Label

George Washington's own experience with dental disease prompted him to encourage his grandchildren, Nelly and Washy Custis, to maintain good oral health. He regularly purchased tooth brushes, tooth powder, and mouthwash for his young charges. In addition, Washington may have procured sets of dental instruments, such as this set of Scalers, to be used on his family by visiting surgeon-dentists. Scalers were used to scrape or "scale off" built-up tartar on teeth. Although it is missing two instruments, the ten-piece set illustrates that each implement was shaped for a different area of dentition to ensure a thorough cleaning.

Description

A:
Rectangular wooden case; the case bottom is constructed from a solid wood board to which four walls are glued; the top lip of the walls are decorated with a scratch bead; the interior of the base is fitted to receive ten dental instruments; a horizontal brace is glued to its center, its top features ten half-cylinder wells; a second horizontal brace, featuring ten half-cylinder wells, sits at the bottom interior wall; all interior surfaces are lined in yellow velvet; the case lid is constructed from a solid wood board to which four walls are glued, the interior of the lid is stuffed and covered with yellow velvet; the case lid and base are connected with two brass hinges, each affixed with four iron screws; the case is secured closed with a brass catch that hooks onto a brass pin set into the center of the wall lid.

B:
Slope-front, ridged, trapezoidal shaped scaler set atop a long swelled steel shank with a flared base affixed to a cylindrical ivory handle featuring a double collared swell.

C:
Ridged pyramidal shaped scaler set atop a long swelled steel shank with a flared base affixed to a cylindrical ivory handle featuring a double collared swell.

D:
Ridged tear-drop shaped scaler atop a long swelled steel shank with a flared base affixed to a cylindrical ivory handle featuring a double collared swell.

E:
Flattened pyramidal shaped scaler atop a long swelled steel shank with a flared base affixed to a cylindrical ivory handle featuring a double collared swell.

F:
Triangular ridged, fanned face scaler atop a long swelled steel shank with a flared base affixed to a cylindrical ivory handle featuring a double collared swell.

G:
Rectangularly shaped, oblique faced scaler atop a long swelled steel shank with a flared base affixed to a cylindrical ivory handle featuring a double collared swell.

H:
Flat topped trapezoidal shaped scaler atop a long swelled steel shank with a flared base affixed to a cylindrical ivory handle featuring a double collared swell.

I:
Coved and ridged scaler with a flat face and rounded tip atop a long swelled steel shank with a flared base affixed to a cylindrical ivory handle featuring a double collared swell.

Date

c. 1790-1802


Geography


Material/Technique

A: Wood, brass, iron, cotton velvet B: Steel, ivory C: Steel, ivory D: Steel, ivory E: Steel, ivory F: Steel, ivory G: Steel, ivory H: Steel, ivory I: Steel, ivory


Dimensions

Overall (A: open): 11/16 in. x 8 7/16 in. x 6 1/8 in. (1.73 cm x 21.44 cm x 15.57 cm)
Other (A: closed): 3/16 in. x 4 1/4 in. x 6 1/8 in. (0.51 cm x 10.72 cm x 15.57 cm)
Other (B): 4 11/16 in. x 3/8 in. (11.91 cm x 0.97 cm)
Other (C): 4 9/16 in. x 3/8 in. (11.58 cm x 0.97 cm)
Other (D): 4 11/16 in. x 3/8 in. (11.91 cm x 0.97 cm)
Other (E): 4 1/16 in. x 3/8 in. (10.31 cm x 0.97 cm)
Other (F): 4 9/16 in. x 3/8 in. (11.58 cm x 0.97 cm)
Other (G): 5 in. x 3/8 in. (12.7 cm x 0.97 cm)
Other (H): 4 13/16 in. x 3/8 in. (12.22 cm x 0.97 cm)
Other (I): 4 3/4 in. x 3/8 in. (12.07 cm x 0.97 cm)


Credit Line

Gift of Mary Mildred Sullivan and her son, George Hammond Sullivan, 1917


Object Number

W-595/A-I


Colors (Beta)


Mount Vernon's object research is ongoing and information about this object is subject to change. For information on image use and reproductions, click here.
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