The Magic of Jewels and Charms


George Fredrick Kunz


Magic Stones and Electric Gems Pages 36 - 71

is named. WMle it is impossible to determine with any degree of certainty for how long a time the Indians were
familiar with this material, there are those who believe that the quarries were worked and the material used for
pipe-bowls by native sculptors long before the earliest notice we have to that effect.^" Great skill and patience were displayed by the Indians in the making of these pipe-bowls, which were sometimes carved with various symbolical figures.
We have an early record of such pipes from the pen of Jacques Marquette, a Jesuit missionary to the Indians, who
saw one when visiting the Illinois Indians in 1673. He reports it as being of polished red stone, like marble, so
pierced that one orifice served to hold the tobacco, while the other was fastened on the stem, which was a stick two
feet long, as thick as a common cane and pierced in the middle.
The whole was covered with large feathers of red, green, and other colors.
Catlin states that at the time of his visit the "pipe-stone" quarry was guarded with a certain religious reverence from the visit of the white man , the Indians declaring that this red stone was "a part of their flesh," and that to take
it from them would be to tear out their flesh and spill their blood. This highly poetic language may or may not have signified a superstitious reverence for the substance; indeed, it may simply have voiced the fear of these Indians
that they might be despoiled of what for them was an especially valuable material, which they asserted had been
bestowed upon them by the Great Spirit for the making of pipes exclusively. In our day an old Ojibway Indian,
especially skilled in the work, has a name signifying "he who makes pipes," and carved pipe-bowls of catlinite are
usually sold for from $1 to $10 apiece; as much as $20,

** Basher, " Catlinite, Its Antiquity as a Material for Tobacco Pipes," Am. Nat., vol. xvii, p. 745, July, 1883.

Page 37

however, is occasionally paid for a particularly large and finely carved specimen. This substance is also worked up
into charms and other small ornaments which are sold to tourists, the annual sales of all descriptions amounting to
some $10,000 annually. Catlinite takes a fine polish and is easily worked; a peculiarly attractive variety is red with
white and gray spots.
The popular fancy for the "Fairy Stones" from a peak of the Blue Bidge Mountains, Patrick County, Virginia, is
said to be directly traceable to the tale, ' ' Trail of the Lone- some Pine, ' ' by John Fox, Jr., who makes one of these pretty staurolite crystals exercise an important influence over the destinies of his hero and heroine. This was
cleverly utilized by the manager of a New York theatre, when he gave a souvenir performance of a dramatized
version of the story, by presenting one of these "Fairy Stones" to each lady in the audience, a gift not only in perfect rapport with the play, but one highly appreciated by the recipients, few of whom were not unconsciously influenced by the symbolic half-religious, half-mythical quality ascribed to this attractive little gem.
Collections of stones and pebbles, often of little or no intrinsic value but supposed to possess occult powers, are
handed down from father to son in many Hindu families of the poorer class. The accompanying illustration shows
an aged Hindu, as he appeared to a recent traveller, decorated with such stones to the number of about three hundred on a ceremonial occasion. In this case they were all pierced and threaded on cords, so as to be attached to
the person, and the old man proudly declared that, thousands of years ago, one of his ancestors was a playmate of the god Krishna, who had bestowed the stones upon him as a special mark of divine favor.

The presence of erratic boulders was accounted for by

Page 38 

popular legend in a variety of ways. Sometimes it was declared that the Virgin or a saint, while bearing an enormous stone through the air to be used in the construction of a church, had learned on the way that the church was
completed and the stone no longer needed, and immediately let it drop to the earth.*"
A stone having the rude form of a chair or seat, and known as Canna's Stone, enjoyed repute in Wales for its
curative powers. It was in a field in close proximity to the church of Llangan, Carmarthenshire, which owed its
foundation to St. Canna. Near this stone is a well called Flynon Canna, the waters of which were believed to be a cure for ague. To make the cure effective, however, the patient, after imbibing the sacred water, had to sit for a time in Canna 's Stone, and if he dozed while sitting there this was considered to promise a speedy recovery. The combined treatment by well and stone was often repeated for several successive days and was occasionally
prolonged for two or three weeks.®^
That a child could be cured of disease by being passed through an aperture in one of the sacred stones that had
formed part of a dolmen is shown in the case of a stone of this kind preserved in the church of Villers-Saint-
Sepulcre, dept. Oise, France. There is another such stone in the same department, at Trie, used in a like way for the cure of feeble children or those suffering from rachitis. This reveals in a striking way the persistence of superstitious beliefs which were already condemned in 567 a.d. by the council of Tours, which prescribed that the eucharist
should be refused to those who venerated these so-called sacred stones, and at a

'"Eenel, "Les religions de la Gaule avant le Christianisme," Paris, 1906, p. 387.

Wirt Bikes, "British Goblins; Welsh Folk-Lore, Fairy Myths, Legends and Traditions," London, 1880, p. 362.

Page 39

still earlier date, in 443 a.d., a council decree pronounced those bishops guilty of sacrilege who permitted the making
of vows over these stones or the deposition of offerings thereon.®^

Some of the stones of the druidic dolmens were called by the French peasants of a later age pierres tourniresses, or
"whirling stones," for it was solemnly asseverated that at midnight on Christmas Eve these stones gyrated on their
base. A still stranger fancy was that some other stones of this class became fearfully thirsty at times, once every
hundred days, or perhaps only once in a century, and then rolled off to the nearest stream to slake their thirst.
Under others, again, it was believed that a hidden treasure reposed, watchfully guarded by a terrible dragon.
However, on one night in the year, while the clock was striking twelve, he snatched a moment's sleep, and whoever
was clever enough and quick enough to make use of this chance could acquire untold riches.®*
A strange belief prevails in and about Dourges (dept. Aube), France. On the top of a hill near this place is a chapel
built in honor of St. Estapin, and in close proximity to this chapel are rocks with many irregular hollows of such
varying shapes and forms that almost any part of the human body can be thrust into the openings. On the 6th of
August in each year, those from the neighborhood suffering from illness or disability of any kind come hither, and,
after having made their way as best they can nine times around the chapel, proceed to the platform whereon are the wonder-workng stones, and introduce the afflicted part of their body into the appropriate opening in one of the rocks. The result

" Renel, " Les religions de la Gaule avant le ChristianiBme," Paris, 1906, p. 369.

"Ibid., 1906, p. 368.

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is said to be an immediate cure of the trouble, however serious this may be, one experiment being sufficient.®*
Stones of peculiar shape or marked color are those to which popular fancy has most often attributed a certain
sanctity or power. Instances of this may be found in the Scottish isles. Thus, on the island of Arran in the Firth of
Clyde, a green stone of approximately spherical form had acquired great repute for its healing virtue, especially for
those having pains in the side. When this stone was laid upon the seat of the trouble, the pain would disappear.
This, however, was not the only use to which it was put, for oaths were taken upon it, proving the presence of a
certain animistic belief in the islanders' minds., as though some spirit dwelt in or animated the stone and would take
vengeance on a perjuror. A still better proof of this was the idea that the green stone of Arran would bring victory
to a leader if he bore it with him and cast it into the enemies ' ranks at the decisive moment of a conflict, as is said
to have been done by the Lord of the Isles. Alongside of this green stone may be placed a blue stone credited in the Scotch island of Fladda with the possession of like healing power, and on which also oaths were taken.®^
A large, flat stone in St. Andrew's on the isle of Guernsey is stated to have borne a somewhat humorously
misleading French inscription. This ran: ' ' Celui qui me toumera. Son temps point ne perdra," which has been freely rendered:

To him who turns me up I say His labor won't be thrown away.

This tempting promise, interpreted as a sign that some buried treasure was hidden in the ground beneath the stone,

" Paul Sebillot, " The Worship of Stones in France," trans, by Joseph D. McGuire, American. Anthropologist, Jan.-Mar., 1902, vol. iv, No. 1, p. 98; citing Socifite des Antiquaires, vol. i, p. 429.

" Martin, " Description of the Western Isles," in Pinkerton's " Voyages and Travels," vol. iii, pp. 646. 627.


finally induced some one to devote much toil and time to the difficult task of turning the stone over. What, however,
was his chagrin and disgust when the under side presented the words: "Toumer je voulais. Car lassee j'etais"
(I longed to turn, because I was so tired). Whether the practical joker who originated the inscription was present to enjoy the success of his joke is not revealed.*^
To a mass of quartz at Jerbourg, Guernsey Island, local fancy has attached a wild legend, which finds expression in
the strange designation of the stone as "The Devil's Claw. "
The old Chronique de Normandie, which, although written much earlier, was first printed in 1576 at Eouen,
recounts under date of 797 a.d. that Duke Richard, when on his way from one of his strongholds to a manor where dwelt a damsel of surpassing beauty, was assailed by the Evil One; but, like a second St. Michael, Duke Richard
overcame his dangerous antagonist. Seeing that he could not prevail by force, the Devil had recourse to one of his
most perilous wiles, and changed himself into a beautiful, richly-attired maiden. In this disguise he lured Duke Richard to the seashore and induced him to enter a boat and put out to sea. He thus spirited the duke away to the lonely isle of Guernsey, and at the landing spot, where the Devil finally seized his too confiding prey, stands this mass of quartz, a deep black splash running right across, indicating in popular fancy the mark left by the devil's claws.®'^
A solitary boulder standing on a heath in North Germany is the subject of a curious legend illustrating the
superstitious reverence inspired by the thunder. Once upon a time a bridal procession was traversing the heath
when a violent thunder-storm broke out. Taking no heed of this, the musicians who accompanied the procession continued to

" Sir Edgar McCuUoch, " Guernsey Folk Lore," London, 1903, p. 150.
"Ibid., p. 157; fig. on p. 156.

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play their gay and festive music, and as a punishment for this lack of respect the God of Thunder changed the whole
party into an immense rock.®*

An erratic boulder lying in midstream in the Eiver Ferse, in West Prussia, at a bend it makes between Pepli'n and
Eichwald, is known in legend as the Teuffelsstein (Devil's Stone). It can only be reached by swimming to it, the part
above the surface of the water measuring 26% feet in cir- cumference, the height from the bed of the stream being
814 feet. A thick growth of alders on the banks of the Ferse at this point casts strange and sharp shadows over the
gleaming surface of the block which is a biotitic gneiss.
Legend tells that the Devil once tried to wreck the tower of the church at Peplin by hurling this mass of rock at it,
but just as he had it poised in the air and was about to cast it forth the church bells began to ring the call for early
mass, and he was forced to let the boulder drop. Another version is that he really threw it, but that it fell short of its
Near Hasselager in Denmark there is an immense boulder about 150 feet in circumference and 32 feet in height.
Of this stone legend tells that a witch became so enraged at the fact that the steeple of the church at Svinninge was used by sailors as a landmark, that she picked up the stone and hurled it at the church, but missed her aim.
As the boulder is estimated to weigh 1000 tons, this "witch" must have been regarded as a superhuman personality. The legend seems to indicate that she profited by the shipwrecks which were only too frequent on this rocky coast,
and grudged the poor sailors the good service rendered them by the prominent steeple.

"Kuhn, " Norddeutsche Sagen," Leipzig, 1848, p. 69.

"'' Hermann, " Die erratischen Blocke im Regierungsbezirok Danzig," Berlin, 1911, p. 41; in vol. ii, Pt. I, " Beitrage zur Naturdenkmalpflege, ed. by H. Conwentz.

Page 43

A rock in Ardmore Bay, Ireland, is known as the St.
Declan Stone, after the first bishop of Ardmore, who came to Ireland even before the arrival of the great St. Patrick.
This rock is believed by the peasants to be endowed with great and occult powers, and the legend tells that it was
carried through the air from Rome to its present resting place in the bay, at the time St. Declan was erecting his
church at Ardmore. The fact that the stone rests upon a number of smaller ones renders it possible for people to
squeeze their way under it at low tide, and those who pass beneath it three times are believed to have earned the
special favor of St. Declan.'^"
A mass of calcareous stone in a village called Piada de Roland, situated in the commune of Touf allies (dept. Tam-
et-€raronne), France, shares with some other similar stones in this region the curious name of Roland 's Foot
(Piada de Roland). The one preserved in Touf allies measures 70 cm. X 47 cm. X 50 cm., and bears a natural imprint having the form of a foot. Legend accounts for this by the tale that the hero Eoland once jumped from this stone to
another at Sept Albres and in taking this tremendous leap thrust his foot down so strongly upon its support as to
leave an imprint on the solid rock. For a time the "Piada de Roland" was kept in a cow-house — not a remarkably
honorable place of deposit — ^but after the death of one of the cows a sorcerer advised the stone should be broken
and removed, as a precautionary measure; this is said to have happened but thirty years ago, showing how deeply rooted such superstitious ideas are among the peasantry in out-of-the-way parts of France.''^

Another rock-imprint, this time simulating that made

"Walsh, "Curiosities of Popular Customs," Philadelphia, 1911, p. 325.

" Armand Virg, " Pierres a gravures et Pierres t Iggendes dans le Lot et le Tarn et Garonne "; in Compte Rendu
of the Ninth Session of the Congrfia Prehistorique de France, Paris, 1914, p. 349.

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by the hoof of a horse, is to be seen toward the edge of the abyss of Padirac (dept. Lot). Here again a local legend
has been evolved to explain the imprint. We are told that the attention of both iSatan and St. Martin had been
powerfully attracted to the region, each strenuously seeking to gain possession of the souls of those who died,
Satan of course wishing to bear them off with him to the depths of the infernal regions, while St. Martin cherished
the fond hope of bringing them to Heaven. Unhappily the sins of the inhabitants of the region so much outweighed
their merits that the Devil was almost invariably successful.
Once upon a time, when he was riding off to his lurid realm, bearing with him a sackful of lost souls, he met St.
Martin, who was full of grief at the fact that he himself had not a single soul to carry heavenward. Knowing, however, that Satan was passionately fond of gaming, he proposed that they should play a game the stake of which
should be the sackful of souls. Satan consented, trusting to his powers of trickery, but all his deceptions proved vain, and the precious souls became the property of the saint. Enraged at losing the stakes, the Devil stamped on the ground, and an immense abyss opened up, threatening to engulf St. Martin; however, the latter put up a prayer to
God, and spurred on his steed to a supreme and successful effort at escape, but one of the hoofs struck the rock with such force that it made an indentation therein figuring the clear outlines of a horse's hoof.''''
The Kiowa have a sacred stone whose form suggests the head and bust of a man. This image, called taime, has
long been considered a kind of palladium of the tribe. It is preserved in a box made of stiff dressed rawhide
{parfleche) and was only shown once a year, at the annual Sun Dance. As this sacred dance has not been performed since

" Ibid., p. 350.


From Johannis de Cuba's " Ortua Sanitatis," Strasaburg, 1483. See page 16.


From Valentini, " Museum museorum." Frankfurt am Mayn, 1714. Collecfion of James I, of England; now in Copenhagen. See page 45.

Page 45

1887, the time of the Kiowa has not been viewed by mortal   eye since that time, not even the custodian of the
treasure having the privilege of opening the box, except on the occasion of the ceremonial dance above mentioned.'*
Whether this stone has been rudely fashioned into its present shape, or whether its natural form suggested its
use as a simulacrum of some deity, has not been determined ; it is evidently not of meteoric origin as were many of
the curiously shaped stones venerated as images of the gods in ancient times, in both Europe and Asia.
In the rock of St. Gowan's chapel in Wales was a natural cavity upon which the name of the Expanding Stone was
bestowed by popular tradition, because the strange fancy prevailed that this stone automatically adapted itself to
the size of anyone who entered the cavity. ► The legend ran that once, during the Pagan persecutions, when a
fugitive Christian, hotly pursued, reached this rock it opened up of its own accord so that he could slip into it, and
then closed about him so as to hide him effectually from his enemies. This Expanding Stone was believed to manifest
its magic power by bringing to pass the wish expressed by anyone who entered it, provided he did not change his
wish while he turned around within it.'^*
The natives of the French colony of New Caledonia in the southern Pacific, attach special importance to the
fortuitous shape of stones in using them for talismans or amulets. According to their form such stones are
considered to procure favorable effects against famine, madness, or death; to induce sunshine or rain, or else to
bring good luck in fishing or in sailing, each special use being sug-

" Dr. Walter Hough in " Handbook of American Indians north of Mexico," ed. by Frederick Webb Hodge,
Smithsonian Inst.; Bur. of Am. Ethn., Bull. 30; Washington, 1910, Pt. 2, p. 194.

"Wirt Sikes, " British Goblins: Welsh Folk-Lore, Fairy Myths, Legends and Traditions," London, 1880, p. 365.

Page 46 

gested by some different form, the color also being in some cases a determining factor. For the purpose of securing
a better yield from fruit-trees a stone having the approximate shape of the fruit or with markings similar to those on
fruit or tree is the one indicated by nature as the appropriate talisman, as in the case of the cocoa-nut palm, where
a stone marked with black lines is the one chosen. Sometimes two different talismanic stones are used in this
practice, a smaller one figuring the unripe fruit; when the tree begins to bear, the small stone is buried at its foot,
and as soon as the fruit begins to mature, the small stone is removed and the larger one, representing the ripe fruit,
is buried in its place.'^"
The Scotch of a century or more ago are said to have considered that an isolated stone or boulder, firmly fixed in the earth, possessed powers of a peculiar sort, and some such stones were used to cure bruises and strains and reduce swellings.''* As it was also thought that a blow from a stone of this type was especially hurtful, this would be another case of homoeopathic treatment of which so many and various examples are afforded by the superstitious use
of stones and gems, as well as of other objects to which certain advantageous qualities were attributed.
Small stone boulders have been made use of by ejected peasants in Fermanagh, Ireland, in a magical incantation
designed to draw down a curse upon a merciless landlord.
For this purpose the peasant would collect a number of such stones, pile them up on his hearth as he would have
piled turf sods, and then put up a petition that all manner of bad luck and misfortune might befall the landlord and
his descendants to remote generations. Hereupon he would gather up the stones again, and, carrying them off, would

" Father Lambert, " Moeurs et Superstitions des Neo-Caledoniens" Noumea, 1900, pp. 217, 218, 222, 292-304.

'" See Scott's " Border Minstrelsy," vol. iv, Pt. II, p. 645.

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scatter them about in bog-holes, pools or streams, so that they should never be brought together again." This was
evidently done in the belief that the curse could only be raised if a counter-invocation were pronounced over the
same collection of stones. An allusion to a custom of turning stones about while reciting a formula of malediction is
contained in the following lines by Dr. Samuel Ferguson:

They hurled their curse against the King,
They cursed him in his flesh and bones,
And even in the mystic ring,
They tum'd the malediction stones.

Of all "magic stones" none seem better to deserve this designation than those mysterious and fascinating mineral
specimens, veritable lusus Natures, bearing imprinted upon them by nature's hand some likeness of the human face
or form. The grandeur and the overwhelming power of the material world are probably as much or even more felt
in our prosaic age than they were in the earliest times, but this sentiment is sometimes coupled with a sense of
distrust — ^happily neither general nor permanent — as to the presence in this tremendous and inspiring aggregate of forces of any distinct and definite evidence of the working of an intelligence closely similar to our own. It seems
not unlikely that to this half-distrust is in great part due the fascination exercised by these naturally designed stones.
We know, indeed, that when examined critically by the mineralogist, their strange markings become explicable as
the results of fortuitous stratifications and juxtapositions, but to our instinctive appreciation they offer so close and
startling an analogy to the artistic reproductions consciously made by the hand of man, guided by his experience

"Lean's Collectanea (by Vincent Stuckey Lean), vol. 11, Pt. I, Bristol, 1903, p. 476; see W. F. Wademan in Jour. Koy. Hist, and Arch. Aaaoc. of Ireland, July, 1875.

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and intelligence, that we are almost invariably impressed with a keener sense of our kinship with nature.

Some very characteristic and interesting specimens of these natural designs were at one time in the possession of
Queen Victoria, many of them having been formerly among the treasures in the valuable and extensive collection
of pearls and precious stones carefully gathered together by the famous banker and connoisseur, Henry Philip Hope.
Quite recently (April 20, 21, 1914) these objects, which had passed into the J. E. Hodgkin Collection, were sold at
Christie's in London. Perhaps the most remarkable is thus described by B. Hertz in the Hope Catalogue: ''^
No. 62. A very beautiful lusus, in white and brown agate, representing a miniature face and neck, with light brown
hair and white chaplet, surrounded by a dark brown ground colour.
So singularly natural and artistic is this strange gem, that it is difficult to banish the conviction that we are not
gazing upon a fine example of a miniature done by an impressionist.''* Another interesting, though somewhat less
notable example, was a polished flint, of a brownish-gray hue, bearing a half-front miniature of an aged head and
face marked in a light brownish- white; ^^ still another offered the representation of a human head, the face half
turned away; this was also a flint, the groundwork of a light horn-color, the design being of a still lighter shade of
the same color .^^^
While nearly all these natural designs are in the flat, occasional examples of relief or intaglio are recorded. As

" Catalogue of the collection of peark and precious stones formed by Henry Philip Hope, Esq. Systematically
arranged and described by B. Hertz, London, 1839.

'» Op. cit., p. 106.

"» Op. cit., No. 66, p. 106.

»' Op. cit.. No. 65, p. 106.

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an instance may be noted a remarkable double gem or medallion said to have been revealed on splitting open a
clump of copper ore from the Bottendorf copper mines.
On each of the two halves was marked the image of a male human head, dressed with a peruke, but while
on one side the representation was in relief, on the opposite half it was in intaglio.^2
A remarkable find of three of these naturally marked stones is stated to have been made in the river Theiss, near
the town of Winterhut, in 1556, "on a Monday after the festival of St. Grail." On one of these flint pebbles was
depicted a cross, a sword and a rod; the two others bore respectively a cross and the Burgundian arms, all being
as clearly defined as though the work of the human hand.**
These smaller natural pictures were, however, greatly surpassed in effectiveness by some most extraordinary
representations on slabs of stone, frequently on marble slabs, the strange arrangement of the veinings constituting
veritable pictures of considerable extent and marvellously deceptive quality. Thus in the church of San Lorenzo in
Florence was to be seen a natural marble on which were depicted two men bearing a bunch of grapes on a rod.®*
Another marble slab, preserved in the Danish Collection in Copenhagen and originally owned by James I of
England, presented in most beautiful colors an image of a crucifix.*®
To the natural image found in a specimen of copper ore may be added a much more remarkable picture discovered
in a piece of iron-ore. This was found on October 8, 1669,

"^ Valentini, " Museum Muaeorum, oder der VoUstandige Schau-Biihne," Franckfurt am Mayn, 1713, Pt. II, p. 41; figured.

"Ulyssis Aldrovandi, "Museum metallicum," Bononise, 1648, p. 527; figured on p. 528.

"Valentini, "Museum Muaeorum," p. 42; citing description by Major in his "Tractatus de cancris et lapidibus petrifactis," p. 64.

"Ibid., p. 42; PI. IX, fig. 3.

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by a miner of the Innesberg mines. The clump of ore weighed about two pounds and when the miner split it open
with a blow of his hammer, he was startled to see on the upper half a strange and marvellous design. Calling up
a companion, he exclaimed: "Look here! Here is the Blessed Virgin on this stone!" On examining the other
half, the same design appeared there also. This remarkable find is said to have been recorded in the book of the
mine, the stone itself having been delivered to the German imperial inspectors.*®
It is well to bear in mind that the number of these lusus natures seemed very much larger in the eyes of writers of
a few centuries ago than to us to-day, for the numerous petrifactions, showing a great variety of animal and
vegetable forms, were for a long period included in the same category with the stones bearing curiously deceptive
markings or veinings. Much ingenuity was expended by early observers in the attempt to explain the cause of these phenomena. The learned Jesuit, Athanasius Kircher, for example, after having proved experimentally that designs
treated with certain chemical agents could be made to impress figures upon stones, took refuge in the strange
hypothesis that pictures made on wood or some soft material by primitive miners had been left in the mine and with
the lapse of time had slipped down into crevices in the rock, and, becoming tightly wedged in, had impressed the
design on the contact-rock; or else he suggested that the original material on which the design had been made might
in process of time have, by some unknown means, been converted into marble.*^ As a striking example of a picture
of this class, Kircher notes and figures an image naturally designed

"Ibid., p. 41; figured. Prom report in Miacellan. Acad. Germ. Cur., Deeur. I, Ann. I, Obs. CXIII, p. 232.

" Athanaaii Kircheri, " Mundua subterraneus,'' Amstelodami, 1665, vol. ii, pp. 42 sqq.

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on a stone slab in St. Peter's in Eome and bearing a remarkable likeness to the Blessed Virgin of Loreto.*"

The electric or magnetic gems, tourmaline, amber, and loadstone, possess not only great scientific interest, but
demonstrate the fact that a certain energy really does proceed from some of these fair, ornamental objects, an
energy that produces a positive action from without upon the human body. This may well serve to make us less resolutely sceptical as to the possible presence in gem-stones of some other forms of emanation not as yet
susceptible of scientific determination.
The supersensitiveness of the innocent child-soul to the most delicate impressions, and hence to the radiations or
emanations from precious stones, is well brought out in the pretty tale by Saxe Holme (Helen Hunt Jackson),
entitled ' ' My Tourmaline. ' ' *** The particular specimen here immortalized was one of the finest from the famous Mount Mica deposits in the State of Maine. One day, while on a country ramble, the little heroine's eye is caught by
the color and sparkle of a brilliant crystal lodged in the gnarled roots of an old tree. In springing forward to secure
this pretty treasure the girl trips on the outstanding roots, falls, and sprains her leg very seriously, so that she is laid
up for six weeks. However, the beautiful crystal is her great consolation through the long, dreary weeks, and,
strange to say, she comes to feel that it has a kind of life in it. This is manifested to her and also to some others, on touching the stone, by a pricking or tingling sensation in the hand; but to the child the sensations excited by the wonderful crystal, as perfectly formed as though cut by a lapidary, red at one end, green at the other, with a
separating band of white, are much more pronounced. When it is placed in the little silken bag that has been made
to hold it, and

« Op. cit., vol. i, p. 39 ; PI. IV, fig. 6.
»• Scribner & Co., 1886.

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is laid against her cheek, her feverish restlessness gradually disappears and gives place to tranquil sleep. More
than this, she is aware of a species of subconscious sympathy with the tourmaline. So intense is this sympathy that
although the child consented to part with her crystal that it might be offered as a unique specimen to a foreign
museum, and was heart-broken to learn that through some carelessness it had been lost while being taken thither,
she recognized its presence long years after, when, travelling in Europe as a young bride, she entered the cabinet
of an enthusiastic collector to view his specimens, and was in no wise surprised when she really found her "Stonie" there among his prized tourmalines.
In connection with this pretty recital it is interesting to note that the first chance observation of the attractive
qualities of tourmalines is said to have been made in Amsterdam by a group of Dutch children whose attention had
been attracted by a number of tourmaline crystals brought from the Orient, and who were puzzled to see bits of ash
and straw attracted to the stones. This came to the knowledge of some Dutch lapidaries, who for a time called the
stone Aschentrekker, or "Ash-Attractor."®* Our name tourmaline is derived from turmali, the name given the
stone by the natives of Ceylon.
There seems some little likelihood that certain examples of the gem called lychnis and noted by Pliny may have
been varieties of'the tourmaline. As the first tourmalines brought to modem Europe came to Holland from Ceylon,
we might conjecture that those kinds of lychnis said by Pliny to have been brought from India had a like origin.
Of these Indian specimens, the finest examples of this gem, one kind resembled the carbuncle or ruby, while another bore the designation Ionia because its color was like that of the violet

°° The Germans called it Aschenzieher.

Page 53

(in Greek ion) . The most striking peculiarity of the lychnis was its power to attract straws or bits of paper, when
it had been heated by the sun's rays or by hand-friction.®*
Such is the confusion in the statements made by the early Greek and Latin writers as to the emerald, under which
generic name they seem to have included almost all green stones of any ornamental or other value, that we cannot
absolutely reject the conjecture ^^ that Theophrastus (third century b.c.) , the earliest of these writers on precious stones, might have referred to specimens of green tourmaline, when he states that the true emerald appeared to
have been produced from jasper, as one of the Cyprian specimens was said to have consisted of one-half jasper
and the other half emerald, the metamorphosis as yet being incomplete."^ We admit that if Theophrastus uses
the word jasper here to signify the reddish variety, we would have the combination of green and red zones in a
single crystal sometimes observable in tourmaline. How this can be reconciled with the previous statement of the
same author that the Cyprian "emeralds" which came from the copper mines of that island were chiefly used for soldering gold, and hence seem to have been of the class of mineral called chrysocolla by ancient writers, is,
however, not easy to suggest.®^
The so-called Brazilian emeralds mentioned by the Dutch mineralogist, Johann de Laet, as having been found
shortly before 1647 in mines near Spiritus Sanctus, may perhaps have been green tourmalines. These crystals
were described

"Pliny, "Naturalis historia," Lib. xxxvii, cap. 29. In his recently published " Curious Lore of Precious Stones "
the present writer suggested that Pliny's lychnis might have been a spinel, but while some of these " ardent
stones " may have been spinels, those displaying the phenomenon of attraction must have been tourmalines.

" A. C. Hamlin.

"^ Theophrasti, " De lapidibus, peri ton lithon," ed. by John Hill, London, 1746, pp. 71-73 (cap. xlvi).

"Idem, pp. 68-71 (cap. xlvi); see also Hill's note on p. 69.

Page 54 

by Gesner as of cylindrical form, striated, and of a vitreous lustre; their color was like that of the prase and they
were transparent. Although De Laet adds the assertion that the Oriental emerald (green corundum) was as hard
as the sapphire, the Brazilian emeralds approached more dosely to the Oriental in point of hardness than did
emeralds from any other source of supply;®* and green sapphires have never been found in Brazil, while green tourmalines have been.
The earliest published work in which the electric properties of tourmaline are noted appears to be an anonymous
or quasi anonymous treatise published in 1707, certain initial letters of the quaint title being italicized to indicate
the initials of the author's name.®' The first scientist to derive the action of the so-called Aschentrehker or "Ash-Attraotor" from electric energy is said to have been the great Linnaeus, who bestowed upon the tourmaline the
name of the "Electrical Stone." 
The attractive properties of the tourmaline are said to have been first brought to scientific notice by M. Louis
Lemery, in a report made during 1717 to the French Academy of Sciences; however, Lemery was inclined to
attribute them to magnetic influence. That these phenomena of attraction and repulsion were really due to the
electric properties of the stone was first clearly brought out by the German physicist, Franz Ulrich Theodor
Aepinus, and his conclusions were communicated to the Berlin Academy of Sciences in 1756.®^ Aepinus made
his experiments upon two specimens of tourmaline from Ceylon, which had been

" Johannis de Laet, Antwerpii, " De gemmis et lapidibus, libri duo," Lugduni Batavorum [1647], pp. 36, 40.

•" Curiose Speculationes bey schlaflosen KTachten . . . von einem Lieb-haber der /mmer yern iSpeculirt,"
Chemnitz und Leipzig, bey Conr. Stosaeln, 1707, 857, pp. 80.

»° Johann Gustav Donndorf, " Natur und Kunst," Leipzig, 1790, p. 518.

" " Histoire de TAcademie Royale des Sciences et Belles Lettres," vol. xii, 1756; Berlin, 1758, pp. 105-121.


The stone is suspended from a hollow rod and will be attracted by the finger, if the latter be brought within a short distance of the tourmaline.
When the stone has been slightly heated, its positive electricity will draw toward it the heart-shaped piece of
paper, just as amber attracts paper, or
magnetic iron does iron filings.

Page 55

fumished him by Lehmann, a fellow-member of the Berlin Academy, who, as Aepinus frankly admits, first drew
his attention to the electric action of the stone. That not only friction but heat also should develop the electric
energy, both positive and negative, of the tourmaline, serves to differentiate it from many other potentially
electric substances, in the case of which friction alone is effective.
The specimen shown by M. Lemery to the French Academy of Sciences in 1717 is stated to have come from
"a river in the Island of Ceylon," and is described as being of small size, flat, orbicular, quite thin, of a brown
color, and smooth brilliant surface.®* Its peculiar property of attracting and then repelling ashes or iron filings as
well as bits of paper, was duly noted. This specimen had cost M. Lemery 15 livres.
After reciting the constant repulsion and attraction exercised by a magnet upon the needle, the attraction by the
opposite pole, and repulsion by the same pole, he proceeds to remark that this Cinghalese stone acted quite
differently, since it first attracted and then repulsed the same object presented in the same way. This
intermittent or irregular action was in his opinion to be explained by the theory that a vortex was intermittently developed in the substance. As it begins the small bodies are attracted, when it ceases they remain stationary,
but when it is renewed "and there emanates from the stone a material analogous to the magnetic emanation"
then the bodies are repulsed. Another pecuiarity was that the body which had been repulsed could not again be attracted, whence the conclusion was arrived at that the stone's repellent force was superior to its attractive
power. These necessarily somewhat inexact observations are interesting as marking one of the earliest attempts

•» See Historie de I'Academie Royale des Sciences Annge mdcccxvii Paris,
1719. pp. 7. 8-

Page 56 

explain these phenomena, even although the explanation is faulty.

The great French crystallographer, Abbe Haiiy, relates his experiments on a tourmaline crystal.®*" He set this
crystal in steel clamps, with a long stem which was inserted in a wooden handle, and then subjected the tourmaline
to the heat of a brasier. As the heat augmented and penetrated the stone, its natural electric force became
decomposed, the two component fluids being forced to separate from each other.
It was now necessary to cool the tourmaline off a little ; when too much heated the electrical phenomena were interrupted; they were also diminished in intensity when the stone became cool again. The perfect crystal chosen
for experiment clearly showed the negative and positive electrical poles; even the smallest pieces showed this,
and, indeed, if a very small piece were broken off the positively electric side of a crystal, it would preserve this
positive electricity and soon develop a negative electricity also.
We may be somewhat loath to doubt the tale that little Dutch children were the first to note what to them was the
queer action of some bits of tourmaline, but preference should probably be given to the statement that the
discovery of the electric phenomena induced by heating in these stones was due to the fact that some Dutch
jewellers put specimens of tourmaline in the fire to test their hardness, and then found that the stones attracted or repelled the ashes of the fire.
Toward the middle of the eighteenth century Dr. Haberden, of London, confirmed the deductions of Lemery and the
somewhat later experiments of the Grerman physicist Aepinus, and the gay world of London took up the idea,

Abbe Hafty, " Trattato dei caratteri fisici delle pietre preziose," Ital. trans, by Luigi Configliachi, Milano, 1819,
pp. 135-138; see Plate II, fig. 49. " Aepinus, 1. c.

Page 57

causing the new stone to become a great favorite with the fashionable. One of Hogarth's inimitable designs
depicts a spendthrift for who has just been arrested while his attention was riveted on the strange phenomena
shown by the tourmaline.
In view of the important experiments made by Benjamin Franklin in the then almost unexplored field of electricity,
it is easy to understand that the accounts of the newly discovered electric properties of the tourmaline should have
possessed considerable interest for him. This is testified to by a letter he addressed to Dr. William Haberden,
June 7, 1759.^®" Herein he expresses his thanks for two tourmalines his correspondent had sent him, and states
that he is returning the smaller one. Of the electric phenomena he writes that he had heard some "ingenious
gentlemen abroad" had denied the negative electricity displayed by one side of a tourmaline, but he believes the
failure to observe could be explained by defective cutting of the specimens used, the positive and negative planes having perhaps been obliquely placed; to obviate this he suggests that the positive and negative sides should be accurately determined before the operation of cutting begins. The larger of the specimens sent by Dr. Haberden
was retained by Franklin, who had it mounted on a pivot in a ring, so that either side could be turned outward at
will. He notes as a curious circumstance that when he wore this ring, the natural heat of the finger sufficed to
charge the stone, causing it to attract light bodies.
Several of his experiments were made with a cork ball suspended by a thread, and he claims that the attractive
force of the positive face was increased by coating it with gold-leaf attached to the stone by white of egg.
This greater effect he supposed "to be occasioned by the united force of

""The Complete Works of Benjamin Franklin, ed. by John Bigelow, New York and London, 1888, vol. x, pp.

Page 58

the different parts of the face collected and acting together through the metal."

While the various corundum gems, ruhy, sapphire, Oriental topaz, Oriental amethyst, etc., offer a remarkable
instance of the many varieties of beautiful coloration observable in a practically identical substance, no single
gem-mineral can be said to equal tourmaline in this respect, more especially, however, in the combination of
several colors sometimes disposed in bands, at other times in concentric circles in the same crystal. "When to
this we add its peculiar electric qualities, we may truly say that a fine tourmaline answers our idea of what a
talismanic gem or a gem-amulet should be better than any other of the beautiful crystals with which bountiful
nature has provided us. These most attractive stones are to be found in widely separated regions on the
earth's surface, as fine examples have been discovered in the State of Minas Geraes, Brazil, and in our own
land, in Maine and California especially. Where the color is homogeneous we may have the splendid red or
rose-colored variety called rubellite, from its resemblance to the ruby, or the blue tourmaline gem named
In times of old there was a belief that stones of various kinds would guard against the assaults of evil in the form
of witchcraft, disease, and other disagreeable visitations. It was a warlike period in which peace was an unheard
of doctrine, and now that the idea of peace has become one of the ideals of present-day conditions, it is
interesting to know that nature has furnished us with a stone at once beautiful, interesting, and illustrating the
great fundamental principle of unity and peace.
The Peace Stone is formed by the union in one crystal of the green and the red tourmaline, with an intervening
band or zone of white, the latter strikingly beautiful effect being due to the combination at this point of the red

Page 59

matter, manganese, and the iron constituent, the source of the green hue ; these two materials, by their union,
neutralize each other, furnishing the transparent, colorless vein or zone. A slightly different combination of colors appears in a fine crystal, found some years ago at Mount Mica, Oxford County, Maine; "this even offers a kind
of "triple alliance," as it shows blue in its lower half, passing through white and pink to a grass-green at the upper end.^"^
These three hues combined in one body, in indissoluble union in spite of the differences of quality and color, yet
represent one principle. This action of manganese in neutralizing the iron is well known to glass-makers;
otherwise white glass could not be made. It would all be greenish in tint were it not for the use of oxide of
manganese, or ' ' glass- maker 's soap," as it is termed, which neutralizes the production of a green tint by the
iron and makes the white hue.
This beautifully symbolic stone is found in Paris, Maine, in San Diego County, California, and in Brazil. At times
the outer edge of the stone is green, a transparent white zone surrounding the interior red zone, the whole looking
for all the world like a section of watermelon, and hence it is sometimes called the "Watermelon Stone." Then
again, the colors are joined in longitudinal strips, showing them side by side. This variety of tourmaline, although
rare, is not especially costly, and is one more addition to the stones of sentiment, and more especially to those appropriate as symbols of our fair ideal, universal peace.
We can see symbolized in them the great and consoling fact that, however marked may be the differences
between any two peoples, they need not be cause for enmity, but may instead become true and enduring sources
of peace and bonds

"'See the writer's " Gems and Precious Stones of North America," New York, 1890, PI. 4, and also his
"Precious Stones" in 20th Annual Keport of the U. S. Geological Survey, Pt. VI, Washington, 1899, p. 577.

Page 60

of union. The characteristic talents of each one will supplement and complete those of the other, so that working
together in harmony they may accomplish far more for each other and for humanity in general than either could
do singly.
At an early date amber was brought from the Baltic coast to Rome, and Tacitus states that those who collected it
called it glcesum, a name later applied to the glass introduced into that region by Eoman traders. The natives
knew nothing of the nature or growth of amber, and had no use for the material, only collecting it for export to
Rome, where it commanded such a high price as to excite their astonishment. Tacitus gives in the following words
his theory of the origin and character of amber — his chief error being due to his belief that the substance was of
very recent formation.* "2
Now you must know that amber is a juice of trees, since various creatures, some of them winged, are often found
in it. They have become entangled in the liquid and then inclosed when the matter hardened. Therefore I believe
that, as incense and balsam are exuded in the remote East, so in the luxuriant groves and islands of the West are
juices which are forced out by the sun close to them. These flow into the neighboring sea and are washed up by the tempestuous waves on the opposite shore. If you test the quality of amber with fire, it may be lighted like a torch
and bums with a small, well-nourished flame; then it is resolved into a glutinous mass resembling pitch or resin.

Both Juvenal *"' and Martial *"* relate that effeminate Romans used to hold balls of amber in their hands to cool
them during the summer heat. If any such agreeable sensation was really experienced, it must have been due to
the well-known electric properties of this substance. It is stated that the Chinese often place pieces of amber on
or in their

"^ Cornelii Taciti, " Libri qui supersunt," vol. ii, LipsiEe, 1885, p. 243.

"Sat. vi, 572; ix, 50.

'"Lib. V, 37, 9; xi, 8, 6.

Page 61

pillows,"^ a use that may have been suggested by the same considerations.

As a proof of the extravagant value set upon amber by the Romans of the first century, Pliny notes that a very
diminutive figure of a man, cut out of this substance, sold for a higher figure than did a healthy, vigorous slave.
The popularity of this material was also attested by" the fact that in the gay world of Rome the term "amber hair"
was used to designate a rare and peculiar shade that became fashionable in this period.^*'* It seems probable
that this modish shade was somewhat lighter than the "Titian hair" once so much favored, although the difference
may not have been very great.
A change of hue in amber was thought to portend a waning of love on the part of the giver, as is shown by the
following not especially melodious lines from ' ' The Fruits of Jealousy" published by Richard Tofte in 1615: ^"^

Thy tokens which to me thou sent
In time may make thee to repent;
Thy gifts do groan (bestow'd on me)
For grief that they thee guilty see.
The amber bracelet thou me gave
(Tor fear thou shouldst shortly wave™)
From yellow turned is to pale,
A sign thou shortly will be stale.

Not only for curative purposes and for general use as an amulet was amber prized, but an amber necklace was
sometimes regarded as an especially auspicious decoration for a bride at her wedding, as is shown by an
exceptionally fine necklace of facetted amber beads from Brunswick, Germany, made in the eighteenth century.

"'Pflzmeier, Sitzungabericht d. phil.-hist. Kl., Wien, 1866, vol. xliii, p. 195.

"" Plinii, "Naturalis historia," Lib. xxxvii, cap. 12.

^^ Lean's Collectanea, vol. ii, Pt. II, Bristol, 1903, p. 640.

'" Waver. Especially interesting as all amber changes in time.

Page 62 

Our earliest authority on the curative use of amber, the great encyclopaedist Pliny, states that in his day the
female peasants of the valley of the Po, in northern Italy, might be seen wearing amber necklaces, principally as ornaments, but also because of their remedial powers; for even at this early period it was generally believed that
amber had most excellent effects in diseases of the throat and tonsils. The peasants of this region were especially subject to such disorders, and Pliny conjectures that they were caused by the different sorts of water in the neighborhood of the Alps.""
He probably refers not only to diseases of the throat, properly so called, but also to a swelling of the glands of the
neck, the goitre with which so many of the peasants living on the slopes of the Alps, and in other mountainous
regions of central Europe, are afflicted.
The golden-hued amber was called chryselectrum by Callistratus, as cited by Pliny. This was said to attract the
flame and to ignite if it came in contact with the fire. If worn on the neck it was a cure for fevers; if powdered and
mixed with honey and oil of roses it was beneficial for dimness of vision, and its powder, whether taken by itself or
in water with gum mastic, remedied diseases of the stomach."" In ancient and medieval times the fear of poison
being administered in food or drink was very great, and any substance that was credited with the power to show
the presence of poison, by some change in clearness or color, was highly valued. An amber cup was said to reveal
the admixture of any of the various kinds of poison with the liquid it contained. ^^^

The use of amber as a preventive of erysipelas finds a defender in Rev. C. W. King, who writes as follows:

"* Plinii, " Naturalis historia," Lib. xxxvii, cap. 11.

" Plinii, " Naturalis historia," Lib. xxxvii, cap. 12.

"* Severus Sammonicus, " Preceptes mgdicaux," text and French trans, by L. Baudet, Paris, 1845, pp. 84, 85.


German. Eighteenth century.

Page 63

That the wearing an amber necklace will keep off the attacks of erysipelas in a person subject to them has been
proved by repeated experiments beyond the possibility of doubt. Its action here cannot be explained; but its
efficacy in defence of the throat against chills is evidently due to its extreme warmth when in contact with the skin
and the circle of electricity so maintained.""
The electrical property of amber was remarked as early as 600 B.C. by the Ionic philosopher Thales, and from this
observation may be dated the beginnings of the study of electric phenomena.
That faith in the magic powers of amber beads still exists is illustrated in the case of an old Eussian Jewess who recently died in one of our charitable institutions. This woman is said to have reached the age of one hundred and
six years, and she ascribed her extraordinary longevity to the possession of a necklace of very large amber beads,
which had been given her by her mother, who also lived more than a hundred years. The daughter, a few days
before her death, bestowed this treasured heirloom upon her daughter, for it is generally believed that the virtues
of gems largely depend upon their being received as gifts.
In northern Germany, also, for more than a century a string of amber beads was looked upon as a favorite and
necessary gift. The writer has seen hundreds of these strings, many of which have been worn for one, two, and
sometimes more generations. The beads are round and usually facetted; however, they have been abraded against
each other for so long that they are often flat disks, and a string originally fifteen or sixteen inches long will be
twelve, and often only nine inches in length, so much of the original spheres having worn away.

A well-known physician of the sixteenth century, Johann Meckenbach, claimed, in 1548, to have discovered the

*" King, "Natural History of Precious Stones," etc., London, 1865, p. 334, note.

Page 64 

of producing oil of amber. Although Meckenbacli was not entitled to the credit he claimed, as the experiment had
already been successfully made, he gained great repute by this means, and when he communicated to Duke
Albrecht of Prussia the secret of his process, the rulers of other lands overwhelmed the duke with requests for a
supply of the precious remedy. Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria, sent a special messenger the long journey to
Berlin, twice in a year, for a few flasks of the oil, which was regarded as a cure for many diseases. ^^^ The oil of
amber — oleum succini of the Pharmacopoeia — has maintained its repute as a cure for various affections up to
the present day. In some forms of gout and rheumatism it relieves the inflammation and pain in the joints; and its antispasmodic action makes it a valuable remedy in cases of asthma, whooping-cough, hysteria, bronchitis, and
infantile convulsions.^^*
An early version of the strange tale that ships were attracted by masses of rocks, or even mountains of
load- stone, is given by Palladius (c. 367-c. 431 a.d.). He relates that the loadstone was produced on a group of
islands called the Maniolas, which were on the route to Taprobane (Ceylon), and continues, "if any ship
constructed with iron nails approached these islands they were drawn by the power of the loadstone and their
course was arrested. For this reason those voyaging to Taprobane use ships especially put together with wooden
pegs." Probably the legend arose from the fact that wood was often used in the case of vessels trading in this
region, because iron was scarce and expensive. This is the view of Proeopius, who found the same story still current
in the sixth century."^

"^ Eaumer, "Historisches Taschenbuch," I Ser., vol. vi, Leipzig, 1835, p. 366.

"' Pyle, "The Therapeusis of Precious Stones,'' in his " Medicine," Detroit, 1897, vol. iii, p. 115.

"° Palladii, "De gentibuB Indiae," ed. Bissaeus, London, 1665, p. 4.

Page 65

It has been noted as a curious fact that none of the ancient writers who treat of the loadstone recognized that the
attractive energy exerted by this substance on iron was also exerted by iron upon the loadstone; on the contrary,
they constructed many ingenious hypotheses to explain why this was not the case.^^^ The strange fancy that in the presence of a diamond a piece of loadstone was robbed of its attractive force, must have arisen from an observation
of the well-known electric properties of the first-named stone, and from the idea that the much more valuable stone should have the greater power. Here, as in many other cases, we see how little interest was taken in actual
experiment by ancient writers, a pre-conceived idea of the eternal fitness of things being the main criterion.
Spaniards of the thirteenth century believed that the magnetic power of the loadstone would depart from it if it
were steeped in the juice of leek or onion for three days; but the virtue would return to the stone if it were bathed
in goat's blood. This recalls the queer notion that the diamond could only be broken when moistened with goat's
blood, both fancies having their origin in the idea that goat's, or rather ram's blood, was endowed with warmth
and vitality to a higher degree than other blood.
An ingenious magnetic oracle is described by De Boot.117
This consisted of a round board, about the edge of which were marked the letters of the alphabet, while in the
centre there stood a small wooden figure, set on a pivot, and holding extended in one hand a little wand. One foot
of this figure was slightly advanced and within it was concealed a small iron ball. The experimenter held in his
hand a wooden sceptre, with a powerful loadstone at its top, and as he

"° Martin, " Observations et theories des anciens sur les attractions et la repulsion magngtiques," in Atti dell' Accademia Ponteflci dei Nuovi Lincei, vol. xviii, p. 18 (1864-65).

™"Gemmarum et lapidum historia," Lug. Bat., 1636, p. 466; Lib. II, cap. 204. 6

Page 66 

touched with, his sceptre the lower side of the board, beneath the spot on which any one of the letters was marked,
the attraction exercised by the loadstone on the iron made the figure revolve on its pivot so that the little wand
pointed toward the letter indicated. In this way any word could be spelled out and appropriate answers given to any question.
The device would be too obvious at present, but in De Boot's time it would have served well enough to mystify the

That the loadstone was highly esteemed in the sixteenth century was well versified by Robert Norman in '' The
Newe Attractive."


Give place ye glittering sparkes, ye glimmering Diamonds bright,
Ye Rubies red, and Saphires brave, wherein ye most delight.
In breef e yee stones enricht, and burnisht all with gold.
Set forth in Lapidaries shops, for Jewels to be sold.
Give place, give place I say, your beautie, gleame, and glee.
Is all the vertue for the which, accepted so you bee.
Magnes, the Loadstone I, your painted sheaths defle,
Without my helpe, in Indian Seas the best of you might lye.
I guide the Pilots course, his helping hand I am,
The Mariner delights in me, so doth the Marchant man.
My vertue lies unknowne, my secrets hidden are,
By me the Court and Common-weale, are pleasured very f arre.
No ship could sayle on seas, her course to runne aright,
Nor compasse shew the ready way, were Magnes not of might.
Blush then, and blemish all, bequeathe to mee thats due.
Your seates in golde, your price in plate, which Jewellers doo rewe.
Its I, its I alone, whom you usurpe upon,
Magnes my name, the Loadstone cald, the prince of stones alone.
If this you can denie, then seeme to make reply,
And let the Painef ull sea-man judge, the which of us doth lye.


The Loadstone is the stone, the only stone alone.
Deserving praise above the rest, whose vertues are unknowne.

Page 67


The diamond bright, the Saphire brave, are stones that beare the name,
But flatter not, and tell the troath, Magnes deserves the same.""

It was reported in the seventeenth century that ruptures were cured in Belgium by the help of the loadstone. The
patient was first given a dose of iron filings, reduced to a very fine powder; thereupon a plaster made of crushed
load-stone was applied externally to the affected part. This was said to produce a cure in the space of eight
days.^^® Probably the plaster was believed to draw the iron filings or some emanation from them through the
affected parts toward the surface.
In medieval Europe this mineral was greatly valued for its therapeutic virtues. Trotula, the first of the female
physicians connected with the celebrated School of Salerno, the centre of medical culture in Europe in the Middle
Ages, and who wrote a treatise on female diseases, recommended the use of the loadstone in childbirth. The stone
was to be held in the right hand, and the learned lady asserted that the wearing of a coral necklace would aid its beneficent effect. Both these substances are prescribed for this use by the Oxford teacher, John Gadesden (1300),
in his "Eosa Anglica." Francisco Piemontese, who taught in Naples about 1340, also recommends the loadstone,
but he directs that it be strewn with the ashes obtained by burning the hoof of an ass or a horse; according to this
last authority, the stone should be held in the left hand.^^"
That wounds caused by burning could be healed if powdered loadstone were sprinkled over them was confidently
taught even in the seventeenth century. However, some ill effects were occasionally remarked when the substance
was used medicinally, for it sometimes produced melancholia.

"From Robert Norman's " The Newe Attractive," London, 1581.

"" Aldrovandi, " Museum metallicum," Bononise, 1648, p. 566.

"»Ploss, "Das Weib," Leipzig, 1895, vol. ii, p. 350.

Page 68 

In this case an antidote was found in the emerald, and we are assured that if a solution made from this stone were
taken thrice a day for nine consecutive days, the melancholia would pass away.^*^

In the sixteenth century in India, it was believed that a small quantity of loadstone taken internally preserved the
vigor of youth, and Garcias ab Orta relates that a king of Ceylon, when an old man, ordered that cooking utensils
of this material should be made for him, and had all his food cooked in these. Garcias claims to have this
information direct from a Jew, Isaac of Cairo, who was ordered to make the vessels.^**
A loadstone amulet for the cure of gout is stated to have been worn by a native of the English county of Essex.
The stone was sewed up in a flannel covering to which was attached a black ribbon for suspension from the neck.
Of course it was worn beneath the clothing, although the encasing flannel must have prevented direct contact with
the skin. This piece of magnetic iron ore measured about an inch and a half in width, and was two-tenths of an inch
thick. The patient, a Mr. Pelly, was an elderly man, who had suffered for some time from annually recurring
attacks of gout which prostrated him for from three to four months.
Learning of the reputed virtues of loadstones, more especially of those of Grolconda, he sent to India for one and
he is said to have been thereby relieved of his disease.^^*
In Persia a certain stone received the name of ShaJihevheren or "King of Jewels," for it was reputed to attract
all other precious stones, as the loadstone did iron. The great-

"* Aldrovandi, "Museum metallicum," Bononiae, 1648, pp. 564, 566.

"Garcias ab Orta, "Aromatum historia" (Latin version by Clusius), Antverpise, 1579, p. 178. See also Valentine
Ball in Proc. Roy. Jr. Soc, 3d Ser., vol. i, p. 662; Colloquy xliii, of the work of Garcias, translated from the
Portuguese original.

"" William Jones, "Credulities Past and Present," London, 1880, pp. 160, 161; citing " Panorama," vol. vii.

Page 69

est of the Sassamian monarchs, Khusrau 11 (590-628), had occasion to test the power of this wonderful stone.
He had lost a ring of great price in the river Tigris, near the spot where some time later the Mohammedans
founded the city of Bagdad. Taking a shahkevheren the monarch attached it to a line and literally fished for his
ring, using the magic stone as a bait. We are told that the ring was recovered, and this must have greatly added
to the reputation of the "King of Jewels." 124
In the ninth century Arabic treatise, translated from an earlier Syriac text and falsely attributed to Aristotle, a
number of fabulous stones are noted. All of these were said to have attractive properties, and as the loadstone
attracted iron, they attracted various substances, each having its special affinity. First, we are told of the stone
that attracted gold, then, in turn, of stones that attracted silver, copper, and other metals."^ Probably the legend
of the finding of these stones is based upon the employment of certain mineral substances in the purifying of gold,
silver, etc. Among other fabulous or almost fabulous stones was one called askab, which, although of mean
appearance, was able to break the diamond just as the diamond broke all other stones.^*® Have we here an
allusion to the polishing of the diamond by its own dust? It is not improbable that this art, in an incomplete form,
was known to the Hindus long before it was practised and perfected in Europe.
The stone that attracted hair was the lightest of all stones and very fragile; a piece as large as a man's fist
weighed but a drachm. It looked like a piece of fur, but when touched was found to be a stone. The strange powers
of this extraordinary substance could easily be demon-

294 D'herbelot, "Bibliotheque Orientale," La Haye, 1778, p. 229.
295 Rose, " Aristotle de lapidibus und Arnoldus Saxo," in Zeitach. fur D.
Alt., New Series, vol. vi, 1875-
296 Ibid., p. 358.

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strated, for if placed on a hairy spot of man or beast the hair was extracted, while if it were rubbed over a bald
spot the hair was made to grow.^^^ Probably the appearance of certain minerals covered with fine, hair-like
spines, suggested the idea that the body of the stone had attracted hair to itself, and thus gave rise to this strange
belief in the depilatory power of the stone, or it may have been a form of amber that, owing to its opacity, was not recognized as being the same as the transparent variety.
The Arabic Aristotle relates many wonderful tales of stones found by Alexander the Great during his Asiatic
campaigns (327-323 b.c). While these are all apocryphal, there can be no doubt that it was subsequent to these
campaigns that western Europe was first made familiar with many of the precious stones of Persia and India.
One of the stones reported by "Aristotle" bore the name el behacte or baddare, rendered in a Hebrew version dar
(pearl?). This was the stone that attracted men, as the loadstone attracted iron. A quantity of these stones were
found on the seashore by the soldiers of Alexander's army, but the men were so fascinated by their aspect as to be
unable to gather them up. Therefore Alexander ordered that the soldiers should veil their faces, or close their eyes,
and, after covering the marvellous stones with a cloth, should take them away without once looking at them.
Hereupon Alexander gave commands that a wall should be built around ' ' a certain city. ' ' ^^® Possibly we have
here a distant echo of the pearl gates of the New Jerusalem.
Two other strange stones are described, one of these appearing on the surface of the water only during the night,
while the other shows itself during the daytime and sinks beneath the surface as soon as the sun sets. The "day-

•" Ibid., p. 370.
"" Ibid., p. 379.

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stones," according to the legend, were quite useful to Alexander in his campaigns, for if they were attached to
the necks of horses or beasts of burden, the horses would not neigh, and the other animals would be equally mute as
long as they bore the stones, so that the passage of the army would not be revealed to the enemy.
The "night-stones," on the other hand, produced an entirely opposite effect, for when wearing them the animals
uttered their respective cries unceasingly. "We are not told that Alexander ever used them to provide an animal symphony as martial music for his soldiers.
Referring again to the subject of amber, as the objects placed in Roman sepulchral urns were always chosen
because of some supposed religious or talismanic quality, there is considerable significance in the fact that an urn
of this type, preserved by Cardinal Famese, contained a piece of amber carved into the figure of an elephant.
Coming down to modem times, there is record that the Macdonalds of Glencoe handed down as heirlooms four
amber beads said to cure blindness, and there seems reason to conjecture that this substance was sometimes
credited with being an antidote for the poison of snake-bites, as a small perforated stone used as late as 1874 in
the Island of Lewis for this purpose appears to be a semi-transparent amber.^^^ Indeed, amber set as a jewel to
cure rheumatism is said to be offered for sale in London to-day, and the writer has learned that the late Rev.
Henry Ward Beecher long carried amber beads with him to ward off this malady.

^ Nona Lebour, "Amber and Jet in Ancient Burials," reprint from Transactions of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society, Nov. 27, 1914, pp. 4, 5.

The Magic of Jewels and Charms

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