Necklace of woody nightshade, Coventry, England, 1901-1913

Made:
1901-1913 in Coventry
maker:
Unknown
A132464, Small flint module, used as amulet against teething, collected in South Devon, English 1913. A132465,

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A132464, Small flint module, used as amulet against teething, collected in South Devon, English 1913. A132465,
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Necklace of woody nightshade stalks, amulet to protect against teething problems, Lovett collection, from Coventry, English, 1901-1913

The growing influence of biomedicine in the 1800s did not necessarily replace established forms of treatment based on belief and superstition. What could be referred to as folk medicine – customs that often went back generations – continued to be practised. For example, some believed that if a double or single row of woody nightshade stalks threaded on string were placed around a child’s neck it might protect against teething problems.

The necklace was changed every other day. This one was a gift to the Wellcome collections in 1916 from Edward Lovett (1852-1933), a collector of British amulets and charms. It is pictured here with other teething amulets: a piece of flint (A132464), a piece of turf (A132465) and a calf’s tooth (A665423).

Details

Category:
Ethnography and Folk Medicine
Object Number:
A132471
Materials:
fibre, thread and stalk, solanum dulcomara or woody nightshade
type:
necklace
taxonomy:
  • furnishing and equipment
  • costume
  • jewellery
credit:
Lovett, E.R.