Wooden snuff box, cylindrical, lacquered and printed on the top with a scene of a dentist extracting a tooth
A painful tooth extraction is shown on the lid of this snuff box. A piece of string has been secured around the patient’s tooth and is being pulled by the dentist who is using his foot to brace himself against the patient’s jaw. The patient probably only had, at best, alcohol or herbal concoctions to relive the pain. Tooth pulling was carried out by a range of people including barber-surgeons and travelling practitioners, who often had limited medical skills at best. The illustration would suggest that the process was viewed as somewhat humorous – although not, presumably, by the patient.
Snuff was well-liked for its aroma, taste and nicotine boost. It was once believed to ward off colds, be good for ear, nose and throat problems and stop snoring. (Pictured here with two other snuff boxes showing tooth extractions A642702 and A642711).