Title: Basilius Valentinus ... His Last Will and Testament

Publication: London W.B. for Tho. Davis 1658

Reference No:  MU-RLB00020

Book Description

BASILIUS VALENTINUS. Basilius Valentinus ... His Last Will and Testament wherein he sufficiently
declareth the wayes he wrought to obtain the philosophers stone; which he taught unto his fellow
collegians, so that they all attained the said philosophers stone; whereby not onely the leprous
bodies of the impure and inferior Metals are reduced unto the pure and perfect body of gold and
silver, but also all manner of diseases whatsoever are cured in the bodies of unhealthfull men,
and kept thereby in perfect health unto the prolonging of their lives. London: W.B. for Tho.
Davis, 1658. First edition, second issue (collates the same as the first but the date on the
title page has been changed from 1657 to 1658). Octavo. [xxiv], 175, 39, 25, 21, 9, 23 pp.
Continuous signatures. Six title pages (the first changed to read 1658 and the remainder
unchanged and reading 1656). Contemporary calf, neatly and professionally rebacked to style, with
new leather also under the contemporary calf on the front board. Spine in six compartments with
five raised bands and red morocco lettering label. An important cornerstone of seventeenth-
century alchemical literature. "Records of the life of Basilius Valentinus, the Benedictine monk
who for his achievements in the chemical sphere has been given the title of Father of Modern
Chemistry, are a mass of conflicting evidence. Many and varied are the accounts of his life, and
historians seem quite unable to agree as to his exact identity, or even as to the century in
which he lived. It is generally believed, however, that 1394 was the year of his birth, and that
he did actually join the Benedictine Brotherhood, eventually becoming Canon of the Priory of St.
Peter at Erfurt, near Strasburg, although even these facts cannot be proved. Whatever his
identity, Basil Valentine was undoubtedly a great chemist, and the originator of many chemical
preparations of the first importance. Amongst these are the preparation of spirit of salt, or
hydrochloric acid from marine salt and oil of vitriol (sulphuric acid) the extraction of copper
from its pyrites (sulphur) by transforming it firstly into copper sulphate, and then plunging a
bar of iron in the watery dissolution of this product: the method of producing sulpho-ether by
the distillation of a mixture of spirit of wine and oil of vitriol: the method of obtaining
brandy by the distillation of wine and beer, rectifying the distillation on carbonate of
potassium". In his writings he has placed on record many valuable facts, and whether Basil
Valentine is the correct name of the author or an assumed one matters little, since it detracts
nothing from the value of his works, or the calibre of his practical experiments. From his
writings one gathers that he was indeed a monk, and also the possessor of a mind and
understanding superior to that of the average thinker of his day. The ultimate intent and aim of
his studies was undoubtedly to prove that perfect health in the human body is attainable, and
that the perfection of all metallic substance is also possible. He believed that the physician
should regard his calling in the nature of a sacred trust, and was appalled by the ignorance of
the medical faculty of the day whose members pursued their appointed way in smug complacency,
showing little concern for the fate of their patients once they had prescribed their pet panacea.
On the subject of the perfection of metallic bodies, as in his reference to the Spagyric Art, the
Grand Magi-strum, the Universal Medicine, the Tinctures to transmute metals and other mysteries
of the alchemist's art, he has completely mystified not only the lay reader, but the learned
chemists of his own and later times. In all his works the important key to a laboratory process
is apparently omitted. Actually, however, such a key is invariably to be found in some other part
of the writings, probably in the midst of one of the mysterious theological discourses which he
was wont to insert among his practical instructions, so that it is only by intensive study that
the mystery can be unravelled. His most famous work is his Currus Triumphalis Antimonii - The
Triumphal Chariot of Antimony". "Internal evidence shows that Basilius could not have been a
fifteenth century Benedictine monk, as his writings claim; he was quite probably an alias of
Johann Tholde (fl. 1595-1625), a saltmaker. The Last Will is a collection of five treatises some
of which do contain 'sound chemical information expressed in clear terms'-Read, Prelude to
Chemistry, 194'" (Honeyman). The manuscript was supposed to have been discovered when lightning
struck the church column it was buried in. Honeyman 242. MacPhail, Alchemy and the Occult, 129
(later edition). Wing 1016. HBS 49522. 

. Author:  BOEHME (Jacob). SPARROW (John, translator).

Title: The Second Booke. Concerning the Three Principles of the Divine Essence

Publication: See full description

Reference No:  MU-RBL00021

Book Description

Of the Eternall, Dark, Light, and Temporary World. Shewing What the Soule, the Image and the
Spirit of the Soule are; as also what Angels, Heaven, and Paradise are. How Adam was before the
Fall, in the Fall, and after the Fall. And What the Wrath of God, Sinne, Death, the Devils and
Hell are; How all things have been, now are, and how they shall be at the Last. Written in the
German Language by Jacob Behmen; Alias Teutonicus Philosophus.

4to. [16], 356, [26] pp. Contemporary vellum (rebacked, new endleaves).

London: by M[atthew] S[immons] for H[umphry] Blunden, 1648 Wing B3417.

"Some have complained of the Hardnesses to understand his [i.e Boehme's] writings and therefore I
have endeavoured the Englishing of this Booke of the Three Pinciples, which the Author saith is
the A.B.C. to all his writings" (John Sparrow writing in the foreword to the present work). Such
were the nature of the obscurities of Boehme's prose style that all translators of his work have
to greater or lesser extents had to invent a jargon to cope with it. Boehme had a profound
spiritual experience as a young man which he expressed through the language and ideas of
hermetics and alchemy. His writings are those of a theosopher closely linked, even if only in
spirit, with the Rosicrucians. He is what DNB would euphemistically call a mystic as indeed it
labels John Sparrow and John Everard [see item ??]. Enlightenment through the self-knowledge
gained by knowing ourselves and our creation and the fulfilment of the moral contract that being
created imposes upon us Boehme believed would be rewarded with wisdom: "There is a Wonderfull
Time coming: but because it beginneth in the Night, and there are many that shall not see it, by
reason of their sleepe and great drunkenesse: yet the Sunne will shine to the Children at
Midnight [The children of Sophia, the true personification of the Virgin Mary and the prototype
of the heavenly synsexuality]. Thus I commit the Reader to the Meeke Love of God" (Preface).
Boehme saw no conflict between christianity and gnosticism: Christ and his apostles had simply
ushered in a new magic school and college, as alchemical as christian and as hermetic as
theosophic. Boehme promulgated three fundamental "principles" - that God [i.e. creation] is the
essence of all essences and vice versa, that this essence is by its nature eternal and lastly
that the first of these was what god breathed into man "the Sydereall and Elementary birth" (p.5)
thus creating the material world.

Boehme, the clichéd poor "shoemaker", was supported in his work by noble and learned friends even
though they must have known that his gnosticism, heavily influenced by Valentinus, was profoundly
heretical. To them his work embodied the bringing together of ancient, i.e. Greek but ultimately
Egyptian, and modern Gnoticism, a philosophical unity that happily satisfied the gnostic mantra,
"per unum ad unum". For Boehme all things were possible in creation and everything was made as
nothing for only nothing, like creation, was the essence of itself. It is not suprising that John
Sparrow found Boehme difficult to translate nor that Boehme's work required a particular
language: the present work was the author's exegesis of his system of mystic gnosticism.

Though a lawyer by profession Sparrow seems to have dedicated his entire life to the rendering of
Boehme into English and from 1647 (XL Questions concerning the Soule) to 1662 (The Remainder of
Books) he was continually publishing part after part of the latter's work.

Gilly (C.), "Das Bekenntnis zur Gnosis von Paracelsus bis auf die Schüler Jacob Böhmes", pp. 386-
425 in Van den Broek (R.) and Van Heertum (C.), eds., From Poimandres to Jacob Boehme: Gnosis,
Hermetism and the Christian Tradition (Amsterdam, 2000).

. Author:  Bohme, Jacob

Title: Jacob Behmen's Theosophick Philosophy Unfolded.

Publication: 1691

Reference No:  MU-RBL00022

Book Description

48617 BOHME, Jacob. Jacob Behmen's Theosophick Philosophy Unfolded; In Divers Considerations and
Demonstration... Also the Principal Treatises of the Said Author Abridged. And Answers Given to
the Remainder of the 177 Theosophick Questions... which were left unanswered by him at the time
of his death.Compiled and edited by Edward Taylor. Collation: a2 b4 A-3I4 3K2, complete. [14],
434, [8] pp. With an engraved frontispiece portrait of the author. Small 4to., 205 x 150 mm,
bound in contemporary panelled calf. London: Tho. Salusbury, 1691. First Edition thus, a scarce
compendium of Böhme's writings, with significant additional texts by the editor Edward Taylor (of
Dublin), and an account of Böhme's life. Böhme (1575-1624) was, for Jung, "one of the great and
marvellous thinkers and poets whose poetic-philosophic stammerings allow a glimpse into the
unfathomable abyss of the unborn and of things yet to be." Böhme's subject matter, by his own
characterization, falls into three large divisions: Philosophia, Theologia, and Astrologia. "It
was [he] who, influenced by alchemy and the Cabala equally, envisaged a paradoxical God- image in
which the good and the bad aspects appertain to the same divine being\'85he was the first to try
to organize the Christian cosmos as a total reality, into a mandala" (Jung). In addition to
extracts of several major works by Böhme, including "Aurora, or Morning Redness," "The Three
Principles of the Divine Essence," "The Threefold Life of Man," "Forty Questions of the Soul,"
"Signatura Rerum," and "Mysterium Magnum," a substantial portion of the present volume consists
of Taylor's own answers to "The 177 Theosophick Questions" which Böhme had left unresolved at his
death, as well as Taylor's "Meditations and Contemplations" on his answers to these questions.
Böhme, a cobbler and self-educated philosopher from Silesia, was one of the most important
mystics of the seventeenth century. A man of deep religious feeling, he pursued his own
idiosyncratic investigations of God's ways, in which, i.a., God is seen to include evil as well
as good (a bold and innovative view, truly unique at that time). In Böhme's highly individual
works he attempted to combine Philosophy and Astrology to describe the forces of nature and the
qualities of God. Böhme believed that nature had been unveiled to him, and that "the Very Voice
of Very God" had been revealed. In his visions Böhme claimed that he beheld the mysteries of the
universe, the Ungrundor Urgrund, from which issue all contrasts, all discordant principles,
severity, mildness, sweetness, bitterness, love, sorrow, heaven, and hell. Rebacked, modern spine
and endpapers, corners refurbished. A very good copy. McAlpin Collection IV, 431-2. Wing T-290.

. Author:  BÖHME, Jakob.

Title: Signatura Rerum: or the Signature of all Things: Shewing The Sign, and Signification of
the severall Forms and Shapes in the Creation: And what the Beginning, Ruin, and Cure of every
Thing is; it proceeds out of Eternity, and comprizeth All Mysteries. Written in High Dutch,

Publication: London: by John Macock, for Gyles Calvert, 1651.

Reference No:  MU-RBL00023

Book Description

Small 4to (168 × 120 mm), pp. [viii], 224. Woodcut initials. Lately rebound to style in full
black morocco, gilt panelled sides and spine. First 5 leaves neatly mounted on guards, traces of
tape (removed) to title recto and verso and first leaf of Preface, touching on woodcut initial,
some marginal browning throughout. A most acceptable copy of a very scarce work. FIRST EDITION IN
ENGLISH of Böhme's most important single work. Translated by John Ellistone, it preceded other
Continental translations by over thirty years. The first edition had appeared in German in 1635.
Böhme, like Paracelsus, sought to rediscover ancient and forgotten sources of wisdom, especially
among the alchemists and cabbalists. He rejected the rule of logic and reason, preferring to look
for visual signs of the divine presence on earth. The Signatura Rerum thus represents an
essentially alchemical exposition of the microcosm of man, in which the powers of good and evil
are part of the same divine reflection. Böhme was a major influence on the visionary thinking of
William Blake and was for Jung 'one of the great and marvellous thinkers and poets whose poetic-
philosophic stammerings allow a glimpse into the unfathomable abyss of the unborn and of things
yet to be' (Jung, Collected Works, vol. xiv, p. 142). Wing B3419; Alchemy and the Occult, A
Catalogue of Books from the Collection of Paul and Mary Mellon, II, pp. 304-5.

. Author:  Borrichius, Olaus.

Title: De ortu, et progressu chemiae, dissertatio.

Publication: Copenhagen, Matthias Godicchenius for Petrus Haubold, 1668

Reference No:  MU-RBL00024

Book Description

4to. [12], 150, [1] pp. (somewhat browned throughout). Printer's woodcut device on title,
decorative woodcut initials. Contemporary vellum, modern ms. title-label on spine (ties lacking).
From the library of J. K. Proksch, with his small oval library stamp on title verso; and of J.
Johnsson, with date of 1929.

First edition. Oluf Borch (1626-1690) was professor of poetry, botany and chemistry at the
University of Copenhagen from 1664 and Royal Physician to Frederick III of Denmark. He studied
medicine under Thomas Bartholin and remained close friends with him until the latter's death. His
histories of chemistry are among his best known works.

The present work is his influential history of alchemy which tries to demonstrate the genuine
antiquity of the Emerald Table and the writings of Hermes Trismegistus, of whom Borch was an avid
follower. The work is dedicated to King Frederick III.

Johann Karl Proksch (1840-1923), physician in Vienna, wrote the standard bibliography on venereal
disease in five volumes, (1889-1900).

Duveen 89; Ferguson I, 119 (not in Young collection); DSB II, 317-318; Partington III, 160-161.

. Author:  BROWNE Thomas

Title: Pseudodoxia Epidemica: or, Enquiries into Very Many Received Tenents [sic], and Commonly
Presumed Truths

Publication: London : Printed by T.H. for Edward Dod 1646

Reference No:  MU-RBL00025

Book Description

Quarto Professionally and skillfully rebacked in period style with original contemporary full
calf boards intact a5, b4, A-Z4, Aa-Zz4, Aaa4, Bbb5, Title page with old notations in brown ink,
bookplate on verso, occasional contemporary ink notations in margins

First edition, p. 317 misnumbered Ò217Ó The ÒforewordÓ states ÒI have perused these Learned and
Animad versions upon the Common Tenets and Opinions ... Pseudodoxia Epidemica; and finding them
much transcending vulgar conceipt, and adorned with great variety of matter, and multiplicity of
reading; I approve them as very worthy to be Printed and Published. Iohn Dovv.

BrowneÕs Pseudodoxia, commonly referred to as BrowneÕs Vulgar Errors, refuted popular
misconceptions in the fields of history, folklore, science, natural history, medicine, embryology
and philology. His style was described by Johnson as Òa tissue of many languages, a mixture of
heterogeneous words, brought together from distant regions, with terms appropriated to one art,
and drawn by violence into the service of anotherÓ . The work is extraordinarily well researched
and took many years to complete. He knew how difficult it is to change a personÕs mind about a
belief that person holds but Browne was optimistic in at least thinking he would get a hearing.
Originally he had planned to publish his treatise in latin but reconsidered since his countrymen,
especially the Òingenious gentryÓ had a claim on his services and wrote and published in English.
His style is not easy Òbesides the writer is addressing not the illiterate many, but the
discerning fewÓ.Although Browne professed that he wanted to expell untruths he was more than a
little credulous at times, believing in astrology, alchemy and witchcraft amongst others. Reading
the Pseudodoxia Epidemica today is not only interesting and gives a fascinating glimpse into the
commonly held beliefs and understandings of the 17th English society but provides endless

[DNB Wing B5159. Keynes, Browne 73B, Norman Library 358. Waller 19462]

. Author:  BRUNSCHWIG, Hieronymus.

Title: New Vollkommen Distillierbüch wolgegründter künstlicher Distillation, sampt Underweisung
und Bericht, künstlich Abzuziehen oder Separieren, die fürnembste distillierte Wasser, ..

Publication: See full description

Reference No: 1205

Book Description

Frankfurt on the Main, heirs of Christian Egenolff, 1597. Small folio. With title-page in red and
black, woodcut publisher's device above colophon at end, well over 300 woodcuts in the text,
fraktur type, and 10 woodcut decorated fraktur initial letters. Seventeenth-century vellum.

Durling 764; Nissen, BBI 270 (note); Wellcome 1, 1116; not in Adams; Hunt (see no. 20, 1521 ed.);
DSB II, pp. 546-547.
RARE SIXTEENTH-CENTURY EDITION of Brunschwig's classic account of distillation, which in fact
ranges quite broadly over botany and pharmacy and is very extensively illustrated. About three-
fourths of the woodcuts provide botanical illustrations, while most of the rest show distilling
equipment. It remained the authoritative manual for distillation through most of the sixteenth
Three sheets browned, but still in very good condition and with good margins, with only minor
marginal waterstains or spots in an occasional leaf. A very good copy of a classic manual of
distillation, especially desirable for its illustrations.

. Author:  CAILLET (Albert L.)

Title: Manuel Bibliographique des Sciences Psychiques ou Occultes.

Publication: See full description

Reference No:  MU-RBL00026

Book Description

11648 entries. Reprint of 1912 first edition. One of 300 copies. 3 volumes. 8vo., original green
cloth, a good copy with very mild bumping at extremities. Nieuwkoop, B. De Graaf. 1964. Includes
books on the science of magic, alchemy, astrology, French freemasonry, ancient medecine,
mesmerism, sorcery &c.

. x. .
. x .
. x .