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'Waterloo Teeth'

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Replacement (false) teeth were traditionally carved from ivory, however, such teeth were prone to deterioration in shorter time than real teeth. Anyone who could afford a really nice set of dentures procured a set with an ivory base set with human teeth.

These were expensive, apparently taking up to six weeks to make a complete set. They became readily available during the Napoleonic war as many were scavenged from the dead of the battlefields and thereby became known as 'Waterloo teeth'. Previously they had been taken by resurrectionists or body snatchers, however, the teeth of these dead were unlikely to be anything like as good as those of a young soldier. 

Although this practice was more common in the earlier nineteenth century, ‘Waterloo’ teeth were still appearing in dental supply catalogues of the 1860s, shipped across in barrels from the American Civil War.

An upper dental plate of ’Waterloo' teeth, (No.11 absent) pinned with brass into a gum plate carved from a piece of walrus tusk.

English or American, circa mid 19th century.

w:2 inches x 2 inches 



Item Code: 5274

£ 450

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