Historical information

Tooth elevators and extractors were first used in Greece in the 11th and 12th centuries. Many of these instruments were named after birds (eg. the Pelican) or objects which they resembled (eg. screws, keys, toothkey hooks). In France, the instrument is also referred to as a "clef anglais". (Bennion, Elizabeth. 'Antique Medical Instruments', 1979, p. 204-205.)


Mary Howlett (1840-1922) began practising as a country midwife in 1866 in the western district of Victoria. She qualified as a 'ladies monthly nurse' in 1887 and continued to practise as a nurse and midwife until 1920.She began her six months training at the Melbourne Lying-In Hospital. She was known by many as 'Auntie', and her career spanned more than 50 years. Mrs Howlett's midwifery box and contents were given to Dr Frank Forster, and he donated them to the museum collection in 1993.

Physical description

Dental instrument consisting of a metal shaft with small hook attachment and bone or ivory handle.