Toothbrushes: Forms and Users

 “In purchasing a tooth-brush, care should be taken to select one of appropriate size and width, and of which the hairs are only moderately stiff, and the surface of a character adapted to penetrate the interstices and inequalities of the teeth.”  Arnold J. Cooley, The Toilet in Ancient and Modern Times, Philadelphia, 1873



Toothbrushes were sold with different head sizes and handle styles for various users. (Book of Illustrations, S. Maw & Son’s, Price Quarterly, Current 1869.)

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Book of Illustrations, S. Maw & Son’s, Price Quarterly, Current 1869.

Toothbrushes always varied in size and shape, but by the 1860s, makers offered different kinds designed for different users. Smaller brushes were marketed for women and children. An 1869 catalog from S. Maw & Son’s of London shows bristle and handle shapes. Intended for cleaning uneven teeth or those riddled with cavities. Toothbrush manufacturers used these size and shape differences to market the supposed superiority of their products to consumers.


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