Large animal tooth carried to cure toothache

1901-1911 in Devon

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Group shot of A132541 - Large tooth, possibly dogs, in pink and blue silk bag, amuletic, to cure toothache, Lovett
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Large animal tooth, said to cure toothache, from South Devon, part of Lovett collection, English, 1901-1911

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, carrying this animal tooth shown in the foreground on the right was believed to cure toothache. It was hoped that the pain would be transferred from the person to the tooth. It wasn’t always an animal tooth that was used; it was not unknown for a human tooth to be taken out of a skull from the local churchyard to perform the same function.

The stone 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: a large animal tooth (A132541), two stone amulets, (A132503 and A132474) and a triple hazelnut (A132536).

Related people


Ethnography and Folk Medicine
Object Number:
  • bone
Lovett, E.R.

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