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Triple hazelnut amulet, England, 1901-1916

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, unusual triple and double hazelnuts were carried in the pocket as a cure for toothache. The hazelnut looks like a row of teeth and it was hoped that the pain of toothache would be transferred to the nut. The triple hazelnut 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: two large animal teeth (A132477 and A132541) and two stones (A132503 and A132474).

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    Glossary: toothache

    Pain in a tooth or in the teeth

    Glossary: hazelnut

    No description.

    Glossary: amulet

    Small object or piece of jewellery worn as a protecting charm to ward off ill health and bad luck.

    Glossary: biomedicine

    The name given to the medical practice that is based on the sciences of the body, such as physiology (the functioning of the body).