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Hob and stage doctor


Hob and stage doctor, c.1812-1817Printed and published by William Davison
Copper engraving on paper, c.1812-1817

William Davison of Alnwick (1781-1858) worked as both a printer and a pharmacist in Alnwick, Northumberland. He copied this dental print of Edward Dighton (c1752-1819) and published it in Some Alnwick caricatures c. 1812-1817.

This print shows the itinerant tooth drawer. It shows a public stage at a country market or fair, on which appears a mountebank or quack doctor in a tricorne hat and full wig. He is pulling out a lower incisor tooth with a tooth key (a specialist instrument for tooth extraction of the period). 

The patient/customer is in the normal operating position on the floor and in a headlock! Hob, the countryman, is a smartly dressed patient, wearing knee-britches, and has his hat beside him.

Meanwhile the mountebank's assistant with a clay pipe in a clown's costume, provides entertainment and distraction. Around the stage is a crowd of men, most amused, some horrified.