Dentures discovery: Centuries-old false teeth found in field, up for auction

A grim-looking 200-year-old set of false teeth dug up in a U.K. field will be auctioned later this month.

The unusual discovery was made earlier this year by Peter Cross when he was using his metal detector in Buckinghamshire, southern England.

The dentures are made out of gold, and, possibly, hippo ivory, which has been carefully fashioned to resemble teeth. They will go under the hammer at U.K. auction house Hansons Auctioneers on Nov. 25 and have a pre-sale estimate of £3,000 to £7,000 ($3,853 to $8,989).

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“I know this sounds crazy, but when I first pulled them up out of the ground, I thought they were sheep’s teeth,” Cross said in a statement obtained by Fox News. “When I began to clean off the mud and clay, I could see there was a gold plate – and that they were human false teeth.”

The 200-year-old false teeth were found in a field in Southern England. (Hansons Auctioneers and Valuers)

The 200-year-old false teeth were found in a field in Southern England. (Hansons Auctioneers and Valuers)

“They would have belonged to a very wealthy person. They date back to between 1800 and 1850 and would have cost a fortune at the time,” Cross added. “A dentist friend said the owner would have paid between £200 to £300 in the 1800s and that would have bought half the houses in [the Buckinghamshire village of] Brill back then – a very affluent village.”

The bottom set of the dentures is missing, despite Cross’ efforts to locate them. “I’ve been back to the same area two or three times and searched a 20-foot area around where I found the teeth, but had no luck locating the other section,” he added. “That’s because there’s no metal in the bottom section of the dentures, so it could never be found with a metal detector.”

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“The outer part of the dentures is made of ivory, possibly from a hippo or walrus, and would have been carved by hand. The curve of the tusk cleverly fitted the shape of the mouth,” said Mark Becher, metal detector finds consultant at Hansons, in the statement. “The front six teeth have retained the enamel of the tusk to give the effect of the surface of a tooth – though I doubt they’ll be in a Colgate advert anytime soon.”

Hansons Valuer Isabel Murtough with the dentures.

Hansons Valuer Isabel Murtough with the dentures. (Hansons Auctioneers and Valuers)

The proceeds of the sale will be split — half will go to the landowner where the dentures were found; Cross and his fellow metal detectorist, Diana Wild, who was with him when he found the false teeth, will receive 25 percent each.

The dentures are made out of gold, and, possibly, hippo ivory. (Hansons Auctioneers and Valuers)

The dentures are made out of gold, and, possibly, hippo ivory. (Hansons Auctioneers and Valuers)

Arguably the most famous dentures in existence are those that belonged to George Washington. The only remaining full set of Washington’s dentures are in the collection at Washington’s estate, Mount Vernon. The set is made of animal and human teeth, lead and ivory, according to The Washington Library.

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