Introducing Newton’s Alchemical Papers

At the beginning of 2004, The Chymistry of Isaac Newton was established at the University of Indiana. Their goals are:

  • to transcribe Newton’s alchemical manuscripts
  • to investigate the laboratory techniques of Newton’s time
  • to replicate contemporary equipment and experiments

The Chymistry of Isaac Newton operates in close collaboration with us with a view to creating a comprehensive resource that will encompass all aspects of Newton’s thought and activity. A full listing of the source material it will make available can be found in the Alchemical Papers section of the Newton Project’s online catalogue. Links to the material already available on the Chymistry site are provided below.

Alchemical texts sorted by date

1.

Notebook containing notes and experimental reports

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: MS Add. 3975, Cambridge University Library, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00110

2.

Transcript of 'Sr George Ripley His Epistle to K Edward unfolded'

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 52, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00041

3.

Two incomplete treatises on the vegetative growth of metals and minerals

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: NMAHRB Ms. 1031 B, Dibner Library, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., USA

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00081

4.

'Verses at the end of B[asil] Valentine's mystery of the Microcosm'

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 63, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00052

5.

Notes evidently on Newton's own laboratory experiments

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: MS Add. 3973, Cambridge University Library, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00109

6.

Twelve small bundles of alchemical notes and extracts from a very wide range of sources.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Ms. Var. 259, National Library of Israel, Jerusalem, Israel

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00063

7.

'Index Chemicus'

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 30, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00019

8.

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

9.

'Of ye first Gate'

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 53, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00042

10.

'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

11.

Notes on the works of George Ripley [from a manuscript version of 'Eirenæus Philalethes'' Ripley Reviv'd (1678)] (late 1660s/ early 1670s).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 51, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00040

12.

'Experimenta Raymundi', 6 pp.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 47, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00036

13.

'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

14.

Draft alchemical treatise or compilation.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: NMAHRB Ms. 1070 A, Dibner Library, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., USA

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00084

15.

'Several Questions concerning the Ph[ilosoph]ers St[one]'.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 44, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00033

16.

'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

17.

Notes on various (al)chemical processes (separations, processions, sublimations, distillations, etc.).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 57, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00046

18.

'Ripley expounded', 12 pp.; and 'Notes upon Ripley,' in English, c. 1,500 words, 7 pp.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 54, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00043

19.

'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

20.

'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

21.

'Pearce the black Monck upon ye Elixir': an alchemical verse allegory, 226 lines.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 42, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00031

22.

Three apparently unrelated fragments (early-mid 1670s).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 58, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00047

23.

'Practica Mariæ Prophetissæ in Artem Alchemicam' (early 1690s).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 45, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00034

24.

Miscellaneous alchemical notes and recipes

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: QD14.N498, Chemical Heritage Foundation, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00202

25.

'Out of La Lumiere sortant des Tenebres' and 'Out of the Commentator on La Lumiere sortant de Tenebris [sic]' (c. 1687-92), incomplete.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Yahuda Ms. 30, National Library of Israel, Jerusalem, Israel

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00061

26.

Excerpts from Jodocus a Rhe [Johannes Rhenanus], with transcripts of letters to Dr. John Twysden [Twisden] from 'A.C. [leg. A.O.?] Faber' and notes on a work by Faber. In Latin.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 50, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00039

27.

Two unrelated tracts in the same hand (not Newton's)

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 91, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00057

28.

Three related sets of notes (late 1680s-90s).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: NMAHRB Ms. 1032 B, Dibner Library, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., USA

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00082

29.

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

30.

'De Igne sophorum et materia quam calefacit'.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Yahuda Ms. 38, National Library of Israel, Jerusalem, Israel

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00062

31.

Notes and abstracts 'Ex Fabri Hydrographo Spagyrico' (f. 1r) and 'Ex Palladio Spagyrico' (f. 2r), with page references (1690s?).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: NMAHRB Ms. 1024 B, Dibner Library, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., USA

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00079

32.

Memorandum by Newton (1696).

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00015

33.

'Sententiæ luciferæ et Conclusiones notabiles' (1696-8?).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 56, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00045

34.

'De secreto solu[tionum? (MS torn)]'.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 59, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00048

35.

'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

36.

Notebook containing little but headings ('De Sale'; 'Solutio'; 'Conjunctio et Liquefactio'; 'Imbibitio & Calcinatio', etc.), with gaps for entries left blank apart from a few perfunctory notes in Latin.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Ms. Var. 260, National Library of Israel, Jerusalem, Israel

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00064

37.

'Tabula Smaragdina' and 'Hieroglyphica Planetarum'.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 60, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00049

38.

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00078

39.

'Notanda Chymica' (late 1660s).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: NMAHRB Ms. 1028 B, Dibner Library, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., USA

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00080

40.

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

41.

Two accounts of alchemical operations (1690s?).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: NMAHRB Ms. 1041 B, Dibner Library, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., USA

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00083

42.

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

43.

Four alchemical verse allegories, in English.

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00004

44.

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

45.

'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

46.

Two alchemical treatises (one incomplete; after 1686) and a collection of short extracts from various alchemical sources.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 48, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00037

47.

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

48.

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

49.

Three alchemical verse extracts, in English.

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00026

50.

Incomplete abstract of Yworth's 'Processus Mysterii Magni Philosophicus' condensed into five chapters (c. early 1690s).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 66, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00055

51.

'Observations of ye matter in ye Glass. Authore Anonymo' (mid-1670s).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 39, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00028

52.

Three alchemical excerpts (1668/9).

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00025

53.

Incomplete draft treatise on the sequence of operations to be effected in transmutation.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 40, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00029

54.

A similar composition to Keynes Ms. 40, covering the first six 'operations' (but the fourth is missing). In Latin apart from some citations from George Ripley in English verse in the last two sections.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 41, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00030

55.

'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

56.

Chemical notes, partly in another hand.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: NMAHRB Ms. 1007 B, Dibner Library, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., USA

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00077

57.

Notes on Sendivogius (c. 1685-90).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 55, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00044

58.

'Basil Valentine Currus Triumphalis Antimonij': notes and abstracts (c. 1667-8).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 64, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00053

59.

Transcripts from two published alchemical tracts.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 43, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00032

60.

Two sets of notes.

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00001

61.

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

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00020

62.

'The Work of an old Priest, viz: B.' and other alchemical recipes (late 1660s).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 62, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00051

63.

'The Three Fires'.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 46, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00035

64.

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

65.

'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

66.

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

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00024

67.

'The Regimen' (early 1680s).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 49, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00038

68.

'Thesaurus Thesaurorum sive Medicina Aurea'.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 61, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00050

69.

Notebook (early 1690s), containing alchemical notes from a wide range of sources.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 38, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00027

70.

'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

© 2017 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 - newtonproject@history.ox.ac.uk

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