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1.000 years Good Luck Horseshoes

We have thoroughly investigated why horseshoes bring good luck. We discovered that the belief in horseshoes is centuries old and has spread around the world. We thought this was such a special discovery that we made a summary about it. We think this page is the most complete overview you can find on the Internet. If you have any additions or suggestions, I invite you to let us know.

Lucky horseshoe
St. Dunstan with the devil

900

The earliest mention of the Good Luck Horseshoe is found in the story of St. Dunstan. He lived in England between 909 and 988. In a story about him written by Gutenberg, it is said that one evening when St. Dunstan was a blacksmith, the devil came to visit and asked him to get him brand new horseshoes. St. Dunstan quickly realized that it was the devil, and he put one of his red-hot tongs on the devil’s nose. The devil made him promise that he would never enter a house that had a horseshoe in it. We suspect that the Dutch expression “iemand bij de neus nemen” (to trip someone up) was inspired by this story. The king at court was so taken with Dunstan that he immediately appointed him bishop. In one of Gutenberg’s publications there are many beautiful pictures of St. Dunstan and the devil.


Ostrich with a horseshoe in a handwritten book

1000

At that time, books were still written by hand by monks with exquisite illustrations. This was an enormous amount of work, and the Dutch expression “monnikenwerk” refers to this work. The term is used to refer to the work as if it were only suitable for monks. (Printing had not yet been invented). Right next to this text on this page is a picture of an ostrich with a horseshoe in its beak. What makes this image special is the frequent occurrence of the same image on Gale stones and family coats of arms. Even Shakespeare wrote about it in Henry VI, Part II, Jack Cade: “Thou shalt eat iron like an ostrich”. The meaning of the ostrich is still unknown to us.


Family coat of arms Chernihiv

1100

The Chernihiv family (also called Chernitzkoff, Chernichov, Chernichew, Chernichov or Chernychevwas) consisted of famous knights in Poland in the 12th century. Their family coat of arms is the oldest one we could find, which contains a horseshoe. We came across many other family coats of arms that contained a horseshoe but were from later times. The Chernihiv line had a bloody history and was very wealthy. It seems that the horseshoe brought them good luck.


Horseshoes in Oakham Castle
Oakham Castle
Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall visit Rutland

1200

The news of St. Dunstan would have spread like wildfire. A protector against the devil would definitely have been needed there around 1,200. In Rutland, a town in England, there is a castle from 1229, which was immediately completely decorated with horseshoes (and not the smaller ones). Apparently, the devil plagued them a lot at that time. Today, more than 200 horseshoes hang from the castle, all with the closed side facing the sky. According to the administrator, in this way the devil cannot nestle in the horseshoes. The first documented horseshoe was donated by Edward IV in 1470.


Lucky horseshoe coin
Amulet from around 1350

1300

During this time there were many travelers, which was often a dangerous undertaking. Therefore, travelers often carried an amulet. It was believed that it would ward off devils, witches and other mischief. Since 1300, we see the image of a horseshoe on an amulet becoming more common. It was much easier to carry around than a real horseshoe. This amulet was found west of Westminster Abbey in London. It is made of copper, has a diameter of 16.1 mm and weighs 1.2 grams. It was made around 1350.


Beautiful copper engraving with a horseshoe in the master insignia

1400

This beautiful copper engraving dates from 1450 and is in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The description: “The Lamentation of Christ in a shrine with six other representations about the life of Christ”. This is beautiful, but what makes it special is that the engraver put a horseshoe in his master insignia. And the horseshoe has brought him luck: many of his other works are on display in the Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam).


Horseshoe gate with horseshoes
Fatehpur Sikri

1500

Fatehpur Sikri (City of Victory) is famous in India and was founded in 1570 in honor of a Muslim saint. One of the buildings became famous because of its “horseshoe gate”. This is a huge gate that has been completely decorated with used horseshoes over time. We see that the belief in horseshoes in India was adopted from England in just a few centuries. And this belief did not remain in Christianity, but was also adopted by Muslims.


Gable stone in Amsterdam

1600

People all over Europe knew that the devil would not enter houses that were decorated with a horseshoe. A very solid way to do this was to depict the horseshoe in a gable stone. Since 1600, such stones were used more and more often. The bigger and more expensive the house was, the more horseshoes were carved in stone. This is one of the oldest we could find.


Mast of HMS Victory, where the horseshoe can still be seen. 

1700

The sailors were very superstitious! Mermaids, the great octopus, the flying Dutchman – they had enough time to let their imagination run wild. A famous sailor of that time was Admiral Nelson, who won many battles with his ship, HMS Victory. Nelson was also superstitious. He had the crew nail a horseshoe to the mast of every ship he sailed. In the photo in the margin of this text, you can see part of the mast of HMS Victory with the horseshoe still attached. Unfortunately, this horseshoe did not bring Nelson enough luck: he died on the ship by a musket ball from the French at the Battle of Trafalgar.


Still Life Violin and Music, 1888

1800

Art also discovered the horseshoe. Apparently they were so common at this time that horseshoes were incorporated into a still life. This beautiful painting is on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. It was painted by William Harnett. His works are exhibited in many different museums around the world.


1900

We found many more “lucky charms” during this time. We saw this type of paper clip in an auction on eBay (since sold for $ 195).


Postcard 1910

1910

We already have a large collection of old postcards with horseshoes from this period. We have reprinted one set.


George HW Bush, ± 1990

1920

Since 1920 “horseshoe throwing” became popular. This is a sport in which a horseshoe is thrown around an iron stake that is stuck into the ground. We find it unfortunate that real horseshoes are no longer used, but a piece of iron with “hooks” attached to make it easier for the iron to stick to the stakes. At present, the sport is very popular in the USA and Canada.


Howard Clock Corp. electric horse head and horseshoe clock with cast aluminum base circa 1930

1930

Horseshoes are also fashion conscious. Look at this beautiful clock art deco style. It dates back to 1930, so it needs to be wound by hand. On the dial are discreet letters “Good Luck”. A wonderful acquisition for only $99,- on eBay.


Niels Bohr and Albert Einstein.
Photo by Paul Ehrenfest

1940

Science has discovered the lucky horseshoe! Niels Bohr (left in photo), a great scientist and a friend of Albert Einstein (right), was being interviewed by a journalist. The journalist noticed a horseshoe hanging on the wall in Niels’ house and asked in confusion, “But Professor, you as a great scientist are not superstitious, are you?” Niels Bohr replied, “No, certainly not, but they say horseshoes bring good luck even if you don’t believe in them!”


1950

Cars are getting bigger and manufacturers are trying to make them safer with seat belts, disc brakes, and unbreakable windshields. It is likely that this development was the cause of the increased appearance of horseshoes on the front of the car. A Mercedes without horseshoes was hard to find!


“This is the hoop we pee on for good luck before we launch into space.”

1960

Russians are very superstitious. There are strong rumors that the first cosmonaut Joeri Gagarin smuggled a horseshoe on board during his first space flight. If that was the case, it certainly brought him good luck. After his flight, he became a great hero in Russia.


1970

Elvis, still a phenomenon, loved glitz and glamour. In his heyday, he was often seen wearing a fantastic ring with a big horseshoe. The ring also became famous and many replicas were made after it. They are still available for purchase on eBay. This specimen was sold at Christies for $18.000,-.


1980

Tattoos have been almost mandatory since the 80s. While they used to be reserved only for sailors (anchors) and criminals (horseshoes), today you can see the most unusual motifs on the street. Horseshoes are a popular motif, we have seen many remarkably exotic works of art!


Two players of the Colts

1990

Companies are increasingly using a horseshoe in their logos. We have seen hundreds of them. Many of them are very successful companies. Because of the horseshoe? Who really knows. This photo shows two players from the Colts, a very famous football team.


2000

Fashion seems to go a long way… What can we say about these shoes… Beautiful? Terrible? In any case, they are something special!


Arie Gold in Entourage

2010

We had once delivered a giant horseshoe to an American producer. To our amazement, we saw the horseshoe in the series Entourage, where the giant horseshoe hung on the wall in the office of Arie Gold (the protagonist) for an entire season. In the final scene, Arie says goodbye to his company with great discrepancy. The only items he takes with him are a family photo and his “lucky horseshoe”!


Sheraton Huzhou Hot Springs Resort

2015

China opens the horseshoe-shaped Sheraton Huzhou Hot Springs Resort.

Chinese architects made a statement when the Sheraton Huzhou Hot Springs Resort opened in Huzhou, China, next month. The hotel is becoming famous for its unique ring shape, with some calling it the “horseshoe hotel.”

As reported by the Herald Sun, the Sheraton Huzhou Hot Springs Resort was designed by architect Ma Yangsong and built by Shanghai Feizhou Group. The hotel is actually a completed oval with two underground levels connected to the visible donut shape.


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