Catalogue Entry: ALCH00037

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

[Normalized Text (at Chymistry of Isaac Newton)]

Custodial History

Bought at the Sotheby sale by Maggs Brothers for £62 and sold to Keynes on 19 August 1936 for the sale price plus 20%.

Sotheby Lot



Foliation is continuous through the three sections.

a) Begins with two pages of rough notes in Latin and English. Then comes an incomplete tract in Latin, consisting largely of extracts from other writers but woven into a continuous text, with the following sub-headings:

f. 2r 'Lapidis Compositio'

f. 6r 'Elementorum Conversio Conjunctio et Decoctio in Opere secundo vel utroq[ue]'

f. 10r 'Regimen Ignis'

b) Excerpts, mostly in Latin but with some English:

f. 15v 'Ex Tractatus quinto Rosarij abbreviati'

f. 16r Main heading: 'Materia'. Followed by extracts on the subject 'Ex Philalethi' (f. 16r), 'Ex Trevisano' (f. 18r), 'Ex Grassæ' (f. 19r), 'Ex Epistolo Anonymi in Th. Ch. vol 6 p. 474' (f. 21v), 'Ex Maiero' (also f. 21v), 'Ex Basilio Valentino' (f. 22v), 'Ex Snydero' (f. 23v), 'Iterum ex Basilio Valentino' (f. 24r), 'Ex Rosario Magno' (f. 24v).

c) 'Decoctio': a self-contained treatise or chapter on the 'regimens', in English with some Latin, consisting like a) of interwoven extracts from a huge range of sources. The headings are drawn (in order) from chapters 24-30 of 'Philalethes'' Secrets Reveal'd, as follows:

f. 26r 'Regimen Mercurij'

f. 32r 'Regimen Saturni'

f. 37r 'Regimen Iovis'

f. 45r 'Regimen Lunæ'

f. 51r 'Regimen Veneris Martis et Solis'

Followed (f. 54r to the end) by an earlier partial draft also headed 'Decoctio'.

The whole is enclosed in a wrapper covered with notes and rough drawings of stills, retorts, etc., on which Thomas Pellet has written 'No 13'.

See H554, 838, 1034, 1296, 1407, 1478, 1553 and 1644 (Newton's 'Philalethes' collection), H168-9 (Trevisanus), H1044-1052 (Maier), H127-130 (Basil Valentine). See also Dobbs, 'Newton's Copy of "Secrets Reveal'd"', 158-9.

© 2023 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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