Catalogue Entry: ALCH00137

Commentary on Johann de Monte Snyders

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Columbia, New York, USA

Custodial History

Bought at the Sotheby sale by Francis Edwards for £19.10s. Received as a gift from the Friends of the Columbia Libraries in 1971.

Sotheby Lot



An English commentary on the Tractatus de medicina universali (Frankfurt am Main, 1662) of Johann de Monte Snyders, followed by two chymical recipes in Latin.


Newton presumably based his study on a manuscript English or Latin translation of this work, as despite its Latin title it was published only in German, which Newton did not understand.

One page reproduced as item 164 in Columbia University Libraries' online exhibition Jewels in Her Crown. (This gives the date of Snyders' Tractatus as 1678, but that was the second edition.) Part of the same page is also reproduced facing p. 13 in the 1936 Sotheby catalogue. See also 'A Key to Snyders' (whereabouts unknown); Keynes Ms. 58 and Cushing/Whitney Medical Library, Yale University.

See Samuel Devons, 'Newton the Alchemist?', Columbia Library Columns, May 1971, pp. 16-26 (including a modernised transcription of the English part of the document), and the report in the same issue (p. 58) of the presentation of the manuscript. See also Martin Langfield, 'The 1936 Sotheby's auction of Newton's papers, and a mystery'.

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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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