“You know, Hobbes, some days even my lucky rocket ship underpants don’t help”*…
During (and after) World War I, British folklorist Edward Lovett made a point of collecting examples of lucky charms and amulets that soldiers had carried to war. Some of these—included in a new book about the Imperial War Museum’s World War I collections, The First World War Galleries, by Paul Cornish—are below.
Lovett was a contemporary folklorist, collecting and analyzing material from his own city of London instead of working with archives or in other countries. Most active during the 1910s and 1920s, Lovett worked at a bank by day, gathering examples of amulets, charms, and talismans in his free time.Lovett was interested in seeing how country folklore lived on in working-class parts of London. He investigated the use of such charms to cure illnesses, wish ill upon enemies, or attract good luck. You can see some of his larger collection online through this Wellcome Library digital exhibition.
The charms Lovett collected from soldiers were sometimes fashioned from materials with some significance to their owners: bog oak or Connemara marble, carried by Irishmen as mementos of home; [or as in the photo above] bits of armaments that could have killed the bearer, but didn’t.
Take in more talismans at “The Lucky Charms Soldiers Carried Into WWI.”
* Calvin (Bill Watterson)
As we rub our rabbit’s feet, we might spare a thought for George Frederick Ernest Albert, George V, King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India; he died on this date in 1936. In a statement, the King’s physician, Lord Dawson of Penn, reported that the King’s last words were “How stands the Empire?” But in his diary, uncovered much later, Dawson recalls a less elegant end: The physician confessed in his memoir that he prescribed the fast-failing King a fatal sedative so that his death would be announced in the Tory morning papers (and opposed to the afternoon tabloids). George’s actual last words, as a nurse approached with the morphine- and cocaine-filled syringe, were “God damn you, you’re going to kill me!”