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In 1897 the Sears Catalog Shipped Dental Products All Over the U.S.

As a dental hygienist I looked at a Sears Catalog from 1897 and wanted to see if there was floss offered along with toothbrushes and other dentifrices in the giant book. Although I could not find floss in this antique catalog I did find golden toothpicks that were very ornamental.

Toothbrush made from "imported badger hair." Sears shipped from Chicago, Illinois which borders Wisconsin also known as the "Badger State." It is unclear why they would need to import badger hair for these toothbrushes from another country at the time.
Toothbrush made from "imported badger hair." Sears shipped from Chicago, Illinois which borders Wisconsin also known as the "Badger State." It is unclear why they would need to import badger hair for these toothbrushes from another country at the time. Sears
Sears Catalog, Chicago, IL 1897
Sears Catalog, Chicago, IL 1897Sears

In this catalog, there were tooth preparations named Bazin's Charcoal Paste for 30 cents, Rubifoam for 20 cents and Jewsbury and Brown's Oriental Paste selling for 45 cents. They also had a Colgate brand which was a mouthwash (Rince Bousch - French for mouth wash) selling for 40 cents and Colgate's Antiseptic Dental Powder for 19 cents.

It was all shipped from Chicago. At the time anything up to 100 pounds could be shipped first class for 25 cents to Milwaukee. It was 12 cents per 100 pounds if the shipment went fourth class and 60 cents if it was sent express from Sears in Chicago to an address in Milwaukee.

There were Japanese toothbrushes for sale in this catalog as well. They could be purchased singly or by the dozen and some came in a "fancy bamboo box" for storage.

There was a tooth soap named "Sanitary" for sale for 12 cents a box. Sears listed the actual retail price as 25 cents a box to let you know they were giving customers a bargain. One page of the catalog read:

"Sears Roebuck and Company Cheapest Supply House on Earth."

Hypodermic syringes were sale with needles and vials. The syringes were nickel plated selling for $1.50 at that time and postage was listed at 8 cents for them.

I liked the wording on the ad for the Rose Tooth Powder which the catalog said was used to cleanse and whiten teeth - "contains nothing injurious." Rose Tooth Powder was "put up in metal screen boxes" and sold for 15 cents each or a dozen for $1.75.

Being from Wisconsin it was very interesting to see a toothbrush for sale at that time made from "imported badger hair" for sale for 17 cents or two for 32 cents. Sears was in Chicago. Wisconsin is known as the "Badger State." It is a mystery why they would need to import badger hair toothbrushes in 1897 and which country they came from. Unless they meant they were imported from Wisconsin to Illinois.

Today Sears still sells toothbrushes. Now they even sell floss. Sears sells electric toothbrushes as well as handheld. They no longer say that Sears has "cheapest supply house on earth" at the top of the web page like they did in the catalog 1897.