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Thread: Rare Manuscripts in BnF

  1. #1
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    Rare Manuscripts in BnF

    Hi guys and happy new year. Lately I made a research an online research at the site of National Bibliotheque de France and there I found many interesting manuscripts which I hadnt seen anywhere else. For example:

    http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv...20philosophale
    http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv...20philosophale
    http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv...20philosophale
    http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv...20philosophale

    Υοu will find many Arabic manuscripts there too. Unfortunately, the calligraphy or the authors, combined with the bad condition of the manuscripts, makes them almost unreadable. Has anyone here studied any of the above manuscripts. Can we find a better publication of them in some other place? Can anyone make a better transcription?
    Last edited by Hellin Hermetist; 01-04-2018 at 02:44 PM.

  2. #2
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    That is the constant problem with manuscripts. It is always a gamble. If the scribe who copied a particular text had a good legible handwriting, then you are in luck and can read it on your own, but if not, then you are majorly screwed. It will require you to find someone who is an expert at reading very difficult examples of handwriting; in other words, a paleographer. And brace yourself, because most of them do not work for free and actually charge hefty sums for their services. The ideal thing would be to find a paleographer who also shares a passion for alchemy & chymistry and would like to transcribe such manuscript texts for free, but good luck with that. I have been involved in such things for a very long time now, and I still haven't found even a single professional paleographer who shares a passion for these subjects. All the ones I have worked with have had to be paid for their services.

  3. #3
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    I have the same problem with a book called "Das Buch der heiligen Dreifaltigkeit", supposedly the very first book on alchemy in german language. Some versions are available online but I can't really read it because of the bad quality or handwriting. I know there exists a readable version or at least parts of it somewhere. If anyone knows more, I would highly appreciate to be informed. Thanks in advance!

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Florius Frammel View Post
    I have the same problem with a book called "Das Buch der heiligen Dreifaltigkeit", supposedly the very first book on alchemy in german language. Some versions are available online but I can't really read it because of the bad quality or handwriting. I know there exists a readable version or at least parts of it somewhere. If anyone knows more, I would highly appreciate to be informed. Thanks in advance!
    Hi Florius,

    did you come across the following manuscript of this text ?

    https://digital.blb-karlsruhe.de/blb...leinfo/1923248

    BdhD.jpg

    It is written in a rather legible, regular and clear script. Of course it might require some basic study in order to comprehend its character and style, but over all, a feasible task.

  5. #5
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    Thank you!
    But this version still is hard to read (for me). Additionally I think it is not the more interesting second version and it lacks all the interesting pictures, which are for example in here:
    http://digital.slub-dresden.de/id27894552X

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Florius Frammel View Post
    Thank you!
    But this version still is hard to read (for me). Additionally I think it is not the more interesting second version and it lacks all the interesting pictures, which are for example in here:
    http://digital.slub-dresden.de/id27894552X
    One difficulty is that there are several Mss of this text, however it's not quite clear which one is the original one. At least the Berlin codex should be the oldest version (1410-1419). Today evening I'll have a look into U. Junkers dissertation in order to see which Ms(s) he used for his transcription. I believe it was the Ms from Kadolzburg, but I'm not quite sure.

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    Thanks, I'm quite sure Juncker used the second (Cadolzburg) Version of 1433 (the interesting one).

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hellin Hermetist View Post
    Hi guys and happy new year. Lately I made a research an online research at the site of National Bibliotheque de France and there I found many interesting manuscripts which I hadnt seen anywhere else. For example:

    http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv...20philosophale
    There is an English translation of the above text (which in the BNF manuscript is badly damaged and badly scanned) in Sloane 3632:

    http://www.alchemywebsite.com/mss/mss299.htm

    4. 'A plain methodicall Declaration of Geber's Three Medicines; in which is contained the true way and perfection of the Philosophers' Stone; translated out of the Latin.

    I have never seen a sample of the handwriting of this manuscript, though, so I have no idea if the scribe who made it had a good legible hand. It would be a matter of taking a risk and ordering a scan of it. If it is legible, then great, but if not... we are screwed.

    Note: the attribution of this treatise to "Eirenaeus Philalethes" seems erroneous. I have taken a look at the Latin original and it does not seem to be a work by this author. It does not have his style.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by JDP View Post
    I have never seen a sample of the handwriting of this manuscript, though, so I have no idea if the scribe who made it had a good legible hand. It would be a matter of taking a risk and ordering a scan of it. If it is legible, then great, but if not... we are screwed.
    Ηοw can we do that? We have to pay a price to the library and ask them to sent us a scan of the manuscript we are interested in?

    For now I study the first of the manuscript I posted. The one named "Apologie de la pierre philosophale, ou réfutation des objections produites contre le grand Oeuvre par un adepte"

    Fortunately the scan is in good condition and almost readable with a little effort. Its an interesting reading so I will give a summary of the parts I have studied till now.

    The author begins his work by saying that this book is the first of its kind, for its the first time that an adept and possessor of the Stone decided to give some answers to those who refuse the possibility of the Great Work and the existence of the Philosophers Stone. "Some adepts has given their books to the world", he says, "but only to give instructions to those who are our followers". With regard to the people who defended the Grand Work and wrote apologies before him, he says that no one of them was an adept and most of them made the matter worse, because they didnt know the science they were trying to defend.

    After that he describes the structrure of the treatise. He says that it shall be divided to four books. In any one of them, he will firstly mentions the objections made by the people who rejects the Great Wοrk and regards it as something impossible, and after he will give his answers to those objections. The first book contains objections based at historical facts and their answers. The second book will be divided in two parts. The first one will contain an analysis of abstract ideas, the second one the objections based on experimental facts and their answers. The third book shall contain the objections based both at abstract ideas and in experimental facts and their answers. The fourth and last book shall give some general instructions to those who occupy their self with the Great Work without being initiates and it shall be an attempt of the author to make all those ppl who try to perform the Great Work using common distillations, sublimations and other chemical procedures, to learn some axioms of the Hermetic Philosophy and understand why all those chemical procedures are wholly incompatible with the Great Work.

    Unfortunately, the link I gave above contains only the first two books. All the other sites I have found, also have only the two first books, which are contained in the above manuscript. Does any one know if there exists a manuscripts with the two last books or if the author never gave them to the public?

    Later I shall a summary of the first two books. I still study them.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hellin Hermetist View Post
    Ηοw can we do that? We have to pay a price to the library and ask them to sent us a scan of the manuscript we are interested in?
    Unfortunately, unless we can find someone who already has a copy of the whole manuscript or samples from it, there is no other way but to take a gamble and purchase a copy from the library.

    For now I study the first of the manuscript I posted. The one named "Apologie de la pierre philosophale, ou réfutation des objections produites contre le grand Oeuvre par un adepte"

    Fortunately the scan is in good condition and almost readable with a little effort. Its an interesting reading so I will give a summary of the parts I have studied till now.
    Cool, let us know about the contents.

    The author begins his work by saying that this book is the first of its kind, for its the first time that an adept and possessor of the Stone decided to give some answers to those who refuse the possibility of the Great Work and the existence of the Philosophers Stone. "Some adepts has given their books to the world", he says, "but only to give instructions to those who are our followers". With regard to the people who defended the Grand Work and wrote apologies before him, he says that no one of them was an adept and most of them made the matter worse, because they didnt know the science they were trying to defend.
    Sounds suspiciously self-aggrandizing. Not a good sign.

    After that he describes the structrure of the treatise. He says that it shall be divided to four books. In any one of them, he will firstly mentions the objections made by the people who rejects the Great Wοrk and regards it as something impossible, and after he will give his answers to those objections. The first book contains objections based at historical facts and their answers. The second book will be divided in two parts. The first one will contain an analysis of abstract ideas, the second one the objections based on experimental facts and their answers. The third book shall contain the objections based both at abstract ideas and in experimental facts and their answers.The fourth and last book shall give some general instructions to those who occupy their self with the Great Work without being initiates and it shall be an attempt of the author to make all those ppl who try to perform the Great Work using common distillations, sublimations and other chemical procedures, to learn some axioms of the Hermetic Philosophy and understand why all those chemical procedures are wholly incompatible with the Great Work.
    Oh-oh... sounds more suspicious yet. Let me guess: another "one matter, one vessel, one furnace, one regimen/fire" boaster/deceiver/dreamer? Those who usually engage in tirades against the elemental laboratory procedures fundamental and necessary (like distillation) to alchemy are most often these types of either self-deceived or purposefully deceiving fellows.

    Unfortunately, the link I gave above contains only the first two books. All the other sites I have found, also have only the two first books, which are contained in the above manuscript. Does any one know if there exists a manuscripts with the two last books or if the author never gave them to the public?
    Either that or the author did not have time to finish it, or if he was a "one matter only" dreamer he might actually eventually have woken up and smelled the ("philosophical") coffee and finally realized the utter unlikeliness of such a claim, so he did not bother to continue his tirade against what he saw as "chemical procedures".

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