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Subject: ACADEMY: NYT article on alchemy conference
From: Lou Giliberto
Date: 2 Aug 2006

Dear Academy,

Here is a NYT article on the alchemy conference that was recently held
at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia.



Subject: ACADEMY: NYT article on alchemy conference
From: Arlene Kahn
Date: 2 Aug 2006

Dear Lou,

I read that article, it was wonderful acknowledgement of the
importance of alchemy in the start of chemistry, etc. I thought it
did not emphasize the spiritual nature of alchemy at all - merely
a passing note of it. That is, it seemed a little one-sided though a
great step. I wondered what others thought of it.



Subject: ACADEMY: NYT article on alchemy conference
From: Peter Forshaw
Date: 3 Aug 2006

Dear All,

The Philadelphia Conference was a fascinating event. As one speaker,
Tara Nummedal, said, it was like seeing your alchemical bookshelf
come to life. Admittedly, this was true if you were interested in
physico-chemical laboratory work; not the case, however, if you
were hoping for discussion of spiritual alchemy, as Stan Marlan
will ruefully agree. Given that the conference was hosted by the
extremely hospitable Chemical Heritage Foundation, a focus on matter
theory and laboratory practice is understandable.

The CHF has a wonderful collection of books and those interested
in the history of alchemy would be delighted to visit the Roy G. Neville
Historical Chemical Library, which I'm pleased to say holds copies
of works by Khunrath and Dee, together with a host of fascinating Paracelsians:

Students may like to apply for the fellowships and travel grant programs:

On the subject of conferences, keep your eyes posted for a forthcoming
event at the Escorial, Madrid in September 2008 - Chymia: Science
and Nature in Early Modern Europe (1450-1750). The webpages are
being developed and speakers include Lawrence Principe, William
Newman, Bruce Moran, Didier Khan, Sylvain Matton, Barbara Obrist,
Hiro Hirai, Stephen Clucas, Anke Timmermann, and so on and so forth.

While I'm advertising, Philip Ball, author of the recent book on Paracelsus,
The Devil's Doctor, is organising an Alchemy Evening at the Royal
Institution, for 21 November 2006, where he'll be speaking about
Paracelsus and alchemy, I'll be talking about Dee, and Bill Newman
will not only be speaking about Newton's alchemy, but also performing
an experiment on stage! Details aren't up yet, but more will be forthcoming.

I hope to meet some of you at these events.

All the best,

Peter Forshaw

Subject: ACADEMY: Escorial conference 2008
From: Peter Forshaw
Date: 3 Aug 2006

Dear All,

I attach details of the forthcoming event at the Escorial, Madrid
in September 2008 - Chymia: Science and Nature in Early Modern
Europe (1450-1750). The webpages are being developed and speakers
include Lawrence Principe, William Newman, Bruce Moran,
Didier Khan, Sylvain Matton, Barbara Obrist, Hiro Hirai,
Stephen Clucas, Anke Timmermann, and so on and so forth.

All the best,

Peter Forshaw

Subject: ACADEMY: NYT article on alchemy conference
From: Anke Timmermann
Date: 3 Aug 2006

Dear Arlene,

There were no papers on spiritual alchemy presented at the
conference, hence the thematic focus.



Subject: ACADEMY: Escorial conference 2008
From: Peter Forshaw
Date: 3 Aug 2006

Dear All,

I've just been sent the URL for the Madrid conference:

The list of speakers is growing!



Subject: ACADEMY: First appearance of the term 'Philosophers' Stone'
From: Ahmad Y. al-Hassan
Date: 3 Aug 2006

The term hajar al-falasifa (philosophers stone) was used by Arabic alchemists.
I encountered it several times in my search through Arabic manuscripts.

Ahmad Y. al-Hassan

Subject: ACADEMY: Royal Institution event - 'Alchemy: the occult beginnings of science'
From: Peter Forshaw
Date: 4 Aug 2006

Dear All,

Anyone interested in the Royal Institution event, 'Alchemy: the occult
beginnings of science', with Philip Ball and William Newman,
should click here to visit the RIGB webpage:

I very much look forward to meeting some of you there.

All the best,


Subject: ACADEMY: Atalanta Fugiens coloured
From: Jean-Yves Artero
Date: 10 Aug 2006

The Othmer Library of Chemical History

has a partly coloured version of Atalanta Fugiens:

With best regards,


Subject: ACADEMY: Research at the Neville Library
From: Ronald Brashear
Date: 10 Aug 2006

Thanks to Peter Forshaw for letting everyone know that the Chemical
Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia does provide travel grants for
research at our Othmer Library of Chemical History which includes the
Roy G. Neville Library. With the acquisition and cataloging of the
library nearly complete we are trying to encourage people to come and
use the rare books. Our catalog is online at:

The travel grants have no deadline and we give them out during the year
until we run out of money and wait for the next fiscal year to begin
(July 1) when the fund is replenished. For researchers within the United
States, grants are in the range of US$500. Individuals traveling
internationally may be considered for grants in the range of US$1,000.
The actual amount can vary according to need and amount of time spent
It is a relatively simple process to apply. All that we need is a
one-page statement of your research project and the applicability of
CHF's resources, curriculum vitae, budget estimate, and one letter of
reference (to be sent directly from the source to CHF). Applications are
reviewed by a committee and if approved the money is given to you as a
check when you come here for your research.

Application materials should be sent to:

CHF Travel Grants
Chemical Heritage Foundation
315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106-2702


Ronald Brashear
Director, Othmer Library
Chemical Heritage Foundation
315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Phone: (215) 873-8284
Fax: (215) 629-5284
Please visit our new Web site:

Subject: ACADEMY: Sources for the texts in the Rosarium Philosophorum
From: Adam McLean
Date: 12 Aug 2006

Does anyone know of a thesis, article or book in which someone
has identified the sources for all the extracts from the alchemical
philosophers to be found in the Rosarium Philosophorum, 1550 ?
Something similar to what Helen de Jong did for the Atalanta

I know Joachim Telle has identified some of these texts, but
I wonder if this has been done systematically for the whole

Adam McLean

Subject: ACADEMY: Newman and Starkey's authorship of Philalethes
From: Sean Martin
Date: 27 Aug 2006

I read in William Newman's book Gehennical Fire: The Lives of George Starkey
(University of Chicago 2003), that he claims (p.1) to have proved that Starkey
wrote the Philalethes texts. The footnote cites two articles by Newman which
presumably detail his proof of Starkey's authorship, 'The Authorship of the
Introitus apertus ad occlusum regis palatium', included in Alchemy Revisited
(Brill 1990), and 'Prophecy and Alchemy', included in Ambix 37 (1990).

As I have not been able to track down either piece, does anyone know
what Newman's 'proof' consists of?


Best Wishes,
Sean Martin.

Subject: ACADEMY: Newman and Starkey's authorship of Philalethes
From: Adam McLean
Date: 28 Aug 2006

Dear Sean Martin,

Newman's article in 'Alchemy Revisted' which was based on a paper
presented at the Groeningen conference on the history of alchemy
in 1989 is entitled 'The Authorship of the Introitus Apertus ad Occlusum
Regis Palatium'.

The crux of Newman's analysis seems to be that processes for
making the star-regulus of Antimony and some related processes
imnoving an amalgamation presented in Starkey's 'Key' are very
similar to that outlined in Philalethes' 'Introitus' - "close
textual affiliation" is the term Newman uses.

Newman suggests, from textual analysis, that Starkey's 'Key' is based
on an earlier work of Alexander von Suchten, rather than being taken
from Philalethes' 'Introitus', and further concludes that Starkey himself
wrote the 'Introitus'. He also found that there is no mention of Philalethes
in Starkey's own private journals from the 1650's, though he openly refers
to Suchten. Newman finds it odd that Starkey does not mention
Philalethes in his private notebooks, and thus concludes that he was
not mentioned because Starkey knew he did not exist, i.e. because
he himself wrote the Philalethes text.

I hope I have here summarised Newman's ideas on this matter.
His ideas are merely sketched out in this article and were investigated
in more depth in Newman's later pieces.

Adam McLean

From: John Koopmans
Date: 31 Aug 2006

Dear Sean Martin,

Concerning Newmans proposed identity of Eirenaeus Philalethes
Cosmopolita as George Starkey, to complement the excellent summary
of William Newmans argument as recently provided by Adam McLean,
I would like to offer the following, somewhat more detailed summary.

I am in possession of copies of both of the referenced articles by
William Newman, where Philalethes identity is discussed at length.
Of the two articles, 'Prophecy and Alchemy: The Origins of Eirenaeus
Philalethes' is the relatively longer article concerning the broader
context of Philalethes, the Introitus, and his influences. Included in
this article, is a portion which discusses the identity of Philalethes.
With a few exceptions, this portion is almost, word for word, identical
to the shorter, more focused article, 'The Authorship of the Introitus
Apertus ad occlusum Regis Palatium'. I will therefore restrict the
following summary to the contents of the shorter article.

To provide context for Williams argument, George Starkey wrote a
letter to Robert Boyle in the Spring of 1651. This letter, which is kept
in the Royal Society library, contains the same Key or Clavis which
Isaac Newton later transcribed and used as a basis for his own laboratory
practice. According to Newman, the processes described in the letter
relate to the production of the star-regulus of antimony, the purification
of mercury, and the fabrication of an amalgam of mercury, silver, and
antimony in which gold is digested for a long period.

The exact same process forms the basis of the later 'Introitus apertus ad
occlusum Regis palatium' (Amsterdam, 1667), which is traditionally
ascribed to the anonymous author with the pseudonym Eirenaeus
Philalethes Cosmopolita, who Starkey claimed to know. Specifically,
Philalethes' instructions state that four parts of the fiery dragon
(i.e. iron) are to be taken with nine parts of our magnet (i.e. antimony
sulfide). These are mixed with the aid of fire, the scoria is discarded,
the compound is purged three more times, and the result is the infant
hermaphrodite, or regulus martis (i.e. antimony reduced by iron).

The Key contained in Starkey's 1651 letter describes the exact same
proportions of four parts of iron to nine parts of antimony sulfide.
The Key contained in the letter, and the Introitus, both require four
purgations of the regulus, both discuss the fabrication of an amalgam
including mercury, regulus and silver, both suggest that the amalgam
must be sublimed seven or more times, and both use the same metaphor
two doves of Diana to signify the two parts of very pure silver that
is to be added to the amalgam.

Newman suggests that the exact agreement of the processes indicates
two obvious possibilities. Starkey was either using the Introitus as the
source for his Key, or he wrote the Introitus himself. Newman is able
to eliminate the first possibility by examining the way in which Starkey
used the sixteenth century Alexander von Suchten's Antimonii mysteria
gemina in composing his Key.

It is known that Starkey was acquainted with Suchten's Mysteria gemina
at the time he wrote the Key, because he refers to it in his Latin letter to
Boyle of January 3, 1651/2. Suchten's work also provides a similar recipe
for the stellate regulus of antimony. However, his proportions are four
parts of iron to eight parts of antimony sulfide to four parts of iron (two to
one proportion), which differs from Starkey's nine to four proportion, as
discussed above.

Newman then states that in the beginning of Starkey's Key, where he
introduces the process of refining antimony, he “gives quite anomalously
the proportions as two to one, just as Suchten did”. Newman suggests that
it appears that Starkey had hastily copied from his source here, and then
later forgot to make it consistent with his own proportions.

Newman also provides several specific text comparisons of the very close
verbal similarity between Starkey and Suchten, where the two describe
the role of iron as a reducing agent, where they speak of the slack produced
as a by-product of the process, and where they discuss some of the theory
relating to the soul of Mars.

Newman points out another detail in Starkey's Key which is not mentioned
in the Introitus, and thus, according to Newman, indicates that Starkey's
source was Suchten's mysteria gemina and not the Introitus. This detail
relates to Starkey's description of some alchemical silver that he extracted
from antimony. In a letter of May 30, 1651, to Johann Morian, Starkey states
that the silver is very pure in all assays, but farre heavier than ordinary
silver. He further adds that the silver is close to gold in weight and can
only be corroded by aqua regia, rather than nitric acid. This description is
almost identical to the description in Suchten's mysteria gemina, where
he states: “The Luna is bright”; in weight it was heavier than other Luna”;
he “did endeavour to dissolve it in aqua fortis made of Vitrioll and Nitre,
but it would not touch it”; and, “I laid it in Aqua Regis, and it was
dissolved totally”.

Therefore Suchten's antimonial silver, like that of Starkey's, was also heavier
than natural silver, and could only be dissolved in aqua regia, a detail not
found in the Introitus.

Newman then concludes:

“It is therefore clear that Starkey's Key is based on Suchten's Mysteria gemina
rather than on the Introitus. But the close textural affiliation between the Key
and the Introitus virtually necessitates that the author of the Key knew the
latter work. Indeed, he knew it not as the source of his own inspiration, but
rather as the product thereof. Hence I conclude that Starkey himself wrote the

Newman also adds that none of Starkey's journals, written in the 1650s,
mentions Philalethes, although Suchten is often mentioned and referred as
a source for his own experiments on antimonial alloys. Thus, if Starkey did
have access to the works of Philalethes as a source for his Key, Newman asks,
wouldnt he have referred to him in his own private notebooks? Newman
further concludes:

“Does it not seem even more odd that both Suchten and the Cosmopolite
describe the same philosophical mercury and yet that Starkey fails to note
the fact, while copiously extracting all the information that he can get on
his elusive substance from Suchten? At this point I think we are free to
conclude that Starkey made no mention of Philalethes in his notebooks
precisely because he did not exist, or as George Lyman Kittredge put it
in 1919, because Eirenaeus Philalethes Cosmopolita was a fiction of
Starkeys teeming brain and not too scrupulous conscience”.

John Koopmans