BEINECKE RARE BOOK AND MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY
GENERAL COLLECTION OF RARE BOOKS AND
MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE MANUSCRIPTS
Mellon MS 35
JOHANNES BAPTISTA F-----, compiler
Alchemical Miscellany, in Latin, Italian, and Spanish
North Italy (Genoa?), unsigned, about 1550
35.1 Johannes Baptista F-----. Experimenta extracta de libris
medicorum et philosophorum.
35.2 Anonymous. Laudabile sanctum, or Gemma salutaris, an
extract with verses in Italian.
35.3 Anonymous. Alchemical procedures, in Latin.
35.4 Anonymous. Revelatio magisterii quinte essentie.
35.5 Anonymous. Alchemical procedures, in Latin and Italian.
35.6 Anonymous. Alchemical verses, in Italian and Latin.
35.7 John of Rupescissa. Liber de confectione veri lapidis.
35.8 Arnold of Villanova. De perfectione operis alkimie.
35.9 Anonymous. Alchemical verses, in Italian.
35.10 Anonymous. Alchemy and medicine, in Latin and Italian.
35.11 Anonymous. Lapis volgare, in Italian.
35.12 Anonymous. Lapis hispanus, in Spanish.
35.13 Anonymous. Alchemical procedures and medical recipes,
in Latin, Italian, and Spanish.
35.14 Anonymous. An Italian poem.
Paper codex in Latin, Italian, and Spanish, 4to., ca. 205 x 145 (leaves and
quires of differing sizes), ff. 259 of at least 260 originally, ff. 1-257
correctly numbered 106-362 by the compiler, and this foliation employed in
the description below, the leaf originally numbered 186 cut out and lacking,
the last 3 ff. unnumbered; there is no space in the binding for 105 ff. at
the beginning not now present, and it is clear that they were never a part of
this volume in the present binding. No catchwords, no signatures, no
bordering lines, no ruling, no color, considerable abbreviation. Written
through out by one or perhaps two hands in mid-sixteenth-century italic,
sometimes of excellent, professional quality, but often ranging from fairly
good to extremely bad and careless, all in different shades of brown ink;
since it is clear that this volume and its two companions were all compiled
by a single individual, it is possible that all of the hands are those of
that single person; however, it is perhaps more likely that the compiler
sometimes employed a professional scribe for making fair copies which have
been incorporated into the volume. Collation: (1)^^32, (2)^^28, (3)^^32-1,
(4)^^24 (5)^^32 (6)^^26 (7)^^32 (8)^^12, (9)^^16, (10)^^28-2 (the missing ff.
9-10 ofthe last quire not counted in the collation as they were removed
originally by the compiler and there is no interruption in the foliation). A
number of different sixteenth-century papers occur, watermarks in folds and
not certainly identified.
BINDING: Original parchment over pasteboards with remains of thong ties;
probably a home-made binding utilizing used parchment (show-through of
writing visible) from a document, plain edges. Labeled in ink in the hand of
the compiler on the backstrip: "Medicina | astrologia." Loose in cover and
PROVENANCE: Originally owned by the compiler, whose initials were J.B.F.,
probably Giovanni Battista F-----, perhaps a Genoese, who also owned MSS 35
and 37 of this catalogue, and who was perhaps affiliated in some way with the
Franciscan Order, with his ownership inscription inside the front cover and
the note that this was his "liber primus"; Denis Duveen, with his inked
number 95; Mellon MS 23, acquired with the Duveen collection. De Ricci-Bond 6
Front pastedown: [At extreme upper left corner Duveen's characteristic
number, "95"; then, to the right in the italic hand of the compiler:] Liber
primus J. b. f. [sic, for "Johannis Baptistae F-----"?] | [remainder of the
ff. 1-105: [Not present and never bound with the manuscript as now
f. 106r, 1: Nota ... [Three calculations in Italian follow, all hastily
written, highly abbreviated, and rendered partly illegible by worm damage,
continuing through f. 110v, last line at extreme foot of page, partly trimmed
in binding. Circular diagrams and a diagram of the crescent moon occur on
these pages, which are devoted to calendrical computations. Not transcribed.]
f. 110r, headlines: EXPERIMENTA EXTRACTA DE LJBRIS | MEDICORVM ET
PHILOSOPHORVM ET | PRIMO. AD LVNAM FACIENDVM. | [line 1:] Ad faciendum Lunam
| Recipe de arsenico Cristalino onzia | ... [This passage begins a very long
series of alchemical procedures and medical recipes in Italian and Latin,
evidently written at different times, partly canceled, sometimes carefully
and sometimes very hastily written, partly in clear chancery writing, partly
in very hasty cursives of differing aspects, but apparently all by the hand
of the compiler, ending almost illegibly on f. 179v, 1, with a description of
the Vas philosophorum of which a drawing is given on f. 179r.]
[35.1: Johannes Baptista F-----, compiler, Experimenta extracta de libris
medicorum et philosophorum, in Italian and Latin.]
f. 179v, 2: Lapis philosophorum fit de flo [?] vnius diej | Recipe Lapis
philosophorum totum [word not read] domo | Candida si mulier rufo sit mixta
marito [sic] | Chi solver non sapra in astrologia | ... [Ends f. 180r, 9:]
Hipocrate galieno et damaxeno | [remainder of page and f. 180v-181r blank.]
[35.2: Anonymous, a garbled quotation of one well known line, Candida si
rubeo mulier sit nupta marito, from the poem Laudabile sanctum or Gemma
salutaris, by Hermes, Merlin, or Rhazes, TK 184, DWS 793, etc., with verses
in Italian which have not been identified.]
f. 181v, headline: Ad faciendum aquam fortem In purgando [?] aurum at |
argentu[m] | . . [This series of alchemical procedures continues to f. 188v,
21, remainder blank, not transcribed. Ff. 189r- 196r contain an index of the
matter to this point in the volume as now constituted, i.e., without entries
for leaves before f. 106. On f. 196v are three drawings of an alchemical
vessel; the page is otherwise blank.]
[35.3: Anonymous, Alchemical procedures, in Latin, with an index to the
volume as far as f. 188.]
f. 197r, headline: CANON [then in superscript:] Quartus sive Secondus |
[heading:] Revelatio ["nis" in superscript] Magisterij quinte essentie | et
quorum et qualiter nostra quinta essentia | ex Sole et ex stellis creatur ...
[line 1:] Non reputes M [?] mendacium pertulisse qualiter nominare quintam |
essentiam aquam ardentem et dixi [?] ... [Ends f. 209v, 13:] in hoc ergo fine
accipiat primus liber de consideratione | quinte essentie appelamus et ad
gloriam et laudem omnipotentis | dei ... [line 17:] et beatissimi patri
nostri francisci ad consolationem | evangeliorum virorum et honorem ecclesie
dei- | [remainder of f. 209v and f. 210r blank.]
[35.4: Anonymous, Revelatio magisterii quinte essentie, an alchemy perhaps
by the compiler; the ending suggests that the writer was allied to the
f. 210v, headline: Calcinatio Corticum ovorum | ... [This recipe opens a very
long series of recipes and procedures in Latin and Italian, extending through
f. 330r, and followed, continuing throughf 330v, by an index of contents of
the volume from f. 197 through f. 330. On f. 215r is a recipe obtained from
the son of a Jewish physician, on f. 240r is a drawing of the philosophers'
furnace, and on f. 240r is a prescription against the plague proven on twenty
patients, none of whom died, and coming from the time of St. John the
Baptist, who was the patron saint of the compiler if the initials of his name
have been correctly expanded. After the index the recipes and procedures
begin again, continuing through f. 341v; on f. 339r is a table of values of
pharmaceuticals in Genoese money.]
[35.5: Anonymous, Alchemical and medical procedures, in Latin and Italian.]
f. 342r, headline: Soneto | Solvere i corpi in aqua a tuti dico-, | voi che
volete | fare sole e luna -, | ... [Below, line 20, another poem begins:] In
aqua pura nil aliud perficere cura | tintura [word not read] de rebus fixis
in igne | larte sta in aqua pura e altro far non cura | genera la tintura
cossa che al fuoco dura | ...
[35.6: Anonymous, Alchemical verses, in Italian and Latin, not identified.]
f. 342v, headline: + | ad confisiendum Lapidem abreviatum clarum | [line 1:]
Acipe salpetre vitriolum romanum anna [sic] Libras 2 et eas | terre
subtiliter ... [Ends(?) f. 345r, 4:] visibus et auges [?] in infinitum ad
plasitum [sic] | magistri iterantis finis - |
[35.7: John of Rupescissa, Liber de confectione veri lapidis, partly printed
in Gratarolus II, p. 226, and Manget II, p. 80, with differences from this
text, which is truncated by comparison with the version appearing in MS 34.8
(where the attribution to John of Rupescissa occurs) and with the printed
f. 345v, 6: Lapis magister et disipulus [sic] | Sito [sic] fili quod lapis
nostrer [sic] est ut disit ermes [sic] in animata re [sic] | ex hac igitur
... [Ends f. 347r, 15:] per semina et oportet quod per semina eser [?]
restitutus finis |
[35.8: Arnold of Villanova, De perfectione operis alkimie, etc., here titled
Lapis magister et discipulus, TK 1408, DWS 229. The version found here is
apparently corrupt and truncated; another copy occurs in MS 36.33.]
f. 347r, 16: = | vanno in carte 347 alopera del Lapide de corpo e spirito |
Sal fa il fetore ingrato, e fa ogni membro allato - | ... [Ends line 29.]
[35.9: Anonymous, Alchemical verses, in Italian, connected by the compiler
to the text on f. 356v, vide infra.]
f. 347v, headline: + | Minera lune | Acipe lunam finissimam ... [This passage
opens a series of
alchemical procedures and medical recipes in Latin and Italian. On f. 350r
is an account of "quidam medicus senes germanus" who was sick unto death and
discovered the lapis.]
[35.10: Anonymous, Alchemy and medicine, in Latin and Italian.]
f. 354r, 11: Lapis volgare | prende bona aqua vite sensa flema ...
[35.11: Anonymous, Lapis volgare, in Italian, not the same text as that
found in MS 34.27 with the same title, unidentified.]
f. 356r, 15: ... Lapis ispanus | Y el dia, e, la nochie los dos giontas ...
[35.12: Anonymous, Lapis hispanus, in Spanish, not as found in MS 34.28, but
identical with the copy in MS 36.17; otherwise not identified.]
f. 356v, headline: + | Lapis e corpo e ed spirito e anima | [line 1:] prendi
libram I di saturno... [The various recipes and procedures continue through
f. 365r, 3, ending:] coagulatim erit perfeta medisina [sic], testamenti finis
- | [remainder of the page blank.]
[35.13: Anonymous, Alchemical procedures and medicinal recipes, in Latin,
Italian, and Spanish, including copies of "Lapis volgare" and "Lapis
hispanus," versions of which also occur in the Mellon collection as MSS 34.27
f. 365v, 1: O guardate, dolse il risguardo da terra | gli altrui evangeli,
mentre I feri venti - | Levan nel mar le oribil onde al ciello - | ... [Ends
line 24, partly illegible due to worm damage:] ... aver gran copia sempre.
[35.14: Anonymous, Italian poem, not related to alchemy, unidentifed.]
Lower pastedown: [A recipe, rendered partly illegible through worm damage and
not transcribed, dealing with a black ink, in Italian, not identified.
Remainder of the leaf blank.]
SUMMARY: It has been pointed out that MSS 34, 35, and 36, q.v., are all
related and were all compiled by Johannes Baptista F-----, whose last name
has been suppressed in the manuscripts. From inscriptions noted above it
emerges that MS 35 was his "Liber primus," and it opens with a collection of
extracts from various alchemical and medical writers apparently made by the
compiler. Although better written and in a still greater variety of hands
than MS 34, some of the contents of which it repeats, MS 35 is most likely
the work of a single copyist. In this volume there are suggestions that the
compiler was close to the Franciscans, if not actually a Franciscan brother,
and that he had strong ties with Genoa. The unusual spellings found in all
three volumes and the mixture of Latin, Italian, and Spanish are not at all
inconsistent with the possibility that Johannes Baptista F----- was a
resident of the bustling port city of northeast Italy where Spanish would
have been frequently heard. The same mixture of speculative and practical
alchemy pervades all three volumes.