Hangman Locket, France


Transferred from the Wellcome Institute in 1985; 1985.52.1359
This macabre glass locket was purchased in Paris in 1899. It contains a miniature skeleton hanging from an execution gallows and a twisted piece of rope. Belief in the curative powers of dead criminals and the tools of their execution was popular in the 19th century. Chips of wood from the gallows were believed to be effective against the ague (a fever) and toothache, while pieces of the rope were sold by hangmen as cures for headaches and sore throats. The rope was also popular with card players, who carried it as a good luck charm. Even today, the saying ‘you carry a rope in your pocket’ refers to someone who is lucky at cards. 
Connected Objects: Policeman's Amulet

Artisans of Memory

Behind the scenes of an amulets project

This series of short films follows the progress and practices of those connected with the Small Blessings project as they unravel the stories surrounding these curious objects.

The full series of films may be viewed here.


Amulets Competition

The competition is now closed and a winner has been announced. Find out more here.

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