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.

'Index Chemicus'

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00019

7.

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

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.

'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

11.

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

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00034

12.

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

13.

Memorandum by Newton (1696).

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00015

14.

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

15.

Four alchemical verse allegories, in English.

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00004

16.

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

17.

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

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00048

18.

'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

19.

'The Regimen' (early 1680s).

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00038

20.

'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

21.

Transcripts from two published alchemical tracts.

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00032

22.

Two sets of notes.

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00001

23.

'Thesaurus Thesaurorum sive Medicina Aurea'.

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00050

24.

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

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00047

25.

'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

26.

'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

27.

'Tabula Smaragdina' and 'Hieroglyphica Planetarum'.

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00049

28.

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

29.

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

30.

Notes on Sendivogius (c. 1685-90).

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00044

31.

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

32.

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

33.

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

34.

Three alchemical excerpts (1668/9).

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00025

35.

Miscellaneous alchemical notes and recipes

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00202

36.

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

37.

'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

38.

'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

39.

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

40.

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

41.

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

42.

'De Igne sophorum et materia quam calefacit'.

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00062

43.

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

44.

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

45.

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

46.

'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

47.

'Experimenta Raymundi', 6 pp.

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00036

48.

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

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00045

49.

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

50.

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

51.

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

52.

'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

53.

'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

54.

'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

55.

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

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00020

56.

'Notanda Chymica' (late 1660s).

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00080

57.

'The Three Fires'.

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00035

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.

'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

60.

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

61.

'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

62.

'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

63.

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

64.

Three alchemical verse extracts, in English.

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00026

65.

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

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00024

66.

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

67.

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

68.

'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

69.

'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

70.

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

© 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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