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Ivory and tortoiseshell baby's tongue scraper

Date made: 19th century

Description: This object is a tongue scraper for cleaning the tongues of young babies. Young infants can develop a white coating of milk or plaque on the tongue, which can be removed with an object such as this.

The main part of the scraper is made of tortoishell, with an ivory handle attached, indicating that this was an item of quality in its day.

The idea of cleaning the tongue originated in ancient China and India but has a basis in sound medical fact. Bacteria, fungi and food debris can accumulate on the tongue and cause bad breath among other problems. Unlike teeth, the tongue has a soft spongy nature and therefore is not easily brushed, so a scraper works best for this. In the Victorian era this idea was very fashionable and some very ornate tongue scrapers were made, using sterling silver, or ivory and tortoishell as in this case.


Measurements: 13.5 x 4 x 1 cm

Materials: copper alloy, ivory, tortoiseshell

Object name: tongue scraper

Collection: Social History Collection

ID Number: 1954-5384X

Subject tags : SHIC 3.71 - Medical and infant raising, Sex and procreation


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