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Dried frog in a silk bag, South Devon, England, 1901-1930

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 dried frog carried in a silk bag was used to prevent fits. Alternatively, another amulet against fits involved wearing a live toad in a bag. Live frogs and toads were also bound on to wounds to help them heal and were placed on the throats of children with whooping cough. The dried frog was purchased in 1930 from Edward Lovett’s (1852-1933) collection of British amulets and charms. Lovett was interested in folk remedies nearly all his life and began collecting from the age of eight.

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    Glossary: dried frog

    No description.

    Glossary: fits

    No description.

    Glossary: amulet

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

    Glossary: whooping cough

    An acute highly infectious disease, primarily affecting infants. Whooping cough gets its name from the severe hacking cough followed by intake of breath that sounds like a ‘whoop’. A highly effective vaccine was introduced in the 1940s.

    Glossary: amphibian remains

    Whole or part remains of an animal from the amphibian family (amphibia). A group of vertebrate animals distinguished by having two distinct forms during its life cycle, one in water and the other usually out of water breathing air.

    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).