Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Othmer Library of Chemical History

Artis magnae artilleriae 1650

Artis magnae artilleriae 1650 a

Artis magnae artilleriae 1650 b

Artis magnae artilleriae 1650 c

Title: 'Artis Magnae Artilleriae : Pars Prima'
Author: Kazimierz Siemienowicz
Date: 1650
Related: Pleasured by Pyrotechnia/combat

Actorum laboratorii chymici monacensis (physica subterranea) 1738

Actorum laboratorii chymici monacensis (physica subterranea) 1738 a

Title: 'Actorum laboratorii chymici monacensis Physica subterranea profundam subterraneorum genesin, e principiis hucusque ignotis, ostendens : opus sine pari, primum hactenus et princeps, editio novissima / ... Joh. Joachimi Beccheri ... praefatione utili praemissa, indice locupletissimo adornato, sensuumque et rerum distinctionibus, libro tersius et curatius edendo, operam navavit et Specimen beccherianum, fundamentorum documentorum, experimentorumsubjunxit' [Volume I & II]
Author: Johann Joachim Becher
Date: 1738 [9th Ed.]

{"Allegorical frontispiece with alchemical imagery, showing the Sun and Moon as givers of all terrestrial and subterrestrial life. In the bowels of Mother Earth the metals mature towards their perfection. The two hands parting the curtain signify 'Reason' and 'Experience'. The hermaphrodite 'Cosmic Man', itself symbolising the alchemist, holds a lyre representing 'Harmony' and a triangle, representing 'Symmetry'. Illustration from the 1738 edition of 'Physica subterranea' ('The Physics of Things beneath the Earth') by Johann Joachim Becher (1635-1682). This edition of the work which was originally published in 1667, includes Becher's alchemical ideas and experiments on the nature of minerals and other substances."*}

Beauties treasury, or, The ladies vade mecum 1705

Title: 'Beauties Treasury, or, The ladies vade mecum : being a collection of the newest, most select and valuable receipts, for making all sorts of cosmetick-washes, oils, unguents, waters, &c. Useful in repairing lost beauty, maintaining and improving good complections, removing blemishes of any kind, and procuring handsomeness. To which are added, receipts for making the best cordial-waters, as also the finest essences, and especially a collection of the best perfumes and excellent snuffs'
Author: JW
Date: 1705
See: vade mecum

Acta literaria Sveciae Upsaliae publicata (1720-1734)

Title: 'Acta Literaria Sveciae Upsaliae Publicata'
Author: multiple
Date: 1720-1734

Alchemiae Gebri Arabis philosophi solertissimi 1545

Title: 'Alchemiae Gebri Arabis Philosophi Solertissimi : Libri, cum Reliquis, ut Uersa Pagella Indicabit'
Author: Geber (13th cent)
Date: 1545

Alchymistisch Sieben-Gestirn 1675

Title: 'Alchymistisch Sieben-Gestirn, das ist: Sieben schöne und außerlesene Tractätlein vom Stein der Weisen, darinn der richtige Weg zu solchem aller höchsten Geheimuß zu kommen hell und klar gezeiget wird... Aus dem Latein ins Hochdeutsche treulich übergesetzet'
Author: ?
Date: 1675

Anfangsgrunde der theoretischen Chemie 1768

Title: 'Anfangsgründe der Theoretischen Chemie'
Author: Pierre Joseph Macquer
Date: 1768

Allgemeine Grundsatze der Bleichkunst 1804

Title: 'Allgemeine Grundsätze der Bleichkunst, oder, Theoretische und praktische Anleitung zum Bleichen des Flachses, der Baumwolle, Wolle und Seide : so wie der aus ihren gesponnenen Garne, und gewebten oder gewürkten Zeuge : nach den neusten Erfahrungen der Physik, Chemie und Technologie'
Author: Sigismund Friedrich Hermbstädt
Date: 1804

An account of a method of preserving water at sea from putrefaction 1781

Title: 'An account of a method of preserving water at sea from putrefaction, and of restoring to the water its original pleasantness and purity, by a cheap and easy process : to which is added a mode of impregnating water, in large quantities, with fixed air, for medicinal uses, on board ships, and in hospitals ; and likewise a process for the preparation of artificial yeast'
Author: Thomas Henry
Date: 1781

An account of the first aerial voyage in England 1784

Title: 'An account of the first aerial voyage in England : in a series of letters to his guardian, Chevalier Gherardo Compagni, written under the impressions of the various events that affected the undertaking'
Author: Vincent Lunardi
Date: 1784

Fleta minor - the laws of art and nature 1683

Title: 'Fleta minor : the laws of art and nature, in knowing, judging, assaying, fining, refining and inlarging the bodies of confin'd metals, in two parts' [originally in German as: 'Beschreibung aller fürnemisten mineralischen Ertzt']
Author: Lazarus Erckern/Sir John Pettus
Date: 1683

Anatomia auri, sive Tyrocinium medico-chymicum 1628

Title: 'Anatomia auri, siue Tyrocinium medico-chymicum : continens in se partes quinque : quarum I. Tradit concordantiam et harmoniam solis coelestis cum auro terrestri : item auri definitionem et confusam multorum physicorum de auro opinionem. II. Agit de medicinis aureis et receptis antiquorum ac recentium medicorum, aurum ingredientibus, tàm in simplici, quàm praeparata forma. III. Tractat de auri potabilis praeparatione tàm vulgari, quàm philosophica. IV. Exhibet usum medicinalem auri potabilis tàm communis, quàm veri et philosophici. V. Demonstrat ideam lapidis philosophici in duodecim figuris'
Author: Johann Daniel Mylius
Date: 1628

Anchora sacra vel Scorzonera 1666

Anchora sacra vel Scorzonera 1666 a

Title: 'Anchora sacra ; vel, Scorzonera : ad normam et formam Academiae naturae-curiosorum elaborata'
Author: Johann Michael Fehr
Date: ?1666

Anfangsgründe der Physik als Vorbereitung 1816

Title: 'Anfangsgründe der Physik als Vorbereitung zum Studium der Chemie'
Author: Benjamin Scholz
Date: 1816

Anleitung zu der Bergbaukunst 1773

Othmer Library of Chemical History rare book

Title: 'Anleitung zu der Bergbaukunst nach ihrer Theorie und Ausäbung : nebst einer Abhandlung von den Grundsätzen der Berg-Kammeralwissenschaft, für die kaiserl. königl. Schemnitzer Bergakademie entworfen'
Author: Christoph Traugott Delius
Date: 1773

A brief exposition of the science of mechanical electricity 1835

Title: 'A brief exposition of the science of mechanical electricity : subsidiary to the course of chemical instruction in the University of Pennsylvania'
Author: Robert Hare
Date: 1835

The Donald F. and Mildred Topp Othmer Library of Chemical History is part of the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Within the Othmer Library is the Roy G. Neville Historical Chemical Library.

**Images from more than 4000 rare chemistry books from the Neville Collection were placed online late last year.**

There are between one and fifteen images from each book available. The selection above comes from the first ten pages of the database so they represent a small sprinkling from less than one eighth of what's on offer. I don't think I've made it to titles beginning with 'B' yet. I predict a couple more sampling posts during the next year.

It's a little odd in so far as the material is presented as part of the normal library catalogue (which times out if not being used by the way) and as far as I have found, is not indexed at all by search engines. There is no question that all of these books are actually rare - some of them are singularly unique to this collection - and at a guess, I recognised perhaps five percent of the images/titles/authors.

Where you see the word 'more' below the catalogue entry, this indicates that that there is more than just the title page image available.

As you can no doubt deduce from the array of images above, the collection ranges across a large number of interrelated fields such as alchemy, metallurgy, mining, botany, manufacturing, distilling, magnetics, electricity, artillery, emblemata, pharmacology and on and on. It seems that if any text had a chemistry component of any sort, it was fair game for inclusion in the collection.

It's definitely worthwhile looking around both the Chemical Heritage Foundation and Othmer Library sites - there are online exhibitions, featured book displays and further resources I haven't yet explored.

My sincere thanks to Bennett Gilbert, a retired rare book dealer from L.A., who passed on the details about this site a few months ago.

UPDATE: The Chemical Heritage Foundation now have a flickr account and are uploading a wide variety of material, including prints/book illustrations (via).

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