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Alchemy, Mineralogy, Metallurgy

Of particular importance to researchers in the Unidel History of Chemistry are the rich holdings in the areas of alchemy, mineralogy, and metallurgy. As the arts of the early alchemists evolved into the science of modern chemistry, the science and technology of mineralogy and metallurgy benefitted from their work as well. The collection includes an extensive group of books by early alchemical writers, such as Jâbir ibn ayyân and Ramon Llull, to whom alchemical works have also been erroneously attributed; and early works on precious stones, minerals, mining, and metals. As with dyeing and bleaching, the ethereal theories of alchemist bent on transmuting lead into gold, evolved and mutated into more practical applications that were used by artisans and craftsmen. Of particular interest are examples of the sixteenth-century German "how-to" books for the artisan describing the hardening, softening and etching of steel, the assaying of precious metals, and the general techniques of casting, forging and shaping metals. Notable among these "how to books" were the Probier büchlein which predate Agricola's De Re Metallica and are quite scarce today.

De Re Metallica
De Re Metallica
  • Camillo Leonardi, fl. 1502.
    Speculum lapidum / clarissimi artium et medicine doctoris Camilli Leonardi pisaurensis ... Impressum Venetiis: Per Melchiorem Sessam & Petrum de Rauanis sociis, 1516, Die. 20, mensis Nouembris.
  • Jâbir ibn ayyân.
    Geberi philosophi ac alchimistae maximi, de alchimia libri tres.
    [Argentoragi [sic]: Arte et impensa solertis viri Iohannis Grieninger, 1529]
  • Domenico Beccafumi, 1486-1551.
    [La ricerca e lo sfruttamento dei metalli]. [s.l.: s.n., 1540?]
    Also titled the Mysterious Labours of Alchemy, this remarkable collection of ten woodcut illustrations alchemists performing various tasks.
  • Probierbuchlein
    Probierbüchlein: frembde
    vnd Künst...
    , 1580.
  • Ramon Llull, 1232?-1316.
    Raimundi Lulii ... De secretis naturĉ: siue Quinta essentia libri duo: his accesserunt Alberti Magni ... De mineralibus & rebus metallicis libri quin[que]: quĉ omnia solerti cura repurgata rerum naturĉ studiosis recens publicata sunt per Gualtherum H. Ryff. Argentorati: Apud Balthassarum Beck, 1541.
  • Probier Büchlein auff Gold, Silber, Kupffer und Bley, Auch allerley Metal, wie man die nu?zlich arbeyten und probieren sol: Allen Müntzmeistern, Wardeinen, Goldtschmiden, Goldtwerckern, Bercleuten, Probiern, kaufleuten ; Auch der Metall zu nutz und einem yedem lieb haber diser Kunst zu gut an tag geben. Gedruc¨t zu Nur¨enberg: durch Hans Daubman, 1549.
  • Alvaro Alonso Barba, b. 1569.
    The first book of the art of mettals: in which is declared the manner of their generation and the concomitants of them, translated in the year, 1669 by R.H. Edward Earl of Sandwich. London: Printed for S. Mearne, bookbinder to the Kings most Excellent Majesty, 1674.
  • Ciriacus Schreittmann.
    Probierbüchlin: frembde vnd subtile Künst... von Wage Vnd Gewicht, auch von allerhandt Proben auff Ertz, Golt, Silber, vnd andere Methall... &c., Franckf.: Bey Chri. Egen. Erben, 1580.

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