Secrets of Alchemists’ 600-Year-Old Textbook Hidden in Strange Stains and Grime

The half-magic, half-science practice of Alchemy is still shrouded in mystery. Far from merely an obsessive quest to transmute lead in gold, alchemy was an old and complex school of study that laid much of the foundation for the modern fields of chemistry and medicine. In 2014, the Science History Institute (then called the Chemical Heritage Foundation) acquired an extensive collection of alchemical tomes from a private collector, including a 600-year-old leather-bound book titled (in quintessential medieval wizard style) Recipes and Extracts on Alchemy, Medicine, Metal-Working, Cosmetics, Veterinary Science, Agriculture, Wine-Making, and Other Subjects, or “the Harry Potter book” as it’s referred to at the SHI. It’s an alchemy textbook, with gold nails driven into the cover in the shape of a six pointed star. Written in Latin by an Italian alchemist between 1425 and 1450 C.E.,  it includes helpful instruction on how to make a dying horse appear well-fed, healthy, and […] Read More