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Series One: The Papers of Sir Hans Sloane, 1660-1753 from the British Library, London

Part 5: Alchemy, Chemistry and Magic

Sir Hans Sloane was the greatest collector in an age of great collectors.  His collection of alchemical manuscripts is especially rich, reflecting the continued interest in this field by leading scientists in the 18th century. Parts 3 & 4 feature over 200 manuscripts from his collection dating from the 13th to the 17th centuries and documenting proto-chemistry and early pharmaceutical research from c1900BC to c1600AD.  Part 5 features:

  • A 14th century edition of the works of Avicenna, or Abu Ali ibn Sina (980-c1036), by Gerard of Cremona (c1150) who was important in introducing the teaching of Arabic thinkers into Spain;
  • The 'Emerald Tablet' and other works by Hermes Trismegistus, the legendary Egyptian leader (c1900 BC) at the head of the Hermetic tradition;
  • 'De arte chymica' by Marsiglio Ficino;
  • A contemporary copy of Thomas Charnock's 'Ordinal of Alchemy';
  • An anonymous 16th century text on the art of magic.

These only hint at the depth of this collection, which also includes works by Agrippa, Albertus Magnus, Anaxagoras, Thomas Aquinas, Aristotle, Roger Bacon, William Bacon, Baltasar, Benignus de Bruni, Bernardus, Thomas Charnock, Geoffrey Chaucer, Nicholas Flamel, Geber, Honorius, John de Rupecissa, Robert Kellum, Robert Lombard, Ramon Lull, Merlin, Miriam the Prophetess, Morienus, Thomas Norton, Nostradamus, Paracelsus, Thomas Potter, George Ripley,  Sahl ibn Bashir, King Saloman of Israel, Synesius, Robertus Turco, and Zadith son of Hamuel.



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