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JDP
12-15-2015, 03:18 PM
For those interested in the subject of a supposed "mercury" of gold, in the Theatrum Chemicum collection of texts there is a short description for preparing it, which Penotus says he received from a "respected and generous Bohemian Lord". The description goes from pages 144 to 146 of the second volume:

http://www.wbc.poznan.pl/Content/8713/tom2-149.jpg

For those who don't understand any Latin, in summary the process goes like this:

Gold is dissolved in aqua regia (obviously made by dissolving sal ammoniac in aqua fortis, otherwise it won't be exactly as described) and the gold is precipitated by adding little by little a solution of potassium carbonate. This gives A SENSITIVE EXPLOSIVE precipitate (i.e. fulminating gold), which is then carefully mixed with sulfur, put in a crucible and gradually heated until it burns. Then the resulting calx is "reverberated" until a fine brownish calx of gold is obtained.

Let me stop here and say that this is all quite an unnecessary risk. You can obtain fine gold calxes by way safer methods. Just precipitate a solution of gold chloride by adding oxalic acid to it and then heating the mixture. The gold will eventually be reduced by the oxalic acid and come out of solution as a fine light brown gold calx.

The gold calx is dissolved again in an aqua regia made by dissolving sal ammoniac that has been sublimed through fused common salt. The solution is evaporated until about half of its volume and then allowed to cool down. Crystals will come out of solution. The crystals are taken and weighed (after allowing to dry, I suppose), and then are mixed with their own weight of common salt. This is put in a glass retort (nowadays just use flasks with ground glass joint distilling adapters), then fresh aqua fortis or aqua regia is poured on the mixture (does not say exactly how much) and it is distilled and cohobated several times until the acid loses much of its strength. The acid is then finally distilled to dryness. Over what remains in the bottom of the retort/flask, is poured "a sufficient quantity" of "the quintessence of wine", which is said to be a "redness" extracted from "tartar calcined to whiteness".

Let me stop here to point out that what the author of the process is very likely referring to is the product of digesting ethyl alcohol with dry potassium carbonate until the alcohol turns of a red color.

The mixture is digested, "the longer the better", and then it is distilled until all the liquid passes over and then is given a strong fire. A yellow powder will be sublimed. This is mixed with two parts of "calcined salt of tartar" (i.e. dry potassium carbonate) and put to "sublime" (or rather distill); in other words, put the mixture in a retort or glass flask hooked to a receiver and give it a gradually increasing heat. A "very alive" mercury will be obtained.

Penotus finishes the account by saying that the nobleman took two parts of the "mercury" of gold thus obtained and heated it with one part of gold calx, but it did NOT mix with or dissolve it (so quite unlike common mercury does, which readily mixes with gold.) The reasons for this oddity he promises he will talk more about in a special treatise about things like "tinging waters", "mercurial waters" which "suddenly change metals into running mercury."

So there you have it folks. Now get busy in trying to get this weird "mercury" of gold and report back to us if you succeed. ;)

crestind
12-19-2015, 03:03 AM
Bohemian lord? :cool:
I guess the unmentioned key is that the tartar and sal ammoniac are both philosophic by default. I suppose the combustion with sulfur might do something too.

JDP
12-19-2015, 07:48 AM
Bohemian lord? :cool:
I guess the unmentioned key is that the tartar and sal ammoniac are both philosophic by default. I suppose the combustion with sulfur might do something too.

Yes, he means a Bohemian nobleman.

I don't see anything in the account to suspect any "decknamen" being used. I think the procedure is to be literally understood. When an author has code-words for something else in mind he usually drops a warning to the reader, or subtly suggests so by saying things like "our Tartar" instead of plain old "tartar".

The reduction of gold fulminate with sulfur results in just common gold in powder form. It won't do anything else to it. Too dangerous an operation to achieve something that can be done by using way safer methods.

Hellin Hermetist
12-19-2015, 10:19 AM
Bohemian lord? :cool:
I guess the unmentioned key is that the tartar and sal ammoniac are both philosophic by default. I suppose the combustion with sulfur might do something too.

The key is that Penotus was only a chemist and copied a procedure without put it to the test (most probably he should have exploded his laboratory if he tried to accomplish a procedure like that). Poleman, Helmont, Zwelserus and others hadn't the best opinion for this sect of chemists (Glauber, Penotus, Faber, etc.) and their medicinal potable metals (usually gold volatilised by repeated distillation with aqua regis and after evaporation of the solvent extraction of the produced salt by spiritus vini). A much simpler expanation than philsophical tartar and spirits.

abdo
12-26-2015, 08:23 PM
Intersting subject see also
http://www.levity.com/alchemy/agric_09.html