Rare Alchemy Manuscripts Date Back To 15th Century

I'm a fan of Antiques Roadshow. The best moments happen when the experts tell an unassuming owner that their tchotchke was once owned by King Arthur/Ptolemy/Mendeleev and it dates back to before they were keeping track of days. In fact, it's so rare that we have to send you home with your own security detail to ensure your safety. Well, I don't think I've ever seen that last part – but if it were me holding on to Mendeleev's first draft of the Periodic Table of Elements I'd be looking over my shoulder more than once.

Imagine what those Roadshow experts would do if they got their hands on a rare collection of very early alchemy manuscripts, some dating from before the invention of printing. While this collection is no longer on the market, it is available for public viewing via The Chemical Heritage Foundation's (CHF) Donald F. and Mildred Topp Othmer Library of Chemical History.  The CHF recently acquired the collection, which features nine manuscripts -- seven date to the 15th century, as early as the 1430s. Among them is Petrus Bonus’s Pretiosa margarita novella (The Precious New Pearl), ca. 1450–1480; it is one of only six known complete copies of that work in existence. The collection also includes three framed illuminated miniatures of alchemical imagery from around 1450.

If you're going to be in the Philadelphia area, be sure to visit the CHF and view these rare documents first hand. You can read about the CHF's acquisition of the alchemy manuscripts here.


Traci-bio-photo.jpgTraci Purdum
Senior Digital Editor and wannabe antique collector.

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