Toothsome Graphic Art

Product: Dental Graphic Art
Date: 1883

When I was editor of my high school newspaper back in the 1980s, in addition to collecting all of the content, I was also tasked with laying out each edition.

Luckily, I had professional mentors, graphic artists who worked for the same company as my mom and helped me out with tips and materials.

They let me pore through their huge catalogs of clip art — you know, the stuff you actually had to clip out and paste onto your page — to pick out images that would liven up the newspaper.

I remember choosing a pair of sunglasses to sit at the top of an interview we’d done with a local rock DJ. The same image came in multiple sizes, from tiny to big, so you could pick the one that fit best into your layout.

I hadn’t actually thought of those clip art catalogs in years, not until I came across this page advertising graphic art pieces for dentists to use in hawking their services.


1883 dental clip art

Click to enlarge.

I think the dentist selected the image of his choice at the size he wanted, and then probably received it as a wood cut or metal engraving (anyone know for sure?) so he could print all those lovely teeth on his marketing material and letterhead.

This one would make a nice tattoo, don’t you think?

Somebody had a sense of humour here: A banner promising “painless” dentistry from the fictitious O.I. Payne on Forcep Avenue.

1883 dental clip art

But dentists, may I make a humble suggestion? Piece No. 8, with all the forceps, wrenches, picks, knives, corkscrews and whatnot on display? Not really selling the whole dental experience.

1883 dental clip art

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