Mr Tinkler’s Rheumatic Potato

This beauty from our William Clarke Charms Collection and was carried by – well, Mr Tinkler – back in 1911 as a charm against rheumatism.
Did it work? We’ll never know, but we’re glad it exists for the name alone…

The Charms collection was donated to Scarborough in 1946 and is currently in the care of Scarborough Museums and Galleries. The collection contains over 500 objects collected from around the world by Clarke and his associates from 1891 until his death in 1945.

Clarke was born in Scarborough in 1868 and developed an interest in the natural world from a young age. He gave his first lecture on reptiles aged 15 in 1883 and was a founder member of the Scarborough Field Naturalists several years later, acting as the group’s President at the age of 23. This lifelong interest in the natural world undoubtedly led to Clarke’s fascination with folk belief and the collecting of charms due to the practice of folklore often borrowing from nature.

Although the Clarke collection represents a range of beliefs and uses, from charms to cure cramp and bring good luck to amulets designed to protect against a variety of negative forces, there are a significant number connected to the belief in magic. The notebooks kept by Clarke to record any instances of folk belief that he thought worthy of preserving also offer some interesting insights into the survival of magical practices and beliefs as late as the early 20th century.