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The Alchemists

The following information and images pertain to holdings on Alchemy within the collections of the Lloyd Library and Museum. Books below are arranged chronologically. In some cases we have a volume that has no illustrations - these books can be found on the exhibit resources page (see link above) under Primary Source listings.


Jabir ibn HaiyanJabir ibn Haiyan (at left) is most commonly known as the father of chemistry (and one of several identified as such). He lived in the late 8th century, dying in roughly 803 CE, is also considered the father of Islamic alchemy. He explored methods of extraction and purification of various compounds, including "royal acid" which was used to dissolve gold. He also did extensive work, still relevant today, on poisons and antidotes.

frontispiecto Jabir's book on Arab chemistryConfusion surrounds the works of Jabir, known in Europe as Geber, as many later works have been attributed to him. In fact, from the 10th century forward, there were doubts as to the authenticity of works being published using Jabir's name. It seems unlikely that these were all new and/or updated editions of works by Jabir and more likely that less well-known alchemists and chemists were using his name to gain legitimacy in their own scientific explorations. The Lloyd owns the following 1668 edition of Jabir's work.

Gebri Arabis Chimia, sive, Traditio summæ perfectionis et investigatio magisterii innumeris locis emendata / à Caspare Hornio; accessit ejusdem Medulla alchimiae Gebricae Omnia edita à Georgio Hornio. Lugduni Batavorum: apud Arnoldum Doude, 1668. Shown at right is the frontipiece to this volume.

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Frontispiece and title page of GeberGeber, of the 13th century, might be the same as Jabir ibn Hayyan, the famed Arab alchemist. However, there is some question as to whether the later publications attributed to Jabir are actually by him, or whether some person or persons borrowed his name to gain legitimacy in the field of alchemy. The later works are definitely based on Islamic alchemical teachings, but no originals have ever been located. This is the source of the question of authenticity relating to authorship.

Geber. Summa perfectionis magisterii. German. or Curieuse vollständige chymische Schrifftë ...: Wie auch das Testament, Güldene [sic] Buch der dreyen Wörter Kallid Rachaidibi, und andere chymische Tractätgen ... /calles aus einen uhralten MSS [sic] genommen ... und an Tag gegeben von Phileletha. Frankfurth und; Leipzig: Heiron. Philipp. Ritschel, 1710. Above right is the frontispiece and title page from the volume; below are two images showing various laboratory equipment and storage pieces.

Page 93 of Geber showing a stillPage 102 of Geber showing a man lifting the lid from a jar

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Albertus Magnus, one of the possible authors of Alchimistisch Sieben-GestirnAlchimistisch Sieben-Gestirn: Das ist, sieben schöne und auserlesene Tractätlein, vom Stein der Weisen, darinn der richtige Weg zu solchem allerhöchsten Geheimniss zu kommen hell und klar gezeiget wird / Aus dem Latein ins Deutsche übersetzt. Frankfurt am Mayn: Joh. Friedrich Fleischer, 1756. Though this is a 1756 publication, it is likely a reprint of a much earlier work. The author is not definitively known and it could be one of several well-known alchemists, including Albertus Magnus (1193-1280, depicted at left), Hermes, Trismegistus, Raimundus Lullus (1232-1315), Aristotle, John Dastin, or Johannes Pontanus.

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Nicolas Flamel lived from about the 1330s until 1418. he was a French scribe and manuscript seller who after his death gained a reputation as an alchemist due to his work on the Title page from Flamel's Chemical WorkPhilosopher's Stone. The introduction to his work indicates that he was probably one of the most accomplished alchemists of his day in Europe. He supposedly succeeded in making the Philsopher's Stone, which could turn lead into gold, and he created the Elixir of Life, through which Flamel and his wife purportedly achieved immortality. Seen here at left is the title page from a 1681 printing of Flamel's work.

Des berühmten Philosophi Nicolai Flamelli Chymische Werke: als 1. Das güldene Kleinod der hierogliphischen Figuren; 2. Das Kleinod der Philosophiae; 3. Summarium philosophicum; 4. Die grosse Erklärung des Steins der Weisen zur Verwandelung aller Metallen; 5. Schatz der Philosophiae / dem Liebhabern der Kunst aus dem Französchen in das Teutsche über gesetzt von J. L. M. C. [Johann Lange, medicinae candidatum] Hamburg, [Germany]: Verlegung Johann Adolph Hirtels, 1681.

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Page 12 of Norton - Alchemy RevealedThomas Norton, born in the 15th century, was a native of Bristol, England, and an alchemist. He served as a member of Edward IV's Privy Chamber and served for several embassies. He likely learned alchemy from George Ripley, a famous 15th century alchemist. Norton claimed to have made the elixir of life page 44 of Norton showing the great alchemiststwice, but both times it was "stolen" before he could reveal it to others. His Ordinall has been printed many times and is included in the work of others, including that of Michael Maier (see below). The Lloyd's copy of Norton's work is an early 20th century reprint.

The ordinall of alchimy / by Thomas Norton of Bristoll, being a facsimile reproduction from Theatrum chemicum britannicum with annotations by Elias Ashmole; with introduction by E.J. Holmyard. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins Company, 1929.

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Frontispiece from Valentinus' 1677 work depicting Basilius Valentinus Basilius Valentinus (depicted at left, from the frontispiece of a 1677 work by him) was allegedly a 15th-century alchemist. Some assert that he was the Canon of the Benedictine Priory of Sankt Peter in Erfurt, Germany, but there is no written evidence to support these claims. In later centuries, there was suggested the possibility that Valentinus was actually one Johann Thölde.

Title page from Valentinus' 1606 work.Regardless of his actual identity, there were many publications on alchemy in both Latin and German which were published under the name Basil Valentine. They have been translated into many European languages, including English, French, Russian and others. The Lloyd holds the following three works by him.

Basilius Valentinus. Gründtliche Ausslegung vnd Warhaffte Erklärung der Rythmorum Fratris Basilii Valentini Monachi, von der Materia, ihrer Geburt, Alter, Farb, Qualitet, und Namen, des grossen Steins der Vhralten Philosophen. Zu Tübingen: in der Cellischen Truckerey, 1606. Title page at right.

_____. Les douze clefs de philosophie ... Traictant de la vraye medicine metalique: plus l'Azoth, ou le moyen de faire l'Or caché des philosophes. Traduction francoise. A Paris: Chez Pierre Moët, 1659.

Tittle from Douze ClefsKey 3 of Valentinus' 1659 workTitle from the Azoth work by Valentinus
Title page and key three illustration from Douze Clefs and title page from Azoth

Page 40 from Valentinus' 1677 Chymische Schriften_____. Fr. Basilii Valentini Benedictiner Ordens Chymische Schriften alle, so viel derer verhanden, anitzo zum ersten Mahl zusammen gedruckt, auss vielen so wol geschriebenen als gedruckten Exemplaren vermehret und verbessert und in zwey Theile verfasset. Hamburg: In Verlegung Johann Naumans und Georg Wolff, 1677.

Page 40 illustration at right.

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painting of Paracelsus by Quentin Massys, a 15th century painterParacelsus (1493-1541, Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, painting of Paracelsus shown at left by Quentin Massys, a 15th century painter) was Swiss-born. He was a physician, botanist, alchemist, and astrologer. He took the name Paracelsus, which means equal to or greater than Celsus, Celsus being a 1st century Roman physician.

The Rosicrucians claimed that Paracelsus was the true identity of the mythical alchemist Christian Rosenkreuz. He is also credited with the saying, "the dose makes the poison," and while this is likely not true, it is something he believed. Like many other physicians of his day, though he did not hold to beliefs in magic, he was a practicing astrologer, which is reflected in his writings. Furthermore, Paracelsus lead the way in the use of chemicals and minerals in medicine.

Unfortunately, he gained a reputation for arrogance and was not well-liked by his fellow physicians. He was even forced to leave a university position because of this, though he might have argued that this freed him to travel and make the world his university. Paracelsus travelled throughout Europe, Africa, and the Mediterranean basin searching for new knowledge. After his death, many seized on using his practices in opposition to Galenic medical practice.

The Lloyd holds a 19th century reprint of his alchemical writings.

The Hermetic and alchemical writings of Aureolus Philippus Theophrastus Bombast of Hohenheim, called Paracelsus the Great: now for the first time faithfully translated into English / edited with a biographical preface, elucidatory notes, a copious Hermetic vocabulary and index by Arthur Edward Waite. London: J. Elliott and Co., 1894.

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Title page to volume 1 of gratarolo's work on transmutation of metalsGuglielmo Gratarolo (1516?-1568?) was an Italian physician and alchemist. The Lloyd holds a 1750 German translation of his two volume work on transmutation of base metals into gold.

Gratarolo, Guglielmo. Turba philosophorvm: das ist, das Buch von der güldenen Kunst, neben andern Auctoribus, welche mit einander 36. Bücher ausmachen, darinnen eben andern Auctoribus, welche mit einander 36. Bücher ausmachen, darinnen der besten urältesten philosophorum Schriften zusammen getrage ... / in die deutsche Sprache übersetzt und heraus gegeben durch Philippum Morgenstern, Islebiensem. Wienn: Verlegts Johann Paul Krauss, 1750. Title page from volume 1 of this work shown at left.

 

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Title page from PantheoGiovanni Agostino Pantheo (ca. 1517-1535) was a Venetian priest and alchemist who wrote against fraudulent alchemy. By this time, there were many false practitioners of the science, and it was difficult to tell the genuine practitioners from the fakes.

Ars et theoriatransmutationis metallicae cum Voarchadúmia, proportionibus,numeris, pages 47 and 48 from Pantheo& iconibus rei accommodis illustrata. [Paris]: Veneunt apud Vivantium Gautherotium in via Iacobea sub intersignio Sancti Martini, 1550.

Shown are the title page and one of the book's several illustrations and charts.

 

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Page 3 of Ulstadius, QuomodoPhilippus Ulstadius (ca. 16th century) was a native of Nuremburg, Germany. He taught medicine at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland in the early 16th century. His alchemical book, Coelum philosophorum, seu, De secretis naturae liber, meaning The Philosopher's Sky, or the Book of the Secrets of Nature, was first published there in 1525 and went through many reprintings.

Coelum philosophorum, seu secreta naturae: id est, quomodo non solum e vino, sed etiam ex omnibus metallis, fructibus, carne, ovis, radicibus, herbis, & aliis quam plurimis quinta essentia, sive aqua vitae, ad conservationem humani corporis debeat educi ... Paris: V. Gaultherot, 1544.

Page 3 is shown here, at left.

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Leonhard Thurneisser (1531?-1596?) was at one time a scholar at the court of Brandenberg. His father was a goldsmith, and so Thurneisser developed a natural interest in mineralogy and alchemy. He also learned about herbs and preparation of medicines, which fed into his alchemical interests. He presented himself as an expert on pharmacy, chemistry, metallurgy, alchemy, and a few other fields. He ran his own printing press and was well-known for printing in multiple languages; he printed and sold astrological calendars, and made and sold his own medicines. These made him a rich man, but he eventually lost his fortune and died impoverished. Thurneisser was an adherent of Paracelsian medical theory and some of his publications indicate that fact.

The Lloyd holds the following two titles by Thurneisser, which were printed and bound in the same volume.

Onomasticum title page[Melitsah] kai hermeneia: das ist ein Onomasticvm vnd Interpretatio oder aussführliche Erklerung / Leonharten Thurneyssers zum Thurn ... uber etliche frembde vñ (bey vielen Hochgelarten, die der lateinischen vnd griechischen Sprach erfahren) vnbekante Nomina, Verba, Prouerbia, Dicta, Sylben, Caracter, und sonst Reden; deren nicht allein in des theuren Philosophi vnd Medici Aurelij, Theophrasti, Paracelsi von Hohenheim, sondern auch in anderer Authorum Schrifften hin vnd wider weitleufftig gedacht, welche hie zusammen nach dem Alphabet verzeichnet; das ander Theil, in welchem fast jedes Wort mit seiner eigenen Schrifft, nach der Völcker Etymologia oder eigenen Art vnd Weis zureden, beschrieben worden ist. Gedruckt zu Berlin: durch Nicolaum Voltzen, 1583. Title page at left.

[Megale chymia], vel Magna alchymia: das ist ein Lehr vnd vnterweisung von den offenbaren vnd verborgenlichen Ppage 12, showing movement of planets, from OnomasticumNaturen, Arten vnd Eigenschafften, allerhandt wunderlicher Erdtgewechssen ... Vnd was der dingen zum theil hoch in den Lüfften, zum theil in der Tieffe der Erden, vnd zum theil in den Wassern ... zu einer Wesentlichen materia digerirt, coagulirt, oder præparirt ... vnd wie, oder welcher gestalt, oder auff was weiss vñ wege, deren ein jedes, mit zusatz des andern, durch Menschlichen Handgriff, oder den Vsum (Dieser sehr alten Kunst) eintweders in ein Liquorem, Oehl, Saltz, Stein, Wasser, Schwefel, Mercurium oder andere Mineren vnd Metall verwandelt, oder sonst zum nutz, gebrauch vnd wolstandt, Menschlichs zeitlichs Lebens zugericht vnd bereitet wird / Welches alles durch Leonharten Thurneissern zum Thurn von Basel ... mit sonderlichem vnkosten, vleis vnd arbeit am tag geben. Gedruckt zu Berlin: Durch Nicolaum Voltzen, 1583.

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Title page from Maier's Chymisches CabinetMichael Maier (1568?-1622) was one of the greatest adepts of his time. Born at Rensburg in Holstein, Maier trained as a physician, becoming the court physician to Emperor Rudolph II. He was eventually convinced of the truths of alchemy and travelled all over Germany in search of its mysteries and wrote extensively on it. Maier was also an enthusiastic supporter of the Rosicrucians at a time when they were being persecuted maier lesson 14by the state. He supposedly went on to form his own mystical organization, though this is not certain. The volume by him on alchemy at the Lloyd, a 1708 edition, has over 50 illustrations, one each showing the 50 lessons of alchemy. Only a few are shown here.

Michaelis Majeri, Imperial. Consistor. Comit. ... Chymisches Cabinet, derer grossen Geheimnussen der Natur: durch wohl ersonnene sinnreiche Kupfferstiche und Emblemata ... aber zum ersten mahl in das Hochteutsche übersetzet ist / von G.A.K. der Philosophischen Künsten Liebhabern .. Franckfurt: Verlegts Georg Heinrich Oehrling, 1708.

Maier lesson 17 - the spheres of fireMaier lesson 22 - Saturn's snowsMaier lesson 45 - the sun's full shadow

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page 16 of Nazari, showing a donkey playing a fluteNazari, Giovanni Battista. Della tramvtatione metallica sogni tre / di Gio. Battista Nazari Bresciano; nel primo d'i quali si tratta della falsa tramutatione solfistica; nel secondo della utile tramutatione detta reale usuale; nel terzo della diuina tramutatione detta reale filosofica; con un copiose indice per ciascun sogno de gl'auttori, & opre c'hanno sopra cio trattato. In Brescia: Appresso Francesco, et Piet. Maria Marchetti Fratelli, 1572.

Page 40Nothing is known of Giovanni Battista Nazari, other than that he was publishing in the late 16th century. It is possible that a theatre in Cremona, Italy, was founded by one of Nazari's descendents, Giovanni Battista Nazari, in the 18th century, but it is not known for certain.

There are many interesting illustrations in the volume, two of which are shown here. Above left is an image of a donkey playing a flute with people dancing arounud him, and at right a man reclines on the ground.

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Title page from Kieser's Cabala chymicaFranz Kieser was a late 16th and early 17th century Jewish Alchemist. Little else can be determined about him.

Kieser, Franz. Cabala chymica. Concordantia chymica. Azot philosoph. solificatum. Drey vnterschiedliche, nützliche, vnd zuvor nie aussgegangene Tractätlein, ohn welcher Hülff niemandt in Ewigkeit chymiam veram verstehen, noch das summum Arcanum erlernen wirdt. In welcher I. Der rechte Grundt vnnd Fundament aller natürlichen vnd vbernatürlichen Dingen erkläret wirdt. Im II. Viel schöner Vergleichungen vnnd Vbereynstimmngen [sic] Kieser's illustration of the two lightsetlicher alten vnnd newen philosophischen Schrifften, von wahrer Bereytung dess philosophischen Steins, colligiret von H. Alexandro von Süchten ... Im III. Augenscheinliche Erklärung aller vnd jeder Particularitäten, fürnembsten Handtgriffen vnnd Vortheylen, ad conficiendum azot philosoph. necessaria, so Georgius Clettus ... selbst inn praxi wahr oder falsch befunden, von jhm einem guten Freunde in Missiven communiciert. Jetzo aber allen filiis doctrinae zu besonderm Nutzen vnd Gefallen an Tag geben, von Francisco Kiesero. Mülhausen: Bey M. Spiessen, in Verlegung J. Spiessen, &c., 1606. Title page above left, and one of several of the book's illustrations above right.

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Figure 10 from SlociusStolcius de Stolcenberg, Daniel. Viridarium chymicum. German. and Chymisches Lustgärtlein: Mit schönen in Kupsser geschnittenen Figuren gezieeret/auch mit Poetischen Gemalden illustrirt und erleutert. Also das es nicht allein Augen und Gemüt er quictet sondern zugleich Figure 25 frpm Slociuseine sehr tieffe betrachtung der natürlichen Dinge ermecter so in Dieser ablengs form zu einem Stammbuch guter freund Dienlish und bequem tan gebraucht merden / Beschrieben von Daniele Stoltzio de Stoltzenberg; Nunmehr aber aus dem Lateinischen transferirt und in gemonliche teutsche Rhythmos bracht / Durch Danielem Meisnern von Commentham. Franckfurt: In Derlegung Lucæ Iennis, 1624.

No details are known of Stolcius, though the volume is quite nicely illustrated.

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Hermetis Trismegisti title pageHermes Trismegistus means "thrice-great Hermes" and symbolizes the combination of the Greek god Hermes with that of the Egyptian god Thoth, who the Greeks in Hellenistic Egypt recognized as one and the same being. Thoth and Hermes were gods of writing and magic, and in combination form was the patron of astrology and alchemy. Additionally, both gods had duties to guide souls into the afterlife. Eventually, Hermes and Thoth were joined by a third individual, the Egyptian scribe Amenhotep, who was deified as a god of science, wisdom and medicine. Eventually, Hermes Trismegistus came to be associated with an actual historical figure and certain alchemical writings were attributed to this "person." In 1610, Dominicii Gnosius published an annotated version of the Hermetis Trimegisti, which is held by the Lloyd.

Hermetis Trismegisti Tractatus vere aureus, De Lapidis philosophici secreto: in capitula septem divisus / nunc verò à quodam anonymo, scholiis ... illustratus ... operâ & studio Dominici Gnosii Belgae ... in lucem editus. Lipsiae: T. Schureri, 1610. Title page shown at left.

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Page 13 of tractatus de Natura SaliumJohann Rudolf Glauber (1604-1670) was a German-Dutch alchemist and chemist, the son of a barber from Karlstadt am Main. Some consider him to be one of the first chemical engineers. He received little to no formal education but learned by experience through studying in pharmacies and laboratories. In time, Glauber established his own pharmaceutical manufacturing company in Amsterdam, though eventually he went bankrupt. Glauber was involved both in actual pharmaceutical production as well as the chemical industry, in general, which he favored as a means to economic recovery in the years after the Thirty Years' War.

The Lloyd holds numerous titles by Glauber, who wrote at least some 40 books on chemistry, alchemy, and the chemical industry.

Title page to Miraculum MundiMiraculum mundi, oder, Aussführliche Beschreibung der wunderbaren Natur, Art, und Eigenschafft des grossmächtigen subjecti von den alten Menstruum universale oder Mercurius philosophorum genandt ... Amsterdam: [s.n.], 1653. Title page at left.

Miraculi mundi. Continuatio: darinnen die ganze Natur entdecket, und der Weldt nackent und bloss vor Augen gelegt ... Amsterdam: J. Jansson, 1657.

Tractatus de natura salium. Oder Aussfürliche Beschreibung, deren bekanten Salien, vnterscheiden, Natur, Eigenschafft, ven Gebrauch, vnd absonderlich von einem, der Welt noch gantz vmbekantem wunderliche Saltze ... Sambt angehängtem Tractätlein, De signaturä salium, metallorum, & planetarum ... Ambsterdam, J. Jansson, 1658. See page 13 above right.

Miraculi mundi. Ander Theil ... Amsterdam: J. Jansson, 1660.

Reicher Schatz- und Sammelkasten, oder, Appendix generalis: uber alle dessen heraussgegebene Bücher ... Amsterdam: J. Jansson, 1660.

Novum lumen chimicum; oder, Eines new-erfundenen und der Weldt noch niemahlen bekandgemachten hohen Secreti Offenbahrung: dardurch ... gezeiget wird, dasz in der gantzen Welt, so wohl in den Kalten, als hitzigen Landen allenthalben guth zu finden, und mit nutzen herausz zu ziehen .. Ambsterdam, Bey Johan Jansson vom Waesberge und Elizee Weyerstraet, 1664.

Kurtze Erklährung uber die hällische Göttin Proserpinam, Plutonis Haussfrawen: was die philosophische Poäten als Ovidius, Virgilius, und andere darduch verstanden haben; und wie durch Hülff dieser Proserpinae die Seelen der abgestorbenen metallischen Leibern auss der chemischen Höllen in den philosophischen Himmel geführet werden ... Amsterdam: J. Jansson von Waesberge und der Witwe Elizaei Weyerstraet, 1667.

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Philalethes title pageEirenaeus Philalethes (meaning "peaceful lover of truth") was a 17th century alchemist who authored many important alchemical works. The likes of Isaac Newton and John Locke, among many others, were readers of Philalethes. Newton was especially influenced by him and much of Philalethes, though modified extensively by Newton, can be seen in Newton's own alchemical writings.

Eirenaeus Philalethes is not the author's real name and there is a great deal of speculation about his true identity. Most researchers now believe that George Starkey (1628-1665) is the real Philalethes. Starkey, having been born in Bermuda, was an American alchemist and physician who wrote extensively and had wide influence, including on Robert Boyle and Newton. It is thought that after he moved from the Americas to London in 1650 that he began using the pseudonym. Starkey was well-known in England as an alchemist and chemical furnace maker and was well-connected to the scientific community. He was also active in producing medicinal remedies and working on the elusive transmutation of metals which captured the attention of so many alchemists. As an inventor of pharmaceuticals, he likely wanted to keep his trade secrets from prying eyes, and it is probably for this reason that he began writing under an assumed name at this point. He continued on with varying degrees of success, but finally succumbed to an outbreak of the Plague in 1665.

The Lloyd holds two of Philalethes works, of which the title page to the second volume is shown above left.

Des hochgelahrten Philalethae Drey schöne und auserlesene Tractätlein von Verwandelung der Metallen: samt Wigands vom Rothen Schilde ... befügtem Tractätlein, genannt Die Herrligkeit der Welt / den Liebhabern der hermetischen Weisshiet zu sonderbahren Gefallen auff Begehren aus dem Lateinischen ins Teutsche übersetzet von Johanne Langen. Hamburg: In Verlegung Christian Guths; Jena: Druckts Johann Nisius, 1675.

Erklärung der hermetisch poetischen Werke Herrn Georgii Riplaei ... / Aus dem Englischen übersetzet. Hamburg: G. Richter, 1741.

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Title page of Nodus Sophicus and Kinder-bettNodus sophicus enodatus: Das ist, Erläuterung etlicher vornehmen philosophischen Schrifften und Tractaten vom Stein der Weisen, nach dem Lauff der Natur zusammen gewunden und verknüpffet, nunmehr aber in diesen letzten Zeiten, nach erschienener Morgenröthe der Weissheit und eingetretenen seculo Eliae Aristae [sic] den filiis doctrinae hermeticae zum besten auffgelöset und erkläret / durch einen treuen teutschen Philosophum und Liebhabern der Natur gemäsen chymischen Kunst und verborgenen Weissheit Gottes. Hamburg, [Germany]: G. Liebernickel, 1692.

Kinder-bett des Steins der Weisen / durch einen unbekandten Chevalier in Frantzösischer Sprache beschreiben; und nun aus dem Frantzösischen ins Teutsche übersettzet durch J.L.M.C. [Johann Lange, medicinae candidatum] Hamburg: Verlegts Gottfried Liebernickel, 1692.

As the information in the title implies, the author of this work is unknown. It is likely the second part of the work called Nodus sophicus enodatus, but the contents were translated by Johann Lange.

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Title page from WaitzJacob Waitz was a 17th century alchemist and physician in Gotha, where he also served as mayor. it is possible that he published some additional alchemical writings under an assumed name, Dorothea J. Wallich.

Bedencken uber die wahre Alchymiam oder die Universalität des trocknen und feuchten Weges. Gotha: [C. Reyher] for A. Boëtius, 1696.

Title page is shown at right.

 

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frontispiece from MeurdracMarie Meurdrac (1600s) wrote one of the first works on chemistry by a woman. The closest known antecedent are the works of Maria the Jewess some 1600 years prior. The work focuses on chemistry, alchemy, and simples (medicinal herbs). It is thought that she was a chemist/alchemist as well as a physician. Aside from a Meurdrac title pagedecorative frontispiece, the lone illustration in the volume is an alchemical table of some 106 symbols, with a table of weights used in medicine. The book is squarely based on alchemical principles, in that all substances are assumed to be formed from salt, sulfur, and mercury, in various amounts. Meurdrac was well aware of how tenuous was her position as a woman in this field and assumed that her book would not be popular or well-received. This was not the case, fortunately. The images here are from the 3rd edition of her book, printed in 1711, nearly 50 years after the first printing (1666)

Meurdrac, Marie. La Chymie charitable et facile: en faveur des dames. 3rd edition. Paris: Laurent d'Houry, 1711.

alchemical chart from MeurdracA sonnet to Marie Meurdrac

Meurdrac's Alchemical chart and a sonnet written to her published in the 1711 edition of her chemistry work.

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Title page from Wedel's Gold-MachenGeorg Wolfgang Wedel (1645-1721) was born in Golssen, Germany, the son of a pastor. Wedel became a physician, graduating from the University at Jena. He practiced medicine, pharmaceutical chemistry, as well as alchemy. While Wedel spent much of his time working in pharmaceutical chemistry and published extensively in that field, he also believed strongly in the possibility of transmutating metals, and so he also published in alchemy. The Lloyd holds several of Wedel's pharmacological writings, as well as the following alchemical work.

D. Georg Wolffgang Wedels ... Vernünfftige Gedancken vom Gold-Machen / nebst einer vorrede D. Christian Gottfried Stentzels. Wittenberg, [Germany]: Bey Carl Siegemund Henningen, 1734.

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Page 171 of WellingGeorg von Welling (1652-1727) was a Bavarian alchemist and theosophist. His professional training was in the mining industry, and Welling was the Director in the Baden-Durlacher Office of Building and Mines. However, he is best known for his Opus mago-cabbalisticum, which was first published in 1719 under the pseudonym Gregorius Anglus Sallwigt.

Ppage 342 of WellingHerrn Georgii von Welling Opus mago-cabbalisticum et theosophicum darinnen der Ursprung, Natur, Eigenschaffen und Gebrauch des Salzes, Schwefels, und Mercurii in dreyen Theilen beschrieben. Frankfurt: in der Fleischerischen buchhandlungen, 1784.

Shown here are pages 171 and 342, illustrating various astrological aspects essential to the practice of alchemy.

 

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Title page from Le Triomphe hermetiqueLe Triomphe hermetique, ou, La pierre philosophale victorieuse: traitte' plus complet & plus intelligible, qu'il y en ait eu jusques ici, touchant le magistere hermetique. A Amsterdam: Chez Henry Wetstein, 1689.

There is no author attribution to this title and it is possible that it is related to some kind of secret society. There is a reference to the Ancient Order of Knights, but little other information is provided.

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Title page from Physica subterraneaJohann Joachim Becher (6 May 1635 - October 1682) was a German physician, alchemist, scholar and adventurer, born in Speyer to a Lutheran minister and his wife. The death of his father meant that Becher was early in life supporting himself along with his mother and siblings. He practiced several different professions, including teaching, and spent much of his free time studying Frontispiece from Becher's Physicaesoteric subjects, including alchemy and chemistry. This was the period in which there was beginning to be a distinction between the two fields, but the transition was not clean and Becher experimented in both areas. He wrote some very "dry" work on mineralogy but also believed that if he had the right substances available, he could make himself invisible.

Johann Joachim Becher. Actorum laboratorii chymici monacensis... Physica subterranea profundam subterraneorum genesin, e principiis hucusque ignotis, ostendens... Lipsiae: Ex officina Weidmanniana, anno 1738. Title page above left, frontipiece at right.

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Title page from Der Brennende SalamanderCarlo Lancilotti was actively publishing between 1672 and 1679. Nothing else is really known of him, or if this is even the real name of the author. The volume owned by the Lloyd, like the Nodus Sophicus (above), was also translated into German by Johann Lange.

Lancillotti, Carlo. Der brennende Salamander, oder, Zerlegung, der zu der Chimie gehörigen Materien, so da ist ein Wegweiser oder Unterricht ... Benebenst dem auffgeweckten Chimisten, samt beygefüter Anleitung von Erwehlung des Vitriols / in Druck gegeben durch Carl Lancilot ...; nun aber aus der Holländischen in die Hochteutsche Sprache übersetzet durch J.L.M.C. Lübeck: In Verlegung Johann Wiedemeyers, 1697. Title page is shown at left.

 

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title page from Hermetische triumphfrontispiece from Hermetische TriumphDer Hermetische triumph, oder, Der Siegende Philosophische Stein: ein tractat völliger und verständlicher eingerichtet, als einer iemals bissher gewesen, handelnde von der Hermetischen Meisterschafft / hiebevor in Frantzösischer Sprache gedruckt, zu Amsterdam bey Heinrich Wetstein, Anno 1689; nunmehro gegenwärtig ins Deutsche versetzt. Leipzig; Görlitz: Johann Gottlob Laurentio, 1707.

Heinrich Wetstein, who originally published this work in 1689, was a publisher in Amsterdam who republished many classic works, this being likely one such title. The actual author is not known.

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Title page from 1716 edition of KunckelJohann Kunckel (1630?-1703) was a German chemist who was awarded Swedish nobility in 1693 under the name von Löwenstern-Kunckel. He was born near Rendsburg Germany, where his father served as alchemist to the court of Holstein. He became the chemist and apothecary to various German states' rulers, including Frederick Wilhelm of Prussia. In 1688, Charles XI, king of Sweden, brought Kunckel to Stockholm, ennobling him and making him a member of the Bergskollegium (Swedish Board of Mines). He likely died in March 1703 near Stockholm.

Like Robert Boyle, Kunckel also discovered the secret of the process for preparing phosphorus, and he found how to make artificial ruby (red glass) by incorporating Purple of Cassius. Though an alchemist and the child of an alchemist, Kunckel was quick to denounce frauds and others who claimed to know the secrets of alchemy and the practices of chemistry, which others had worked so hard through legitimate means to uncover. Lloyd owns two copies of the same title by Kunckel, the 1st and 2nd editions.

Kunckel facing page to page 669 showing series of laboratory bottles in a stillCollegium physico-chymicum experimentale, oder, Laboratorium chymicum: in welchem deutlich und gründlich von den wahren Principiis in der Natur und denen gewürckten Dingen so wohl über als in der Erden ... / herausgegeben von Johann Caspar Engelleder. Hamburg: In Verlegung S. Heyls, 1716. Title page above left and page 669 at right, showing pieces of laboratory equipment.

Collegium physico-chymicum experimentale, oder, Laboratorium chymicum, in welchem deutlich und gründlich von den wahren Principiis in der Natur und denen gewürckten Dingen ... nebst der Transmutation und Verbesserung der Metallen gehandelt wird ... mit einem vollständigen Register und Vorrede hrsg. Von Johann Casper Engelleder. 2nd Ed. Hamburg: S. Heyl, [173-]

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Title page from PyrophilisPyrophilus is believed to be the pseduonym for Detlev Klefeker (1675-1750). Nothing else is known of either name. The title page from the volume held by the Lloyd is shown.

Pyrophilus. Das Fundament der Lehre vom Stein der Weisen, oder, Des urältesten Philosophi Hermetis Trismegisti Tabula smaragdina: welche Tafel bisher von den meisten fDhDur ein unauflöslich Rätzel gehalten worden / dieselbe hat nunmehro in Teutscher Sprache mit experimentirter Wahrheit deutlich erkläret, und darum sich genennet, Pyrophilus; Vorerinnerung! alle gerechten Exemplarien von dieser Schrifft hat der Auctor eigenhändig unterschreiben und besiegelt. [Hamburg]: Gedruckt und verlegt durch Conrad König, ... in Hamburg, 1736.

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Title page from RichterSamuel (or Sigmund) Richter was an alchemist and the founder of the Golden and Rosy Cross brotherhood in Prague in 1710, a group which may have invented Freemasonry. Richter wrote under the pseudonym Sincerus Renatus. Little else seems to be known of him. The Lloyd holds a 1741 edition of one of his works.

Page 688 from Richter showing a man working a furnace.Sinceri Renati Sämtliche philosophisch- und chymische Schrifften, als: I. Die wahrhaffte und vollkommene bereitung des philosophischen steins u. II. Theo-philosophia theoretico-pratica, oder der wahre grund göttlicher und natürlicher erkänntniss u. III. Goldene quelle der natur und kunst, bestehend in lauter experimentis und chymischen handgriffen u. Leipzig und Bresslau: Verlegts Michael Hubert, 1741.

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title page from NaxagorasNaxagoras, Ehrd de. Sancta veritas hermetica, seu, Concordantia philosophorum consistens in sale et sole vel Mercurio et Sulphure: das ist die ehemals excerpirte und darauf mit eigener Hand experimentirte Sonnen-klare Wahrheit der philosophen schrifften, vermittelst welcher / Ich Ehrd von Naxagaras .. Bresslau: Bey Johann George Stecks seel. Wittib., 1712.

Nothing is known of this author. There are no illustrations. Only the title page is shown at left. The title page is interesting in that it is a fold-out, two-page spread.

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Chart from HermogenesHermógenes. Apocalypsis spagyrica et philosophica, oder, Wahrhaffter und untrüglicher Weg zu der höchsten Medicin, sowol auf menschliche als metallisch Cörper zu gelangen; Woben die ganze Operation in der Tabula Hermetis et Salomoni ... Gold-Kocher sattsam gezeiget und entdecket worden. Leipzig: In Johann Samuel Heinsii Buchladen, 1739.

There are several historic figures bearing the name "Hermogenes" and it is unclear if this work is authored originally by one of these men or if this is simply a case of name-borrowing to gain legitimacy. Shown here is the alchemical chart from the work, which shows numerous alchemical symbols, laboratory equipment and significant images related to the history and workings of alchemy.

 

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Braun plate 1Johannes Hieronymus Braun. De Butigulariis Praecipue iis qui Norimbergae olim Floruerunt: quam sub praesidio Christiani Gotlib.Schwarzii ... Altorfii Noricorum: Stephan Grebner, 1743.

This is an early work Plate 2 from Braun showing a mapon alchemy with interesting illustrations, though there is no information readily available about the author. Images depict places and persons related to Nuremburg, Germany.

 

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Chymisches Lust-Gartlein astrological chartChymisches Lust-Gärtlein: in welchem die Verborgenheit der Natur und Kunst gepflantzet, daneben die Materie und Weise zum Lapide Philosphico zu würcken, entdecket zu befinden von Einem Liebhaber der Weisheit die im Verborgenen liget. Ludwigsburg, [Germany]: Christian Heinrich Pfotenhauer, 1747

The precise author of this work is unknown, though the likely candidates are Paracelsus, Johann Arndt, or Johann Otto von Hellwig. The image shown is a typical woodcut illustration showing an astrological chart used to determine correct times for performing alchemical processes.

 

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Tittle page from Das GeheimnissDas Geheimniss der hermetischen Philosophie: in welchem die Verborgenheit der Natur und der Kunst, die Materie und Weise zu würken betreffende, vom Steine der Weisen, durch gewisse Regeln ordentlich geoffenbaret wird. Aus der dritten vermehrten und verbesserten lateinischen Ausfertigung parisischen Drucks ins Hochdeutsche übersetzt. Frankfurt und Leipzig, [Germany]: In der Fleischerischen Buchhandlung, 1770. Title page at left and page 87 below right.

Ppage 87 of Das GeheimnissAn unknown person has penned at the top of the title page the name Johan d'Espagnet, possibly as the probable author. Jean d'Espagnet was a late 16th and early 17th century French lawyer and politician who was also an alchemical writer. In 1601, D'Espagnet became President of the Bordeaux Parliament, which enabled him to work with Pierre de Lancre in witch-hunting in Labourd.

The Lloyd also holds the following by d'Espagnet: Enchyridion physicae restitutae, or, The summary of physicks recovered. Wherein the true harmony of nature is explained, and many errours of the ancient philosophers, cannons and certain demonstrations, are clearly evidenced and evinced. London: Printed by W. Bentley, and sold by W. Sheares and Robert Tutchein, 1651.

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Fictuld title pageHermann Fictuld (d. 1777) was a leader of the Golden and Rosy Cross organization founded by alchemist Samuel Richter in Prague in the early 18th century. The organization was based on alchemical treatises, organized in hierarchical circles, and was full of secrecy. Under Fictuld, it underwent extensive reform in the 1760s and 1770s. Group members claimed that they had invented Freemasonry and that they alone knew the meanings of the symbols associated with the Masonic orders.

Frontipiece from FictuldFictuld was most certainly an alchemist, though this is not likely his real name.

Hermann Fictuld. Azoth et ignis, das ist das wahre elementarische wasser und feuer: oder, Mercurius philosophorum, als das einige nothwendige der fundamental-uranfänge und principiorum des steins der weisen. Avrevm vellvs; oder, Goldenes vliess was dasselbe sey, sowohl in seinem ursprunge, als erhabenen zustande. Denen filiis artis und liebhabern der hermetischen philosophie dargelegt, auch, dass darunter die prima materia lapidis philosophorum, samt dessen praxi verborgen. Leipzig: N. Blochberger, 1749.

Shown are the title page, above left, and the frontispiece, at right.

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Frontispiece to Lapis Philosophorum showing the lab layed out according to alchemical and ritual needsFalscher und wahrer Lapis Philosophorum, oder, Eines vornehmen und Christlichen Philosophi anschätzbarer Unterricht von allem demjenigen, was ihm bey kostbarster Suchung des Steins der Weisen begegnet ist ...: die Würcklichkeit des Steins der Weisen und durch was vor Mittel, unter göttlichem Beystand sowohl hierzu, als zu Title page of Lapis PhilosophorumVerfertigung der herrlichsten Artzeneyen zu gelangen, klar lehret, dabey auch in einem ausführlichen Anhang zeiget: wie sowohl alle äusserliche als innerliche Glieder und andere Kranckheiten mit wenigen Kosten zu heilen sind. Frankfurt: Leipzig: In Commission zu haben bey Daniel Christian Hechtel, 1752.

This volume is not widely held and is a reissue of a 1736 volume. No author is listed and none could be discovered.