Description

    "The Most Important English Alchemical Text."

    [Elias Ashmole, editor]. Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum. Containing Severall Poetical Pieces of our Famous English Philosophers, who have written the Hermetique Mysteries in their owne Ancient Language. Faithfully Collected into one Volume, with Annotations thereon.... The First Part (All Published). London: J. Grismond for Nath[aniel] Brooke, at the Angel in Cornhill, 1652.
    From the works of Thomas Norton, George Ripley, Geoffrey Chaucer, John Dastin, Abraham Andrews, William Backhouse, Thomas Charnock, John Dee, John Gower, Edward Kelley, John Lydgate, et alia.
    First edition. Quarto. A-B4, C-3Q4, 3R3, 3S4. [Lacks 3R4, as usual, possibly a second errata leaf - see Manly Hall]. [16], 280, 285-292, 289-486, [10, index and errata leaf]. Pagination errors. Title page in red and black with printer's device, twelve alchemical engravings, six of which are full page, dragon wood cut repeated on pages 212 and 379, ornamental head- and tail-pieces, decorated initials. Lacks folding plate and extra inserted plate (sometimes used as a frontispiece). Later portrait plate added as frontispiece with its facsimile signature trimmed off and bound in behind it. Later calf boards, rebacked with title in blind to spine.
    Binding rubbed, scuffed and scratched, inner hinge cracked at A2. Margins trimmed not affecting text. Title page with tears, chips, and paper loss (no loss to text) repaired and reinserted on a stub. Clean tears repaired at B2 and B3 (two and six inches respectively), paper loss in upper corner of Y2 repaired with minor loss to text, last errata leaf with repaired extended tears. Some repaired tears and restored corners, few with loss to page numbers. Dampstains, some browning, occasional soiling, some leaves with small holes and track from biopredation in lower corners near spine very minor and not affecting text, few light holograph ink marks and annotations; nonetheless in very good condition. From the Krown & Spellman Collection.
    Please visit HA.com/6148 for an extended description of this lot.


    More Information:

    "The most important English alchemical text. Complete copies are extremely rare, most copies lacking at least one or more plates." - [Mellon, Alchemy & the Occult, 101. Manly Hall 29.]

    "Elias Ashmole 1617-1692, 'the greatest virtuoso and curioso that ever was known or read of in England before his time'.He.made the acquaintance of Captain (afterwards Sir) George Wharton, who procured him a commission in the ordnance, and imbued him with the love of astrology and alchemy which, next to his antiquarianism, became the leading feature of his intellectual character." -[DNB].

    "Even a casual peruser of Ashmole's Theatrum will soon realize how much scholarship and conscientious research the author has put into these pages. The collection of the manuscript texts, which were rare even in Ashmole's time, the collation of parallel manuscripts, and the compilation of the glossary alone were tasks requiring, besides good knowledge of paleography, much discernment, perseverance, and industry. Ashmole decided 'after some Consideration' to select only from those written in verse, because poetry is a more ancient and therefore, a more venerable medium than prose." -[C.H. Josten, Elias Ashmole].

    Wing A3987. ESTC r205904. Duveen 31. Ferguson, Glasgow, 49. Ferguson, Young, I, 52 (note lacking from Young Collection.) Gardner, Rosicruciana, 64. Hazlitt, Handbook, 5. Bolton 952. Neu 146. Newberry 27. Krivatsy/NLM 449. Wellcome II, 63. Pritchard 80.



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    Auction Dates
    November, 2015
    4th-5th Wednesday-Thursday
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