The Cleopatra Amulet

She is the only person in the United States who has the famous Cleopatra Amulet, through which you can defy the elements, mock fate and ignore destiny, bend others to your will, win their undying love and constancy, gratify your most cherished wish.
- Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 26 November 1894.

Estelle and several of her contemporaries offered their clients something called the Cleopatra Amulet. Depending on the practitioner, the Cleopatra Amulet might be offered as a good luck charm, a tool for healing diseases, or a talisman to ensure success in business, legal, or social affairs.

To learn more about the Cleopatra Amulet, listen to this episode of How To Be Estelle, or read the transcript below.

Transcript for How to Be Estelle: Cleopatra Amulet

[00:00:00] Narrator: Estelle True-Nell was a remarkable woman. Our modern era has forgotten her, and I think that's too bad. I'd like to introduce you to her amazing life, one career at a time. Along the way, we might pick up a tip or two for ourselves, as we learn How to Be Estelle.

[00:00:25] Narrator: In the 1890s, Estelle True-Nell established herself as a "scientific life reader" - a clairvoyant who could uncover the secrets of your life and tell you what steps you should take to be successful. She was a mind-reading life coach who could help you resolve business, family, and personal issues.

[00:00:44] Estelle: Do you find yourself unable to win those for whom your heart, yearns? Does fortune seem to pass you by? Has your health failed, and do you find yourself void of that life and vigor that's more precious than gold? Do you feel despondent and that life is not a joy, but a burden? Do you need advice?

[00:01:05] Narrator: If you said "yes" to any of those questions, you are in luck, because in this episode, we'll take a look at the special technology Estelle offered to help her customers solve all of those problems, and more: it's the Cleopatra Amulet.

[00:01:22] Narrator: What could the Cleopatra Amulet do for you? Here's a description from one of Estelle's ads:

[00:01:28] Estelle: She's the only person in the United States who has the famous Cleopatra Amulet, through which you can: defy the elements, mock fate and ignore destiny, court danger with impunity, bend others to your will, defy enemies, draw friends nearer to you, win their undying love, gratify your most cherished wish, penetrate the minds of others, attain to the highest flights of your ambition and realize the wildest hopes that lie within the limit of human possibility.

[00:01:57] Narrator: I know, I know. If things aren't going so well for you, you might wonder whether it's a good idea to defy the elements, court danger, ignore destiny, and mock fate. Some of the ads were a little more conservative -- they said you could "almost" do those things with the help of the amulet.

[00:02:14] Narrator: But if, like me, you're thinking, "Why not? I'd like to realize the wildest hopes that lie within the limit of human possibility," your first step is to obtain the famous Cleopatra Amulet.

[00:02:28] Narrator: Now, that actually could be easier than you might think. As it turns out, in addition to Estelle, there were several other people in the United States during that time who also claimed to be the only true possessors of the Cleopatra Amulet. So far, I've counted at least eight of those in the early 1890s, although I do think a couple of them are Estelle operating under different names. Still, it did make me wonder exactly how much of Cleopatra's jewelry ended up in the American Midwest.

[00:02:59] Narrator: A clairvoyant in Chicago named Madame Rosa, was one of the first to advertise the amulet. She said,

[00:03:05] Madame Rosa: Your life will be made brighter, happier, and a path marked out, by following which you will attain the full realization of your fondest hopes. If you would be successful in love, marriage, business, lawsuits, speculation, or to bring the estranged together, wear the Cleopatra amulet, prepared in America only by Madame Rosa.

[00:03:25] Narrator: There's something to be said for an American-made Egyptian magic amulet. Madame LeChere, who was offering her services in Minnesota and Wisconsin, also claimed to own the amulet and said that it was worn by nearly every crowned head in Europe, Africa, India, and Asia. She let us in on the secrets of the amulet's construction:

[00:03:47] Madame LeChere: The ingredients entering into the composition of the amulet are extracted from a serpent inhabiting the river Nile. The serpent is noted for the peculiar manner in which it secures its prey without coming in contact with it.

[00:04:00] Narrator: I'll admit that that making a Cleopatra amulet does NOT sound like a D-I-Y project to me, but a trip to the Nile to extract power from a mysterious, hypnotic water serpent could be an amazing summer vacation, if that's your preference.

[00:04:16] Narrator: It also might not be cheap. Madame Le Chere had her Cleopatra amulet stolen by a robber on the street in Minneapolis in 1892. She offered a reward for its return, and the crime attracted regional news coverage.

[00:04:30] Narrator: When Madame Le Chere returned to Minneapolis a year later, she claimed to have a new Cleopatra Amulet which had cost her $5,000 in American gold and silver. That would be about $170,000 today. According to Madame, the new amulet had the additional ability to help her identify political candidates who would be elected in the state of Minnesota. So, totally worth it, right?

[00:04:57] Narrator: However you become the one-and-only owner of the Cleopatra Amulet, your next step is to identify your heart's desire. How do you want the amulet help you?

[00:05:08] Narrator: For many customers, the Cleopatra Amulet represented a sure path to another person's heart. Madame LeChere called the amulet:

[00:05:17] Madame LeChere: "that secret for the opposite sex which no person can resist. Through the aid of the amulet, young and pretty maidens can be made to love old and wrinkled bachelors."

[00:05:29] Narrator: Professor Joseph took the Cleopatra amulet and other charms with him from Chicago to San Francisco, where he advertised an Egyptian Love Charm for the unmarried maid or gentleman, guaranteed to cause speedy marriages.

[00:05:44] Narrator: If romance isn't on your mind, the amulet might still be just the thing for you. Both Estelle and Professor Litten of St. Paul, Minnesota, claimed that the amulet, enables you to "preserve health and cure many diseases by restoring the animal magnetism so many are lacking."

[00:06:03] Narrator: Professor Joseph also offered a special Egyptian business charm,

[00:06:08] Professor Joseph: guaranteed for complete success in business for 365 days.

[00:06:14] Narrator: He had an Egyptian Law Charm,

[00:06:17] Professor Joseph: good for lawsuits, recovery of lost estates and damages,

[00:06:21] Narrator: and an Evil Influence Charm,

[00:06:24] Professor Joseph: to cut the power of others that hold any bad or evil wish against you.

[00:06:28] Narrator: Still, just as it is today, in the 1890s, love was often the answer -- especially when it came to lost love. Mrs. Dr. Legrave advertised that "the wonderful Egyptian breastplate worn for luck and successful business enterprises," could be used to reunite the separated and cause lost affections to return.

[00:06:48] Narrator: Another life reader in Denver, who also happened to have the one and only Cleopatra Amulet, claimed it was "the only sure restoration of truant husbands, wives, and lovers."

[00:07:02] Narrator: Now, in the interest of transparency, I should warn you that not everyone appreciated the power of the Cleopatra Amulet. In 1888, Madame Maree of Chicago said, "Don't advertise the Cleopatra amulet to bring back the absent. Common sense knows better." Instead, Madame Maree offered "a genuine Roman charm, made of frankincense, for good luck."

[00:07:28] Narrator: Whether you prefer Roman or Egyptian good luck charms, you might be asking: Why Cleopatra? It was not unusual for those advertising in the Clairvoyants column of the newspaper to reach for things they considered exotic, and Cleopatra herself was a hot topic in the American Midwest in the early 1890s. The great Sarah Bernhardt and several other famous actresses toured the country in plays that claimed to depict Cleopatra's life. The Los Angeles Herald reported standing ovations at each performance and said, "Her costumes were marvelous, and the general scenic effect of the play was grand."

[00:08:06] Narrator: Following that trend, in addition to the amulet and her other services, Madame Rosa offered "Cleopatra pearl-drops for a perpetual youthful appearance."

[00:08:17] Narrator: There's no doubt that Cleopatra meant attraction and mystery. With all that press, and the promise of something extra to bring good luck, it's really no wonder that people sought a bit of Cleopatra's charm, strategy, and magic.

[00:08:31] Narrator: If you're thinking all this sounds a little too mysterious for you, the many owners of the Cleopatra Amulet would like to reassure you. Professor J. Jefferson assured his customers that the magnetic power of the amulet was strong, but perfectly safe and harmless.

[00:08:50] Professor Jefferson: It causes happy marriages and removes coldness and indifference between husband and wife. Lovers find in the charm a secret and confidential agency, working for their mutual interests and producing results so pleasing and gratifying that they are profuse in its praise.

[00:09:02] Narrator: The Professor claimed that even ministers of the gospel sent for his wonderful Egyptian Charm, and marveled at its power. Alongside the amulet, Madame Mozart offered her customers a free cure for corns and bunions with every visit. After all, it is hard to realize your wildest hopes when your feet hurt.

[00:09:24] Madame LeChere: Stop and think! You know these things are true. Can you afford to disregard them? Don't wreck your fond hopes and prospects of life. It will be to your advantage to consult her, and she will show you the straight road to wealth, health and happiness.

[00:09:38] Professor Joseph: It gives you an influence over the opposite sex, and secures you against misfortune, and urges you on to victory in the field of life.

[00:09:45] Narrator: Doesn't that sound good? After learning all of this, of course I went looking for Cleopatra amulets. Although I did not find a picture or even a description of the actual amulet itself, to my surprise, I did find several modern-day Cleopatra amulets. Now, none of them claim any of the magical properties that Estelle and her colleagues offered, but Cleopatra is clearly still a style icon, and for that, Etsy and Google have you covered.

[00:10:17] Narrator: It probably won't surprise you to learn that the Cleopatra amulet was not the only tool in Estelle's clairvoyant toolbox. She also claimed to have invented a device called the Transmitter of Thought, and she claimed that Mr. Thomas Edison himself had built the device for her.

[00:10:35] Narrator: We'll look at that technology next time, on How to Be Estelle.

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