Root box


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 522

Such oblong boxes were often included in French silver toilet services to hold hand-made toothbrushes, which were formed from sections of fibrous or aromatic roots. The six-inch lengths of root were boiled, dried, and then sliced with a knife at the ends to make a brush. Household manuals describe the methods for preparing woody roots such as marshmallow, licorice, or lucerne to make the brushes, which were used with an abrasive powder to "prevent the accidents that arise from the collection of tartar or any other foulness about the [teeth]."

Root box, R.F., Silver, French, Paris

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