Wooden snuff box showing a tooth extraction, Europe, 1701-1900

Made:
1701-1900 in Europe
maker:
Unknown

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From the top: A642711, Wooden snuff box, cylindrical, with print on lid of a dentist performing an extraction.
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Wooden snuff box, cylindrical, lacquered and printed on the top with a scene of a dentist extracting a tooth

A painful tooth extraction is shown on the lid of this snuff box. A piece of string has been secured around the patient’s tooth and is being pulled by the dentist who is using his foot to brace himself against the patient’s jaw. The patient probably only had, at best, alcohol or herbal concoctions to relive the pain. Tooth pulling was carried out by a range of people including barber-surgeons and travelling practitioners, who often had limited medical skills at best. The illustration would suggest that the process was viewed as somewhat humorous – although not, presumably, by the patient.

Snuff was well-liked for its aroma, taste and nicotine boost. It was once believed to ward off colds, be good for ear, nose and throat problems and stop snoring. (Pictured here with two other snuff boxes showing tooth extractions A642702 and A642711).

Details

Category:
Smoking
Object Number:
A642713
type:
snuff box
taxonomy:
  • furnishing and equipment
  • container - receptacle
  • snuff container
credit:
Spink
status:
Loan: Wellcome Trust

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