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Ref  HH9  Sympathetic Magic - An Amuletic Toadstone Ring

No need to ask if the crown was set with precious stones. Topaz and toadstones were set in the diamante along with other various stones, amongst which the ugliest one was the most famous. [Huon de Mery, 1226.]

An exceptionally rare toadstone ring, circa 1700, only the third example I have had in 30 years. Toadstone is an amuletic 'stone' which was highly prized for its magical powers and toadstones are listed in the inventories of princes, dukes and kings. Toadstones [which were believed to come from the heads of live toads], are actually the hemispherical crushing teeth of Lepidotus maximus, an extinct genus of ray-finned fish from the Jurassic period. Toadstones were considered to be an antidote for poison - w
hen set in a ring they would apparently give off heat in the presence of poison. The use of the toadstone was an example of 'like cures like' - toads produce toxins and so stones derived from them supposedly treated all manner of poisons by sympathetic magic. The stone was also thought to protect pregnant women from fairies and demons and to prevent their children being swapped for changelings. In folklore, a toadstone had to be removed from a toad while the creature was still alive to retain its magical power. Topsell [1608] gave instructions on how to remove the stone from a live toad, by placing it on a red cloth and waiting for it to belch out the stone. Lupton [1627] suggested an equally imaginative way to extract the stone : ' Put a great or overgrowne Tode... into an earthen pot, and put the same in an Ants hillocke, and cover the same with Earth, which Toade at length the Ants will eate. So that the bones of the Toade and stone will be left in the Pot...'

This toadstone is set to a high carat gold ring in a rubover setting. The ring is size S [9 and 1/8] and the toadstone measures just under 1/2 an inch by just under 1/3 of an inch. There are similar examples of toadstone rings in the British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum and the Cheapside Hoard. For an excellent and informative article on the history of the toadstone, see The Toadstone - a rather unlikely gem by Christopher Duffin, Society of Jewellery Historians' magazine, Issue 8, Spring 2010.

sold

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A 1497 illustration depicting the extraction and employment of a toadstone.



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