Magic in Modern London

An Amulet for Breastfeeding Mothers

Who needs the Leche League when a seahorse will do? The Welcome Collection in London has a wonderful exhibit of amulets from Edward Lovett’s extraordinary collection of which this seahorse is one. Lovett (1852-1933) was Chief Cashier at The Bank of Scotland in the City of London but whenever he could he roamed the streets of London in search of common and rare amulets and charms from herbalist shops, the barrows of costermongers, and the city’s dockyards. Of the seahorse, he writes in his 1925 book, Magic in Modern London “I found itinerant hawkers of curios selling the hippocampus, tied in bundles of three with red worsted. These were sold for luck, a poor survival of a very old and grander legend…[in Venice] I found that the wives of fishermen, nursing babies, kept a dried sea horse on their breasts to facilitate the flow of milk… I am very much inclined to believe that the curious white metal prow of this remarkable boat [the gondola] is evolved from the sea horse.”

For more of Lovett’s amulets click here.

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