Large animal tooth in pink and blue silk bag to cure toothache, Exeter, England, 1901-1910

Made:
1901-1910 in Exeter
maker:
Unknown
Group shot of A132541 - Large tooth, possibly dogs, in pink and blue silk bag, amuletic, to cure toothache, Lovett

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Group shot of A132541 - Large tooth, possibly dogs, in pink and blue silk bag, amuletic, to cure toothache, Lovett
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

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

Large tooth, possibly dogs, in pink and blue silk bag, amuletic, to cure toothache, Lovett collection, from Exeter, English, 1901-1910

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, this animal tooth was carried in a pink and blue bag in order 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 tooth 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 amulets for toothache: a large animal tooth (A132477), two stones (A123503 and A132474) and a triple hazelnut (A132536).

Details

Category:
Ethnography and Folk Medicine
Object Number:
A132541
Materials:
paper, silk and tooth
Measurements:
bag: 53 mm x 52 mm,
type:
tooth
taxonomy:
  • bone
credit:
Lovett, E.R.