Need to Get an Old (like Antique) Prescription Filled?

As someone who loves history, I’m always looking to check out a new museum. Just ask my friends, most of my vacations revolve around visits to museums and historic sites. If it’s old, chances are, I want to go see it.

Now that I’m the unofficial curator of Benco Dental’s dental museum (schedule a visit to CenterPoint East headquarters in northeast Pennsylvania to see it!), I’ve put all sorts of medical museums on my list of places to see, in addition to my usual must-see historic sites. So when I found myself in New Orleans at a conference for digital publishers and noticed a small, or so I thought, museum dedicated to pharmacy on a busy street, I knew I had to make some time to visit.

Formally known as the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum, it is housed in the building where America’s first licensed pharmacist, Louis J. Dufilho operated his shop. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as an historic building within the Vieux Carre Historic District.

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Many pharmacies also housed the local soda fountain. Get your prescription filled and order an egg cream while you wait!

In 1804, the State of Louisiana, led by Governor Claiborne, passed a law that required a licensing examination for pharmacists wishing to practice their profession.

Louis J. Dufilho, Jr. was the first to pass the licensing examination in 1816, making his pharmacy the first United States apothecary shop to be conducted on the basis of proven adequacy. Before this, pharmacists did not have to be licensed and dispensed unmeasured doses of medicine and dubious products. While there were numerous healthcare products of limited merit throughout the 19th and early 20th century, at least certain states were starting to realize that pharmacists needed formal training to be helpful.

The museum itself is a tribute to all sorts of medical supplies, some more useful than others. It is also filled with medical cases that rivaled the best antique furniture I’ve seen for beauty and usefulness. The pharmacy of the past was not a sterile environment, by any means!

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All sorts of “cures” for what ailed you are behind these doors.

While disappointed there wasn’t much dedicated specifically to dentistry, I did spy a few dental items mixed in with the hundreds of pharmaceutical products.

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One of a few dental -related items featured at New Orleans Pharmacy Museum.

The museum was deceptively large. Exhibits upstairs were housed in exquisite antique cases, and even featured a recreated sick room of a wealthy New Orleans resident of the mid 1800s.

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The 19th century sickbed.
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Stunning antique cases, filled with glass bottles.

The museum, also the residence of Dr. Dufilho, was equipped with a lovely courtyard and now houses a fountain. Today, the museum hosts events in this historic area.

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The back of the museum, leading to the courtyard.
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The courtyard, leading up to the fountain.

Unfortunately, my trip to the museum was all too short, because I had to get back to the conference (I ran out during a lunch break), but the next time I’m in the Big Easy, I hope to make a more in-depth visit. If you find yourself in the French Quarter, I suggest you take a trip there. The cost to enter is minimal ($5 for adults) and the exhibits are fascinating!

About the blogger

Guest blogger Jenn Ochman, Database Publishing Production Specialist in the Branding and Communication Department at Benco Dental, dedicates her time outside work to historical reenactment. She shares knowledge of dental history with TheDailyFloss.com readers on a monthly basis.

Everything Old is New Again, Part 2 in a Series

Our first installment of “Everything Old Is New Again” featured such dental powerhouses as Johnson & Johnson and Hu-Friedy, but the list was far from comprehensive. I was surprised to find that more than a few dental companies have been in existence for several generations. Below are a few more who have been helping dentists longer than some of their patients have been alive.

Pelton & Crane

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1917 Ad for an early Pelton & Crane sterilizer.

Pelton & Crane was founded in 1900 by Dr. R.M. Pelton, a dentist, and Mr. Crane, an electrical engineer, with the purpose of designing and manufacturing a furnace used to bake porcelain inlays.  Today, Pelton & Crane is a leader in innovative cabinetry and operatory equipment. Check out some of their current offerings in Benco Dental’s 2018 Equipment Catalog.

 

Eastman Kodak

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Dental X-rays were fairly new at the time of this ad, above.

George Eastman was crucial in the development of flexible film for personal cameras and for dental x-rays. His company, Eastman Kodak, created the first commercially available prepackaged dental film in 1913. While it’s true that today, dentists are transitioning from film to digital for radiographs, Benco Dental still offers for sale Kodak dental film to those who have yet to make the switch.

 

 

 

 

 

L.D. Caulk

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One of L.D. Caulk’s popular products in 1917.

Better known today as Dentsply Caulk, this company is the world’s largest manufacturer of artificial teeth and consumable dental products. It was created more than 100 years ago in New York City by Dr. Jacob F. Frantz, George H. Whiteley, Dean C. Osborne, and John R. Sheppard. In 1899 these four men (all with experience in the dental business) opened a retail dental supply service under the name The Dentists’ Supply Co. of New York. The four focused at first on manufacturing superior artificial teeth, but gradually moved into creating other dental consumables, such as the Twentieth Century Alloy advertised in “The Dental Cosmos” in 1917. Today, the company remains an innovator in such items as impression material. See their listings in the Impression section of the current Benco Dentist Desk Reference.

The vintage ads above were featured in a journal “The Dental Cosmos, a Monthly Record of Dental Science,” the first enduring national journal for the American dental profession. It published from 1859 to 1936, when it merged with the “Journal of the American Dental Association”. The ads shown here appeared in the December, 1917 edition.

About the blogger

Guest blogger Jenn Ochman, Database Publishing Production Specialist in the Branding and Communication Department at Benco Dental, dedicates her time outside work to historical reenactment. She shares knowledge of dental history with TheDailyFloss.com readers on a monthly basis.

The Best Old Dental Products You’ve Never Heard Of

Have you brushed your teeth with Sozodont lately? Do you think the local drugstore still carries Rubifoam? Can you find a listing for Dr. Sheffield’s Antiseptic Creme Dentifrice in the pages of Benco Dental’s Dentist’s Desk Reference?

The aforementioned dental products were popular around the turn of the 20th century, but today are almost unheard of. What were these products and what happened to them? Read on to find out:

 

Sozodont

SozodontAd2This early tooth cleaner was sold in liquid form. The name references the Greek sozo, meaning “to save”, and dontia, meaning “teeth“. Created in 1859, it was  heavily marketed throughout the latter half of the 19th century and into the early part of the 20th century. So well marketed was Sozodont that by the turn of the century, it was a household name, despite its dubious health claims. The company claimed that Sozodont would clean and preserve the teeth and harden the gums, as well as “impart a delightfully refreshing taste and feeling to the mouth.” In addition promotional material stated: “it prevents the accumulation of tartar on the teeth and arrests the progress of decay.” None of these claims could be proven. As early as 1866, “The Dental Cosmos” was skeptical of Sozodont and other products like it. Sozodont grew in popularity until the early 20th century, when it fell out of favor due to issues regarding its side effects.

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Rubifoam

AHB2014q040026Another early liquid tooth preparation was created and sold by E.W. Hoyt & Co. in 1887. Called Rubifoam due to the red color of the product, it similar in ingredients to many other “tooth washes” on the market at that time. The E.W. Hoyt & Co. was also well-known for producing Hoyt’s German Cologne. The company advocated using Rubifoam to prevent tooth decay, even though, at the time, the cause of tooth decay was still being debated.

Why were several of these products colored red? Our ancestors liked their tooth cleaners to match the healthy color of gums, rather today’s toothpastes which mirror the whiteness of teeth.

HoytsCologneRubifoamCardThe Hoyt company’s big seller was the cologne, but the company wisely tied the Rubifoam advertising to the cologne, often creating colorful, collectible cards with both products on them. As a result, the “deliciously flavored” (as one advertisement put it) product sold well. Since the ingredients were not super-effective in removing decay, it’s popularity died out as it was replaced with more potent products.

 

 

Dr. Sheffield’s Antiseptic
Creme Dentifrice

Pearson's MagazineThis was an early toothpaste, but with several innovations that set it apart from other early preparations. It was created in the mid 1870s by Dr. Washington Sheffield, a talented dentist located in Connecticut. In addition to having made important contributions to the fields of Dentistry and Dental Surgery, Dr. Sheffield is credited with being the first person to put toothpaste in a collapsible tube. He gave it to his patients and the demand was so strong he started a company, Sheffield Dentifrice Co., which is still in business today as the Sheffield Pharmaceutical Co.

 

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This product can still be bought at your local drugstore!

 

 

CVS still carries several varieties of Dr. Sheffield’s toothpaste, including Dr. Sheffield’s Premium Natural Sensitive Care Toothpaste, so it seems that the good doctor was on to something.

In an era before the Pure Food and Drug Act, there were many commercial preparations that promised to keep teeth perfectly clean and sound that may have been without merit. What many of them did have, was pervasive and beautiful advertising and packaging that is still collected today.

I’m certainly glad that modern toothpastes have a better track record for keeping cavities at bay than the preparations our ancestors used!

 

About the blogger

Guest blogger Jenn Ochman, Database Publishing Production Specialist in the Branding and Communication Department at Benco Dental, dedicates her time outside work to historical reenactment. She shares knowledge of dental history with TheDailyFloss.com readers on a monthly basis.

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