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Joannes Agricola - Treatise on Gold

Chapter 9.

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Chapter 9

How to Prepare Vitriol from Gold

Take 6 Lots of fine gold which has passed through antimony or has been purified by it. Beat it into thin plates, coat it with the artificial Mercury, called Aqua Regis by the Philosophers, and give it a gentle heat. The plates will begin to give off a crocus and color. Put that in a clean glass, then coat the gold plate again and calcine it till a vitriol or color appears once more. Continue doing this till all the gold has become one color. This vitriol is like the crocus of Mars (iron). Put everything together and pour Aqua Regis over it. When it is dissolved enough, cleanse it with Nature's water., then distill the phlegma off to half the amount, and a beautiful vitriol will sprout, which attaches to the glass like sugar. That is the vitriol from gold.


Others, however, take the golden plates, beat them quite thin and fill the alembic with them so that, when the spirits rise into the alembic out of the artificial Aqua Regis, those same fiery spirits permeate the whole gold, extracting a subtle crocus which adheres to the plates like beautiful saffron. They remove it and pour over it Paradise Water, let it extract for 8 days, then decant, filter through paper, and coagulate it to a salt of vitriol.


Here the author indicates two processes for making gold vitriol, but in their effect one is like the other. Only a menstruum, or solvent, is used, and a method of working is prescribed. It is nothing but a dissolution of gold with the corrosive Aqua Regis, which he calls "artificial Mercury". If you have a good Aqua Regis, it extracts a crocus in the digestion, but that is much better done by the spirit of Mercury. It is nothing but a dissolution that occurs when Aqua Regis is poured on the calcined gold. It is not without merit and gives you a crocus, but it is much slower and afterwards leaves you with little spirit, because, if this vitriol is given strong fire in the digestion, it melts back again into a Body. It results in a yellow spirit that is not really sour though somewhat bitter. The salt or the vitriol of the Sun can be made in another way which goes faster and also dissolves the Body better.

Distill the spirit through the alembic, rectify it three times. Then take the salt from the Death's Head, add it to the first spirit and distill till the fixed salt also goes over the alembic. When this spirit is ready, beat the gold into plates, hang it in a glass above the spirit, and it will extract the crocus in the digestion. Then dissolve the crocus in distilled rainwater, filter it, and distill it by half. Now lovely brown, sometimes also red crystals will shoot in a cool cellar. They can be dissolved again, but it will not amount to much. It is indeed no radical dissolution, be it called salt or vitriol. It is nothing but a corrosion of the Body, to weaken it so much that it can be made potable. When all these works are rightly considered, one is like another, and one has the same effect as the other.

I have already several times reminded the reader in my Notes that if one has a right dissolution of the gold - of those I have mentioned I consider only two as the principle ones - it is sufficient, and there is no need to worry greatly about the others. Care has only to be taken to choose that which is not too corrosive, so that one does not administer poison instead of a teriac. You may call it by any name you wish, it is finally nevertheless leprous calx. Thus the author's vitriol is nothing else: For it is only corroded by Aqua Regis, and nothing concerning the Art can be learned from it, although the Aqua Regis is called a Mercury, and rainwater Paradise Water. Words do not improve the work, and one should take the least possible notice of words but look solely to the operation and in what it will and should result.

If the gold is calcined first, however, as has already been taught above, it can be imbibed with spirit of urine and thus be dissolved completely. It will leave its feces at the bottom. What is dissolved is decanted, and the menstruum is distilled off quite dry. Now pour on some more spirit of urine, proceeding as has been said before, and this must be repeated three or four times. Then pour distilled rainwater, or better, distilled May Dew over it. The gold will dissolve very well and will thereafter give off its crystals and salt.

May Dew is prepared as follows: Collect a rather large quantity of it, put it in a big glass, seal the glass and set it for 6 weeks in the sun or in warm horse manure. The dew wil coagulate, so to speak, but at first it becomes quite thin. The phlegma must be separated, and finally its spirit driven over with a strong fire. In this way one obtains a fine menstruum, useful for many things, especially if it is strengthened by its crystalline salt and conjoined to it. Now someone might ask for what purpose this vitriol of the Sun is made and prepared. The author does not mention it with one word, but it is easy to see why: to turn it into potable gold, serviceable for many diseases in case of need. It is not necessary to write here much about how this vitriol is to be elaborated further, for this has been dealt with ad nauseam in almost all headings and chapters.

I have seen in a noble house that a spirit was distilled from it, which was a wonderful cardiac tonic. It was quite different from the common spirit of vitriol. With it a tincture was extracted from calcined silver, more beautiful than the finest gold could ever be. It was a wonderful arcanum for epilepsy. Whether it could also be used in alchymia, I cannot truthfully say. I heard it being discussed, however, that if the yellow sulphur of silver were conjoined with gold, it would turn into a strange combination, supposedly a real augmentation of the Sun. I have not tried it. I am not against it, as it may very well be so, but I doubt that it can be produced in large quantity, as silver does not contain much of this yellow sulphur.

So far we have dealt with many dissolutions and calcinations of ( ), explained and amplified the author's processes by our experience, also accomplished fine cures and experiments with it. But as to reveal my final option of this business - I do not think much of most of them, because these dissolutions are no philosophical destructions. But I have already shown above how gold is to be artificially decomposed, and it need not be repeated here. I have only examined the operations in accordance with the author's instructions and method, and have revealed how I have found them to be in the fire, in practice. I hope that the kind readers will accept my care and candor with thanks. I could have written about many other preparations and my 30-year-experience with fire. But that was not my intention. had only resolved to analyze this author and to show how far he could be followed.

Recently I got a hold of another way of preparing potable gold, such as Herr Harianus a Mynsich, my old school comrade, describes in his Thesaro Medico-Chymico, although a similar one is also found in Ustadius' Coelum Philosphorum, and Thurnheuser also mentions it. That oil has greatly proven its effect. Upon the insistence of a member of the nobility, I prepared it and found its effect so good that I did not wish to omit indicating it here, so that everyone might safely work with it. Although the preparation appears to be bad, it does not matter. Often there is more art in a bad process than in one that has been colored by many exaggerations which, when put to the test, show what it is. Now we will proceed with the preparation.

Take Hungarian gold, well purified through antimony, have it laminated very thinly, then dissolve it in a right oil of the Sun (I have already indicated its right preparation and more will be said about it below under its title). When it is dissolved, distill the oil of the salt strongly off it, and a fine gold calx will be left at the bottom of the glass. Take it out, put it in a small retort, pour enough cinnamon oil on it to turn it into a pap. The gold will soon begin to effervesce and become black. Pour on it a good alcoholized spirit of wine, standing 2 fingers' breadth above the materia. It will soon extract a tincture from the gold. Pour the spirit off and pour fresh spirit on it, and continue doing this till no more tincture shows.

Remove the Death's Head, wash it with warm water and weigh it. Now pour again the right quantity of spirit of salt on it, and let it dissolve again. Distill the spirit off quite dry, pour oil of cinnamon over it, and when it effervesces, add the spirit of wine and extract its tincture. Repeat this work till the gold is completely dissolved and not the least bit of insolved matter is left of the Body. Now pour some clear purged spirit of wine on it, distill it to oil, and you will have a wonderful medicine or potable gold. To tell the truth, if among the common dissolutions one pleases me more than another, it is precisely this one, because it operates extremely well. The person whom I did the favor of preparing it for, used it for her sickness - of which nothing need be said here - and it was of great benefit to her health. However, I made two subsequent tests of it.

In 1629, a noble gentleman was suffering from a troublesome podagra, so much so that his hands and feet had shrunk, and yet he was not yet 42 years old. Although he had resorted to great physicians and had also been to warm springs, it was to no avail. I met him by accident, and we discussed the terms. I told him that I wished to try something with him but that I could not promise sure help. First, I purged him with oil of antimony, as will also be taught later. It went through bone and marrow, as he reported to me. When I saw that it agreed so well with him, I gave it to him again after two days, and thus I purged him four times in a row. Then I gave him three times a week 6 drops of potable gold in essence of Jva Arthetica. I had his members rubbed with oil of ossium microcosmi. He continued with this from Easter to St, James's. He learned to walk again with a cane wherever he wished, while he could previously not get farther than the place where he had been taken with a chair. The bumps, however, did not disappear as they had already been hardened to the highest degree. But he was happy and thanked God to have improved so far that he could again walk anywhere in the house and grasp things with his hands. I would never have thought that this solution could have such an excellent effect. I also believe that he would have completely recovered if he had continued with this medicine.

That same year, the little 10-year-old daughter of an honest man in Sultza had long had a fever. The child was so exhausted that she lost her strength and withered. The paroxysm occurred every other day at 2 p.m. and lasted four hours. Although many medicines had been used, there was no progress, and the child's condition stayed the same. Yes, after the last medicine, she was worse than at the beginning. I was convinced that she was going to die, as no medicine would help her. When I had prepared this potable gold, I gave her three drops in the morning in some conserve of roses. The following morning I again gave her 3 drops. About one hour afterwards it looked as if she were going to vomit, but nothing happened. While she was gagging, a worm was passing through her mouth, almost twelve inches long. I was surprised. The fever went from this hour on. I continued for three more days with the dose. The little girl was hale and healthy and like newborn. From this I conclude that this solution must also have great potential in other diseases, but as I could no longer experiment because of the war, I cannot report further about it. Whoever wants to keep his body in good health, should use this solution. He will certainly not regret it. And with this we will conclude this treatise on gold and its preparations, and proceed to silver according to our author's method.

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