Throughout the history of alchemy there was one legendary substance that almost all alchemists searched for: the Philosopher’s Stone. It was believed that this substance was able to turn base metals into gold or silver, heal people from all sorts of illnesses, and even offer immortality for the people who consumed part of it. Philosopher and scientist Albertus Magnus (c. 1193-1280) had, according to legend, discovered the Philosopher’s Stone and passed it on to Thomas Aquinas. Most manuscripts that are included in this theme, including this one, contain one or more treatises on this famous substance.
Fols. 12r - 34v contains the text “Vom Stein der Weisen” (The Stone of the Wise). The manuscript also contains other alchemical texts from authors such as Roger Bacon and Géber. The text in fol. 1 deals with exorcism; the practice of casting out demons from a person who is believed to be possessed. The scribe of this manuscript was Hans Meissel, who also copied VCF 13, 14 and 21. The first reader of this book was probably alchemist Sebald Schwertzer (1552-1598). In the seventeenth century it came into the possession of Christina, Queen of Sweden (1626-1689) and the Dutch scholar Isaac Vossius (1618-1689, see also VCF 13).
- Users often modified the manuscript post-production, bringing it even more in tune with their needs. How did the readers of this manuscript interact with the texts? Clue: take a look at the margins and the flyleaves.
- Some manuscripts were produced by one individual that undertook all production stages, including designing the page, copying the text, adding rubrication, and correcting the book. Many others, however, are the product of two or more individuals. How many people worked on this manuscript and how can you tell? Use any observation for your verdict, including how the letters were executed. Can you for example see any notable differences in the execution of the script?
- Boeren, P. C. (1975). Codices vossiani chymici. Universitaire Pers Leiden.