, and Such Things ... Destructive to Them, are Particularly Considered. Translated from the Original Latin of Frederick Hoffman, ... London: Lockyer Davis, 1753. Google Books. Web. 13 March 2016.

Hoffman’s text goes through extensively how one would be recommended to care for their teeth. This was useful in looking at the function and usefulness of false teeth in the first section. In particular, the text was useful in revealing explicitly that mastication eventually became a non-essential function for the teeth, signifying a trend of appearances and commodities. Different functions to the teeth are discussed, especially in terms of the difference of function depending on an individual’s private and public company.


Hugo, Victor. Les Misérables. London: Penguin Classics, 1982. Print.

A useful primary text in demonstrating the extraction and transplantation of live teeth in fictional literature. It is interesting in seeing how a retrospective author has used the role of teeth in a time setting that falls just outside the eighteenth century and the deceptive, suspect nature of the false tooth trade.


Jullion, Paul Eurialius. A practical essay on the human teeth: explaining the art of effectually preserving the health, utility, and beauty of the teeth, gums, and contiguous parts of the mouth, ... To which is subjoined an appendix exhibiting the author's charges for the several operations he performs, &c. By Paul Eurialius Jullion, ... London, 1781. Historical Texts. Web. 27 Feb 2016.

This text was particularly useful in providing a holistic view of dental health by a trained dentist of the eighteenth century, outlining what would have been expected and practised by the public during the age. The latter half of the essay focuses on the many different solutions to rotted and unhealthy teeth, including the transplantation and attachment procedure of false teeth, inclusive of both artificial and natural substances. The text however, must be read with wariness, for a lot of the advice is based in the vested interest of Jullion advising and offering his own dental services and inventions.


Moises, Hugh. An appendage to the toilet: or an essay on the management of the teeth. Dedicated to the ladies. By Hugh Moises, M.D. London: Hookham and Carpenter, 1798. Historical Texts. Web. 5 Feb 2016.

This text most colourfully showed the crass expectation of maintaining the health of teeth for the pure purpose of their aesthetical value. Moises dedicates his essay of dental hygiene “to the Ladies” exclusively despite the universal advice. Useful for the dedication moreso than the content, as it reveals the authorial expectation as one of the public eye and general attitude of the century.


Rowlandson, Thomas. A French dentist shewing a specimen of artificial teeth and false palates. 1811. The British Museum. London. The British Museum. Web. 20 Feb 2016.

One of Rowlandson’s later satirical prints that involved false teeth that allowed for further consolidation in the subject, especially in relation to the other two prints studied at further depth. Although it falls outside of the century, it still retains the themes of drawing attention to an unattainable beauty, this time by using a subject with artificial porcelain false teeth rather than natural, human false teeth.


Rowlandson, Thomas. Six Stages of Mending a Face: Dedicated with respect to the Right Hon.ble Lady Archer. 1792. The British Museum. London. The British Museum. Web. 20 Feb 2016.

A very useful core primary image that eluded many insights into the concept of beauty in the eighteenth century and how it operated in relation to “false” features of beauty such as glass eyes, wigs, cosmetics and most importantly, teeth. The satirical piece is able to place emphasis on appearance and reality, and what is deemed as natural and or/artificial. This is also interesting when considered in relation to the companion piece; Six Stages of Marring a Face (1792).


Rowlandson, Thomas. Transplanting Teeth [Engraving]. c.1790. The Wellcome Library. London. Children and Youth in History. Web. 20 Feb 2016. Annotated by Lynda Payne.

An extremely useful and enlightening satirical print by Rowlandson that allowed insight not only into the process of live tooth-pulling, but how donors from the lower class and of younger age were often preferred, not being treated particularly well as to serve the upper classes. The self-referentialism and clarity to the tooth-extraction business in this print is very telling of the cultural attitude and common knowledge that surrounded the public eye, where the extraction of teeth to be used by others would be a frequent and viable option.


Swift, Jonathan. Gulliver's Travels. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. Print. 

In Swift’s popular satirical novel, one of the first features that the village people of Brobdingnag assess of Gulliver is his teeth, specifically how the shape of his teeth must relate to his diet and what he can consume.


Swift, Jonathan. ”The Progress of Beauty”. 1719. The Literature Network. N.d. Web. 1 Feb 2016.

A useful poem in analysing the presentation of false teeth in beauty and the “getting ready” narrative also used as a cross reference to The Lady’s Dressing Room.


Swift, Jonathan. "A Beautiful Young Nymph Going To Bed". 1811. Poetry Foundation. N.d. Web. 1 Feb 2016.

Another poem that explicitly displays the use of false teeth in female beauty. Useful in that it is used a little more extensively as it is in The Progress of Beauty.



Secondary Sources: 


Blackwell, Mark. “Extraneous Bodies”: The Contagion of Live-Tooth Transplantation in Late-Eighteenth-Century England. Eighteenth-Century Life 28.1 (2015): 21–68. Web. 26 Nov 2016.

This was a particularly useful secondary text that focused on the eighteenth century mentality surrounding false teeth, but also largely teeth extraction and the transplantation of human teeth in specific. A core text for researching the foundations of each category and guiding to other primary and secondary sources.


Darnton, Robert. George Washington's False Teeth: An Unconventional Guide to the Eighteenth Century. London: W.W. Norton & Company Ltd, 2003. Print.

A brief source in terms of false teeth, but a small level of information on false teeth materials, using George Washington as an example.


“false” adj. Online Etymology Dictionary. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Dec 2015.

Etymology of the word “false” and its connotations linked with deception and concealment.


Haslam, Fiona. From Hogarth to Rowlandson: Medicine in Art in Eighteenth-Century Britain. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1996. Google Books. Web. 10 March 2016.

An insightful and incredibly helpful text outlining all the presentations of medicine in works of eighteenth-century art. Provided some context behind the practices of working with false and artificial teeth as well as giving background information on the artists, of Rowlandson in particular.


Jones, Colin. “Pulling Teeth in Eighteenth Century Paris.” Past & Present 166.1 (1 Feb. 2000): 100–145. JSTOR. Web. 2 March 2016.

A very extensive record of the most influential Tooth Pullers in Eighteenth Century Paris, including Le Grand Thomas, a public figure who was seen as questionable by the state and government but frequently visited by the public. Allows insights into the respect for dental figures in eighteenth century as well as the monetary, underground nature of many dentists operating during the time.


Jones, Colin. The Smile Revolution: In Eighteenth Century Paris. Oxford: OUP Oxford, 2014. Print.

A text that was useful in its brief analysis of Rowlandson’s Six Stages of Mending a Face, focusing on the appearance of the mouth in fictional representation. Goes onto explain and discuss the use of the smiling mouth (and teeth)  of other eighteenth century sources.


McCreery, Cindy. The Satirical Gaze: Prints of Women in Late Eighteenth-century England. London: Clarendon Press, 2004. Google Books. Web. 3 Feb 2016.

A secondary text that worked well as a point to research Rowlandson’s Six Stages of Mending a Face once again, that paid close attention to the print’s contextual background, including biographical information of Lady Sarah Archer - the aged woman of whom the painting is dedicated and rumoured to depict.


"tooth, n." OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2016. Web. 2 Dec 2015.

Definition of “teeth”, plural of “tooth” from the Oxford English Dictionary.


“Transplanting of Teeth”. British Dental Association. British Dental Association Museum. N.d. Web. 20 Feb 2016.

A helpful annotated web page outlining some background information of Rowlandson’s print of the same name from a more scientific perspective.





Figure 1: Own photograph of false teeth taken in the "Medicine Man" exhibit at the Wellcome Collection.

Du, Iris. "False Teeth at the Wellcome Collection". 2016. JPEG File.


Figure 2: Screenshot of a classified advert in the Sun.

"Classified Advert". Sun. 28 May 1796: A4. Eighteenth Century Journals. Web. 3 Feb 2016.


Figure 3: Screenshot of A dissertation on artificial teeth in general. Description of the appearance of teeth being of utmost importance.

Dubois de Chémant, Nicolas. A dissertation on artificial teeth in general. ... By M. Dubois de Chémant, ... London, 1797. Historical Texts. 6. Web. 5 Jan 2016.


Figures 4 and 5: Dentist Paul Jullion drawing attention to his own business and talents.

Jullion, Paul Eurialius. A practical essay on the human teeth: explaining the art of effectually preserving the health, utility, and beauty of the teeth, gums, and contiguous parts of the mouth, ... To which is subjoined an appendix exhibiting the author's charges for the several operations he performs, &c. By Paul Eurialius Jullion, ... London, 1781. Historical Texts. 5-6. Web. 27 Feb 2016.


Figure 6: Le Grand Thomas (c. 1729).

Jones, Colin. “Pulling Teeth in Eighteenth Century Paris.” Past & Present 166.1 (1 Feb. 2000): 100–145. JSTOR. 101. Web. 2 March 2016. 


Figure 7: Thomas Rowlandson: Transplanting of Teeth (1787). Engraving hand coloured on paper.

Rowlandson, Thomas. Transplanting Teeth [Engraving]. c.1790. The Wellcome Library. London. Children and Youth in History. Web. 20 Feb 2016.


Figure 8: The deception of false teeth in Excursions to Parnassus (1787).

Anon. Excursions to Parnassus, or the entertainment of a summer's vacation. By a gentleman of the University of Cambridge. London, 1787. Historical Texts. Web. 2 Jan 2016.


Figure 9: A later print by Rowlandson, A French dentist shewing a specimen of artificial teeth and false palates, (1811).

Rowlandson, Thomas. A French dentist shewing a specimen of artificial teeth and false palates. 1811. The British Museum. London. The British Museum. Web. 20 Feb 2016.


Figure 10 and 11: Illustrations from A dissertation on artificial teeth in general

Dubois de Chémant, Nicolas. A dissertation on artificial teeth in general. ... By M. Dubois de Chémant, ... London, 1797. Historical Texts. 6. Web. 5 Jan 2016. 


Video 1: Dyju3. "Les Misérables - Lovely Ladies". Online video clip. Youtube. Youtube, Feb 2014. Web. 25 Jan 2016.



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