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Ref  TS1  Amuletic Toadstone Ring

An exceptionally rare toadstone ring, circa 1700. Toadstone was highly prized for its magical powers and toadstone jewels were listed in the inventories of kings, princes and dukes. Toadstones [which were believed to come from the heads of live toads] were actually the hemispherical crushing teeth of Lepidotus maximus, an extinct genus of ray-finned fish from the Jurassic period. They were considered to be an antidote for poison - when set in a ring they apparently gave 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 child bearing women from fairies and demons and  prevented children from being swapped by fairies 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 silver toadstone ring is size Q and 1/2 [US 8 and 1/4] and the toadstone measures 2/3 of an inch by 2/3 of an inch. The shank bears an amuletic inscription in black enamel taken from the Hymn of the Divine Liturgy, praising God as Lord and everlasting king : AGIOS+QEOS+ATAN.  There are similar examples of toadstone rings in the British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum and the Cheapside Hoard. Believe in magic.

sold 


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An illustration from 1497 depicting the extraction
and use of a toadstone.

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