Large animal tooth, said to cure toothache, from South Devon, part of Lovett collection, English, 1901-1911
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, carrying this animal tooth shown in the foreground on the right was believed to cure toothache. It was hoped that the pain would be transferred from the person to the tooth. It wasn’t always an animal tooth that was used; it was not unknown for a human tooth to be taken out of a skull from the local churchyard to perform the same function.
The stone 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 four other amulets against toothache: a large animal tooth (A132541), two stone amulets, (A132503 and A132474) and a triple hazelnut (A132536).