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Amulet

  • Place of origin:

    Traunstein (used)

  • Date:

    ca. 1800 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Fossilised coral mounted in silver

  • Credit Line:

    Hildburgh Gift

  • Museum number:

    M.26-1917

  • Gallery location:

    Jewellery, Rooms 91 to 93 mezzanine, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 72, shelf D, box 2

Amulets were worn by men, women and children throughout southern Europe in the 19th century. Before the development of modern medicine, fevers, cramps and toothache could be painful and dangerous. Childbirth could kill mother or child. Many people believed that the supernatural powers embodied in an amulet could promote fertility and good health and offer protection against malign forces or the ‘evil eye’. Although the Catholic Church was opposed to the pagan nature of many amulets, it was powerless to prevent their use.

Amulets gain their power to protect from harm, or to attract good fortune, from their colour, pattern, shape or material. Stones with pronounced natural designs, like this piece of fossilised coral, were mainly worn to avoid bewitchment; the witch would be distracted by the complex pattern and so the wearer would escape unharmed. At Traunstein, where this amulet was obtained, it was also believed to help protect against fevers of all kinds.

Physical description

Heart-shaped pendant amulet made from cream-coloured fossilised coral mounted in silver, with an open back and toothed setting at the front.

Place of Origin

Traunstein (used)

Date

ca. 1800 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Fossilised coral mounted in silver

Dimensions

Length: 3.4 cm, Width: 3.1 cm, Depth: 0.7 cm

Descriptive line

Heart-shaped amulet of fossilised coral (Krätzenstein) in a silver mount, Bavaria (South Germany), about 1800.

Production Note

Worn against fevers, skin diseases, or malicious rumours

Materials

Coral; Silver

Subjects depicted

Heart

Categories

Jewellery; Metalwork; Amulets

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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