Tribute to Gertrude E. Curtis, one of the first African-American female dentists

To celebrate Black History Month, let’s shine a spotlight on this unsung groundbreaking woman. Biographical information was in short supply, but The New York Age, an African-American newspaper, featured Dr. Gertrude E. Curtis prominently in its society pages. It was 1909 when Gertrude E. Curtis graduated from the College of Dental Surgery in Philadelphia. Dr. […]

Headed to Northeastern PA? This small Dental Museum packs a punch.

America’s largest privately-owned dental distributor has a surprise in store for all who visit its home office situated in the rolling hills of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Neatly tucked amidst the Benco Dental CenterPoint East distribution center and office complex: a fine dental museum. The brainchild of the company’s Chief Customer Advocate, Larry Cohen and his wife, Sally, […]

‘Baby Killer’ or Wonder Drug?

During the early 19th century, infant mortality rate in Britain was 25%. The rates in the U.S. were probably not much better. One of the “illnesses” that parents were warned about was something every child goes through – teething. The Dental Cosmos (and many other dental authorities) advocated lancing the child’s gums to relieve the […]

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.

IMG_6465
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!

IMG_6464
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.

IMG_6468a
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.

IMG_6470
The 19th century sickbed.
IMG_6471
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.

IMG_6473
The back of the museum, leading to the courtyard.
IMG_6474
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

Pelton_Crane_1921Cosmos
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

EastmanKodakAd1917
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

CaulkAd1917
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.