The Lucky Charms of World War I

The Lucky Charms of World War I

Monday September 21, 2015 Written by Ronan

Edward Lovett was a successful bank cashier by day. But by night, he had a curious hobby: collecting the lucky charms soldiers carried with them into World War I.

At the time of his death in 1933, the amateur folklorist had amassed over 1400 objects of superstition, which he thought evidenced a country still drawn to magic and mysticism. It’s a fascinating collection of highly detailed amulets and charms, including the familiar (four leafed clovers, horseshoes), the strange (a mole wrapped in floral fabric) and the slightly terrifying (a 'witch’s bottle' full of fingernails).

Lovett observed that people are particularly drawn to charms at times of crisis, so it’s unsurprising that, as this article on Slate reports, much of his collection belonged to soldiers during war. And while they're interesting to look at even if you don't believe in their supposed supernatural powers, it's hard to completely ignore the idea that the charms may actually have worked: according to the BBC, historians still marvel at the unusually high, 90 per cent survival rate of those who fought in the trenches.