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The carrying of ‘lucky charms’ – as protective amulets against ill health and physical danger – has a long history in many cultures around the world. Shamrocks, especially five-leaved shamrocks, are considered particularly lucky. This tin and copper shamrock has the word “Ypres” engraved on the surface. Ypres is a city in Belgium and focus of some of the most intense fighting throughout the First World War. The shamrock is believed to have been worn by a British soldier fighting in the trenches. The amulet was bought for the Wellcome collection in 1930 from Edward Lovett’s (1852-1933) collection of British amulets and charms. Lovett was a collector who documented different medical traditions and beliefs.

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    Glossary: traditional medicine

    Used in the West for sets of health beliefs and practices that developed within the culture of a particular ethnic or geographic group of people, distinct from modern Western medicine. Commonly includes herbal and homeopathic remedies, religious or spiritual ritual, and an holistic approach to patients.

    Glossary: amulet

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

    Glossary: superstition

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