Friday, May 08, 2015

Regency and the toothbrush

Vigiee  1787
In 1787, this painting made a sensation. She's Showing her Teeth
From time to time I've posted before with all my thoughts and beliefs and outright speculation that Regency folk of the middling and upper sorts were probably as cleanly and nice smelling as most folks nowadays. That is not an impeccable standard, as anyone who takes public transportation will testify. But it's also not the universal reek-to-heaven some folks think it must be.

So let's wander into the question of oral hygiene, shall we?
(And I promise not to go into anything even vaguely touching upon tooth-ache and tooth-drawers and suchlike horrors because some of you are sitting down with a nice croissant and café au lait and you do not deserve to be harrowed to your marrow.)

What did Regency folk use as toothbrushes?
Well ... They used toothbrushes.

Taking into account the sad fact that our Regency folk didn't have plastic and were therefore unable to make their dental implements in
Napoleon’s_toothbrush,_c_1795. by science museum london
This belonged to Napoleon. Could be gold, I suppose
screaming magenta and electric green stripes, they still did pretty well. The business end of toothbrushes were of stiff boar bristles or —  like this one over on the right  —  horsehair. The handles were ivory, wood, or bone, carved for a firm yet graceful grip.

See the rest of the post over at Word Wenches


  1. More recent era, but when I went on a tour in Old Sacramento a while back, they had some artifacts (if that's the right word for late 1800s items) from a bordello they'd excavated, and in addition to combs and perfume bottles that had belonged to the women, there were some toothbrushes.

    1. I am so pleased. But not really surprised. A working girl had to be soignee.

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