The turnkey (for extracting teeth) and the elevator (for extracting roots) were essential early dental instruments. These were used by Dr. George Brewster of Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
In "The Claims of Dentistry," an address at the 1872 commencement of the Dental School, Oliver Wendell Holmes said, of the turnkey, "There never was a claw on bird or beast that was the cause of such anguish of apprehension, such howls of agony, as that diabolical instrument, looking like a vulture's talon, but known by the name of the key. It was a key indeed: it may have opened the door of heaven to the sufferer in due time; but, while the bolt was turning, the victim thought he was in that other place, where the man must be who invented the instrument of torture. Now a patient comes in; takes a few whiffs of anaesthestic; has a dozen or more teeth submitted to the embrace of the gentlemanly forceps, which lift them from their sockets as one takes out the pegs of a solitaire-board,--say, rather, as a father lifts his first-born infant,--comes to; stares about him; asks when they are going to begin; is told that it is all over; bursts into tears of hysteric gratitude; kisses the smiling dentist; wants to hug all mankind, and make the human race happy at once."
Dr. Thomas Fillebrown (1836-1908) was a graduate of the first class of the Dental School in 1869 and later held the professorship of operative Dentistry and oral surgery. He donated many specimens and instruments to the Dental Museum.
These ivory-handled instruments (an excavator, scaler, chisel, and three mirrors) were used by Boston dentist Daniel Harwood (1801-1881). Soon after the formation of the Harvard Dental School in 1867, Harwood was appointed to the professorship of dental pathology and therapeutics, but resigned before the first lectures, believing that Dentistry should be not taught in a separate institution. "He had not been in sympathy with the movement from the beginning, and he continued to hold rigidly to his view that the dental student should be educated both in medicine and in Dentistry in the Medical School, by adding to that school a chair of Dentistry."
This complete portable surgical kit was used during the Civil War.
This key instrument was carried to a town in New Hampshire when it was settled 100 years ago as part of the necessary articles to have for use in a new country . The donor received it from the descendents of the owner.