A concise relation of the effects of an extraordinary styptic – 1786

Bartholomew Ruspini (1728-1813)


A concise relation of the effects of an extraordinary styptic – 1786

Bartholomew Ruspini (1728-1813)

Bartholomew Ruspini (March 25/April 6, 1728 - December 14, 1813) was a well-known dentist during the 18th century. He was born to Andreas Ruspini of Grumello in a patrician family from Croglio, Italy. Ruspini was recognized as a surgeon on June 18, 1758, by the College of Physical Sciences at the Hospital of Bergamo. He continued his apprenticeship in dentistry in Paris. In pamphlets and posters, Ruspini advertised himself as a “Surgeon Dentist,” a title unique to France and first coined by Pierre Fauchard. 

Ruspini moved to England in 1759 and became a Freemason. He accepted an invitation to join the Bush Lodge No. 116, thus becoming a prominent member of the upper society. That opened his practice to the nobility and royalty. He provided free service to the poorer neighborhoods and never turned away a patient. Ruspini’s main work, A Treatise on the Teeth (1768), a book we also have, was distributed to every patient. This work covered the general overview of the structure of teeth and helpful advice on keeping one’s teeth healthy. His prominent role in society, along with his work, improved his popularity, especially among the Freemasons.

Ruspini created new tools for dentistry invented new medications, and treatment methods. However, the competition, along with charlatans, accused Ruspini of cheating customers and being untrustworthy. Ruspini’s responses were considered calm and controlled. He could explain everything, furthering his reputation as a trustworthy man. This led to Ruspini joining George, the Prince of Wales, in founding the Freemason Prince of Wales Lodge, no. 259 (1787), where he served as the Treasurer and Grand-sword Bearer. Ruspini soon helped form the Royal Cumberland Freemason School, today known as the Royal Masonic Institution for Girls, where he first served as the Treasurer (1788-1790) and as Life Governor (1790). In 1789, Ruspini was knighted Chevalier, a reward usually only given to Roman Catholics. Ruspini, a known Anglican, was honored for his work and reputation. Ruspini died at the age of 85 on December 14, 1813.

Bartholomew Ruspini’s A concise relation of the effects of an extraordinary styptic, lately discovered in a series of letters from several gentlemen of the faculty and from the patients to Barth. Ruspini (1789) is a series of 42 letters about a proprietary medicine that cured several ailments. The medication, a styptic solution, was used both internally and externally to cure from nosebleeds to bleeding following amputations to venereal disease. The book contains 42 testimonial letters sent to him by different surgeons, all providing positive outcomes. Such testimonials were used to sell more medications. Proprietary medications were quite fashionable in the 19th century, and they often contained (today) controlled substances such as opium, morphine, or other addictive substances. We do not know what Ruspini’s styptic contained. Styptics are still in use today. They contain astringent and other hemostatic agents to cause localized vasoconstriction.

Research by Akaysia Jensen, a summer student in 2023. Edited by Andrew I Spielman.

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