Catalogue Entry: ALCH00078

Notebook containing abstracts and notes drawn from various alchemical works.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: NMAHRB Ms. 1023 B, Dibner Library, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., USA

[Normalized Text (at Chymistry of Isaac Newton)]

Custodial History

Bought at the Sotheby sale by Francis Edwards for £48. Offered to Keynes for £60 on 18 August 1936 but returned a week later. Presumably sold by Edwards to Bern Dibner, who donated it to the Smithsonian. Previously Burndy Ms. 9.

Sotheby Lot



On the flyleaf in Thomas Pellet's hand: 'Sep. 25 1727/ Not fit to be printed/ Tho. Pellet'. Main text preceded by 5 unnumbered pages prepared as an index but containing only columns of alphabetical headings (eg. 'Suo/ Suu/ Ta/ Taa/ Tae') and one blank page. The main text has the following sub-headings, though besides the sources given by these there are references on pp. 48-9 to 'Laurent. Ventura' and Ramón Lull's 'Theorica', and on pp. 50-51 to 'Anonym[us] de Arte Chim[ica] in Arte Aurif[era]'.

p. 1 'Ex Rosarij abbreviati tract. quinq[ue]' [This is not, as stated in the Sotheby catalogue, taken from the Rosarius Philosophorum of Arnoldus de Villanova, but from an anonymous tract entitled 'Rosarium Abbreviatum', which appeared in vol. 3 of Zetzner's Theatrum Chemicum as part of 'Justus a Balbian. Tractatus septem de Lapide Philosophico' (first pub.1599, though Newton is extremely unlikely to have seen that edition), Balbian being the editor rather than the author of the collection: see Ferguson, Bibliotheca Chemica, 2: 287 and 437.]

p. 15 'Ex Petri Boni Lombardi Ferrariensis Margarita Pretiosa'

p. 24 'Ex Dionysij Zacharij Opusculo'

p. 31 'Out of Philaletha's works concerning the extraction of [sulphur] out of [mercury]', in Latin and English

p. 51 'Ex Clangore Buccinæ'

See Dobbs, 'Newton Manuscripts at the Smithsonian', 107. This manuscript (minus the putative index) is also reproduced on R19 of the Chadwyck-Healey microfilm, between Keynes Mss. 64 and 65 (this has perhaps come from a photostat of the notebook held at Keynes Ms. 221). This would appear to be a mistake, since there is no reference to its presence there in the Chadwyck-Healey catalogue.

© 2020 The Newton Project

Professor Rob Iliffe
Director, AHRC Newton Papers Project

Scott Mandelbrote,
Fellow & Perne librarian, Peterhouse, Cambridge

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