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Dental health advice from a British Navy surgeon
New to the library is a reprint of
Every Lady and Gentleman Their own Dentist, as far as the Operations Will Allow. Containing the Natural History of the Adult Teeth and Their Diseases.: With the most Approved Methods of Prevention and Cure. Also, Those of the Gums, &c. To which is added, Dentition, and Treatment of Children at that Period.
The original book was written by British navy surgeon,
Dr Francis Brockell Spilsbury (not to be confused with his son, also in the navy and with the same name!) in 1791.
He went on to write a number of
other publications including memoirs of his naval campaigns.
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Rare book collection
The BDA library has a large collection of rare books from the 16th to the 20th centuries. A catalogue of the collection as it existed then was produced in 1964 and
may be viewed here. Since then the 20th century collection has expanded and book records for these and some of the older rare books exist on our
online catalogue along with links to full text versions where available.
Researchers may visit the library with prior permission.
A comic gem from our rare book collection
The Toothache: imagined by Horace Mayhew and realized by George Cruikshank (1849)
This is a tiny book with a long panoramic sheet showing a series of hand drawn colour illustrations depicting a comical story of a man with a tooth-ache. He tries different methods to cure himself and then finally chooses to go to a dentist.
Interestingly, this tiny book is one of the few sources to show how the “armchair” style of dentist’s chair favoured at the time was actually used in a practice. As can be seen here, the dentist stood at the back of the chair on a box in order to be able to look over into the patient’s mouth.
The dentist depicted in these illustrations may possibly be
Samuel Cartwright, junior who, at this time, was practicing in London in Sackville Street, just off Piccadilly. He was later to become
Charles Dickens’ dentist and was certainly acquainted with George Cruikshank.
The latter, at least in 1843, was in the
Literary Fund Society with Cartwright’s well-known dentist father, also Samuel Cartwright.
Horace Mayhew (1816–1872) was a London born playwright, journalist and a writer. He wrote a considerable number of farces and tales, and contributed to journalism becoming a frequent contributor to
Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper.
According to the
Dictionary of National Biography he was apparently a "handsome, captivating man, a brilliant talker and raconteur, and was very popular in society." He married late in life in around 1869 and died only three years later on 30 April 1872 of the "rupture of a blood-vessel".