This week’s FindsFriday was recovered during our 2014 evaluation at Clitheroe Road, Whalley in Lancashire. This small glazed whiteware pot dates to the late 19th – early 20th century and would have held toothpaste. It would originally have had a lid with a transfer-printed pattern, showing the name of the manufacturer and/or store from which it was purchased. Local pharmacies and chemists often produced their own toothpaste during this time and through transfer-printing, created intricate designs on the lids to promote their products. Unfortunately, the lid from this example was not recovered during our evaluation.
The late 18th century saw an increase in awareness of the importance of dental hygiene, and with trips to the dentist being more distressing and dangerous at this time than they are today, toothpaste became a new and widespread commodity. During this period, toothpaste was more often a compacted powder than the paste we know today. The most popular type used during the 19th century was cherry flavoured, although this description was given more in reference to the colour of the toothpaste, rather than the actual flavour.
These pots were widespread until around the time of the First World War, when tubes, boxes and glass containers came into use.