rare and highly sought after antique american rare late 19th century carved wood dentist trade sign with allover crazed white paint finish


UR #:: UR-29153-18

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Product Description

authentic late 19th century dentist office exterior and/or outdoor molar tooth trade sign, comprised of hand carved wood with a white painted finish. the exceptionally rare american folk art sign was once used in a new york city dental office. artist not known. the tooth was obtained from a prominent and well-documented folk art collection. trade signs have descended from a lineage that can be traced back to ancient greek and roman cultures. what began as a necessity, when literacy was not widespread, became a tradition, and instantly recognizable iconic images continued to advertise businesses through the turn of the twentieth century. some of the earliest signs, such as the free-standing tavern signs often stationed near the road, were flat and two-sided, but increasingly they were three-dimensional carvings hung off the facades of buildings to catch the eyes of passersby. these carved signs often were oversized versions of everyday objects immediately associated with the particular trades they advertised. their size helped to draw attention, especially as towns became congested with competing businesses. many of the early signs established symbols that remain with us to the present time, such as the tooth that advertised the services of a dentist. several examples of carved molars survive, and most date to the second half of the nineteenth century. before that time, surgery, obstetrics, and dentistry were all often part of a country doctor's duties. until dental surgery became a specialty, physicians pulled teeth as part of their regular practice. the tooth measures 16 x 9 x 7 inches. a sporadic crazed finish appears along most of the enameled off-white surface. the black iron stand was custom made specifically for the display of this piece.