Catalogue Entry: ALCH00123

'Ex Turba Philosophorum'

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Location Unknown

Custodial History

Bought at the 1936 Sotheby sale by Emmanuel Fabius for £8.10s. Offered as Lot 506 in the New York Sotheby sale of 3 December 2004 for an estimated $80,000-$100,000 but failed to sell.

Sotheby Lot



Excerpts from the hugely influential 'Turba philosophorum' ('Crowd of Philosophers'), an anthology of pre-medieval alchemical texts published in Latin translation (from Arabic) as Artis auriferæ, quam chemiam vocant, volumina dua (Basel, 1610), and again under the title 'Turba philosophorum' in the 1659-61 Strasbourg edition of Lazarus Zetzner's Theatrum chemicum. The excerpts made by Newton are a collation of these two editions, with some passages representing his own commentary and notes on discrepancies between his sources. This almost certainly dates the manuscript to after 1669, when Newton bought his copy of the Theatrum chemicum.

Cf. H90 (Artis auriferæ) and H1608 (Theatrum chemicum), and the notes from the 'Turba philosophorum' on f. 4r of Keynes Ms. 25.

© 2020 The Newton Project

Professor Rob Iliffe
Director, AHRC Newton Papers Project

Scott Mandelbrote,
Fellow & Perne librarian, Peterhouse, Cambridge

Faculty of History, George Street, Oxford, OX1 2RL -

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