Alchemical texts sorted by date

Newton’s alchemical works are being transcribed by our sister project, The Chymistry of Isaac Newton at the University of Indiana. Links to the material already available on the Chymistry site are provided below. 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.


Notes evidently on Newton's own laboratory experiments

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00109


Notebook containing notes and experimental reports

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00110


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


'Index Chemicus'

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00019


'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


'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


Extracts in A.R. and M.B. Hall, 'Newton's chemical experiments'. Section 8 printed in Dobbs, Janus Faces, 288-92. Section 11 printed in Brewster (1855), 2: 535-6.


The numbers preceding each set of experiments (except the tenth, which is not numbered on the manuscript) seem to have been added by a later hand.

1. (f. 1r) 'Experiments' dated 10 Dec. 1678 to 15 Jan. [1678/9?]. On subliming antimony with sal ammoniac and alloying antimony with lead, iron and other metals. In English, 3 pp.

2. (f. 5r) 'Experimts' dated Jan. 1679/80. On subliming antimonial sublimate with lead antimoniate. 22 Jan. Action of nitric acid and sal ammoniac on antimony sulphide, and further sublimations. In English, 8 pp.

3. (f. 9r) 'Experiments Feb. 1679/80.' On fusing antimony with vitriol and other substances. Sublimation of various metals with antimony and sal ammoniac. Action of oil of vitriol on galena, of nitric acid on sublimate of antimony, and others in the same vein In English, 6 pp.

4. (f. 13r) 'Experiments Aug. 1682.' Similar experiments; some on lead ore, others on an alloy of tin and bismuth referred to as 'Diana' (cf. references to the 'Doves of Diana' in Keynes Mss. 34 and 59). In English, 4 pp.

5. (f. 17r) 'Expts. Iuly 10 [no year]'. Sublimations of calx albus with [sal ammoniac?]. [The symbol used is a six-armed asterisk, which is not a conventional symbol for anything. Most (al)chemical writers at the period, including Newton, normally use an eight-armed asterisk for 'sal ammoniac', though Newton sometimes uses the eight-armed asterisk for 'star regulus of antimony': see Dobbs, Janus Faces, 296.] Includes the striking if enigmatic claim 'Iuly 10. Vidi [salammoniacum?] philosophicum. [...] Digestus cum tinctura Veneris [uncia] 5 gr 20 dabat Leonem vir[idem] gr 10. & [vitriolem] gr 180 vel 200 sed [vitriolus] istud per destillationem nullum emittebit [salammoniacum?] ph[ilosoph]icum' ['I saw the philosophical [sal ammoniac?]. 20 grains digested with 5 ounces of tincture of Venus [i.e. copper] gave 10 grains of the green Lion and 180 or 200 grains of vitriol, but upon distillation this vitriol yielded no philosophical [sal ammoniac?]']. In Latin, 1 p.

6. (f. 19r) 'Experimts April 26t 1686.' On a volatile salt of zinc [apparently the chloride], and on an alloy derived from ores of iron, antimony, tin , lead, and bismuth. 16 May. On subliming 'Ve. vo.' [probably 'Venus volans' or 'volatisata', i.e. volatilised copper] with precipitates of antimony and iron, and with mercury. In English, 2 pp.

7. (f. 21r) 'Experiments' dated 5 and 16 March 1690/1. On some bismuth compounds and the action of aqua fortis on alloys of tin, bismuth and zinc. In English, 5 pp. Followed by a page headed 'Experiments of Refining Gold by Antimony made by Dr Ionathan Goddard' but with no text (cf. Babson Ms. 725).

8. (f. 25r) 'Experiments & observations Dec. 1692 & Ian. 1692/3.' On the action of barm in brewing and distilling. Other experiments on the salts of metals and various sublimations. Comparison of the fusibility of alloys of lead, tin, and bismuth in various proportions. Further observations dated April and June 1693 on vitrification of reguluses and the fermentation of 'The two serpents' with the salts of various metals. In English, 7 pp.

9. (f. 29r) 'Experiments April 1695.' Experiments with antimony and ores of iron, copper, and tin, and sublimations with sal ammoniac. (f. 30v) 'Experiments Feb. 1695/6' Sublimations of antimony with iron ore. In English, 5 pp.

[10.] (f. 32r) Undated notes on miscellaneous experiments, including studies of the action of aqua fortis on antimony sulphide; sublimation of an alloy of antimony and lead with sal ammoniac; experiments on lead ore and other substances. In English, 29 pp.

11. (f. 51r) 'De metallo ad conficiendum speculum componendo & fundendo': a Latin recipe, 2 pp.

[3] 51 ff. several of which blank.


mostly in English but two sets in Latin


The first, primarily optical, section of the manuscript (to p. 22) is discussed in A.R. Hall, 'Further optical experiments of Isaac Newton', Annals of Science 11 (1955), 27-43, and transcribed in McGuire and Tamny, Certain Philosophical Questions, 466-89. Article 64 (on the optic nerve) was first published (with due acknowledgment) in Joseph Harris, Treatise on Optics (1775), 108-10, with a copy of the diagram in the plate following p. 110, and again from Harris's edition by Brewster (1855), 1: 432-6. Several extracts from the following pages printed in A.R. and M.B. Hall, 'Newton's chemical experiments'. Experiments on pp. 45-6 printed in Brewster (1855), 2: 366-7. pp. 81-2 printed in Dobbs, Foundations, 249-50. See also H254-H276 for Newton's extensive Boyle collection.


Covers a range of subjects, principally optics and chemistry. A number of the chemical notes are closely related to those in Additional Ms. 3973.

On both sides of the fly-leaf: a table with notes of the value, hardness and other properties of various gems.

pp. 1-22 'Of Colours': a series of 64 'articles'. Articles 1-5: notes on experiments 9, 10 and 11 in Boyle's Experiments and Considerations Touching Colours (1664). Arts. 6-26: experiments with prisms. Arts. 27-43: on the effects of thin layers of air or water between prisms. Arts. 44-8: further experiments with prisms, including (46-8) the production of white and other colours of light by admixture. Art. 49: reflection at two contiguous glass surfaces. Art. 50: on the phenomena of colours in thin flakes of glass, soap bubbles and thin films of metal or water. Arts. 51-3: experiments on the effects of internal reflection of light in spheres of water, with several references to Descartes. Art. 54: on the effect of oblique rays on the size of the spot at contact of two glasses. Art. 55: on the diminished reflective power of a glass surface when placed in water. Arts. 56-7: on the reflective effects of powders and 'flawed' bodies with multiple reflecting surfaces. Arts. 58-62: notes on the effects of distorting the eyeball, including a diagram of Newton's experiment of putting a bodkin 'betwixt my eye & ye bone as neare to ye backside of ye eye as I could: & pressing my eye with ye end of it' (facsimile in Westfall, Never at Rest, 95). Art. 63: on the after-image of colours on the retina. Art. 64: an account of the retina and optic nerve, with a diagram.

p. 22 Calculations of the 'thicknesse of a vibration' of light passing through various media; notes from Boyle's 'Of ye determinate nature of Effluviums' [1673] on heightened sense perception during illness; notes on vegetable substances that 'turn vitriol to a black precipitate'.

p. 23 Recipe 'To make excellent Ink'.

pp. 25-41 'Of Cold, & Heate'. Notes 'On the Mechanical Origin of Heat and Cold', mainly from Boyle [Experiments, Notes, &c. about the Mechanical Origine or Production of divers particular Qualities (1675)] but including some observations either of Newton's own or from another source.

[pp. 42-4 blank]

pp. 45-6 More notes from Boyle. An incomplete experiment on the height of the thermometer in various substances. Others on the expansion of air and linseed oil when heated.

pp. 49-51 'Of fire, flame, ye heate & ebullition of ye heart & divers mixed liquors & Respiration': notes from Boyle's New Experiments Physico-mechanicall, Touching the Spring of the Air (1660). An account of experiments on flame, with the conclusion 'yt flame & vapour differ onely as bodys red hot & not red hot' (pp. 49-50), and that heat is 'made by division of parts: for when two particles are parted it makes ye æther rush in betwixt ym and so vibrate' (p. 51).

p. 51 'The Phosphorus': a recipe for making it from urine and sand.

[pp. 53-60 blank]

pp. 61-5 'Of fformes & Transmutations wrought in them': notes from Boyle [The Origine of Formes and Qualities (1666)] with page references.

p. 65 Excerpts from Starkey's Pyrotechny Asserted [1658].

p. 66 Note on a petrifying spring in Peru, from a Spanish treatise on 'The Art of metals' translated by the Earl of Sandwich.

[pp. 57-70 blank]

pp. 71-80 'Of Salts, & Sulphureous bodys, & Mercury & Mettalls': extracts from Boyle [The Origine of Formes and Qualities (1666)].

p. 80 Recipe for the extraction of mercury from the nitrate and from corrosive sublimate by various other metals.

pp. 81-2 Recipes for making regulus of antimony by different metals.

pp. 83-4 Notes of alloys which fuse at low temperatures, and others which give a crystalline mass from fusion. Notes on the reaction of various chemicals with salt, including that of tartarum vitriolatum ('it makes a great effervescence, and an earthy sediment is precipitated out of the salt of Tartar [...] This precipitate some \fools/ call Magisterium Tartari Vitriolati' (p. 84)): reference to David Vonder Becke as an authority for this.

pp. 85-92 Notes and extracts mainly from various works of Boyle.

pp. 93-100 Various recipes and extracts on chemical reactions, chiefly from Boyle.

p. 101 Recipes for various preparations of antimony. Note of the action of corrosive sublimate on various ores.

p. 102-4 Notes of experiments on the preparation of regulus of antimony and the action of corrosive sublimate on antimony, silver, and mercury; of the heat produced by mixing oil of vitriol with water or spirit of wine [alcohol]; of the preparation of ether and oil of wine.

pp. 104-5 Notes on the warmth emitted on mixing water with spirit of antimony, and of various chemical reactions: the last (on saturation of spirit of antimony by different substances) has blanks left for the quantities.

pp. 106-7 Further chemical experiments. Note on the composition of fusible metal.

pp. 108-12 Chemical experiments chiefly on preparations of antimony and scoria of reguluses. 'N' [presumably 'N[ota]'] marked in the margin against several of these.

p. 113 Notes on the action of distilled liquor of antimony on salts of lead, iron and copper; action of heat on tartarised antimony.

p. 114 Notes on the action of spar on distilled liquor of antimony, vinegar, and aquafortis, and of salt from the clay of lead mines on the same; action of nitre on antimony.

pp. 115-16 Notes on the action of oil of vitriol on lead ore, and of an antimonial sublimate on several substances.

pp. 117-20 Experiments with 'ven. vol.' ['venus volans' or 'volatisata'].

p. 121 Deleted note in Latin that on 10, 14 and 15 May 1681 Newton comprehended various alchemical names.

p. 122 Another deleted note in Latin that on 18 May [presumably 1681] he finished deciphering the alchemical symbol of the 'caduceus' ['rod of mercury'], followed by experiments dated 10 June on sublimation of green and blue vitriol with sal ammoniac and of the resulting sublimate with lead ore.

pp. 123-6 Experiments dated May and June 1682 on sublimation of various salts with sal ammoniac, and various metals and alloys with sal ammoniac and with antimony.

pp. 127-30 Experiments dated 6 June and 4 July 1682 on obtaining regulus from a mixture of lead ores, antimony and bismuth; and others similar.

p. 131 Experiments on the action of various reguluses with an unspecified spirit [of salt?].

pp. 132-4 Further experiments on sublimation, with the date Tuesday 19 July [no year] at the top of p. 133.

pp. 135-9 Experiment dated 29 Feb. 1683/4 on the preparation of chlorides of mercury.

pp. 140-49 Various experiments relating to 'the net' [an elaborate alchemical concept for discussion of which see Dobbs, Foundations, 161-3]. One experiment (p. 149) is dated 'Friday May 23' [no year].

p. 150 Experiments on the spirit of zinc, dated 'Apr. 26, 1686 Wednesday'.

pp. 151-8 Experiments on alloys of copper, antimony and iron, incomplete here but resumed on p. 267.

pp. 159-167, 169-174, 177-182 (intermediate pages blank) Extracts, chiefly from Boyle but with others from Starkey and van Helmont, on 'The medical virtues of Saline & other Præparations'.

[pp. 183-6 blank]

pp. 187-193 'Medical observations', principally drawn from Boyle.

[pp. 194-206 blank]

p. 207 'Of volatile salts of Animal & vegetable substances': further extracts from Boyle.

[p. 208 blank]

pp. 209-223 'Of Alcalia': extracts from Starkey's Pyrotechny Asserted (1658: H1553).

pp. 224-264 Largely blank, except for a series of headings (only two of which have any text attached), as follows: 'Gross Ingredients' (p. 227); 'ffirst preparation' (p. 229); '3 Principles' (p. 231); '4 Elements' (p. 233); 'Mercuries' (p. 235), 'Sulphurs' (p. 237); 'Salts' (p. 239); 'ffires' (p. 241); 'Of ye work wth common [gold]', followed by notes and excerpts from 'Philalethes'' Secrets Reveal'd and Snyders' Commentatio de pharmaco catholico, gaps being left for page references (pp. 243-4); 'Of ye work with artificial [gold]' (p. 245); 'Times' (p. 247); 'Proportions' (p. 249); 'Hieroglyphicks' (p. 251); 'Progress of ye Decoction' (p. 253); 'Vse of ye stone' (p. 257); 'Miscellanies' (p. 259) 'Of ye work with common sol.', followed by cryptic references to various works of 'Philalethes' (p. 261).

p. 265 Recipe for 'Spiritus dulcis Vitrioli' and notes on its medical uses, in Latin.

p. 266 ff. Three pages (two of which are unnumbered) of medical recipes.

pp. 267-283 Resumption of experimental reports from p. 158, with further similar experiments on regulus of antimony and various alloys, interspersed (p. 267) with an account [from an unidentified source] of a 'menstruum' for extracting the 'tinctures' of all metals).

The rest of the book is blank apart from four pages at the end, which are taken up with notes of Newton's expenses on chemicals bought in 1687 while he was in London to appear before the Ecclesiastical Commission, similar chemical expenses in 1693, and notes on the preparation of sal ammoniac.

[7] 283 pp. + 4 pp. starting from the back.


mostly in English with some Latin and Greek


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].

[11] 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).

[16] 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.

[19] 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.

[23] 8 pp.


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

[25] 7 pp.


in Latin


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

[28] 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).

[31] 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.

[38] 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).

[40] 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.

[43] 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).

[48] 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).

[51] 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.

[56] 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.

[60] 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.

[64] 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.)

[69] 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'.

[73] 9 pp. on 5 ff.


in Latin and English


Followed by related drafts and supplementary material, also in Latin, c. 5,000 words. Erroneously described in the Sotheby catalogue as 113 pp. + 49 pp.


Detailed account in Westfall, 'Newton's Index Chemicus'; see also his Never at Rest, 358-9.


The main text of the 'Index' appears on the rectos, with supplementary notes on the facing versos.

An elaborate alphabetical subject-index to the literature of alchemy, giving page references to over 144 different works, with several earlier and less elaborate drafts. In the most finished (though evidently incomplete) version (Ms. 30 a), the references are frequently supplemented by definitions of terms and processes or even short essays on the topic in question.

Ms. 30 a)

f. 1 An unrelated title page and table of contents which appears to have come astray (before the Sotheby sale) from Keynes Ms. 35: many though not all of the headings listed occur also in that manuscript.

f. 2 Title: 'Index Chemicus'. On the following folios (3-94), most head-words are followed by a definition and references, others merely by references, and a few by gaps to be filled in at a later date.

Ms. 30 b)

f. 1r 'Index Chymicus': alphabetical draft list of subject headings for the index, followed (ff. 2-5) by another index, much less developed than that in a) above.

Ms. 30 c)

Another draft 'Index Chemicus' on 12 ff.

Ms. 30 d)

'Supplementum Indicis Chemici' on 8 ff.

[78] 123 pp. on 94 ff.


in Latin

[80] Index Chemicus (part a) Index Chemicus (part b)


The remainder of these notes had become detached before the Sotheby sale and were sold, together with a separate set of notes on the same work, as SL41, which is now Babson Ms. 414 (q.v. for further details).


The complete text, i.e. Yahuda Var. 1 Ms. 30 and Babson Ms. 414B, is transcribed with very useful introductory notes in Dobbs, Janus Faces, 278-87. H1003 is Newton's copy of the French text.


Abstracts translated [by Newton?] from La lumière sortant par soy même des tenebres (1687), itself a translation of a Latin translation of and commentary on an original text in Italian verse possibly by Otto Tachenius. The commentary begins on f. 1v. On the 'grand mercury of Philosophers' and analogies between alchemical transmutations and the original Creation. Includes occasional elucidatory notes by Newton in square brackets.

[84] 4 pp.


in 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.

[88] 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.

[92] 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.

[97] 11 pp. on 6 ff.


in English

© 2021 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 -

Privacy Statement

  • University of Oxford
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council
  • JISC