In the nineteenth century, dentures were expensive, and could only be afforded by a fortunate few. In 1851, a “Miracle Rubber” was founded, which was of tremendous value to denture makers.
The new rubber was called Vulcanite, and it was used to make the moldings for dentures. The discovery of this new material allowed dentists to drop the price of dentures and, finally, the average person was able to afford a pair. However, this would be short-lived.
Processing of vulcanite was still expensive and no one had claimed the processing patent. Almost ten years later, this all changed. In 1868, Josiah Bacon, a businessperson, gained control of this production process, purchasing the patent so he would have sole control over manufacturing and distribution of vulcanite. Bacon demanded fees from individual dental practices, raising the fees based on the size of the practice. To add insult to injury, he charged an extra dollar for each denture replacing up to five teeth, and two dollars for dentures with six or more teeth.