Catalogue Entry: ALCH00065

Nine miscellaneous items relating to (al)chemical processes.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: B MS c 41, Edwin Newton Ohl Collection, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, Boston Medical Library, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Custodial History

Bought at the Sotheby sale by Francis Edwards for £56 and sold to Yahuda, who promised to pass it on to Keynes as part of an exchange deal (see notes to Yahuda Var. 1 Ms. 24 and Spargo, '1936 sale', 130). How it was acquired by the Boston Medical Library is unknown.

Sotheby Lot



The headings in the text are as follows:

1 'The Regimens described, wth ye times & signes', mainly consisting of notes and abstracts from 'Philalethes'' works, especially Secrets Reveal'd, in English, c. 2,000 words, 6 pp.

2 'Of Proportions': Latin extracts from various sources, mainly the Turba Philosophorum and 'Philalethes'' Introitus Apertus [the Latin version of Secrets Reveal'd], c. 1,200 words, 4 pp.

3 'De Primis materialibus principijs', in Latin, c. 1,000 words, 8 pp. Unfinished lexicon, with entries beginning 'De Magnesia', 'De Saturno', 'De 4 Elementis' and the like, with gaps for more material to be added. Includes the sub-headings 'De Sale', 'De præparatione mercurij', 'De Extractione sulphuris', with several individual entries under each.

4 'Axioms', in English with Latin citations, c. 800 words, 4 pp. Forty-three numbered instructions for an alchemical operation, followed by four further unnumbered notes, citing a wide range of sources with blank spaces left for precise volume and page references to be filled in.

5 Draft headings for an alchemical index (from 'Aqua compos' to 'Venus'), 4 pp., described on the title page as 'An alphabeticall explanation of chemicall words': there are no entries except that most of the headings are followed by one or more [page?] numbers.

6 'Conclusione ex Riplei operibus deductæ', in Latin, c. 1,000 words, 3 pp. Twenty-six conclusions interpreting passages from Ripley, with page references.

7 'Præparatio Salis ex Riplæi operibus', Latin notes, c. 500 words, 2 pp.

'Salis virtutes', Latin notes, c. 500 words, 2 pp.

8 'Of the Alcahest', mainly in English with some Latin, c. 3,000 words, 8 pp. Notes drawn principally from [J.B. Van] Helmont and 'Philalethes'.

9 'De medendi Arte, & usu Lapidis', in English and Latin, c. 2,000 words, 6 pp. Notes from a wide range of sources including the Book of Maccabees. Followed by two brief notes in Latin headed 'De projectione' and 'De morbis sanandis', 1 p.


The Sotheby catalogue describes this lot as consisting of seven items, treating sections 5-7 as one item. The divisions used here are those stipulated by Newton himself on the title sheet. The title sheet also promises a tenth section, 'A Collection of ancient Hieroglyphicks', but if this was ever present it had vanished by the date of the Sotheby sale.

Section 1 discussed and quoted at length in Dobbs, 'Newton's Copy of "Secrets Reveal'd"', 150-52.

© 2021 The Newton Project

Professor Rob Iliffe
Director, AHRC Newton Papers Project

Scott Mandelbrote,
Fellow & Perne librarian, Peterhouse, Cambridge

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