ADAQ Museum of Dentistry:
Dr Jenkin's Porcelain Enamel bottle

What’s the link between this bottle and Mark Twain?

No, it didn’t belong to the famous American author himself. That would have been too good for ADAQ MoD!

However, a tiny link there is, nevertheless.

Mark Twain was a shrewd entrepreneur as well, and among other things, he involved himself in the manufacture and US distribution of the product which originally filled this old bottle: porcelain enamel, which had been developed by his friend dentist, Dr Jenkins.

Newell S Jenkins (1840-1919) was an American dentist who practised in Dresden, Germany, for many years. Jenkins developed and improved porcelain enamel for inlays and bridges. His enamel composition made tooth-coloured anterior restorations more natural: it is often said that this marks the beginning of modern aesthetic dentistry.

Jenkins was also co-developer of Kolynos, one of the first toothpastes to contain a disinfectant agent (1908). A dentist to many aristocrats, he also counted the composer Richard Wagner among his clients and friends. You can read a digital copy of Jenkins’ posthumous Reminiscences (1924) on the Internet Archive.

The bottle in the MoD collection was reused multiple times, judging from an illegible brown plaster label, and the words ‘Potass Permang’ [Potassium Permanganate] scribbled on the fourth side. Commonly used as a disinfectant and astringent, the Potassium Permanganate likely caused the dark brown staining inside the bottle.


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