Piece image

99% Invisible #46- Vulcanite Dentures, or When Patent Violators Strike Back (Standard 4:30 version)

From: Roman Mars
Series: 99% Invisible (Standard Length)
Length: 04:30

Embed_button
These false teeth were to die for. To kill for, even. Read the full description.

99invisible-logo-square-for_prx_small

[For Director's Cut, go to: http://www.prx.org/pieces/89162-99-invisible-46-vulcanite-dentures-or-when-pat]

Before the 1850s, dentures were made out of very hard, very painful and very expensive material, like gold or ivory. They were a luxury item. The invention of Vulcanite hard rubber changed everything. It was moldable, it could be precisely fitted, and it was relatively cheap. Everyone began making dentures with Vulcanite bases. But in 1864, a long disputed patent application, originally filed in 1852, was awarded and then acquired by the Goodyear Dental Vulcanite Company. It was an outfit created to collect fees, or very often, sue dentists who already used vulcanite, and there were plenty of dentists to go after.

The person in charge of pursuing the violators was Josiah Bacon, the treasurer of the Goodyear Dental Vulcanite Company. The patent was enforced with extreme prejudice, despite the protestations of the US dental profession.

To quote the secretary of the Goodyear Dental Vulcanite Company, Ernest Caduc: “Many dentists…relying upon the secret nature of the business, prefer to steal this property rather than buy it…”

It all came to a head on Easter Sunday in 1879. A Vulcanite denture patent violating dentist named Samuel Chalfant went to settle his business with his pursuer, Josiah Bacon, in his San Francisco hotel room. Chalfant brought a gun.

A print version of this story originally appeared in the fanzine Murder Can Be Fun by John Marr.
 
 

(Above: Vulcanite dentures with gold inlay, ca. 1880)

Also in the 99% Invisible (Standard Length) series

Piece image

99% Invisible #101- Cover Story (Standard 4:30 version) (04:31)
From: Roman Mars

You know the saying: you can’t judge a book by its cover. With magazines, it’s pretty much the opposite.
Piece image

99% Invisible #100- Higher and Higher (Standard 4:30 Version) (04:30)
From: Roman Mars

A battle for supremacy in the New York skyline.
Piece image

99% Invisible #92- All the Buildings (Standard 4:30 Version) (04:30)
From: Roman Mars

An artist draws New York. And vice versa.
Piece image

99% Invisible #89- Bubble Houses (Standard 4:30 Version) (04:30)
From: Roman Mars

Buildings of the future, once.
Piece image

99% Invisible #85- A Noble Effort (Standard 4:30 version) (04:30)
From: Roman Mars

The man behind the background.
Piece image

99% Invisible #83- Heyoon (Standard 4:30 Version) (04:30)
From: Roman Mars

Bored and disaffected and angry, Alex longed for a place to escape to. And then he found Heyoon.
Piece image

99% Invisible #80- An Architect's Code (Standard 4:30 Version) (04:29)
From: Roman Mars

Some architects say there are just some buildings that should never have been built: buildings that violate human rights by design.
Piece image

99% Invisible #77- Game Changer (Standard 4:30 Version) (04:30)
From: Roman Mars

The two tweaks to basketball that made it the sports juggernaut it is today.
Piece image

99% Invisible #75- Secret Stairs (04:29)
From: Roman Mars

Wherever there is sufficient demand to move between two points of differing elevation, there are stairs.

Piece Description

[For Director's Cut, go to: http://www.prx.org/pieces/89162-99-invisible-46-vulcanite-dentures-or-when-pat]

Before the 1850s, dentures were made out of very hard, very painful and very expensive material, like gold or ivory. They were a luxury item. The invention of Vulcanite hard rubber changed everything. It was moldable, it could be precisely fitted, and it was relatively cheap. Everyone began making dentures with Vulcanite bases. But in 1864, a long disputed patent application, originally filed in 1852, was awarded and then acquired by the Goodyear Dental Vulcanite Company. It was an outfit created to collect fees, or very often, sue dentists who already used vulcanite, and there were plenty of dentists to go after.

The person in charge of pursuing the violators was Josiah Bacon, the treasurer of the Goodyear Dental Vulcanite Company. The patent was enforced with extreme prejudice, despite the protestations of the US dental profession.

To quote the secretary of the Goodyear Dental Vulcanite Company, Ernest Caduc: “Many dentists…relying upon the secret nature of the business, prefer to steal this property rather than buy it…”

It all came to a head on Easter Sunday in 1879. A Vulcanite denture patent violating dentist named Samuel Chalfant went to settle his business with his pursuer, Josiah Bacon, in his San Francisco hotel room. Chalfant brought a gun.

A print version of this story originally appeared in the fanzine Murder Can Be Fun by John Marr.
 
 

(Above: Vulcanite dentures with gold inlay, ca. 1880)