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Necklace to protect from sore throats, London, England, 1914

Amulets and charms worn or carried to prevent and cure illnesses are found in virtually every culture throughout the world. This necklace, which was supposed to protect the wearer from ‘sore throats’, was bought in Acton, London, in the early years of the twentieth century. It may well have been brought for a child and the reference to ‘sore throats’ may refer to diphtheria which was then a highly dangerous and greatly feared disease of childhood. The use of such amulets was often strongest in poorer communities, whose access to more conventional healthcare could be limited and whose ancestral links to folk medicine were stronger.

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Glossary: necklace

Ornaments worn around the neck, usually in the form of chains or strands of beads, pearls, stones, or the like, and often including a suspended ornamental pendant. Use "chokers" for short, narrow necklaces worn close to the throat. Use "dog collars (necklaces)" for wide ornamental bands worn tightly around the neck.

Glossary: amulet

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

Glossary: diphtheria

An acute highly contagious infection, generally affecting the throat but occasionally other mucous membranes and the skin. Diphtheria has been largely eradicated due to world-wide vaccination efforts.