Saturday, July 25, 2009

Occupation: “Manufactures Teeth”

Henry D. Justi was born in Germany in 1834, immigrated with his mother to the U.S. in 1850 and became a citizen in 1865. He didn’t just make teeth, he virtually revolutionized tooth-making. A contemporary described it this way:
“Up to about the year 1855, only one kind of teeth had been manufactured, teeth for gold and silver plate.... Then a rubber base was introduced, and from that time the entire dental business has been revolutionized. Mr. H. D. Justi seeing that there was room for improvement, succeeded in constructing moulds suitable to the various formations of the jaws, adopting curved lines in which he could sink any depth around the neck of the teeth to receive the gum color, and temporizing the materials so that in one very easy operation he had the tooth ready to finish. This mode of manufacturing artificial teeth has been copied by all other manufacturers.” (Philadelphia and Popular Philadelphians. The North American. 1891: 139.)

The Justis moved to “Baring below 32nd” sometime in the mid-1860s. By 1870, they were at 3401 Baring (NW corner of 340th & Baring) where he lived until his death in 1922. His two unmarried daughters, Augusta and Ameilia, were still living there in 1930. Justi’s son, Henry M., married about 1898 and he and his bride moved to 3311 Powelton. They lived there until the 1920s when they moved to Lower Merion. Justi’s factory building still stands at 32nd and Spring Garden and the business continues under the name Esschiem (see pg. 2 of their brochure for their history) and is run by a third Henry Justi.

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