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The word ‘mascot’ often implies a strong personal link between the luck-bringing object (which may be quite insignificant in itself) and its owner. Edward Lovett noted mascots carried by soldiers in the First World War: ‘left-handed’ whelk shells; wool gollywogs; a carved amber bead; a farthing with a hole in it, sewn to one's left brace over one's heart; a little gold Oriental figure; a Chinese coin; a metal button; a domino with ten dots; a cornelian pendant. Mascots from the same war in the Horniman Museum (London) and the Imperial War Museum include figures of pigs, cats, and monkeys, holed stones, a mandrake, and an amber heart. Strong trust was placed in these objects (Lovett, 1925: 10–15, 18, 30, 34, 41–3, 70–2; Ettlinger, 1939: 152–62).

Mass-produced lucky charms are hung on cars or worn as jewellery. Some draw on foreign traditions, such as the New Zealand tikis and greenstone brooches, Italian horns and hunchbacks, and African copper bangles already being used in London in 1908, alongside British symbols such as miniature horseshoes and pigs, and natural objects such as coal, fossils, and sheep's or rabbit's bones (Folklore 19 (1908), 288–303). In 1939, a London clergyman noted sadly that a ‘almost every' woman at a church Mothers’ Tea had a charm in her handbag, among them ‘a tiny green pig, a black cat, a black metal boot, a silver slipper, several hideous imps and idols, and the pentacle of the medieval sorcerers… one had preserved a bag-wash ticket, because it had on it the number 666!’ He had also read in the press that actors, boxers, airmen, jockeys, and others had mascots, which included ‘an ivory hunchback, a hare's foot, an uncut amethyst, a coffin nail, a double walnut, a small jade pig, a meteorite, the knuckle-bone of a pig, a penny that had closed the eye of a corpse’ (Balleine, 1939: 6–7).


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