The hand was where most of Count Petofi's magical power was concentrated, but even without it Count Petofi was able to stay alive for 100 years, on a quest to retrieve and reattach the hand to his body. The hand was kept in a wooden case by the King of the Gypsies, and passed down from generation to generation (766) until it was stolen in 1897 by Magda Rakosi from King Johnny Romano (778) for the purpose of removing the werewolf curse she had placed on Quentin Collins and his male descendants, which she was unaware included her nephew and any male descendants of her niece (763).
Everyone wants the hand
Unfortunately for Magda, she was unaware of the power of the hand or how to control it. Furthermore, several others desired the hand and its powers. The hand was possessed by several people, some of whom used it with various measures of success and horrifying failure.
Magda first used the hand on Charity Trask with positive results (783) before Evan Hanley stole it from her (787). He became severely disfigured when he tried to use it. When Quentin Collins tried to steal the hand from Evan, he lost it to Aristede. Before Aristede could give the hand to Count Petofi, Angelique used her powers to get the hand back at the behest of Quentin in exchange for a promise of marriage (792). Angelique tried to use the hand on Quentin (793) but could not control it, and it disfigured him in the same way it had previously disfigured Evan Hanley.
Next, Julianka, great-granddaughter of the gypsy who put the curse on Count Petofi, tried to use the hand (794), but was killed before she could use it to remove the curse from Quentin (796). The hand was next stolen by Timothy Shaw, who took it to New York.
When Tim Shaw returned from New York, Quentin Collins ransacked his room, but did not find the hand because it was in Amanda Harris' room (812). Tim then gave the hand to Nora Collins, unaware that the original owner of the hand was possessing Jamison Collins's body (813)! Petofi, in Jamison's body, collapsed while attempting to return the hand to the lair where Petofi's physical body had been left in a state of suspended animation. He was found by Quentin and Barnabas Collins in the woods near Collinwood and they took him back to Petofi's immobilized body, having secured assurances from Aristede that once Petofi recovered, he would cure Quentin and Jamison (814). Petofi arose from his slumber with his hand now attached to his body.
Return of the Gypsy King
This did not end the saga of the hand, as King Johnny Romano showed up personally to recover the hand, and to exact vengeance on Magda for stealing the hand and killing Julianka (820). Petofi already feared the gypsies would not rest until they cut his hand off again (815), but he discovered the gypsies were already in Collinsport by accident when he went to show Charity Trask the moment of her death, but instead she saw Aristede being killed by a masked man with a scimitar and Petofi strapped to a chair, with his hand secured, being prepared to have the hand cut off again (819). Petofi has Aristede dig up the corpse of the recently deceased Abraham Howell and cut off his hand. He then takes the hand to Charles Delaware Tate and has him create a counterfeit hand. King Johnny discovers the counterfeit hand as planned and takes it and Magda with him, but discovers the deception (821). King Johnny holds a trial for Magda with a rigged jury of dead murderers (826), but Barnabas saves her before he is able to carry out his sentence. Barnabas tells King Johnny that Petofi has the hand once again and had a spell on Magda preventing her from saying or writing Petofi's name. King Johnny pays Petofi a visit, prepared to cut off the hand again, and kill Petofi this time (827).
In the mid-1980s, following her escape from Strix's attack on Collinwood, Carolyn returned to the House. She met David who asked if she had "it". She then revealed that she had the Hand. Both cousins laughed, seemingly possessed.