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Last reviewed: 11/10/2010
Last updated: 11/10/2010

LDBDA : 4457


Ludicrous Operator or blacksmith turn'd tooth drawer

mezzotint depicting an extraction of a peasant's only remaining tooth with a blacksmith's oversized pair of forceps. There is a rhyme beneath the mezzotint which reads 'Why squeeze your Hat and Seize my Cap As if you dreaded some Mishap?- Keep not your Spririts on the Rack I'm a Licentiate, Not a quack'.

This mezzotint shows the different types of practitioners carrying out dental procedures in the 18th century, and their different levels of skills. In this period, medical writings by men such as John Hunter and Pierre Fauchard were inspiring a greater interest in understanding dental problems and treatment was being provided by skilled medical men. At the same time, however, there were many unskilled, and often unscrupulous, operators such as the one depicted here.

designer: Harris, J improved by: Wilson, J 1760-1780

paper; length 500mm; width 397mm

Image of print