Dental Operating Set

Dental Operating Set

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This set of dental instruments was owned and used by Eleazar Parmly, M.D., D.D.S. (1797-1874) a nationally and internationally known dentist. He was born in Braintree, Vermont, and raised on the family farm. Farming held little appeal for Eleazar, and at the age of seventeen he embarked on a teaching career. After a short period of time he joined his older brother Levi in Montreal, Canada and became an assistant in his dental practice.
The brown leather and chamois lined rolled or rolling case holds a group of instruments not necessarily original to the set. Rolling cases could be purchased with spaces for up to twenty instruments. This case was outfitted to originally accommodate ten instruments. The instruments in the set include: nine forceps for the extraction of teeth and roots; a stump extractor with a round wooden handle and screw, brunisher, plugger, two excavators, one with a mother-of-pearl handle, an one with an octagonal ivory handle, a stump extractor with a round wooden handle, an excavator hook with an octagonal ebony handle, elevator/pied-de-biche, and one unknown all metal instrument.
Some of the instruments were made by two of New York’s early surgical instrument. The Swiss born John D. Chevlier immigrated to the United States and quickly established himself as a manufacturer of dental instruments. He and his sons were in business from about 1835 to about 1872. A patent for dental forceps was issued to J.D. Chevalier’s October 22, 1872, and is now in the Smithsonian collections.
Five of the forceps are stamped C.E. MORSON/NEW YORK. Morson like many other instrument makers began his career as a cutler. In his book American Surgical Instrument Makers<\i>, Edmonson notes that Morson’s first appears in the New York City Directory in 1842. However, he can be found in Longworth’s New York Directory listed as a surgical instrument maker at 79 Suffolk, in the 1836-1837.
Eleazar Parmely’s early career was spent traveling the county and observing established physicians who practiced dentistry. He later followed his brother Levi to England, and later spent time in Paris where he developed new instruments, in particular a design for improved forceps and turnkey that he made while he was in Paris.
Parmly had a distinguished and active career in Dentistry. He was one of the founding members in 1834 of the Society of Surgeon Dentists of the City and State of New York”. In 1839 he helped establish the first dental journal. From 1847 to 1852 he was the Provost of the Baltimore College of Dentistry, the first dental school in the United States, from 1867-1868 he presided as the first President of the New York College of Dentistry.
A close knit family the Parmly clan included eighteen dentists spanning two generations, including several of Eleazar’s brothers, and cousins, Jahial, Ludolph who apprenticed with him in New York.
Currently not on view
Object Name
surgical instruments, set, dental
place made
United States: New York, New York
overall: 34 cm x 63 cm; 13 3/8 in x 24 13/16 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Suzanne Parmly
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Dentistry
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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