Item #32418 A True Light of Alchymy. Eirenaeus PHILALETHES, George Starkey.
A True Light of Alchymy.

A True Light of Alchymy.

London: Printed by I. Dawks for the author, 1709. First Edition Thus. Hardcover, Small 8vo. (3 1/2 x 6 inches). Recent full leather, with blind rules to edges, and leather label on spine, with the word 'Alchemy' gilt stamped on it running down the spine. Fresh endpapers. The title reads in full: A True Light of Alchymy. Containing, I. A Correct Edition of the Marrow of Alchymy, being a Celebrated Experimental treatise, discovering the Secrets and most Hidden Mystery of the Philosophers Elixir, both in Theory and Practice. II. The Errors of a late Tract called, A short Discourse of the Quintessence of Philosophers, wherein is pretended to be set forth, how one Select Person might be made partaker of it by the Authors means, and others rightly Directed in prosecuting that Study. III. The Method and Materials pointed at, composing the Sophick Mercury, and Transmuting Elixir, in plain Terms, free from all Enigma's. The like never before Emitted to the world.' An extremely scarce alchemical work - it is essentially an expanded edition of a small work, The Marrow of Alchymy, which was first published in two parts by Edward Brewster in 1654 and 1655. The Marrow of Alchymy soon became a sought-after rarity, with historian and hermetic scholar Daniel Georg Morhof (1639 – 1691) commenting to this effect as early as 1673. No author's name is given on the main title page of A True Light of Alchymy, however on the separate title page to the second part it is attributed to one Eirenæus Philoponus Philalethes, as was The Marrow of Alchymy. Eirenæus Philalethes (literally 'peaceful lover of truth') was a pseudonym used by a number of seventeenth century authors, and despite being held in high regard (A. E. Waite termed him ‘the most important expositor of Alchemy in the second half of the seventeenth century,’) the identity of the author of A True Light of Alchymy was long the subject of mystery and conjecture. The text itself suggests that it derived from the labours of three individuals: the first an unnamed alchemist, who is said, through his own endeavours, to have “attained the preparation of the Philosopher’s Mercury,” the second a student of his known by the alias Eirenæus Philoponus Philalethes, to whom the alchemist entrusted a sample of the transmuting agent and a series of tracts outlining the secrets of his art, and the third, who persuaded the student to publish his experiences, and who himself provided the prefaratory material. The prefaratory material is signed Egregius Christo, and Vir gregis Custos, both rather poor anagrams of a latinised form of the name George Starkey (Georgius Sterchi and Georgius Stircus respectively). It is now widely accepted that Starkey (1627 - 1665), a Bermudan-born doctor who was educated in New England where he privately studied alchemy under the mentorship of the Massachusetts alchemical enthusiast John Winthrop Jr. (1606-1676), was probably the author of the entire work. A new edition of the excellent biography of the enigmatic Starkey: Gehennical Fire: The Lives of George Starkey, an American Alchemist in the Scientific Revolution, by William Royall Newman, was published by The University of Chicago Press in 2003. The recent binding is in fine condition. A quarter inch strip has been neatly excised from the top of the title leaf, apparently taking the 'A' of 'A True Light of Alchymy' with it, there is some light, even browning throughout, a few leaves have been closely cropped at the outer margins, but apparently without loss. Overall a VG copy of a scarce and important work. Item #32418

Price: $3,250.00