Abbey House Museum is hedging its bets during 2013 with an exhibition looking at all aspects of good and bad luck running from 26 January – 31 December 2013.
It will not just look at popular beliefs and rituals but also people’s attitudes to risk, gambling and games of chance. The exhibits are drawn from across the museum collections. Ancient Egyptian amulets and Roman gaming tokens will sit alongside lucky horseshoes, good luck cards, and Japanese temple charms. A number of games from the Waddington archive will be on show, including the horse-racing game Totopoly and 1960s toy Ouija boards. A section looking at luck and money will feature market-inspired board games such as Monopoly and Poleconomy together with Roman coins featuring the Goddess Fortuna and Chinese cash amulets.
As part of the exhibition preparation we have collected quite a few contemporary items, including furry dice, bingo dabbers, a battery-operated Chinese lucky cat and the official mascots for Leeds United (Lucas the Kop Cat) and Leeds Rhinos (Ronnie the Rhino). We have also borrowed a number of lucky charms from Scarborough Museums Trust which were collected by William James Clarke between 1913 and 1945.
One star exhibit is a cauldron that was recently found bricked up in the cellar of a house in Spencer Place and fits with an old tradition of concealing objects (clothes, shoes, dead cats) within a building’s walls to protect it from ill fortune.
We hope that the exhibition will also stimulate visitors to share their stories about their own lucky objects and superstitions that can be added into the exhibition as the year goes on.