Nigel Pennick, The Toadman, Lore and Legend, Rites and Ceremonies of Toadmanry and Related Traditional Magical Practices, Society of Esoteric Endeavour, Hardback 16cm x xi + 130pp Illustrated, some in colour.  Paper used 120 gsm laid conqueror. Numbered limited Edition of 150 copies




The Nature of the Text


The Toadmen were a clandestine rural fraternity famed for their mysterious powers, including the control over horses. The author first learnt of their powers form his grandmother as she recounted an incident from when she was a girl. She had heard how the horse-and-trap of a squire unpopular with the farmworkers was “reisted” ie stopped dead, so the horse would not be budge. The place chosen was a level crossing, where the road crossed a railway track. The horse-and-trap was run down by the Granville Special Express, a fast boat train and the squire killed. Such is the reputation of the Toadmen, who would both heal and hex, and whose path was considered particularly perilous,


Drawing upon folklore and other texts, and private communication from actual Toadmen  Mr. Pennick describes the practice of Toadmanry and places it in the context of the toad in folklore, alchemy, medicine and European religion. All statements are carefully referenced to assist further research.




The chapter headings as follows:-



Frog and Toad Symbolism in Alchemy

Shape-Shifting as a Toad, Toad as a Familiar

Traditional Medicine and Toadmanry

The Bone

Secret Uses of the Bone

Rural Fraternities: Toadmen and Horsemen

Horse Stopping

The Word, The Whisper and the Devil

“Have you seen the Devil”

The Travails of Toadmanry

Putting the Toad on Someone



1. Bones in the Shoemakers Legendarium

2. The Miller’s Word

3. Some Toadmanry in Obeah, Hoodoo and Conjur

4. Other Bone magic and English Horse Skull Performances

5. Speculation upon some Roots of Toadmanry

6. The Examination of John Walsh



Bibliography and Reference







The Binding of the Book



All 150 copies are partially bound in toadskin leather and cloth with labels blocked in pure gold on goatskin. In Britain all toads are rare, extinct in some parts of the country. This leather comes from Australia where the Cane Toad, an alien breed, was introduced to control pests but, without natural predators, became rampant with some areas suffering plague like infestations. This leather is prepared from Cane Toads culled by the local authorities. It has a curious texture, being decidedly warty. However, despite how this sounds, it is by no means unpleasant to the touch.  It seems appropriate that the skin of an animal which can excite such squeamish reactions can sit so comfortably in the hand whilst the book is being read. The spine label and title on the front board are blocked in pure gold on goatskin leather. All copies also feature hand-marbled paper made by Anne Muir Marbling Ltd. and features broad waves across the pattern achieved by thumping the tank whilst the paper takes the ink. This particular manufacturer excels at this technique.





Copies No. 1 – 33 are half bound in real leather:-




These copies have coloured endpapers with a doublure panel of hand-marbled paper on the pastedowns



Copies 1- 33 (in half toadskin leather) Order Ref. TOAD-HALF   















Copies Nos. 34 – 150 are quarter bound in the toadskin



With conventional hand-marbled endpapers.




Every copy, both half and quarter bound have a small toad device blind blocked (ie no colour) somewhere on the book, a different location every book, sometimes being quite hard to find!


Copies 34-150 (in quarter toadskin leather) Order Ref. TOAD-QUARTER






As an optional extra there is a sturdy slipcase featuring panels of the same marbled paper and the same cloth. It has an onlay of a small toad in toadskin leather.







Also available a Slipcase as above, and a chemise (a protective wrap, here made with the same backcloth and marbled paper with the spine in goatskin leather and a label of blind stamped toadskin). This totally protects the book. The chemise first came into use in medieval times, being originally made of animal skin, then cloth. In some ways it may be considered the precursor of the dustwrapper.