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British Industrial History

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Claudius Ash

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Claudius Ash (1792-1854), silversmith and dental supplier.

1792 Born in Bethnal Green, London, son of Sargeant Ash, silversmith, and his wife Lydia[1]

1813 Married Sarah Butler in Burghfield, Berkshire[2]

1814 Birth of son George Claudius Ash

By 1814 he was a "smallworker" in the silversmith trade; the registers of the London assay office show that he entered a mark with S. and S. E. Ash in 1814.

1817 Birth of son Edward Ash

1819 Birth of son William in London[3]

1820 His father died. Claudius moved the business locally, to 9 Broad Street, and renamed it C. Ash & Sons.

At some point he took a piece of jewellery to a client, one Mr Thomson, a dentist, who showed him a set of teeth mounted on 18 carat gold with springs and swivels and asked if he could do that kind of work. Ash said that he could, and the end product was so well received that Thomson was pleased to show the work to other dentists. In this way Ash began a new enterprise — that of working for the dental profession. Ash was an innovator and his inventions continued in the production of artificial teeth.

Apparently the dentures Ash produced originally consisted of human teeth riveted to plates of ivory or hippopotamus tusk. This process usually took six weeks to complete a single case. But as Ash abhorred handling dead people's teeth, which were collected from corpses on battlefields and from graveyards and hospitals, he soon began to use the imported French mineral teeth. The unsatisfactory nature of these items stimulated him to produce his own mineral teeth, which gained a good reputation.

1837 Ash was successful in producing gold tube teeth, which were a vast improvement on the imports of china teeth from France. Concurrently with his experiments to find the ideal mineral mixture for his dentures, a dental supply house was developed for the manufacture and sale of springs and swivels, gold plate and wires, gold solders, and other components.

1841 Dentist, living in St Marylebone, London, with Sarah Ash 50, George Ash 25, dentist, Edward Ash 20, dentist, Sarah Ash 15, Elizabeth Ash 12, Lydia Ash 20, Harriet Matchwick, 15[4]

1851 Dentist, living in Paddington with Sarah Ash 24, Elizabeth Ash 24, and his niece Lydia Minnie Ash 33, and niece in law Harriet Matchwick 26[5]

1854 Died in Paddington[6]. He left his business to his sons. The firm he founded became highly successful and supplied the dental profession in Britain and many other parts of the world; one hundred years later it suffered as a result of a price war in the trade and underwent several changes, but the company nevertheless remained a first-class supplier of dental products.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. England, Select Births and Christenings
  2. England & Wales Marriages
  3. England & Wales, Non-Conformist and Non-Parochial Registers
  4. 1841 census
  5. 1851 census
  6. Parish records
  • Biography of Claudius Ash, ODNB