What is it?
This set of 29 papier mache models of horses’ teeth (Wh. 6135) was made by Dr Louis Auzoux in France in the 1890s. The original wooden case opens out to reveal four rows of spaces for sets on each side. A hinged wooden flap holds the teeth in place. The models demonstrate the appearance of horses’ teeth at different ages, the effects of wind sucking and crib biting, and the fraudulent ways of making a horse seem older or younger by the appearance of its teeth.
What’s the story?
As a medical student in Paris, Auzoux noticed that there was often a shortage of human remains available for dissection. To deal with the shortage of bodies, he began producing accurate anatomical models that could be taken apart piece by piece. With financial support from the French state, Auzoux founded a factory for producing anatomical models. The models became a commercial success and were used by schools, universities and hospitals, as well as by private individuals who could rent models at low costs. Responding to changing trends in scientific research and education, the company branched out and began producing models of human embryos, animals and plants.
Can we see it?
The horses’ teeth are on display in the Main Gallery of the Whipple Museum of the History of Science.
The museum is open Monday to Friday 12:30-4:30pm. The Museum is not always open during University vacations and visitors are advised to check beforehand. Admission is free.