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Friday, 16th May 2008
Wills, Lucky Charms title bar

fter an endless series of typing errors nearly rendered this article header as 'Are you feeling LICKY punk?' which although perhaps more fun would not be the sort of line the squinty-eyed one would have been spitting out through tightly clenched jaw. There was a possibility it was going to read 'Are you feeling LUCY punk?' which made me chuckle so was immediately discounted. It had to stop there as various hybrids of this title soon lowered the whole tone of the page.

You can always trust Wills to take a more 'academic' approach to any subject

I was going to leave the typo as an example of the random nature of luck and my feelings about the whole subject. So I changed it, luck is what you make of it.

Now if you are the sort of person that cannot get out of the house without rubbing your lucky rabbits foot (although what is lucky about having a rabbits foot I cannot imagine, must be a real pain to buy shoes for.) then Wills, Lucky Charms [1923] is just the set for you.

I have just come into the house literally having just walked under a ladder. I thought about it and had a decision to make. No, you cannot nod your head sagely and say, 'Ah Franklyn, he says he does not believe in luck and then goes out of his way to walk under ladders. He must believe in it.' Well, no, I made the calculated decision, step in front of on-coming traffic, wait for a break in the traffic and walk around the ladder, or walk under the ladder. Option One seemed to be courting ill-fortune, option two is just not acceptable, so option three was the one for me. If there had not been traffic, I would have walked around the ladder, therefore avoiding paint pots etc.

I have a vested interest in luck not really existing as breaking a mirror is considered seven years bad luck. I have certainly broken enough mirrors for a lifetimes worth of ill-fortune and it would be rather miserable to think that was my lot.. No doubt bouncing around an elder bush on my head three times, naked as the day I was born, during a full moon chanting mumbo-jumbo could solve the problem. It is more likely cause a few more though.

Details from Card
Leo, The Lion
Fifth sign of the Zodiac, July 23rd to Aug 23rd. Ruled by the Sun; correct metal, Gold. Those born under the influence of Leo were believed to be enthusiastic, high-spirited, affable, generous, strong, quick-tempered, artistic, inventive, generally successful and proverbially lucky. The Leo stones are the Peridot and Onyx, also Amber. The Peridot was in former times valued more than the Diamond. In Rome it was worn as a charm to drive away evil spirits, despondency and illusions. Peridot amulets enjoyed a great reputation in the Middle Ages for inspiring wisdom and eloquence. Many medicinal properties were attributed to Amber, and its supposed virtues are still relied on it in the East.

The first 12 cards of the set are dedicated to the signs of the zodiac. If anyone has ever got lucky with the 'What star-sign are you?' line drop me an email and I will revise my opinion of just how lucky this lot are.

Leo, my star-sign although reading it I better go and find my birth-certificate there must have been some sort of error. Still none of the other star-signs seem to be able to sum up my particular personality so perhaps this is as good as any other and it was always good as it split the year up nicely and landed in the school holidays. Perfect timing really.

Once the star-signs have been done the next card is The Abracadabra. A charm very much believed in throughout the Roman Empire where elaborate instructions had to be followed for it to work. The card also mentions that many were used in the Great Plague of 1665 as a safeguard against infection. It might be the Romans had better luck with them. Despite the fact it seems to be a basic failure it must be one of the most famous of charms going. Every person in the world attempting a magic trick will have uttered the words just before a trick goes wrong.

You can always trust Wills to take a more 'academic' approach to any subject. Run down a list of things you might consider 'lucky charms.'

No, the set does not have a lucky rabbits foot.

Wills, Lucky Charms

No, the set does not have a lucky horse-shoe.

No, the set does not have the lucky pixie.

No, the set does not have any lucky heather in it.

It does have a lucky Swastika though. The set was issued in 1923 remember and this ancient symbol of good luck had not been hi-jacked. The odds of the Swastika ever being returned to its rightful position must be around about zero, or a bit less.

The set concentrates on the more ancient of lucky symbols. Not stepping on the cracks in the pavement on the way back home is not going to be found in this set, even if it is lucky.

Details from Card
The Swastika
This curiously shaped charm, a pre-Christian cross, has been universally popular in all countries throughout all ages. The ancients believed that it bestowed upon the wearer long life, great happiness, good fortune, and the best of good luck. These symbols have been found in North and South America, India, Africa, Asia and Europe. They have been found carved in stones of the ancient ruins in India and China, where they were used as religious emblems at least 10 centuries BC and are met on very old Buddhist coins and inscriptions. The swastika is also called the Gammadion, from the Greek letter gamma placed together four times.

The set is beautifully illustrated and the art work is of high quality. The card is of the thicker variety which always impresses me as quality. It also means they survive longer better. To balance this though Wills produced the images on a white background. They look stunning when good and bad when bad as anyone knows who walks around in a white suit all day. John Travolta, Alex Guiness and ex-reporters turned Parliamentary independents please step forward.

There are a number of cards which focus on the ancient Egyptian civilisation.

The world at this time was fascinated by all things Egyptian. A mysterious culture almost alien to us that many a movie has been constructed with an Egyptian element and you know something spooky is happening when a persons eyes are lit by a bar of eerie light and their eyebrows twitch.

Genuinely there is too much ground to cover in on this page to do this set justice so I have rather dropped between two stools and try as I might I have not found a charm which avoids this unpleasant fate. The best to avoid this would seem to be card 44, Food charm which the Lamas of Tibet used to make an impression upon their food to ward off all manner of unpleasantness. Given the state of the UK food chain this does not seem such a bad idea.

Many of the cards have such detail and it makes you wonder just how many of these charms still hold the same power as they used to. It seems that to consider anyone a native of of New Guinea has a very us and them feel about it. No doubt we both drink Cola and eat beefburgers under a golden arch nowadays.

Many of the charms are linked to religion in some manner, plenty belong to the Buddhist faith and the like. After an examination of the cards you realise what a complicated business it all is, just about everything seems to have been roped into the job of being a charm. It makes you wonder what was left for those spinning the curses these things were designed to counter. Potentially ill-fortune could be totally irradicated by just making everything lucky.

A relatively cheap set from the early 1920's it has a very strong design element which makes it very attractive once framed. In fact it is framed next to me at the moment, although it will not be forever as next week there will be another set sitting in the frame but why not.

Before I go a little story. A long long time ago my family had a shop full of stock that was not shifting in a seaside town. What were we to do? Suddenly everything in the shop became lucky. Naff pottery money boxes now had a lucky pixie in residence. Hear the lucky pixie in his house went the sign. Sure enough if you shook that money box the lucky pixie would bounce about in his house. They sold like wildfire. Even lucky bats and balls sold better than the ones not noted for their luck.

So just maybe I believe in luck just a little bit afterall.