fake fashions

Oh the things we do in the name of fashion

In the 18th century it was considered fashionable to wear fake eyebrows made from mouse skin! As mice were caught they were skinned and cleaned and shaped into eyebrows which the well-to-do and fashion plates of the times glued over their real brows. Unfortunately, the heat of the ballroom sometimes caused them to slip.

Rich women seeking rejuvenation for their fading beauty visited Madame Rachel of New Bond Street. She opened her salon in 1863 but was forced to close a few years later when she got in trouble with the law.

“She sold Magnetic Rock Dew Water of Sahara for removing Wrinkles, Disinfecting Powder of the choicest Arabian odours, Chinese Leaves for the cheeks and lips, Astringents and stimulants for rendering the hair Italian brown, Senses of Peace, Vinegars for the Sick Room, Souvenir de Marriage, Maiden’s Keepsake….  She professed in her advertisements to be able to do diverse incredible things

Madame Rachel came undone when she extracted £5,300 from a certain Mrs Borradaile “to make her beautiful forever”. Mrs M was left penniless after signing over everything she had to Madame Rachel and receiving very little in exchange

“On several occasions though, she gave me a cigar. I recollect her giving me one in February of this year.”

Good fake teeth were a prerequisite for any aspiring beauty in the 18th century who suffered from tooth decay but until Pierre Fauchard developed an effective method for attaching dentures many disasters were experienced at the dinner table.

One of his methods stated that artificial teeth could be held in place by tying them to the remaining solid teeth by pivots, using waxed thread or gold wire. He also invented spring loaded dentures which exerted a constant pressure in the mouth. Naturally some muscular effort was then needed to shut the mouth but at least top sets with these powerful stabilisers never fell.

An accidental malfunction of the springs could be worse than inconvenient. The Victorian lady hated to be caught without a second pair in her handbag and a booklet of instructions on how to avoid mishaps.

Then James Gardette made the first springless top set. They were hailed as a dental triumph and he became known as the discoverer of atmospheric pressure in dentistry. You can see an example below of this type of rubberised denture which I found at Black Market Antiques. I particularly like the advertising blurb that went with it.

This is a real set of used false teeth. The dentures are in very good condition, with the obvious damage to the left front tooth, which has been broken out of the plate entirely. These dentures came from an estate, where the former owner no longer need them, primarily due to their death.

These dentures would make a great addition to a dental collection….also can be used for a wide variety of other things.



Published in: on January 12, 2010 at 7:28 am  Comments (30)  
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30 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Wide variety of other things… Either their lying or my imagination isn’t what it used to be…

    • the mind boggles doesn’t it?

  2. I so want the dentures, it would make a perfect home for my pet woodlouse

    • hahaha… lulu you crack me up!

  3. I can understand why the owner has no need for their false teeth. I also find death so permanent.

    • If I had false teeth (I have a couple of crowns, but I don’t think they qualify) I’d want to be cremated with them IN.

  4. So interesting as always nursemyra. It’s good to see we have progressed from such crude and outrageous beauty treatments.

    Well, OK there is the injection of botulism into faces and the occasional acid scrub but….

    • I think the worst thing people do in the pursuit of beauty is to have liquid paraffin injections. It causes horrible disfigurements.

  5. Primarily, but not exclusively, due to their death. Plenty of dead people wear dentures after their demise, as a nurse would know, nursemyra!

    The grammar of the original sentence is alittle ambiguous. The former owner(s?) no longer need them…due to their death. Hmmm. Were they shared? Did one family member, while wearing them, accidentally choke on the missing tooth?

    Ah, the stories those dentures could tell, if only they were in a mouth!

    • oh but we all know now headbang8, I’m not a real nurse…. 😦

      • WHAT???? There went that illusion.

  6. Poor wee mice.

  7. mouse fur brows? i suppose it would go nicely with a 1980’s ‘rat tail’…

  8. today’s post is great, and a perfect follow up to yesterday.
    I’ve never really understood the need to go so over the top w/ ‘beauty’…..

  9. Don’t forget that whole “lead powder” thing:

    Queen Elizabeth used ceruse, a mixture of white lead and vinegar, to whiten her skin. Lead was poisonous and ate away at the skin; it would eventually kill you. It remained popular as a cosmetic into the 18th century.

  10. Re: Top and Tail.

    …she’s got a hairy ass.

    • …. all the better to warm you with

  11. That’s one thing that I never understood about the ‘way back when’ days. How these people could function and go about their lives with rotten teeth and/or painful devises is way beyond my comprehension. I can’t even do a crossword puzzle with so much as a toothache. Thank God I still have good teeth!

  12. In the first link .. I spotted ‘Aristocratic ladies of the 16th century even went as far as to grow pubic hair as long as possible then adorn it with ribbons and bows’

    superb lol 😉

    • Haha… I saw that too 70s. but how long can one “make” pubic hair grow? Mine seems to have a finite length that it has never gone beyond

  13. I want those dentures as a hamster hat ……

  14. My asp is interested in biting Cleopatra, or spitting on her.

  15. I’ve made a serious effort to think of some other use for dentures, but…? I guess you could put them on a table and put nuts in the top.

  16. those madcap 18th centurians, eh?

  17. It is totally hot to kiss a girl with micebrows and get just a hint of the ferral, territory-marking scent. Ok, so I am imagining. You can make your pubic hair grow without stopping by way of a daily mouse rubbing on the area in question. It could be true- who volunteers to test this theory? Not me again.

    Juan Aquit

  18. After thinking I might not recover after reading about those poor little mice, I laughed my arse off with that hair drawing of the woman and her cheeks. You can find this woman in the flesh at any Florida boat show or outdoor festival. But she’s usually in her 70’s.

  19. I can just imagine some of those mishaps considering they were spring-loaded….like a missile flying across the dinner table and hitting a guest in the eye or possibly even knocking out a few real teeth?

  20. Ahh, can’t we just all get old gracefully?

    • Apparently some can, some can’t 😦

  21. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Caitlin Moran, Sharon Horgan. Sharon Horgan said: if you think i haven't gone down the whole mouse-skin-eyebrow route then you're crazy lady RT @caitlinmoran:Consider: http://bit.ly/9zi5ZC […]


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