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Two sets of notes.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 12, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00001


Three lists of alchemical writers and works, partly on the reverse of Mint-related material

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 13, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00002


'Artephius his secret Book', followed by 'The Epistle of Iohn Pontanus, wherein he beareth witness of ye book of Artephius', c. 1,500 words, 3 pp. (c. 1670s).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 14, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00003


Four alchemical verse allegories, in English.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 15, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00004


'Causæ et initia naturalium' (notes on Jan Baptista van Helmont's Ortus medicinae (1667)).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 16, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00005


Notes on and excerpts from George Ripley's 'Clavis Aureæ Portæ', 'Medulla Alchimiæ', and 'Pupilla Alchemiæ'.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 17, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00006


'Clavis': detailed directions for a lengthy alchemical operation beginning with the digestion of antimony, iron and sulphur.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 18, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00007


'Collectiones ex Novo Lumine Chymico quæ ad Praxin spectant', 6 pp., and 'Arcanum Hermeticæ Philosophiæ Opus', 3 pp. (early 1669?).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 19, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00008


Miscellaneous extracts from and notes on various alchemical authors, in English.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 20, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00009


'The method of ye work': a commentary on [A.T. Limojon, Sieur de] Didier's 'Six Keys' (early 1690s?).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 21, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00010


'The Epitome of the treasure of health written by Edwardus Generosus Anglicus innominatus who lived Anno Domini 1562'.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 22, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00011


'Epistola ad veros Hermetis discipulos continens claves sex principales Philosophiæ secretæ' (early 1690s).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 23, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00012


'Anno 1656. Serenissimi Principis Frederici Ducis Holsatiæ et Sleswici &c. communicatione sequens epistola me sibi vendicat, inaudita memorans. Veni et vide'.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 24, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00013


Short extracts from an assortment of alchemical writers (early to mid-1670s).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 25, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00014


Memorandum by Newton (1696).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 26, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00015


'The Seven Chapters' (late 1680s-1690s) plus notes and an unrelated draft letter.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 27, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00016


Translation and transcription of the Tabula Smaragdina of 'Hermes Trismegistus', with notes (early 1680s-1690s).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 28, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00017


Alchemical notes (probably before 18 May 1669), drawn largely if not entirely from Michael Maier's Symbola Aureæ Mensæ duodecim nationum (Frankfurt, 1617: H1048).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 29, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00018


'Liber Mercurioum [sic: leg. 'Mercuriorum'] Corporum' (1668-75).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 31, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00020


Abstracts of five works by Michael Maier (early 1690s).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 32, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00021


'Manna': transcript (1675?) of an anonymous alchemical treatise, in another hand with additions and notes by Newton.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 33, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00022


Notes on the preparation of 'philosophical mercury' by fermentation and 'ye mediation of Diana's Doves', on the preparation of 'menstrua', etc.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 34, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00023


Notes on various alchemical texts (early 1680s?).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 35, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00024


Three alchemical excerpts (1668/9).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 36, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00025


Three alchemical verse extracts, in English.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 37, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00026


For highly divergent theories about the dating, see Figala, 'Exakte Alchemie', 177 and Dobbs, Foundations, 133.


A 'Propositions': alchemical notes in Latin, c. 400 words, 3 pp. Apparently Newton's own formulations.

B Miscellaneous notes on multiplication by solution and coagulation, mostly in Latin with some English, c. 2,000 words, 4 pp. Drawn from various (acknowledged) sources including Aristotle, Nicholas Flamel and Michael Maier [Mayer].

[3] 7 pp.


mainly in Latin


The Mint material is obviously no earlier than 1696 (when Newton joined the Mint) and some of the rest of the manuscript is written in an identical hand; other sections appear to be earlier, and the last internal date is 1684.


See Figala et al., 'De Scriptoribus', passim, and Dobbs, Foundations, 174, n.100.


pp. 1-3 A list of writers and works on alchemy, variously classified according to antiquity, nationality and degree of usefulness.

p. 4 Draft of 'An account of Gold & Silver moneys coyned since Christmas'.

pp. 5-6 Another list of writers, with their dates, signed 'Ieova sanctvs vnvs' [an anagram of Isaacvs Nevvtonvs].

p. 7 'Authores optimi': another list.

p. 8 Extract from 'An Act for encouraging Coynage' (18 Charles II cap. 5).

[8] 8 pp.


Cf. H1309-10, Keynes Ms. 25, and Yahuda Ms. Var. 259.


Excerpts from Nicholas Flammel, His Exposition of the Hieroglyphicall Figures which he caused to be painted upon an Arch in St Innocents Church-yard in Paris. Together with The secret Booke of Artephius, And the Epistle of Iohn Pontanus: Containing both the Theoricke and the Practicke of the Philosophers Stone. This English translation was published in London, 1624 and seems to have been Newton's main source. However, in the Pontanus letter he departs from the text of this edition at some points, possibly through reference to the Latin version in vol. 6 of Lazarus Zetzner's Theatrum Chemicum (1659-61: H1608): see Dobbs, Foundations, 130-31.

[11] 20 pp.


in English


These are all taken from Elias Ashmole's Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum (1652: H93), 305-23, 393-6, 436 and 434 respectively.


'Out of Bloomfield's Blossoms' (an excerpt, beginning 'Father Time set me at ye gate'), 212 lines; 'A short work that beareth the name of Sr George Ripley', 92 lines (almost complete); and two 'Fragments', one untitled (beginning 'Let ye old man drink wine till he piss'), 8 lines, and the other headed 'The whole science', 11 lines.

[15] 8 pp.


See H751 for Newton's copy of van Helmont's work.

[17] 7 pp.


in Latin


Taken from George Ripley, Opera Omnia, Chemica, quotquot hactenus visa sunt (Kassel, 1649: H1405).

[20] 8 pp.


in Latin


Printed with an English translation in Dobbs, Foundations, 251-5. This was long regarded by Dobbs and many others as probably Newton's own work, but was in fact copied from an unpublished manuscript of George Starkey: see Newman, 'Newton's "Clavis"' (and Dobbs's acknowledgment of the reattribution, Janus Faces, 15).

[23] 3 pp.


in Latin


Reproduced with German translation and commentary in Karin Figala's unpublished thesis 'Newton als Alchemist' (Munich, 1978). See Dobbs, Foundations, 152-5 and 160-62 for a fuller description and arguments for the dating; also Figala, 'Exakte Alchemie', 179. H1192 is the Sendivogius work in question: for the rest of Newton's Sendivogius collection see also H445, 1131 (the Musaeum Hermeticum reformatum, which includes tracts by Sendivogius) and 1485 (but H445, a French version, post-dates these notes if Dobbs's dating is correct). H1311 is his copy of d'Espagnet's La philosophie naturelle. Further notes on Sendivogius in Keynes Ms. 55, Yahuda Ms. Var. 259.4 and Babson Ms. 925, Dibner Institute.


Annotated extracts from Michael Sendivogius and Jean d'Espagnet respectively. The right-hand half of each page consists of exegetical notes, which in the first set are headed 'Collectionum Explicationes', and in both cases take up rather more space than the original citations. f. 3v has the column headings 'Arcanum Hermeticæ Philosophiæ Opus' and 'Explicationes'.


in Latin


Both verses are copied from Elias Ashmole's Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum (1652: H93), 421-2 and 278-9 respectively, though the notes on the 'Green Lyon', comprising elucidatory cross-references to other alchemical authors, would seem to be Newton's own. (Ashmole's edition does include notes on the work as an appendix, but they are completely different from those in this manuscript.)


'The standing of ye glass for ye time of Putrefaction & Congelation of ye medecine', in verse, 14 lines; 'The hunting of ye Green Lyon' (an extract), in verse, c. 180 lines; 'Notes upon ye hunting of ye green Lyon', c. 500 words.

[30] 8 pp.


Keynes Ms. 23 is a Latin translation of the French original of Didier's work. See Dobbs, Janus Faces, 180-81, and Westfall, Never at Rest, 529. Westfall argues that this manuscript and Keynes Ms. 53 represent the first steps, taken in the early 1690s, that led ultimately to the major essay 'Praxis' (Babson Ms. 420).

[32] 35 pp.


in English with Latin citations


Copy of an unpublished treatise on the Philosophers' Stone, the 'Animal or Angelicall Stone', the 'Prospective [not 'Perspective' as stated in the Sotheby catalogue] stone or ye magical stone of Moses' and 'ye vegetable or ye growing stone'; concludes with an alchemical poem.

[35] 28 pp.


in English


Contains a Strasbourg lily watermark, as does Keynes Ms. 53: see Shapiro, 'Dating Game', 197-8.


See Dobbs, Janus Faces, 180: she suggests this is probably Newton's own translation. Cf. Keynes Mss. 21 and 53, and Babson Ms. 420.


A translation of the last section of Limojon de Didier's Triomphe Hermétique (1689), 'Lettre Aux vrays Disciples d'Hermes, Contenant six principales clefs de la Philosophie Secrete', then only extant (in published form, at least) in French (H1642).

[40] 19 pp.


in Latin


Transcript of an anonymous alchemical manuscript, an English version of which appeared in Aurifontina chymica, published by William Cooper in 1680 (see Westfall, 'Newton's Index Chemicus', 176, n. 9).

[43] 7 pp.


in Latin


Same watermark (with countermark AI) as Mellon Ms. 79 (probably mid-1670s), the essay 'De ære et æthere' (date uncertain but definitely not before 1673), part of the 'Hypothesis' sent to the Royal Society in December 1675, and a letter to Hooke of the same month: see Shapiro, 'Dating Game', 195-6.


See Dobbs, Foundations, 132 for discussion of the sources and dating of this manuscript. Apart from the first two items, Newton could have taken all this from Zetzner's Theatrum Chemicum. The first five are all based on works of 'Philalethes'. Cf. also Keynes Mss. 14, 29, 36 and Yahuda Ms. Var. 259.


f. 1r 'Out of Flammel./ The ffirst agent [not 'Angel' as stated in the Sotheby catalogue] painted in Abraham ye Iews 4 Hieroglyphicks', in English. From the same source as Keynes Ms. 14.

f. 1v 'Out of ye Comment[ary] on Ripleys Epistle to K. Edward' [i.e. 'Sir George Ripley's Epistle to King Edward Unfolded' by 'Eirenæus Philalethes'], in English.

f. 2r 'Ex libro de Metallorum Metamorphosi', in Latin.

f. 2v 'Ex Brevi Manuductione ad Rubinum cælestem', in Latin.

'Ex Fonte Chemicæ Philosophiæ', in Latin.

f. 3v 'Iterum ex Comment[ario] in Ripl[æi] Epist[ola] ad Reg[em] Edw[ardum]', in English with one sentence of Latin.

'Ex Epistola Com[itis] Trevisani ad Thom[am] Bonon[iam]', in Latin.

f. 4r 'Ex Artephio', in Latin.

'Ex Turba [i.e. 'Turba Philosophorum']', in Latin.

[48] 7 pp. on 4 ff.


in English and Latin


Printed with an introduction in D. Geoghegan, 'Some indications of Newton's attitude towards alchemy', Ambix 6 (1957), 102-6 (Newton's text on 105-6); text also in NC, 4: 196-9. Cf. the variant version in SL46 (Joseph Halle Schaffner Collection, Chicago), and excerpts from Edmund Dickinson in Harry Ransom Research Center, University of Texas. See also Keynes Ms. 50 and Yahuda Ms. Var.259.


Begins: 'On Munday March 2d or Tuesday March 3 1695/6, A Londoner acquainted wth Mr. Boyle & Dr. Dickinson making me a visit, affirmed that in the work of Iodochus a Rhe wth [vitriol] twas not necessary that the [vitriol] should be purified but the oyle or spirit might be taken as sold in shops', and goes on to record the mystery visitor's account of his method of 'subliming' vitriol to produce a 'menstruum' that dissolves all metals.

[52] 3 pp.


in English


Printed with an introduction in Churchill, 1967, q.v. for a discussion of sources and the suggestion that this is Newton's own translation. Dobbs (Janus Faces, 272) considers it to be a translation from the French Bibliothèque des philosophes (1672-8), and dates the translation late 1680s/early 1690s but considers the table of contents (f. 1r) to have been added in the late 1690s if not later. The main text (ff. 4r-12r) originally belonged after f. 2v of Keynes Ms. 28 (see Dobbs, Janus Faces, 272) but had been separated from it before the Sotheby sale, possibly by Newton himself. See H84 for Newton's copy of the Latin edition of the text, and H221 for his copy of the Bibliothèque des philosophes.


Translation [by Newton?] of a treatise on transmutation by 'Hermes Trismegistus'.

f. 1r 'The contents of ye 7 Chapters'.

f. 1v Brief Latin notes from Zetzner's Theatrum Chemicum.

ff. 4r-12r The translated text.

f. 12v Partial draft letter, undated and with no indication of addressee, on mathematics.

[56] 20 pp. on 12 ff. of which two blank.


mainly in English


Described in the Sotheby catalogue as '4 pp.', presumably meaning 4 written leaves, since all three parts of the document are listed there.


Transcribed with notes in Dobbs, Janus Faces, 271-7. She argues, mainly on the basis of the handwriting, that the document was composed as follows: f. 6r copied from a Latin version in the early 1680s, followed immediately or not long afterwards by what she considers to be Newton's own 'Commentarium' (ff. 6r-7r); the English translation (f. 2r-v) in the late 1680s or early 1690s (from French: cf. notes to Keynes Ms. 27) and the following annotations (f. 2v) later still, possibly even post-1700. These suggestions are repeated, with some modification, from her earlier article 'Newton's Commentary on the Emerald Tablet', which also includes a transcript of the English translation (183-4). See also notes to Keynes Ms. 27.

Another copy of the Latin text in Keynes Ms. 60, f. 6r. See H84.


f. 2r-v 'Tabula Smaragdina Hermetis Trismegistri [sic] Philosophorum patris': English translation of the Tabula Smaragdina followed by references to the 'ffrench Bibliotheque' [i.e. Bibliothèque des philosophes (1672-8): see notes to the previous entry] and Zetzner's Theatrum Chemicum.

f. 6r 'Hermes Trismegisti opera Chemica./ Tabula Smaragdina': the same passage in Latin.

ff. 6v-7r 'Commentarium': Latin notes on the above.

(ff. 1r and 5r both have the heading 'Hermes' but no text: according to Dobbs these were originally cover sheets for what are now the English sections of Keynes Mss. 27 and 28; the other leaves are blank.)

[61] 5 pp. on 10 ff.


in English and Latin


See Dobbs, Foundations, 131.


Begins with half a page in Latin on Hermes Trismegistus. Followed by English notes on the alchemical interpretation of ancient myths, then (ff. 1r-3r) Latin notes on a wide range of alchemical authors and myths, including references to Albertus Magnus, Flamel, the Rosicrucians, Lull and Geber. f. 2r has a diagram of a 'philosophical tree' taken from 'Anonymus Philosophicus Delphicus'. f. 3r has the subheading 'Aurum quot modis crescit & purgatur'. Concludes on f. 5r with 'Symbola 12 Sapientum': a list of the twelve sages who attend Maier's 'Banquet' together with their alchemical mottoes: they are Hermes [Trismegistus], Maria [the Jewess], Democritus, Morienus, Avicenna, Albertus Magnus, Arnoldus [de Villanova], Thomas Aquinas, Raim[undus] Lullius, 'Rocher [i.e. Roger] Bacon', Melchior [Cibinensis] and 'Anonymus Sarmata'.

[65] 9 pp. on 5 ff.


in Latin and English


Discussed, with a transcript of two of the recipes and facsimile of the table of symbols, in Dobbs, Foundations, 137-8.


Seven pages of alchemical recipes followed by a table of (al)chemical symbols. Clearly not Newton's own composition though the source(s) has/have not been identified.

[69] 8 pp. on 4 ff.


in English


See Westfall, Never at Rest, 524, and H1044, 1046, 1048 and 1052.


On the cover in Thomas Pellet's hand: 'No 17'.

a) 'Symbola aureæ mensæ duodecim nationum, Authore Michaele Majero. Dat. Francofurti mense Decemb. 1616. Edit Francofurti 1617. Anno ætatis Majeri 49', including copies by Newton of two of Maier's alchemical emblems, 20 pp.

b) 'Lusus Serius. Authore Mich. Majero Com. Pal. Med. D. Dat. 1616 mense Septembri', 4 pp.

c) 'Atalanta fugiens, hoc est Emblemata nova &c. Dat Francofurti mens. Aug. 1617. Edit 1618', 24 pp.

d) 'Viatorium, hoc est De montibus Planetarum septem. Datum Francofurti ad Mœn. 1618. mense Septembri. Edit Rothomagi 1651', 16 pp.

e) 'Septimana Philosophica. Dat. Magdeburgi Anno 1620, Ian. 11 styl. vet.', 24 pp.

[73] 88 pp.


in Latin


'Mr F' may be Ezekiel Foxcroft, Fellow of King's College and translator of J.V. Andreæ's Chymische Hochzeit: see Dobbs, Foundations, 111-12 (though the suggestion is disputed by Figala, 'Newton as Alchemist', 103). There is another reference to 'Mr. F.', unequivocally meaning Foxcroft, in 'De Scriptoribus Chemicis', Stanford University Library Ms.: see Figala et al., 'De Scriptoribus', 146-7. Newton's notes clearly date from no earlier than 1675 (the year in which the manuscript was communicated to him), and the handwriting suggests not much later: the preceding text could of course be earlier.


See Figala, 'Exakte Alchemie', 161, including a partial transcript of Newton's comments. A similar version of the text, but without Newton's additions and commentaries, was published by William Cooper in the anthology Aurifontana Chymica (London, 1680: H103).


A disquisition on the nature of alchemy, stressing that making gold is the most trivial of its aims. Followed by recipes 'To make all pretious stones better then the Natural', 'To make a Diamant', etc. On f. 5r, in Newton's hand, two further recipes under the headings 'Praxis Lapidis' and 'Multiplication', and then a series of notes on the foregoing text headed 'Here follow several notes & different readings collected out of a M.S. communicated to Mr F. by W.S. in 1670, & by Mr F. to me 1675'. Finally (f. 6r), 'An epitome of the practise of the work', also in Newton's hand.

[78] 11 pp. on 6 ff.


in English


Abstracted (with copious page references) from various works of 'Eirenæus Philalethes'.

[81] 6 pp. on 3 ff.


in English


Sections (e) and (f) are wrongly described in the Sotheby catalogue as 5 and 4 pp. respectively.


a) 'Cap 1.', text beginning 'Quomodo metalla generantur', in Latin, c. 1,200 words, 3 pp.

b) 'Cap 3 De radice semine spermate et corpore mineralium', in Latin, c. 1,200 words, 3 pp.

c) 'Cap 3 De Mineralibus ex quibus lapis desumitur', in Latin but including an English verse extract from Thomas Norton, c. 3,500 words, 11 pp.

d) Untitled notes on mercury, lead, tin, sulphur and iron, in Latin and English, citing a very wide range of authors, c. 4,500 words, 14 pp.

e) 'De Mercurio duplato', in Latin, 4 pp., with the sub-headings: 'Ex Turba', 'Ex Artephio', 'Ex Bernardo Trevisano', 'Ex Flamelli Annotationibus'; followed by an earlier draft also headed 'De [mercurio] duplato' (1 p.) and notes out of Dionysius Zacharias (1 p.); in all c. 1,600 words.

f) 'De conjunctione in hora nativitatis', in Latin and English, c. 2,500 words, 8 pp.

Originally enclosed in a wrapper bearing a list of contents, which has somehow found its way into Keynes Ms. 30 (f. 1).

[85] 45 pp. on 30 ff. of which 3 blank.


mainly in Latin but with several sections in English


Taken from Martinus Birrius, Tres Tractatus De Metallorum Transmutatione [...] incognita auctore (Amsterdam 1668: H1641), containing these three compositions, which are in fact by 'Eirenæus Philalethes' (i.e. George Starkey). See Dobbs, Foundations, 131-2.


'De Metallorum Metamorphosi' (f. 1r), divided into a preface and chapters; 'Brevis Manuductio ad rubinum cœlestem' (f. 3r); 'Fons Chemicæ Philosophiæ' (f. 3v).

[89] 8 pp. on 4 ff.


in Latin


These are all excerpted from Elias Ashmole's Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum (1652: H93), in which the works quoted from appear on pp. 1-106, 227-56, 275-7 and 257-68 respectively.


'Out of Norton's Ordinal', 200 lines; 'Out of Chaucer's Tale of ye Chanon's Yeoman', 12 lines; 'Out of ye work of Richard Carpenter', 14 lines. Followed by the heading 'Out of Dastins Dream', but this entry breaks off after only one line.

[93] 7 pp. on 4 ff

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Professor Rob Iliffe
Director, AHRC Newton Papers Project

Scott Mandelbrote,
Fellow & Perne librarian, Peterhouse, Cambridge

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