Catalogue Entry: ALCH00112

Notes on the mining, preparation and properties of 'Saturn' [i.e. lead] (mid-1670s).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Mellon Alchemical Mss Mellon Ms. 79, Mellon Alchemical Mss, Beinecke Library, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA

Custodial History

Bought at the Sotheby sale for £10.10s. by Pickering & Chatto. Acquired on 21 April 1943 by Mary Mellon from William Gannon, a New York bookseller.

Sotheby Lot



Begins with excerpts from 'Philalethes'' The Marrow of Alchemy (1654: H1034), book 3, p. 1: 'Saturn though vile & base to see, is of oe secrets all ye ground. In [Saturn] is hid an immortal soul. Untie its fetters wch do it forbid to sight for to appear then shal arise a vapour shining like pearl orient. To Saturn Mars [i.e. iron] wth bonds of love is tied who is by him devourd of mighty force whose spirit divides saturns body & from both combined flow a wondrous bright water in wch ye Sun [i.e. gold] doth set & loos its light.' Further notes on lead from Webster's Metallographia: or, An History of Metals (1671: H1718), Georg Agricola's De Re Metallica (1621: H20), Boyle's Sceptical Chymist, Norton's 'Ordinall of Alchemy' [in Ashmole's Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum (1652: H93), 1-106], and Bloomfield's 'Compendiary of Alchemy'.


Independently dated to mid-1670s by Dobbs (Alchemy and the Occult (1977 edition), 4: 479) and Shapiro ('Dating Game', 195). Only the 1680 edition of the Sceptical Chymist is known to have been in Newton's library (H270), but the work first appeared in 1661.

Printed in facsimile and transcript in MacPhail, Alchemy and the Occult, 2: 479-83. More Bloomfield in Keynes Ms. 15. See H1034, 1718, 20, 270, 93.

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Professor Rob Iliffe
Director, AHRC Newton Papers Project

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Fellow & Perne librarian, Peterhouse, Cambridge

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