20 Outdated Occupations That Have Bitten the Dust

Used-teeth salesperson

For much of the 20th century, access to decent dental treatment was limited, particularly in Europe, and many people who couldn’t afford to visit the dentist resorted to buying second-hand false teeth when their pearlies had rotted away.

The foundation of the NHS in 1948 ended the icky trade in the UK, though it carried on in other parts of Europe for a while longer – this photo was taken in Amsterdam in 1955.

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  1. Jane L Polley says

    And aren’t we thankful that these occupations are no longer needed !!

  2. Benjamin H. Campbell says

    One of the biggest trades of all – Type setters, linotype operators, and many that composed a newspaper operation when hot type needed to be cast to form the copy. In addition, thousands upon thousands of little mom and pop job shops to produce letterheads, etc. There were literally millions employed in the newspaper printing industry and the job shops that are no longer needed. At it’s peak the Birmingham News where I worked as a type setter for many years needed at least 300 workers daily in the composing room. When lithography came to the industry, the paper could be produced with only about 15 workers.

  3. Janet says

    Thank you for putting this piece together. I had heard of some of these occupations but having the pictures along with the information was quite charming and informative!

  4. Debbie says

    My father delivered telegrams for Western Union when he was a teenager. His father died in the flu epidemic of 1918-19 and he needed to help provide income for the family. In the 1960s, I worked a switchboard at my boarding school.

  5. Leslie says

    Enjoyed these photos and stories very much!
    I can remember when I was very young, living in a suburb of Chicago, and picking up the phone to the voice of an operator: “Number, please”.

  6. Linda says

    Re the knocker-uppers. I was born in 1951 in the north of England (county of Yorkshire). At the time of my birth my father had just begun a seven year apprenticeship with British Ropes and I can clearly remember the knocker-upper still coming around when I was six or seven or perhaps even older. Only he didn’t knock on the door but had a longer stick to reach up and tap on my parents’ bedroom window, the idea being not to disturb the whole household. However, we lived in a new, post-war council estate and the walls were quite thin. 🙂

  7. Shirley Mickey says

    I was a long distance telephone operator, for the Pacific Telephone Co! Operators were for out of town, and you dialed “O”, and for out of state, you had to ask for “long distance” and get transferred to me! My branch handled Hollywood, and the movie stars! Some of them were really fun, and some were NOT! We’ve come a long ways!

  8. wildduck says

    The rat catchers are making a comeback in some US cities. Pretty sad that they are coming back.

    1. Velocity says

      Thanks for the democrat liberal mayors & councilman there cities they represent are trashed due to their liberal ways!

  9. Steven J Hopkins says

    My grandfather on my mother’s side was an iceman in southeastern Ohio back in the day.

  10. Leftist says

    I was a switchboard operator until late as 1989 even. Both old style/mechanical patch chord and the newer computer extension one’s.
    They should also include Teletypes in this category. Teletype operator is basically extinct now. Radio teletype, teletypes, I did it in the military. But, he private sector used them as much too. Teletype Operator.

  11. Dave says

    I remember, and knew, some TV repairmen, who bought homes , raised families, and put their children through college, doing that skilled trade. Now, if the TV goes bad, it’s cheaper to just throw it away, and get a new one!

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