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Painless Parker’s Dental Circus

Edgar Parker opened his dental practice in 1892 and found business was not that great. So he took his practice on the road and became “the P.T. Barnum of dentistry.” Dentistry as entertainment?

Working in the 1890s during the height of ‘humbugs,’ ‘dime museums’, and rational amusements, Parker did what any natural-born-showman would do. He took a cue from the best and hired one of P.T. Barnam’s ex-managers to help him take his practice on the road. From his horse drawn office, amid his show girls and buglers, Parker promised that he would painlessly extract a rotten tooth for 50 cents. And if the extraction wasn’t painless, he would give the customer $5.00, the equivalent of roughly $115 today. Parker’s band actually served a three way purpose. First it drew a crowd. Second, it distracted the patient whose tooth was being pulled (along with a healthy cup of whiskey or an aqueous solution of cocaine he called “hydrocaine,”) and third, it drowned out any possible moans of pain emitted from a patient.

Parker even legally changed his first name to Painless. Link

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February 8th, 2010

Stranger to the World


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