The Alchemy web site on

Newsletter No. 8 of alchemy and hermetic books

Back to mailing list page .

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


NEWSLETTER No 8 - July 1997

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
This newsletter is devoted to my project to set up an Alchemy Research Library.

I have recently come to realise that people interested in studying alchemy really need a permanent and secure collection of books on alchemy where alchemical studies can be pursued.

It seems impossible that any one individual can collect original alchemical books and manuscripts, for to make even a modest collection requires millions of dollars. However, there is in Glasgow the finest collection of early alchemical books in the world - the Ferguson Collection has 7000 books (of which over half are on alchemy) and the Young Collection has a further 1300 books. There are also over 300 alchemical manuscripts in the Ferguson collection. All these books and manuscripts are securely held in these University Libraries and are kept in optimum environmental conditions. Glasgow University Library has a purpose built department of special collections with all the resources needed to study such material.

The only problem with the collections in Glasgow is that they were completed in the early 20th century and few modern books of commentary, interpretation and history have been added. This is a great lack, and means that it is often not possible to consult key modern works when looking at the old material in these collections.

I would like to suggest that we set up an Alchemical Research Library here in Glasgow. I am donating my own modest collection of about two hundred books on alchemy to form the basis for this research library. I estimate there are only about six or seven hundred modern books essential to such a research library, so if a number of individuals were to contribute one or two books from their own collection then we would easily be able to quite quickly create a substantial library of research material.

I will place a bookplate into each donated book and can add the name of the donor (for those who wish this). These books will be donated to the department of Special Collections at Glasgow University Library and entered into the Ferguson collection and will thus be kept in perpetuity.

In order to avoid duplications I have created a list of the books that I am donating. This can be seen at

At present it contains just over 200 items. You can also view my provisional bibliography of modern books on alchemy at

I have added a marker to show when a book is included in the Alchemy Research Library. I have also created a wish list of items needed as a priority to form the foundation of this research library.

I do hope that you will respond to this request and that we can establish an important research collection. If a number of us pull together, then we may be able to acheive this goal without the necessity for large amounts of funding. Often such projects can be best achieved when we pool our resources and work together for the good of the tradition. Once this is set up then anyone wishing to study alchemy need only come to Glasgow where all the necessary source materials will be available.

Donations of books should be sent to:-
Adam McLean
15 Keir Street
G41 2NP
E-mail me at if you wish to donate a book to the Alchemy Research Library so I can enter it into the listings to avoid duplications. You may also telephone me at 0 141 429 5614.

With best wishes,

Adam McLean

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

If anyone would wish to purchase a book for the research library rather than donating an item from their own collection then they should take a look at the wish list of items and note down some items which they might wish to donate.

Then take a look at one of the online book purchase systems which gives simultaneous access to a number of search engines for various bookshops, both in-print and second hand books.

Then you can see if you can get a book at a price acceptable to you.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *