ashmolean

Finger Ring Collection

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Magical ring

Probably England or possibly Germany

16th/17th century

Gold ring, the circular bezel with a toadstone within scale border edging

18.34 mm internal ring diameter; 6.8 g weight

Bought in London.

Presented by Dr C.D.E. Fortnum in honour of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, 1897; WA1897.CDEF.F817

The toadstone was said to sweat when brought into contact with poison, protect the wearer against kidney disease and keep new-born infants from harm. The stone was believed to come from the head of an old toad, who would relinquish it if the animal was placed in a red cloth. It is, in fact, the palatal tooth of the fossilised fish, Lepidotus and has no association with the toad. Belief in the stone dates back second century A.D. Alexandria. Eighteenth century examples are also known.

Taylor and Scarisbrick, Finger Rings from Ancient Egypt to the present day, 1978, no. 735