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).