Basileæ: Apud Petrum Pernam, 1572. First Edition. Hardcover. Two volume set. Vol. I: small, thick octavo. (6 3/8 x 4 inches). (xvi), 672, (iil)pp. Contemporary patterned brown calf, raised bands, gilt stamped leather title label reading "Auriferae Artis" and gilt decorations to spine. Marbled endpapers. Printers devices and decorative initials. Vol. II, small, thick octavo. (6 x 3 3/4 inches). 468 [actually 560 - numerous errors in pagination], [xxxii] pp. Contemporary patterned brown calf, raised bands, gilt stamped leather title label reading "De Re Metallica" and gilt decorations to spine. Marbled endpapers. Printers device on title-page and and occasional decorative initials. 18 (of 20) half-page woodcut illustrations in text.
An extremely rare first edition set of a work described by Ferguson as "one of the chief collections of standard alchemical authors" and by Thorndike as "comparable in variety and importance to 'Verae Achemiciae." The great alchemical bibliographer Duveen commented that it is "very difficult to find" the two volumes of "Auriferae Artis" together, observing that even those in his own magnificent collection were a mismatched set (see further below).
A set of the "Auriferae Artis" was in the library of Sir Isaac Newton, and the work held a particular fasination for Carl Gustav Jung - it is said to have been the first alchemical book that he purchased, and her refered to it extensively in his works including "Psychology and Alchemy" and "Memories, Dreams, and Reflections." The first 200 pages of Volume I comprise the first publication of the "Turba Philosophorum" (Assembly of the [Alchemical] Philosophers), a work which until then had existed only in manuscript form. The "Turba" is thought to date from the tenth century (C.E.), and is one of the oldest and best known works in the European alchemical canon, having, like the Picatrix, mostly likely been translated from an Arabic original. Vol. II included a printing of the famous "Rosarium philosophorum sive pretiosissimum donum Dei" with recut wood-cuts. Both volumes included a number of other basic texts on alchemy, some of which were taken directly from manuscripts and published for the first time whilst others had already appeared in earlier publications. A list of the contents follows: Volume I: Typoraphus. Lectoribus. Praefatio; (1). Propositiones, seu maxime artis chemicae; (2) Turba philosophorum in secunda philosophia longe` diuersa & copiosior quam reliquae, quae passim circumferuntur; (3) Allegoriae super librum Turbae; (4) Aenigma ex visione A Rislei [Arislei] et allegorijs sapientum; (5) In Turbam philosophorum exercitationes: in quibus occulta quaedam & ad artem facientia explicantur; (6) Aurora consurgens: quae dicitur aurea hora & in eius secundum tractatum; (7) Rosinus ad Euthiciam; (8) Rosinus ad Sarratantam episcopum (9) Incipit Liber diuinarum interpretationum & definitionum; (10) Incipit Practica Mariae prophetissae in artem alchimicam (11) Liber secretorum alchemiae compositus per Calid filium Iazichi, translatus ex Hebraeo in Arabicum & ex Arabico in Latinum, incerto interprete; (12) Liber trium verborum Kallid acutissimi; (13) Tractatulus Aristotelis de practica lapidis philosophici incipit; (14) Avicenna De congelatione et conglutinatione lapidum; (14a) Cuiusdam epistolae, quae Alexandri Macedonum regis nomine circunfertur, interpretatio, abditam philosophici lapidis compositionem sapientibus acutissime` declarans; (15) Authoris ignoti Philosophici lapidis secreta metaphorice` describentis opusculum; (16) Merlini Allegoria profundissimum philosophici lapidis arcanum perfecte` continens; (17) Rachaidibi, Veradiani, Rhodiani et Kanidis ... De materia philosophici lapidis acutissime` colloquentium fragmentum; (18) Tractatulus Avicennae (Auicenna item de Alchimia) (19) Semita Semitae; (20) Clangor Buccinae: tractatus mirabilis simul & attentissimus, ex quadam vetustissima scriptura excerptus; (21) Correctio fatuorum: tractatulus satis perutilis & autenticus; (22) Liber de arte chimica incerti authoris. Volume II: (1) (Morienus), Liber de compositione alchemiae, quem edidit Morienus Romanus, Calid Regi Aegyptiorum: quem Robertus Castrensis de Arabico in Latinum transtulit; (2) (Trevinensis) Bernardi Trevinensis responsium ad Thomam de Bononia de mineralibus & elixiris compositione (de transmutatione Metallorum); (Robertus Vallensis, aka Robert Duval) Roberti Vallensis Tabulis illustrata; Liber de arte chimia incertis authoris nunquam hactenus in Lucem editus; (4) Scala philosophorum Ludus puerorum (et opus mulierum); (5) (attributed to Arnaldus de Villa Nova) Rosarium philosophorum (cum figuris); comprising: Rosarium - Novum lumen - Flos florum ad regem Aragonum - Epistola super alchemia ad regem Neapolitanum; (7) (Roger Bacon) Rogerius Bacho Anglus de mirabile potestate artis et naturae. References: Duveen, p. 29, Fergson: I, p. 52, Thorndike V, p. 625, Caillet 551: I, p. 79. The two volumes are of slightly different size, and although the bindings are so similar that at quick glance they appear to match, there are sufficient differences to suggest that this is a mismatched set although not glaringly so. Condition: Volume I: The corners of the boards are rounded, and there is a short (one inch) split to the leather at the top of the hinge of the upper board, although the binding remains firm and the boards solidly attached. Some minor damp discoloration and browning, considerable antique manuscript notes, underlining and marginalia throughout. A small (thumb-print sized) nineteenth century portrait photograph, presumably of a previous owner of the book, is pasted on the blank facing the title. Volume II: Leather overall quite rubbed and chipped away at the head and tail of spine, the corners of the boards are rounded, and the leather hinges are cracked but the boards are still quite firmly attached. Deep vertical cracks to spine. Some marginal worming to pages, which are also browned and discolored with minor tears and considerable antique manuscript notes, underlining and marginalia throughout. The bottom corner of pp. 5/6 is lacking, with small loss of text; half of pages 261/262 and most of pages 333/334, both of which had plates, have been torn out and are lacking. A well used Good only copy. Despite the flaws - particularly evident in Volume II - a genuinely rare and important set, with pleasing antique look and feel. Item #70129