Waterloo Teeth

Here’s a story to chill the blood.  If you’re squeamish, look away!

There was an offhand mention in a Reddit conversation about teeth that sent me scouring the web for an article that Smithsonian magazine no longer has archived.  The gist of it is in this macabre webpage:

By this time, the first porcelain teeth had begun to appear. To start with they were too white, too brittle and made a horrid grating noise. Then, in 1837, London denture maker Claudius Ash, driven by his hatred of handling dead men’s teeth, perfected porcelain dentures and began to manufacture them commercially. Even so, trade in the real thing continued well into the second half of the century. Supplies increased during the Crimean War of the 1850s and in 1865 the Pall Mall Gazette reported that some London dentists still refused to switch to porcelain. They now had a whole new source: on the other side of the Atlantic the tooth robbers were hard at work, cleaning up behind the armies of the American Civil War.

And here I thought the worst of the battlefield ghouls just stole haversacks and shoes.  Shudder.

via Waterloo Teeth.

Leave a Reply