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Copper plaque stamped with a Latin cross for protection against cholera, Russia, 1900-1910

Engraved with a cross, this rectangular copper pendant was worn around the neck for protection during the 1910 cholera epidemic in Russia. This was one of the largest cholera outbreaks in Europe during the twentieth century and it claimed over 100,000 lives. An amulet was, and for many people still is, believed to have magical and spiritual powers, bringing good fortune and good health and protecting against bad luck, including sickness. They have often been called on in the face of epidemic disease. The amulet is shown here with a similar example (A106006).

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Glossary: cholera

A severe infection of the small intestine commonly contracted through eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea, leading to dehydration, which can be fatal.

Glossary: plaque

An ornamental tablet of metal, porcelain etc that depicts a person, scene or inscription. Often fixed to a building in commemoration of a person or notable historical occurence.