Alchemy Academy archive
March 2001

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Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemy Museums/Exhibitions
Date: Wed, 28 Feb 2001
From: Rafal T. Prinke


Dear Michal,

> I'm aware of the Fugger Laboratory in Austria but would
> appreciate any comments from anyone who has seen it.

From the Net - it seems that there *will* be
an alchemy museum in Stadt Weikersheim:

Schloßmuseum mit barockem Schloßpark
Württ. Landesmuseum, Tel. 0 79 34 / 83 64
01.04. bis 31.10. täglich 9.00 - 18.00 Uhr,
01.11 bis 31.3. 10.00 - 12.00 Uhr und 13.00 - 16.30 Uhr.
Ab Ende Mai: Alchemie-Museum


> Additionally in Heidelberg there is a supposedly impressive
> pharmaceutical exhibition..

If pharmaceutical museum are to be included, there are
several in Poland, including one at the Jagiellonian
University in Cracow.

Best regards,

Rafal


Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemy Museums/Exhibitions
From: Adam McLean
Date: 1 Mar 2001


I posted this message on this theme back in 9th May 1999:

=====
I noticed in the book/catalogue 'Geheimnisse der Alchemie'
a number of photographs of original alchemical apparatus
in the Pharmazie-Historisches Museum in Basel, Switzerland.

This reminded me of some other museums with permanent
exhibitions of alchemical apparatus, or reconstuctions of
alchemical laboratories. The Castle if Heidelberg, Germany
is very well known, and I have also mentioned recently the
'Sala Carbonelli' (a room dedicated to Professor Carbonelli an
early 20th century scholar who wrote some articles on alchemy)
in the Museo Storico Nazionale dell'arte Sanitaria in Rome.
There is also the reconstruction of a sixteenth-century
alchemical laboratory in the Technisches Museum
in Vienna, Austria

Does anyone have any information on other alchemical
exhibits in Museum, that might be worth visiting? I would
like to document these on the web site.

Adam McLean



Subject: ACADEMY : Tetrahedron
From: Michael Martin
Date: Wed, 28 Feb 2001

The discussion of the tetrahedron fascinates me, especially
since no alchemist would have been able to look so
deeply in the molecular structure of the substances, as
interesting as the findings are. What may be closer to
the point is the Platonic understanding of the regular solids,
and in particular Kepler's schema using them as a model for
the orbits of the planets. This is in his Mysteruium
Cosmographicum. The tetrahedron, as I recall, corresponded
to the space between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars.
I don't know if this helps, but here it is.

Michael Martin


Subject: ACADEMY : Tetrahedron
From: William S. Aronstein
Date: Thu, 1 Mar 2001

Dear Mr. Martin,

Since even the largest macroscopic crystal preserves
its microscopic geometry, I think that alchemists would have
been capable of observing the molecular structures of
crystalline substances; however, whether they would
have understood what they saw to represent molecular
structure, and whether they would have communicated
that understanding in terms that we would
easily recognize today are relevant questions.

Respectfully,

William Aronstein


Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemy Museums/Exhibitions
Date: Thu, 1 Mar 2001
From: Michal Pober

Dear Friends,

Thanks for the information so far!
I suspect there may be more!
For example I was reminded today about a Paracelsus
Museum in Basle -
anyone have knowledge of that?

Off-group I was also informed that

>There is a beautiful exhibition in the museum of science
>and technology in Munich.
>
>There is also a museum of the history of science in Florence, Italy, which
>has a wonderful display of spagyric materials.

Rafal - do you know where Stadt Weikersheim is?

And a comment to Adam: of course I looked first at your website for this
info. but didn't find it!

Finally perhaps I should perhaps indicate that I'm really trying
to find out if there is something like an overall, international
museum, as opposed to a locally oriented exhibition.

The point being whether we can make any kind of claim that
our soon-to-be effort is aiming [though not in its first phase]
to be such a creature, eventually.

Best Regards,

Michal


Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemy Museums/Exhibitions
Date: Fri, 02 Mar 2001
From: Rafal T. Prinke

Dear Michal,

> Rafal - do you know where Stadt Weikersheim is?

It is in Frankonia (Franken), now in Bavaria (Bayern). But I
do not know exactly where...

Best regards,

Rafal


Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemy Museums/Exhibitions
From: Adam McLean
Date: 4 Mar 2001

>There is a beautiful exhibition in the museum of science
>and technology in Munich.

http://www.deutsches-museum.de/ausstell/dauer/chemie/e_chemie.htm


Subject: ACADEMY : St.Thomas Aquinas and Albertus the Great
From: Giuseppe de Nicolellis
Date: Sat, 3 Mar 2001

Dear friends,

I was reading an article by Umberto Eco ("Le credenze di Newton"
- "Newton's belief" L'Espresso 8 march 2001). In this article
(about new age) Eco says something superficial and supercilious
about alchemy (like citations of 'Fulcanelli, that old foul', or that
'thanks to alchemists, Newton demonstrated to us the alchemists
were wrong' - ??).

In this article Eco ironizes about those who believe that Saint
Thomas Aquinas was interested in alchemy. I was wondering
about that: as have I read two short treatises on alchemy attributed
to him. I know that the official consensus is to consider them
as spurious works, but as Thomas was the pupil of Albertus
Magnus, definitely an alchemist; it seems strange to me
that the pupil of a such teacher could develop without a deep
belief in alchemy.

My question is: is it possibile to establish through a scholarly
investigation if Thomas Aquinas was versed in alchemy?
Are there any sources we can research?

Thanks
Giuseppe de Nicolellis


Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemy Museums/Exhibitions
From: Adam McLean
Date: 4 Mar 2001

Alchemy at Weikersheim Palace

Schloßmuseum

http://www.schloesser-magazin.de/eng/wk/wksoe.htm


Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemy Museums/Exhibitions
From: Adam McLean
Date: 4 Mar 2001

German Museum of Pharmacy located in the
Castle of Heidelberg

http://www.deutsches-apotheken-museum.de/indexe.htm


Museo Storico Nazionale dell'arte Sanitaria - Rome
Sala Carbonelli

http://www.sameint.it/accade/museo.htm#salacar



Pharmazie-Historisches Museum - Basel

http://www.pharmaziemuseum.ch/d/html/06gef/06gef_fs.htm


Subject: ACADEMY : St.Thomas Aquinas and Albertus the Great
Date: Sun, 4 Mar 2001
From: David Porreca

Dear Giuseppe,

If one does a keyword search for alchemy (i.e., 'alchimia'
and its Latin variants) through the CD-ROM database of
Thomas Aquinas' recognised works (prepared by R. Busa),
it becomes clear that he was not very interested in the topic
at all, as few references come up. Moreover, those references
that one does find clearly show Thomas' negative opinion
of alchemy. It is, I believe, too much of a stretch to attribute
to the same author such clearly alchemical texts as the
pseudo-Aquinas 'Aurora consurgens' and the negative
statements mentioned above (apologies for not providing the
specific references - CD-ROM inaccessible at the moment;
there is also a paper verion of this CD-ROM known at the
Index Thomisticus, which is an alphabetical word-list of all
of Thomas' works, including a 6-7 word context and chapter
reference to the work).

Moreover, Aquinas developed his thought independantly
from his master Albert, taking from him the format of his
approach, but creating a far more systematic integration
of Arabic/Aristotelian ideas with Christian doctrine, and
leaving behind much of Albert's interest in the natural
world, including alchemy.

For more bibliographical information on Thomas, visit:

http://www.op.org/domcentral/library/thombibl.htm

All the best,

David Porreca.


Subject: ACADEMY : St.Thomas Aquinas and Albertus the Great
Date: Sun, 4 Mar 2001
From: David Porreca

Dear Giuseppe,

If one does a keyword search for alchemy (i.e., 'alchimia'
and its Latin variants) through the CD-ROM database of
Thomas Aquinas' recognised works (prepared by R. Busa),
it becomes clear that he was not very interested in the topic
at all, as few references come up. Moreover, those references
that one does find clearly show Thomas' negative opinion
of alchemy. It is, I believe, too much of a stretch to attribute
to the same author such clearly alchemical texts as the
pseudo-Aquinas 'Aurora consurgens' and the negative
statements mentioned above (apologies for not providing the
specific references - CD-ROM inaccessible at the moment;
there is also a paper verion of this CD-ROM known at the
Index Thomisticus, which is an alphabetical word-list of all
of Thomas' works, including a 6-7 word context and chapter
reference to the work).

Moreover, Aquinas developed his thought independantly
from his master Albert, taking from him the format of his
approach, but creating a far more systematic integration
of Arabic/Aristotelian ideas with Christian doctrine, and
leaving behind much of Albert's interest in the natural
world, including alchemy.

For more bibliographical information on Thomas, visit:

http://www.op.org/domcentral/library/thombibl.htm

All the best,

David Porreca.


Subject: ACADEMY : St.Thomas Aquinas and Albertus the Great
Date: Sun, 4 Mar 2001
From: David Porreca

Dear Giuseppe,

If one does a keyword search for alchemy (i.e., 'alchimia'
and its Latin variants) through the CD-ROM database of
Thomas Aquinas' recognised works (prepared by R. Busa),
it becomes clear that he was not very interested in the topic
at all, as few references come up. Moreover, those references
that one does find clearly show Thomas' negative opinion
of alchemy. It is, I believe, too much of a stretch to attribute
to the same author such clearly alchemical texts as the
pseudo-Aquinas 'Aurora consurgens' and the negative
statements mentioned above (apologies for not providing the
specific references - CD-ROM inaccessible at the moment;
there is also a paper verion of this CD-ROM known at the
Index Thomisticus, which is an alphabetical word-list of all
of Thomas' works, including a 6-7 word context and chapter
reference to the work).

Moreover, Aquinas developed his thought independantly
from his master Albert, taking from him the format of his
approach, but creating a far more systematic integration
of Arabic/Aristotelian ideas with Christian doctrine, and
leaving behind much of Albert's interest in the natural
world, including alchemy.

For more bibliographical information on Thomas, visit:

http://www.op.org/domcentral/library/thombibl.htm

All the best,

David Porreca.


Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemy and bibliography
Date: Mon, 5 Mar 2001
From: C.M. Mackay

Dear all,

I'm a graduate student doing a sort of mini-project on alchemy
and bibliography (ie books as physical objects), concentrating
mostly on the seventeenth century.

I wonder whether the prevalence of legends like the golden
fleece and the emerald tablet meant that alchemical writers
paid more attention than others to the physical objects on
which their ideas were inscribed: to things like size, mise en
page, whether to transmit in print or manuscript etc. etc. I
haven't been thinking about this for long, and quite possibly
there's nothing in it, but I'd be interested to hear what
any of you have to say on the matter.

Also, am I giving in unforgivably to the temptation to see
alchemical symbolism everywhere when I recognise it in
the watermarks of seventeenth century paper? I realise that
he ouroboros, the caduceus etc. etc. were far from exclusive
to alchemy, but sometimes the way they're grouped
suggests quite strongly an Hermetic significance. What is
especially interesting is that these alchemical marks tend
to be clustered around one or two specific places & times,
and insofar as there is evidence for this, specific paper-
makers (sorry to be vague - I can't remember exactly where
and when, and don't have my notes on me.) Does
anyone know whether anyone has looked into this before?
Any other comments?

All the best,

Catriona


Subject: ACADEMY : Soluna labs
From: Hans H. Hammerschlag
Date: Mon, 5 Mar 2001

Dear Michal :

The information that I have regarding actual address of the
SOLUNA Laboratories is listed below. However, I cannot
give any references one way or the other with respect to
the quality of their work and/or if their products are indeed
today based on Von Bernus work.

Best regards,
Hans H. Hammerschlag

Laboratorium SOLUNA
Heilmittel GmbH
Artur-Proeller-Str. 9
86609 Donauwörth
Germany

Tel.: 0906/706060
Fax: 0906/7060678
email: info@soluna.de
http://www.soluna.de


Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemy and bibliography
Date: Tue, 06 Mar 2001
From: Rafal T. Prinke

C.M. Mackay wrote:

> Also, am I giving in unforgivably to the temptation to see
> alchemical symbolism everywhere when I recognise it in
> the watermarks of seventeenth century paper?

There is an old book: Harold Bayley, 'The Lost Language
of Symbolism', London 1912 (many later editions). He had
a theory of a secret society of ancient mysteries
surviving in the paper-making community. Not very
convincing to me - but there is a lot of source material
which you may find interesting.

Best regards,

Rafal


Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemy and bibliography
From: Adam McLean
Date: 6 Mar 2001

C.M. Mackay wrote:

> Also, am I giving in unforgivably to the temptation to see
> alchemical symbolism everywhere when I recognise it in
> the watermarks of seventeenth century paper?


I hope you can resist the temptation. I find it is best to
look for alchemical symbols inside alchemy books and
manuscripts. Alchemy often used very common symbols -
dragons, lions, sun and moon figures. People who
want to see every example of such symbols as being
alchemical will find their picture of alchemy becoming so
large that it is impossible to study in any coherent way.

These symbols were ubiquitous, and are found in all
sorts of places - even in printers' marks and watermarks.
If you are still intrigued by watermarks, there are a
number of books describing these and their history.
You can even see a historical evolution in some of the
more common groups of watermarks. They have their
own domain and their shapes and forms evolved
from different historical forces in the history of papermaking,
rather than from anything alchemical.

I have found that Occam's razor is often needed when
studying alchemical symbolism. Let us keep ours sharp !

Best wishes,

Adam McLean



Subject: ACADEMY : Soluna labs
From: Hans H. Hammerschlag
Date: Mon, 5 Mar 2001

Dear Michal :

The information that I have regarding actual address of the
SOLUNA Laboratories is listed below. However, I cannot
give any references one way or the other with respect to
the quality of their work and/or if their products are indeed
today based on Von Bernus work.

Best regards,
Hans H. Hammerschlag

Laboratorium SOLUNA
Heilmittel GmbH
Artur-Proeller-Str. 9
86609 Donauwörth
Germany

Tel.: 0906/706060
Fax: 0906/7060678
email: info@soluna.de
http://www.soluna.de


Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemy and bibliography
Date: Tue, 06 Mar 2001
From: Rafal T. Prinke

C.M. Mackay wrote:

> Also, am I giving in unforgivably to the temptation to see
> alchemical symbolism everywhere when I recognise it in
> the watermarks of seventeenth century paper?

There is an old book: Harold Bayley, 'The Lost Language
of Symbolism', London 1912 (many later editions). He had
a theory of a secret society of ancient mysteries
surviving in the paper-making community. Not very
convincing to me - but there is a lot of source material
which you may find interesting.

Best regards,

Rafal


Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemy and bibliography
From: Adam McLean
Date: 6 Mar 2001

C.M. Mackay wrote:

> Also, am I giving in unforgivably to the temptation to see
> alchemical symbolism everywhere when I recognise it in
> the watermarks of seventeenth century paper?


I hope you can resist the temptation. I find it is best to
look for alchemical symbols inside alchemy books and
manuscripts. Alchemy often used very common symbols -
dragons, lions, sun and moon figures. People who
want to see every example of such symbols as being
alchemical will find their picture of alchemy becoming so
large that it is impossible to study in any coherent way.

These symbols were ubiquitous, and are found in all
sorts of places - even in printers' marks and watermarks.
If you are still intrigued by watermarks, there are a
number of books describing these and their history.
You can even see a historical evolution in some of the
more common groups of watermarks. They have their
own domain and their shapes and forms evolved
from different historical forces in the history of papermaking,
rather than from anything alchemical.

I have found that Occam's razor is often needed when
studying alchemical symbolism. Let us keep ours sharp !

Best wishes,

Adam McLean



Subject: ACADEMY : Ebenezer Sibly
Date: Tue, 06 Mar 2001
From: C-M Edenborg

Could anyone help me out with this:

The english alchemist and astrologer Ebenezer Sibly (1751-1800)
described himself in many of his works as "M.D.F.R.H.S."

M.D. is obviously Medical Doctor - but what could FRHS mean?

Frater Roseae-something? Could it have to do with
swedenborgianism (his brother was a swedenborgian priest)?

Best wishes

Carl-Michael Edenborg


Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemy Museums/Exhibitions
From: Adam McLean
Date: 6 Mar 2001

I have set up a page on my web site dedicated to
alchemy museum.

http://www.levity.com/alchemy/alchemy_museums.html

If anyone has any further information to add please contact
me so I can update the page.

Adam McLean


Subject: ACADEMY : Soluna labs
Date: Wed, 7 Mar 2001
From: Michal Pober

Dear Hans,

Thank you for the information re Soluna.

I believe that there are indeed some controversies around the
relationship between Soluna and the von Bernus tradition but
they seem impenetrably complex; more heat than light.

Best Regards,
Michal


Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemy and bibliography
Date: Fri, 9 Mar 2001
From: C.M. Mackay

> > Also, am I giving in unforgivably to the temptation to see
> > alchemical symbolism everywhere when I recognise it in
> > the watermarks of seventeenth century paper?

> I hope you can resist the temptation....

Temptation resisted! Thanks. (And thanks too, Rafal for
pointing me in the direction of the Harold Bayley book,
which will merit an amusing footnote somewhere at the
bottom of my bibliography project - an amusing
footnote to which the entire subject of alchemy and
watermarks shall be consigned.)

I would still argue that to seek alchemical imagery in
books and manuscripts that aren't specifically about
alchemy is a valid enterprise - but I suppose that by
trying to do this before I am well acquainted with the
alchemical literature itself, I am trying to run before I
can walk.

Anyway, I have one further query on the subject. I think
that at some point I have come across an alchemical
writer who wrote of a relationship between text as set of
abstract ideas, book as physical object and language
as the element mediating between them, analogous to
the neo-Platonic tripartite division of the soul. Does this
sound familiar to anyone? Or did I find it somewhere
non-alchemical, or was it just that my sub-conscious
felt that someone really *ought* to have made the
analogy and created a useful false memory?

Catriona


Subject: ACADEMY : Help with translation please
From: Ahmad Hassan
Date: Sat, 10 Mar 2001

Dear Colleagues,

I need your help in the translation of the text below into English.

This text is taken from Liber Luminis Luminum that formed
Appendix III in An Enquiry into the Life and Legend of Michael
Scot, by J. Wood Brown, Edinburgh, 1897, pp. 266-268. I tried
to copy it faithfully from a photocopy of Brown's book. I could
not find the special fonts for the R (denoting recipe) and 3 .

Partington in A History of Greek Fire and Gunpowder, John
Hopkins, 1999, p. 87, thought that this text describes "what is
apparently nitric acid or aqua regia".


QUOMODO MEDICINE DEBENT SOLVI


M.. cum sossile et nitro salso ana in aqua resolutis ac coagulatis
es ad naturam lune reduxi. R. vitrioli romani Libra 1. salis nitri
lihra 1 . salis armoniaci 3 . 3 . hec omnia comisce in unum
terendo et pone in curcubita cum alembico et quod distillaverit
serva et pone cum m. crudo ita quod in 3 aque fundatur super
mediam libram m. in una ampulla et pone in cineribus bene
clausam et da lentum ignem per unam diem et postea invenies
m. in aquam purissimam.


Thank you

Al-Hassan


Subject: ACADEMY : Help with translation please
From: Adam Mclean
Date: 11 Mar 2001

This text indicates that 'M' (usually a contraction for mercury
in alchemical texts) must first be purified by being placed with
'sossile' and spirit of Nitre for a month. 'Sossile' I do not
recognise.

Then you perform a recipe, grinding together 1 pound of
vitriol with 1 pound of nitre and 3 pounds of sal ammoniac,
which you then heat in a flask and distill off a water. (This will
be a rather potent acid, indeed a mixture of nitric and hydrochloric
acids - that is aqua regia - possibly with some sulphuric acid
also as an impurity.)

Then you are to place the purified 'M' (mercury) from your first stage
and place this in a flask with three more parts of this acid
distillate. The flask should be well sealed and heated gently
for a day. After this you should find mercury in this most pure
water.

(We should expect some of the mercury to have
dissolved in the acid. Although mercury is not attacked by
hydrochloric acid it will readily dissolve in Nitric acid. I
am not quite sure if aqua regia , which is not merely a mixture
of the two acids but has a special chemical structure, will
readily dissolve Mercury .)

I would welcome a more full translation.

Adam McLean


Subject: ACADEMY : Ebenezer Sibly
Date: Sun, 11 Mar 2001
From: Michael Srigley

Dear Carl-Michael,

Re. 'Ebenezer Sibley M.D.F.R.H.S.' From the two brief entries
in the Dictionary of National Biography, it seem that
Ebenezer was primarily an astrologer and published works
on the subject, and that it was his brother Manoah who from
1787 onwards was reading alchemical works. Ebenezer was
a surgeon and medical doctor who took his MD at King's
College, Aberdeen, in 1792. That explains his M.D. initials.
You probably know all this.

Where the remaining initials, F.R.H.S. are concerned, there
are two possible expansions neither of which would point to
Rosicrucian affiliations:
'Fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society', founded in 1800,
or 'Fellow of the Royal Humane Society', founded in 1774.

The first seems to be excluded since Sibley died in 1800, the
second seems more likely since the Royal Humane Society
was founded to give "'first aid' in cases of drowning and
for restoring life by artificial means to those apparently drowned"
(Encyl. Brit., 11: 826.) Sibley as a doctor might well have been
a member of this society.

Best wishes,

Michael Srigley


Subject: ACADEMY : Tartar
From: Ahmad Hassan
Date: Sun, 11 Mar 2001

My sincere thanks to Peter Kelly, Mike Dickman, William S.
Aronstein for their great help in giving useful information
about tartar.

I have been investigating the word in Arabic. Since the eighth
century, Arabic alchemists and physicians used the word
dardi for deposits in wine drums. Every work on simples
includes an article on dardi. For example, Ibn Sina (Avicenna)
in the Canon gave a good article about it. Later the words
tartir or tartar began to appear. One Arabic pharmacopoeia
says that : "when dardi is dried it called tartir."
I am still in the process of investigating this matter.

Thank you all again.

Al-Hassan


Subject: ACADEMY : Ebenezer Sibly
Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2001
From: C-M Edenborg

Dear Michael

Many thanks for your illuminating reply. That F.R.H.S.
means 'Fellow of the Royal Humane Society' seems
very probable.

One objection, though: it definately was Ebenezer Sibly
who was the alchemist and who has left several alchemical
manuscripts behind - he also seems to have been a
member of Bacstrom's circle.

Could you please tell me from where you got the notion
that Manoah Sibly was reading alchemical works post-1787?
As far I as I know, Manoah was a priest in the Swedenborgian
church in London, which makes possible a connection to the
swedish swedenborgian-alchemist August Nordenskjöld,
and also to the swedenborgian-alchemists John Augustus
Tulk and Charles Augustus Tulk.

I do wish someone could really dig deep into these
alchemically oriented networks in London around 1800,
they're quite exciting.

Best wishes / Carl-Michael Edenborg


Subject: ACADEMY : Ebenezer Sibly
Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2001
From: Michael Srigley

Dear Carl-Michael,

The information about Manoah Sibley's interest in alchemy
from 1787 onwards was in the article on him in The Dictionary
of National Biography that I mentioned. At the end of it,
there is a list of sources for the article that might prove helpful.
The article on Ebenezer S. makes no mention of alchemy.
But as you say the possible connection with the Swedish
Swedenborgians is interesting and could be worth following up.
William Blake was also at one point a member of the
Swedenborgian Church in London, and a recent study
suggests that Blake uses alchemical imagery in his poems
and engravings. Kathleen Raine's work on Thomas Taylor the
Platonist provides much valuable information on esoteric
circles in London towards the end of the 18th century.

All best wishes,

Michael


Subject: ACADEMY : Ebenezer Sibly
Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2001
From: Adam McLean

Ebenezar Sibly was definately interested in alchemy.
A number of his manuscript notebooks can be found in
public collections today. I have looked at some of these.

I can immediately think of 10 such manuscripts, 5 here
in Glasgow, 1 in Alnwick Castle, 2 in the MP Hall collection
now in California at the Getty, at least 1 in the Wellcome
Institute, and 1 in the BPH.

These Sibly manuscripts for the most part consist of his
transcriptions or translations of alchemical texts.

Adam McLean


Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemy Museum at a critical juncture
Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2001
From: Michal Pober

Dear friends,

this is a generic letter and therefore and is therefore written in general
terms; even though it is a call for action it will, i realise be more
relevant for some people as information.
however we do seriously need support of amny different kinds now and
therefore encourage you please to pass it on to people who may be
interested.
we are extremely optimistic that we can get a museum up and running in a
very short time; what is by western terms a relatively small amount of
money will go a long way here. equally important is an expression of
support for a project which still seems somewhat mysterious to some members
of our town council.
every little helps us to keep working on our transmutation here!
best regards,
michal


From:
THE CIVIC ASSOCIATION FOR AN ALCHEMY MUSEUM
IN KUTNA HORA (established in January 2001, superseding the Alchemy Museum
Initiative).

Alchemy Museum in Kutna Hora:

URGENT!! March 21st deadline for letters and faxes of support, donations
and pledges

Dear Friends,

This is to request anyone and everyone who has an interest in the Alchemy
Museum in Kutna Hora to forthwith send a letter or fax supporting the
project, with or without a donation pledge [but preferably with!] to:

Alchemy Museum in Kutna Hora: Attn. Michal Pober
U Jelena 489,
284 01 Kutna Hora
Czech Republic

Fax: +420 327/511 260 Tel: +420 327/511 259

preferably on headed notepaper, stating your reasons for supporting the Museum
(e.g.: great project, unique museum, interest in alchemy, previous
experiences in the Czech Republic, interest in Kutna Hora, support for me
personally, etc.) and any relevant information about yourself...

More details about the Museum and the progress of the project so far can be
found at our new website:
http://www.alchemy.cz/museum.html

and for any further information about any of the above please write, fax or
e-mail me at

Why we need this help immediately:

Our project has reached a crucial phase: we are tantalisingly close to
achieving our goal; the peacock¹s tail has shown its colours. However we
must meet a March 21st deadline to present convincing evidence to the City
of Kutna Hora that there is both widespread international interest in such
a project and financial support for it.

In February 2001 the Kutna Hora Town Council agreed to the establishment of
the Museum in the Sankturinovsky House, long associated with Alchemy, but
now seeks assurance that it really is a project of widespread interest and
that we can provide the resources to carry it out.

We need an outpouring of support for the Museum in letters and faxes
supporting the project, donations and pledges and we request those who have
already promised support to fulfil those pledges. Now is the time!
(N.B. Donations received in response to this mailing will be returned in
the event that the City does not sign a Contract.)

Till now we have been in a Catch 22 situation; no signed contract with the
City has made it difficult to fundraise through established channels. Now
the City is making a contract conditional on us having funds in hand or a
guarantee of future funding.

At the culmination of three years work, we have recently presented to the
City a detailed plan for the exhibition. The City will be donating the
space; money is needed for some minor reconstruction and for installing the
exhibition. The sum involved is not large.

To cover these expenses and to open the exhibition (which we can do in 3
months from the date of an agreement) we need $20,000.


Another way that you can help to support the Alchemy Museum and have a
wonderful experience for yourself in Bohemia this summer:
Participate in our Summer Programme: Hermetic College at Roztez Chateau
a 3-part Summer Programme in June 2001:

10th - 16th June: CZECH ALCHEMY: In the Footsteps of John Dee and Edward Kelley
A Magical Journey in Bohemia, led by Michal Pober [6 days]

16th - 22nd June: HERMETICISM, SPIRITUALITY & IMAGINATION with Nicholas and
Clare Goodrick-Clarke [5 days]

22nd- 27th June: INDIAN ALCHEMY: the 2nd Annual Practical Spagiry Seminar
with Manfred Junius [4 days]

Full details of these programmes are available at our new website:
http://www.alchemy.cz/college.html
or by e-mail at:

With Best Regards,

Michal Pober
President of the Civic Association for an Alchemy Museum in Kutna Hora.


Subject: ACADEMY : Tartar
From: William S. Aronstein
Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2001

Dear Mr. Al-Hassan,

Thank you for updating us on your researches regarding
the origins and meaning of the term "tartar." It is interesting
to know of its Arabic cognate, "dardi," which you mention
was used to indicate the deposits cast by fermenting or
maturing wine. Perhaps this was a direct adoption of the
Greek term, perhaps not.

In reviewing the question of the origins of the term, I began
thinking about our understanding of many alchemical terms,
and of the different possibilities that arise when interpreting
an old text. Note that many of these same questions arise
as well when considering the usages of words in many old
non-esoteric texts as well. We can illustrate these problems
with the term "tartar."

In an alchemical text, "tartar" may simply mean the same
thing it means in an ordinary, everyday sense -- the dregs
left behind in a wine barrel, for example. It is not always
clear that an ancient author would have identified the
material any further, or would have needed to.

"Tartar" might also indicate tartaric acid, or one of its salts.
These crystalline salts, interestingly enough, might have
different properties depending upon the cationic metals
with which the "tartar" anion would be associated. Thus
there may indeed be several different "tartars."

Often in alchemical texts, one comes across an expression
such as "tartar of the sages" or "philosophic tartar," as if
something is being indicated other that the "ordinary"
tartar indicated above. This substance might be a
particular tartaric salt evolved at a particular point in the
alchemical process, or it might be a substance which in
some way or to some degree resembles "ordinary" tartar,
so that the name "tartar" might seem to be a convenient
short-hand for it. For example, in a metallurgical process that
was considered in some way to resemble the fermentation
of a wine, a substance might be cast off which would represent
the metallurgical equivalent of the "ordinary" tartar thrown off
during the fermentation of wine. The "philosophic" tartar,
then, might not involve tartaric acid at
all.

We should remember also that alchemical writers use many
words very differently from the ways we do. The most obvious
example is the use of the terms "salt," "mercury," and "sulfur,"
which very often do not designate NaCl, Hg, or S.

An additional complication arises because many alchemical
writers wrote in various forms of code which may or may not
be consistent. Thus "philosophic tartar" might be a codeword
for almost any substance, and might not in the works of a given
alchemist represent the same substance that another
alchemist chose to designate with essentially the same term.
Many alchemical writers have also deliberately concealed or
hidden aspects of their writings. (It would be useful to reflect upon
the reasons that an alchemist might have had for writing about the
Work or for publishing anything at all.)

For these reasons, I think that determining the identity of "tartar"
should be approached cautiously, and a full understanding
probably depends on an understanding of the whole process
involved. Vivid and seemingly symbolic imagery may to
some extent represent an effort by creative and learned
experimenters to communicate things for which an ideal and
specialized language did not yet exist, other than the language
of the alchemical images and texts themselves.

William S. Aronstein



Subject: ACADEMY : Robert Child
Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2001
From: Michael Srigley

Dear Friends,
I wonder if anyone can help in the following two matters to
do with the English mid-17th-century alchemist, Robert
Child. In an article on him, George L. Kittredge mentions
that in a letter of May 13 1648 to John Winthrop Jr., the
New England alchemist, Child mentions that he was then
lodging with a 'Dr Garbet' at his house in Hogsden in
Kent, close to Northfleet where Child lived, and that he
was carrying out a "few experiments" there, probably
alchemical, as Kittredge suggests. Who was Dr Garbet?
The only clue I have so far is that Sloane 3787-3790; 3792
contains a Richard Garbutt's 'collectanea medica' (17th c.)
and 'theological notes' (1620). I have not yet seen these.

Kittredge also refers in his article to a letter by Elias
Ashmole of March 7 1651/2 in which he writes: "I went to
Maidstone [Kent] with Dr Child the physician. And 3 Hor.
post merid. I first became acquainted with Dr Flood."
Robert Fludd who lived at Maidstone, Kent, died in 1637,
and therefore Ashmole's acquaintance with him would
rather have been through the body of his surviving
works and papers still probably in Fludd's family home
at Maidstone. Ashmole had in 1651 just published his
collection 'Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum', and
perhaps was now free to visit Fludd's former home with
his friend, Dr Child. At the same time the italicized '3
Hor. post Merid' seems to indicate a important
red-letter day for Ashmole, almost as if he had met
the man himself.

Any help or suggestions would be most welcome,

Best Wishes,
Michael Srigley


Subject: ACADEMY : Kutna Hora alchemy museum
From: Susanna Åkerman
Date: Sat, 17 Mar 2001

Dear Michael Pober,

I just read your exposition about the Kutna Hora alchemy
museum. Daniel Stolcius is a major figure in the history of
your town. Do you know that Daniel Stolcius' (Stolz von
Stoltenberg) album amicorum is at Uppsala University
library, Carolina Rediviva as Ms Y 132. I describe it in a
foot note in my Rose Cross Over the Baltic p. 145 noting
that Johannes Hartman of Kassel signs in with a new
variant of Dee's Monas under the text 'Sub umbra alarum
tuarum Jehova', i. e. with a sigil where Aries is replaced
with an arrow for Sagittarius and with Saturn and Jupiter
hanging on each end of the cross. Later also Fredrick,
the Winterking of Bohemia, signs in, in 1623, apparently
in Holland. Perhaps you want a photocopy of this for
your museum? I know that Michael Srigley is writing
something significant on Stolcius' English contacts as
shown in this displaced document.

Susanna Akerman


Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemy and bibliography
Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2001
From: Ed Thompson

Catriona,

> I wonder whether ... alchemical writers paid more attention than
> others to the physical objects on which their ideas were inscribed: to
> things like size, mise en page, whether to transmit in print or
> manuscript etc. etc.

You might care to look at Michele Sharon Jaffe "The Story of O,
prostitutes and other good-for-nothings in the Renaissance"
(Harvard University Press, 1999)

Don't be put off by the title - the book has nothing to do with
the novel by Pauline Reage. 'Prostitute' here means a
symbol which points beyond itself, and the book is about
a 'matrix alchemy' which transmutes e.g. coins of base metal
by inscribing a value on them. The discussion includes
the use of symbols in renaissance codes, including figurative
codes, and the effect of handwriting, printing and mise en
page on the ways in which Petrarch might be read.

For what it's worth, it's reviewed in Seventeenth Century
News vol.58.

Best wishes

Ed Thompson


Subject: ACADEMY : Basil Valentine
Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2001
From: Michael Srigley

Dear Friends,

I recently examined a copy of the works of Basil Valentine
held in the Rare Books Collection of Uppsala University. It is
a translation into English and was published in London in
1656-7. It was at this period as Lawrence Principe has shown
in 'The Aspiring Adept' that Boyle and his circle were showing
great interest in the works of Basil Valentine, especially his
'Twelve Keys' (5, 42, n.50) Towards the end of BV's works
there is a curious section entitled 'Jod. V.R. A Processe upon
the Philosophick work of Vitriol'. In it is the following passage:

I having miss'd in my work, [which] I begun in the year 1605,
because the matter of the Earth, and the spirit of Mercury
was not sufficiently purged, therefore the earth could not
perfectly be united at the composition with the water, I let
that quite alone, and began a new Processe at the end of
the year 1605. in the Citie of Strasburg, used more diligence
and exactnesse, then my work (God be praised) prospered
better, ... In the name of the Holy Trinity, 19. of October, Anno
1605. I took ten pounds of Vitriol ... [Between] the fourth of July,
to the seventh of August, namely 34 days .. [this] wonderful
work I beheld with admiration ... at this time I got of the true
Medicine four ounces half an ounce, and one dram. The two
last of a ponderosity were almost equal unto the first out of
this my work. I paid for Land and Ground, to that Noble
Gentleman O.V.D. 48000 Gilders. Actum 1607. These things
I set down for a memorandum, that I should not forget any
of the manuals (12-20).

There follows The fifth and last part of the last Testament of
the Friar Basilius Valentinus describing the actual preparation
of aurum potabile, which may be the actual memorandum.

'The Processe' covers the years 1605-1607, and if Basilius
Valentinus of Erfurt flourished c. 1500 or even earlier and
not in the late 16th century, then this description of an alchemist
at work was written shortly after the editing and publication
of BV's work by Johann Thoelde in and after 1602. Thoelde
himself published a work on 'Red Dysentery, Diarrhea and
the extremely swift and dangerous sickness of the Pestilence'
at Erfurt in 1599 and an alchemical work Haligraphia in the
same place in 1603. Is it possible that 'The Processe' is also
one of Thoelde's written by him under the influence B.S's works?

Any comments on this and on the initals: 'JOD V.R.' and 'O.V.D.'
would be welcome,

With greetings,

Michael Srigley


Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemy Museums/Exhibitions
From: Adam McLean
Date: 30 Mar 2001

There is a reconstructed alchemical laboratory,
apparently entitled an "alchemist's kitchen", in the
old university at Cracow in Poland.

Has anyone seen this or have any information on it ?

Adam McLean


Subject: ACADEMY : Alchemy Museums/Exhibitions
Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2001
From: Rafal T. Prinke

Dear Adam,

> There is a reconstructed alchemical laboratory,
> apparently entitled an "alchemist's kitchen", in the
> old university at Cracow in Poland.
> Has anyone seen this or have any information on it ?

It is the Museum of Farmacy in the Collegium Majus of
the University. It has a Web page in English at:

http://www.cm-uj.krakow.pl/cm539.html

Perhaps the picture of the "kitchen" is the one at:

http://www.krakow.pl/kultura/muzea/medicumgb.php

Click on the first one to enlarge it.

Best regards,

Rafal