I've been wondering about amulets since someone gave me a rabbit's claw set in silver (eergh!). These are said to be lucky - though it didn't do much for the rabbit, did it - and on reflection I think this is probably not an amulet because although rabbit claws are supposed to give good luck, no one claims they ward off evil.
But there are genuine amulets about in various guises. The Hand of Fatima:
photo by Wellcome Images
is remarkable for warding off harm to more or less everyone, including Muslims, Christians and Jews (particularly generous of it/her).
My own grandfather carried a punched silver French franc all through World War I, and my father carries it still at the age of ninety seven, so it's been doing sterling* service for well over a hundred years.
A holy man can confer protective powers on any object, commonly a depiction of some sort of relic or saint. The artistic value of these representations is often severely limited, but they are almost certainly lovelier than carrying a caul around (a caul is the thin membrane which sometimes surrounds a baby when it's born) which are supposed to protect people from drowning.
An easier insurance policy to find is a St Christopher medallion, which, they say, protects all travellers:
As for me, I believe none of it; but then I understand amulets work even if you don't believe in them, and this may be why I always carry a small hawk bell in my purse.
How many people would you have to ask before you find someone with an amulet?
Well, why not ask round and find out.
Spot the Frippet: amulet. This word comes from the Latin amulētum, meaning an object which protects someone from trouble, but where the word came from before that no one knows.