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Mt. Vernon Removes Washington's Denture Magnets

Image ofplantation house with souvenir magnet teeth superimposed
Mt. Vernon stopped selling a set of souvenir dentures that reflected an inaccurate myth. (Photo by Ana Lucia Araujo/Flickr:m01229)

The operators of Mt. Vernon, the plantation home of George Washington, have stopped selling refrigerator magnets in the form of the first president's dentures. The souvenirs were designed to appear wooden, but Washington biographer Henry Wiencek says this probably isn’t an accurate depiction.

“The myth was that he had wooden teeth,” Wiencek said.

In reality, Washington’s dentures were made from a variety of materials, including ivory, tin, copper, silver, and the teeth of enslaved people, said Melissa Wood, Mount Vernon’s director of communications. “Selling teeth and hair was a common practice in the 18th century. While Washington paid for the teeth of enslaved people, it does not mean that they had the option to refuse his request,” Wood said.

The inaccuracy was first noticed by a Howard University historian who tweeted an image of the dentures. Mt. Vernon removed the magnet immediately. Wood says they’ll conduct a review of all 1,600 products in their shop to “ensure that each item available for sale meets the estate’s mission of education and preservation.”