Hippopotamus ivory teeth, lower denture on stand, England, 1795
These carefully carved dentures show the best dentists produced fine work. This is denser than both elephant and walrus ivory. It is more hardwearing and appropriate for dental use. Ivory was difficult to clean. It deteriorated over time and smelt unpleasant. Only wealthy patients such as royalty and the upper classes could afford ivory dentures. The porcelain display holders are carved with the motif of the Prince of Wales’ feathers. They are sometimes called Ruspini holders, after Bartholomew Ruspini (1728-1813). He trained as a dentist in France and moved to London in 1766. His patients included the Prince of Wales, later King George IV. The lower dentures (A71862) are pictured here with their upper denture partners (A71861).
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