It is unclear how Thomas Cooke first heard about the existence of lion balls. It might have been from a servant at a home in Newport that he frequently visited. A lion ball is considered a talisman of courage bestowing upon the owner invincibility. Their description aroused in him a collector’s obsession and sometime in 1849 he booked passage to Kenya to begin his search. Made of the fur licked by the lion off its own body and that of its prey, the balls are disgorged by the dying lion—writhing in its death throes The ball belongs to the warrior who first speared the lion.