Starting with his first advertisement in America, dentist John Baker promoted his dentifrice as a preventive or cure for practically any tooth problem: gum disease, loose teeth, discoloration. Leaving Boston in 1767, Baker assured his customers that:
His Dentifrice, with proper Direction for preserving the Teeth and Gums, will be to be had at Mrs. Eustis’s, near the Town House, after he had left the Town. N B. Each Pot is sealed with his Coat of Arms, as in the Margin of the Directions, to prevent Fraud.Using the Baker coat of arms (perhaps the one shown here, perhaps not) was not only a protection against “counterfeit drugs” but also a signal to customers that Baker came from a respectable family.
After he moved from Virginia to Philadelphia in 1778, Baker stated that “His well known Antiscorbutic Dentifrice for preserving the teeth and gums, may be had...at Messrs. Dixon and Hunter’s office in Virginia, with brushes and directions.” Dixon and Hunter were printers of one incarnation of the Virginia Gazette in Williamsburg.
The 14 Sept 1782 Independent Gazetteer of Pennsylvania included this ad touting Baker’s dentifrice and a new, related product called “Albion Essence”:
DOCTOR BAKER,Starting in 1785, the printer of the State Gazette of South-Carolina sold Dr. Baker’s products in Charleston. The next year, Spotswood and Clarke of Baltimore announced themselves as the exclusive source in Maryland. Other merchants in the big American cities carried Baker’s dentifrice along with others.
Begs Leave to inform the Public in general, and his Friends in particular, in the Thirteen United States, that he has just received a fresh Assortment of Medicines, which will enable him to prepare the genuine Antiscorbutic Dentifrice, and Albion Essence, for preserving the Teeth, Gums, Sockets, Breath, &c. &c.
This Essence and Dentifrice is prepared by himself, and warranted perfectly free from the least corrosive Particle or Injurious Property whatever.
It is replete with that Balsamic Quality, which prevents all defluxions, falling on the gums, or putrefactions that cause bad breath; It takes off the mucilaginous properties that dissolve the sockets of the teeth, and prevents the tooth-ach arising therefrom; it prevents obstructions and inflamations of the nerves and vascular parts of the teeth, and the head and tooth-ach arising therefrom; It concocts the vitiated juices, renders, beyond description, a juvenile fragrance to the breath, makes the teeth white and beautiful, causes the gums to grow firm to the teeth, makes the salivia pure and balsamic, eradicates the scurvy, and restores the gums to their pristine state, if the teeth and gums have been thoroughly cleaned by some skilful Dentist.
Its efficacy is well known to the principal nobility, gentry, and others, of France, Holland, Great-Britain, Ireland, and other principal places in Europe, also to some thousands in America.
N.B. Dr. Baker’s Albion Essence, and Antiscorbutic Dentifrice, is sold wholesale and retail, at his house in No. 45, Second-street, below the City Tavern; where all merchants, shop-keepers, masters of vessels, and others, may be supplied with any quantity to send to foreign parts, with proper printed directions. By attending properly to the directions, and observing the necessary precautions, people may not only free themselves from a great deal of pain, and preserve their teeth and gums throughout life, but also those of their children; as health, and beauty of the teeth, depend in a great measure of the care and treatment of them in early life.
Each pot of Anti-Scorbutic Dentifrice, has, to prevent fraud, his name on the cover, and sealed with his coat of arms, the same as the copper-plate arms on the lable of the bottle of Albion Essence.
On 25 Nov 1790, the Newport Herald of Newport, Pennsylvania, offered this news:
MARRIED] On Sunday evening the 14th instant [i.e., this month], Doctor JOHN BAKER to Mrs MARY BONANG—a Lady of real worth.Evidently Dr. Baker had married a wealthy widow, changing his circumstances. He seems to have stopped promoting his services as a surgeon-dentist. But Baker’s dentifrice and Albion Essence stayed on the market. Perhaps he was still making it; perhaps he had licensed it to someone else. Throughout the 1790s Dunlap’s American Daily Advertiser ran ads like this, from 14 Aug 1793:
DOCTOR BAKER’sI’m not sure what “3aw3w” meant, but it and similar codes appear in lots of Philadelphia newspaper ads from the 1780s on. I suspect they were how printers kept track of how often an ad had run.
and Albion Essence,
Just received, and for sale at
W. Poyntell’s stationary store,
No. 21, Second-street, between Market and
I haven’t found out any more about Dr. John and Mary Baker, nor whether they retained “a juvenile fragrance to the breath.”