I don’t think Steve Grundy is a metal detectorist, but he was interested in my blogpost on the subject of sweetheart brooches, and contacted me about a curious little item in his collection. I must confess that I’d never come across this before, and was rather intrigued.
The brooches I highlighted earlier were, in effect, good luck mascots. What Steve showed me was a good luck charm, popular in the 19th and 20th centuries and often given, by wives and girlfriends, to soldiers about to go to war. The tiny charm has an interesting history, which the Victorians probably believed …
The Fumsup (Thumbs-Up)👍is believed to hark back to Roman times and the days of the gladiators. The story goes that the emperor would decide whether a gladiator would live or die. A ‘thumbs up’👍meant he would die and a👎(Thumbs Down) would mean he would live. This is opposite to what we think today.
It was the outbreak of WWI that saw the popularity of the FUMSUP soar. This was also when the *wooden head first appeared and he became a touch wood charm as well as a Fum’s Up one. Steve tells me that the head is usually oak, and when new would have had two bead eyes. Oak was the preferred structural building material in the superstitious medieval times. Apparently builders would looked for an oak tree that had been struck by lighting and use a piece of the tree in a house build as ‘lightning never strikes in the same place twice’. The FUMSUP with its acorn or oak nut head was derived from this. Notice that the arms are articulated so it can touch its own head. Touch wood.
My head is made
of wood most rare
my thumbs turn up
to touch me there.
i’ll bring good luck
to all away
just send me to
a friend today
I’ll bring good luck
to all away
Just send me to
a friend today.
*Oak was preferred by medieval builders John, because it is very hard to burn. When Oak was touched by flames it cindered on the outside and then became impervious to the fire. Also during the period sheepswool was recognised as having the same qualities which is why they mixed it in the lime plaster. My Fearnought jacket as First Firefighting Attack team leader in the Royal Navy was made of Lambswool and I wore it through several conflagratians without harm befalling me!’Shaughn Malcolm Tyreman
I was wondering if any metal detectorist reading this has found a FUMSUP charm. If so, I’d love to see it and add to this blogpost.