Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Shining through the grime

Archival rule number 23: On the day you accession the dirtiest materials, you will be wearing black.

And I know I've already mentioned tetanus shots.

Last week, another trip to the vault at the School of Dentistry revealed several oversize photographs in very dirty, very weathered, very treacherous frames, and ten new objects for the museum collection.

Shown here is my favorite of the objects: a gold crown kit which Dr. Clarke determined was before 1907 (when gold casting technique was developed) but after the need for individual swaging of gold foil began to wane. Each little 22k crown is in its own little plastic box, and each little plastic box has a cardboard sleeve. The set is in a wooden case painted blue-green and ornamented with yellow stripes. The mirror on the inside of the lid makes it seem like a girl's jewelry box (and with all that gold, what little girl wouldn't consider wearing the contents?). The crowns are by Isaac Masel Co., Philadelphia. You'll note that there are a few partials thrown in for good measure.

We also received a case full of burs for a handpiece, a mix of sets from SS White Dental Manufacturing ("Revelation" burs--a revelation for the patient, no doubt; they were so smooth!); Lee, Smith & Sons; and Rusch Co. The case is very similar to the one containing the gold crowns, only with a natural finish and red stripes. They may have belonged to the same dentist. Also thrown into that case are two dental spatulas, one for mixing cement and the other for wax.

In the machine category, we picked up a Vitalo-Meter and Periodontal Probe, both from the J. Morita Corporation. The former applies an electric current to dental pulp to see whether the nerves are vital, while the latter is used to check gum pockets (if you've ever had this done, you may know the familiar call-and-response of the manual method: "Four." Four." "Three." "Three." "Four." "Four." "Two." "Two." et cetera.). The heaviest of the lot (and the one that made me the dirtiest) is the Pyrometer for Electric Furnace B from the SS White Dental Manufacturing Co. The oven was used to fire porcelain to 2300 degrees.

Lastly, we received two nice dental mallets, one for gold foil (Cleve-Dent, Ferrier) and one for oral surgery (no manufacturer indicated). A small metal bottle from Zeno, the "cleansing agent for teeth and gums"; a box of San-Ei Instrument Co. chart paper; and a memorial plaque that used to hang in the dental school.

Now, off to change my bandages....

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