This Macabre Hat Belonged to a Traveling “Dentist” in London in the Early 19th Century

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This cap belonged to a street “dentist” or tooth puller in London from between the 1820s and 1850s. It is made of brown velvet and felt, and decorated with approximately 88 decayed human teeth, once belonging to his patients. The teeth have been drilled and attached with twine.

Wearing a cap like this was supposed to imply the “magician” aspect of the dentists work. As teeth pulling was painful and risky and done without anaesthetic, people needed to have some faith in the “dentist,” even if it was only the evidence, worn on the cap, that he had successfully plied his trade.

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