Back in the day, the word “toothsome” was used similarly to the word “attractive.” According to the Mirriam-Webster Dictionary, it means agreeable, attractive, sexually attractive, or tasty as relates to food. Apparently, the word originated as describing something pleasing to taste, much like “sweet tooth,” in the 1400s. It was quickly extended to the language of attraction and the original meaning has become almost an afterthought.
The word toothsome came to me as I looked at this lady featured on the left hand side of the page. I am wondering if she had any teeth. These days it is pretty rare to see someone missing teeth, and frequently the absence of teeth is associated with bad habits, such as drug abuse, or poor living, such as malnutrition. It wasn’t until the 1970s that dentists began to link flossing and gum disease, so before our contemporary times, it wasn’t uncommon for someone to lose a tooth or have one pulled. When the front teeth are missing, there isn’t anything to support the lip, and so it collapses against the gums. Either that, or she possibly had a terribly pronounced underbite. There was no such thing as braces or corrective dentistry, only pulling teeth. Not everyone even brushed their teeth regularly, even though tooth brushes and cleaning powders were available. Aside from her possible oral issues, she otherwise looks clean, healthy and nicely groomed.
Conversely, this young lady looks lovely, without any visible flaws to her face or mien. She has a prim straw hat perched atop her head, her hair is drawn back, and she is possibly wearing earrings (it could also be a scratch or artifact on the image in the exact location of an earring). Her face is soft and her eyes deep, atop a wide mouth. Her look reminds me of none other than Al Capone, the infamous gangster of the 1930s. She could possibly be Italian, but I’m only making that guess because she reminds me of Capone. The cheeks of her tintype were tinted.