Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Dental Collectibles - Dr. Myerson's "True-Blend" Color Scale

People can collect the strangest things and what one person finds odd another finds fascinating. 

As a long time collector of vintage curiosities, I usually find myself gravitating to items of beauty or things that tell a historical story. Over the years I've accumulated a growing quantity of "oddities" and today I'd like to share one that is related to Dentistry and has an interesting story to tell.

Dr. Myerson's "True-Blend" Color Scale

This is a vintage Dr. Myerson's "True-Blend" Color Scale kit by Ideal Tooth Incorporated and Made in the U.S.A.  What's really so special about this set is that it appears complete with tooth colors from A-J.  This box set also has the original instructions for use and the Dental Supply Co label is still in the lid of the case.  

There are a total of 10 slightly different colored teeth in the "True-Blend" system.  Each tooth has a gold identifying letter on the back. There are labeled slots for A-H and then I & J are in the "Ideal" holders.

The directions for using the system are printed on paper that has an interesting orange/coral color. The color of the paper appears much lighter in the photo than how it is in person. The paper is in very good shape and an unusual find, so a great addition to this set.

Here is a photo showing the N.Y.C. Supply Co Label. Love the old phone number Wisconsin 7-7314, it makes me want to watch an old classic movie.

A bit of History behind Dr. Myerson and "True-Blend"

In the early 1900s Dr. Simon Myerson was a practicing Dentist in Boston.  He taught at the Harvard Dental School of Medicine and in his spare time worked on developing artificial teeth that had the appearance of natural. He founded the Myerson Tooth Corporation in 1917 and continued to make advancements of artificial teeth over his lifetime.

Dr. Myerson was struck by an idea in 1935 that he and his eldest son Martin, who was a ceramist, worked on till the "True-Blend" artificial teeth were perfected.  Dr. Myerson displayed his latest breakthrough to a room full of top-flight U.S. dentists at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in June 1940. Time Magazine wrote an article about Dr. Myerson and his latest advancement a week later, in the June 10, 1940 issue, titled Medicine: Unspottable Teeth.  What made "True-Blend" so remarkable for it's day was that it had a porcelain core, made of one of ten different shades that was matched to the patients original teeth or that best worked with their complexion.  A layer of transparent enamel was set over the core, allowing the artificial teeth to have the closest comparison to natural teeth for it's day.

Ideal Tooth Incorporated trademarked the name True-Blend in 1940 citing they had been using the name on  products since 1936. Trade-Mark 377,867 was Registered May 14,1940  for True-Blend.  Dr. Simon Myerson registered on Sept 27,1941 for a patent on an artificial tooth that describes the "True-Blend" tooth and  Patent 2,300,305  was issued on Oct 27,1942 for same artificial tooth.

The "True-Blend" set would have been used by a Dentist to best match a patient for the correct coloring, when creating a set of "True-Blend" artificial teeth.  I do not know an exact date on this set; however I believe it's from the 1940s.  It's fascinating to find bit of Dental history that looks great and tells an interesting story and I believe this little box does just that.

Another dental related item that's not as glamorous, is this vintage set of wax carving blocks and a few carved wax teeth. While doing my research on Dr Myerson, I read where he originally created each set of dentures for his patients by hand, so this little carving set seems a fitting side note and tie in to the above story.

 Vintage box of wax carving blocks and 4 carved wax teeth

As odd as this little set must seem to most of us, dental students have been carving similar examples in their dental anatomy classes for years.  Carving each and every tooth in detail helps aspiring dentists learn about the anatomy of each tooth.  Some students take to this task easily and others find it frustrating but the carver of these teeth seemed to do a remarkably good job and I'm sure they passed this portion of their class with flying colors.  

This little box originally held 12 little wax blocks and now it houses 7 uncut blocks and 4 carved wax teeth.  Three of the teeth seem to be of the same color and texture of the uncut blocks, the larger molar that is standing up is also of wax, but it's color is different so it was not carved from the same wax blocks in the set.    

Update - 6/29/2019
Both these items were originally given to me by my Father and his wife Ronna a few years back when they moved to the beach.  They had an amazing collection of oddities from their days of collecting and I was fortunate enough to receive these little treasures from them.  Last week I donated both items to The Country Doctors Museum in Bailey NC - http://www.countrydoctormuseum.org/

The Country Doctors Museum is part of Eastern Carolina University - ECU and is the collage were Ronna's grandson recently graduated from. I'm happy these two dental treasures have a home that is happy to have them and they are too.

Thanks for joining me and I hope you enjoyed the post

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