MS 446 Alchemy, 15th Century France

MS 446 Alchemy, 15th Century France


Author: Unknown

Language: Middle French

Date: 15th Century

Page #:

Reproduction Dimensions: 11.75 x 8.75 IN

Price: $149.99

History: “MS. 446" was produced in France, in the late 15th century, and is a rich example of an alchemical treatise. It is, however, devoid of most of the cryptic alchemical phrases, that are so enigmatic to us in the present day. It centers, rather, on the technical possibilities of the art. Amply illustrated, with 56 color drawings, it details 20 chemical procedures, and processes. The main text is followed by seven folios of full-page alchemical drawings, seven folios containing an alchemical synthesis, and three folios of practical recipes.

The quality, and relative uniformity of the illustrations, are what have made this manuscript so well-known to scholars. They are painted in watercolor, and retain vivid colors (red, yellow, green and blue-grey). But more importantly, the illustrations are closely related to the text, offering deliberate illustrations of the author’s technical demonstrations. The text is written in late Middle French, and is a perfect example of how the language was transitioning towards modern French at this time. It offers great uniformity of spelling, and vocabulary. The writing is consistent with the period, clear and uniform throughout (except for folios 39–44, where the hand changes for the script, as well as for the drawings).

The manuscript’s subject matter is alchemy, in its medical doctrinal sense, meaning that the purpose of the text is to assist in producing the ‘elixir’ of long life. Therefore, the text is rather pragmatic and technical, with the usual symbolic overtones, shared by many alchemical works. The text gives a unique and extensive list of alchemical apparatus and vessels, about 80 percent of which are illustrated in detail. This is a rare opportunity to document, and contextualize, medical pharmaceutical techniques, that were made accessible in the Middle Ages through alchemical treatises.

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Reproduction Details: The hardcover books are made with two pieces of real wood on the inside. The leather is a 4 oz cowhide, from a small supplier in New York state. The Glue we use to attach the leather to the wood is made at our facility, and is a period correct wheat glue. Along the spine, we use a modern perfect binding, with modern glue, to make the binding last longer. We also add three layers of mull cloth to the outside of the perfect binding, drying in between each layer, which is a traditional way to make the binding stiff, strong, and resilient.

Note: All of our facsimiles are made to order. Please allow 4-6 weeks for notification of shipment.

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