Friday, June 16, 2006

Dyas Chymica Tripartita I

[click the images for full sized versions]

'Dyas Chymica Tripartita' is an exceedingly rare* book from 1625 compiled by Johann Grasshoff which includes 6 (or 7) philosophical treatises on alchemy.

To the best of my very limited understanding (combined with extensive confusion from reprinting details, translations and general obscurity) the book includes:

-'Liber Alze' (A Very Brief Tract Concerning the Philosophical Stone). Author uknown.
-The 'Aureum Seculum', written by Adrian von Mynsicht under the pseudonym Henricus Madathanus.
-'The Book of Lambspring'.
-'Twelve Keys' by Basilius Valentinus, the Benedictine.
-'Hermetico-Spagyrisches Lustgärtlein Darrinen Hundert and Sechtzig' - a work of 120 emblems defining the true hermetic alchemists in emblematic terms (there are a few examples at the top of this post and more in the following entry).
-I haven't quite worked out the names of the other treatises in 'Dyas Chymica Triparita', which is online in its entirety (no thumbnails unfortunately) at Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel. The majority of headings as well as epigrams for the emblemata are in latin, while the substantive text is in german.

The other images above come from the 'Twelve Keys' series by Basilus Valentinus -- "with which we may open the doors of the knowledge of the Most Ancient Stone and unseal the Most Secret Fountain of Health." The engravings may have been produced by Matthæus Merian.

* "A complete copy of the 'Dyas Chymica' has been listed for as much as £25000"


misteraitch said...

Excellent stuff: the Dyas Chymica Tripartita looks like a fine one-stop-shop for all ones early 17th-century alchemical needs. Many of these engravings are reproduced in a book by Stanislas Klossowski de Rola entitled The Golden Game.

With regard to images 4-15 above, de Rola writes that they are illustrations for Basil Valentine’s Twelve Keys, as you say, adding that they were published in Frankfurt in 1618 ‘at the copperplate press of Paul Jacob, for Lucas Jennis,’ in the first section of a three-part volume compiled by Michael Maier entitled Tripus aureaus, (‘The Golden Tripod,’) which also comprised Thomas Norton’s late 15th-century Ordinal and an alchemical Testament ‘by a certain Cremer, Abbot of Westminster.’ The attribution of these illustrations to Merian is uncertain: in his ‘druckgrapische Werk von Matthæus Merian, Lucus Heinrich Wüthrich lists them among other Fragliche Werke, (‘Questionable Works’)—alas my lack of German prevents me from deciphering the specific details, but I think he’s saying that some of the engravings definitely aren’t Merian’s work, and some others may or may not be.

pk said...

The University of Strasbourg have 3 books by Valentin(e), one of which is a 1624 Lucas Jennis printing. LINK.

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