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Elijah M. Neall collection of Goodyear Dental Vulcanite Company material


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Elijah M. and Elijah Henry Neall were two dentists in a long line of prominent Neall dentists serving the people of Philadelphia. Elijah M. Neall was born in 1806 and studied dentistry with his uncle, Daniel Neall. He began practicing dentistry in 1840 at an office at 212 North 12th Street in Philadelphia. According to Dental Cosmos, he was "widely and favorably know in connection with the manufacture and insertion of artificial teeth," (page 258) and was "especially noted for his beautiful porcelain block carving," (Koch, page 164). His son, Elijah Henry Neall (born in 1836) eventually joined his practice which became Elijah M. Neall and Son. Elijah M. Neall died on February 2, 1873.

Elijah Henry Neall continued the practice at 212 North 12th Street. He had earned his degree from the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery in 1868 and "his specialty was the carving and baking of block teeth, and he was recognized as an expert along that line." (Dental Office Laboratory, page 157). In addition to his practice, he was actively involved in the dental profession, as a member of the Odonatological Society and the Pennsylvania State Dental Society. He also was on the clinical staff of both the University of Pennsylvania and the Medico-Chirurgical College. He died in 1900.

The Elijah M. Neall and Son dental practice paid the annual license to use vulcanite rubber for dental prosthesis, the patent for which was held by the Goodyear Dental Vulcanite Company of Boston. The invention of vulcanite rubber for the base of dentures was revolutionary: it "could be molded to the patients' gums making the denture better fitting and more comfortable … [and] it made it possible for dentists to make dentures relatively inexpensively," (Ohio Dental Association, 2016). Josiah Bacon, treasurer of the Goodyear Vulcanite Company, aggressively enforced the patent and required dentists to pay a yearly license, in addition to a royalty on each denture they produced. Dentists across the country fought against this strict and expensive enforcement, and in 1879, Bacon was murdered by a disgruntled dentist, Samuel Chalfant, whose businesses had been closed by Bacon on two separate occasions. After the death of Bacon, the patent lapsed.

Works consulted:

Dental Cosmos. Obituary. Volume XV, 1873

Dental Office Laboratory. Obituary. Volume XIV, No. 5, 1900 September.

Koch, Charles E. History of Dental Surgery, Volume III. Fort Wayne, Indiana: National Art Publishing Company, 1910.

Ohio Dental Association. "150 years ago the dental profession fought against dental patents," 2016 February 2 (accessed 2020 December 1).

This collection contains a small amount of material regarding Goodyear Dental Vulcanite Company's patents and control over the use of vulcanized rubber in the making of dentures. Researchers will find correspondence in which dentist, Dr. Elijah Neall tried to understand the reason for the continued requirement of the License and Agreement, despite other patents; and copies of the License and Agreement that Neall paid, each year from 1868 to 1880.

Although a small group of material, this collection provides documentation behind the much larger story of the Goodyear Dental Vulcanite Company and its control over dentists across the country.

Presented to the University of Pennsylvania Dental Museum by Mrs. Walter Henry Neall, May 1927.

Transferred from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, 2015.

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Holly Mengel
Finding Aid Date
2020 October 26
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Collection Inventory

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Letter to Elijah M. Neall & Son from Josiah Bacon, treasurer of Goodyear Dental Vulcanite Company regarding the Asay patent for mounting artificial teeth (copy of patent and instructions included, as well as incomplete letter, probably from A. Merritt Asay), 1868-1869.
Box 1 Folder 1
Goodyear Dental Vulcanite Company License and Agreement with Dr. Elijah M. Neall & Sons, 1868-1869.
Box 1 Folder 2
Goodyear Dental Vulcanite Company License and Agreement with Dr. Elijah M. Neall & Sons (includes one receipt from 1870), 1870-1880.
Box 1 Folder 3
Goodyear Dental Vulcanite Company envelopes (probably originally containing the License and Agreements to be returned by mail), circa 1868-1879.
Box 1 Folder 4

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