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Thread: Pierre-Jean Fabre's transmutation account

  1. #1
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    Pierre-Jean Fabre's transmutation account

    I found this account of testing a transmuting "salt" (notice that this substance is red but transmutes mercury and lead into silver, not gold. So this is not the Stone but some "particular tincture") by the 16th-17th century French chymist Pierre-Jean Fabre in his "Alchymista Christianus" (my translation from the following French article):

    http://www.couleur-lauragais.fr/page.../histoire.html

    "In the year of the Lord 1627, at Castelnaudary, July 22, the feast day of St. Madeleine, I experienced the virtue of this famous physical salt, in the presence and with the help of several people worthy of trust. The Reverend Father Anaclet and the venerable Father Adrien, very religious devotees of the Order of the Capuchins, were there, as well as the sire of Serignol, magistrate full of equity, presidential lieutenant in the seneschalsy of Lauragais, in charge of the judicial inquiries. In great secrecy, he assisted me in almost every operation. He himself wielded the bellows and activated the fire, so that in an experience so rare, so unheard-of, so incredible, of metallic transmutation, one could not conceive the slightest suspicion of fraud. A half-grain of powder of this admirable salt, in the space of half an hour, transformed an entire ounce of quicksilver into absolutely pure silver, much cleaner and brighter than ordinary silver. This grain, collected and weighed with care, proved not only redder, but also larger and heavier than it was originally. Its power had not been exhausted in the first transmutation of an ounce of quicksilver: it still had some, and thanks to it, a drachma of lead was changed into pure and true silver, in a last controlled experiment."

    The author of the article then proceeds to try to "explain" (to the satisfaction of his very obviously quite inexperienced and uncritical mind) what he naively thinks supposedly "really" happened:

    Pierre-Jean Fabre thinks he has succeeded in a transmutation, Henry Ricalens and other modern historians shout at the imposture. We asked ourselves: What if Fabre said the truth? As pointed out to me, and I thank him for it, a connoisseur of metals, Benjamin Piveteau, there's nothing to cry for a miracle. What Fabre seems to ignore is that the lead ore he used without doubt contained, in its natural state, silver. It is simply argentiferous lead from a mine known since Antiquity, which is located a few leagues from Castelnaudary. "There is a lead mine which seems quite rich in silver," at Loubatiere, near Salsigne, in the Montagne Noire, notes, in 1777, M. de Gensanne, Commissioner for the States of Languedoc. In conclusion, Pierre-Jean Fabre believed, in good faith, to have managed a transmutation, but many things escaped him.

    It seems that his "connoisseur of metals" friend did not actually bother to read the account, or, for that matter, apparently neither did the author of the article himself. The quantity of the transmuting "salt" IS NOTICEABLY INFERIOR TO THE AMOUNT OF LEAD, PLUS THE ENTIRE MASS OF IT IS SAID TO HAVE BEEN CONVERTED INTO SILVER. On top of that, in the previous test THE SAME SMALL SAMPLE OF THE "SALT" HAD ALREADY ALSO TRANSMUTED A MUCH LARGER AMOUNT OF MERCURY INTO SILVER. As if all of these "details" were not enough, the "explanation" about silver impurities in the lead was not "unknown" at all even to the older alchemists themselves, so let alone to a 16th-17th century chymist like Fabre. Such "explanations" do NOT wash. Ordinary chemists and modern historians keep on harping on this mythical and anachronistic "ignorance" that they try to push on the alchemists and transmutational chymists. Ironically, ordinary chemistry itself "borrowed" (i.e. totally ripped-off) these types of arguments straight from the alchemical & chymical literature, and then, to add insult to injury, pretended that the alchemists & transmutational chymists somehow were ignorant about it! (see, for example, Khunrath's attacks against what he calls "the bad-chymists" and how they supposedly allow themselves to be fooled by gold & silver impurities in their matters; alchemists like Khunrath in fact were themselves trying to use this tired old argument against the "puffers" they despised, as if they ignored how to assay metals/minerals and detect if they had gold & silver in them already; these same "arguments" were then RIPPED-OFF by ordinary chemists and then in their turn launched them against the alchemists & chymists who defended the reality of transmutation.)

    There are only two possible conclusions here:

    1- Pierre-Jean Fabre was telling the truth and a much larger amount of silver than the transmuting agent was obtained, and in the same or near amount as that of the base metals employed

    2- Pierre-Jean Fabre was lying, none of what he reports really happened

    There is no "middle ground" here. The ridiculous "impurities" excuse does NOT work. Even if we gave credit to the patently absurd anachronistic idea that somehow the chymists of those times did not know what "impurities" are, the objection DOES NOT APPLY IN CASES WHERE THE AMOUNT OF GOLD OR SILVER OBTAINED IS EQUAL OR CLOSE IN QUANTITY AS THAT OF THE BASE METAL EMPLOYED. The entire or nearly all of the mass of "lead" and "quicksilver", for example, would have to be such "silver impurity" in order to be able to "fool" anyone! So how could this not have been noticed then? For example, who could possibly confuse LIQUID, HEAVIER & EASILY VOLATILIZED MERCURY FOR SOLID, LIGHTER, MALLEABLE & "FIXED" SILVER??? Simple common sense & math, folks (even an ordinary chemist like Bergman in the 18th century had already noted that "impurities" cannot account for such transmutation cases where the amount of precious metals obtained is equivalent or near so to the amount of base metal employed.)

    PS: the increase in weight/volume of the half-grain of the tinging "salt" after its first use on the ounce of mercury is interesting. But its transmuting potency was already diminished, apparently, since after that it only turned a drachma of lead into silver. So this increase in weight/volume might be from a small part of the artificial silver produced in the previous operation "sticking" to the tinging "salt" and giving the appearance of an increase in weight/volume.
    Last edited by JDP; 02-02-2018 at 05:44 PM.

  2. #2
    Interesting, thanks for posting.

    So they recovered the grain of salt after the first transmutation.
    I imagine the salt must have been floating on the surface of the liquid metal rather than being mixed.
    Could this mean the transmutation is an 'energetic' reaction between salt and metal...rather than a chemical one?

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dendritic Xylem View Post
    Interesting, thanks for posting.

    So they recovered the grain of salt after the first transmutation.
    I imagine the salt must have been floating on the surface of the liquid metal rather than being mixed.
    Could this mean the transmutation is an 'energetic' reaction between salt and metal...rather than a chemical one?
    What Fabre reports about the "tincture" sample being recovered is not unheard of. One of Kelley's transmutations, witnessed by Dr. Nicholas Barnaud and Dr. von Hayek, for example, was made by means of a liquid "tincture" that also left a "ruby-like" substance (i.e. an excess of "tincture") on the transmuted gold. What's interesting about the Fabre account is that the recovered excess of "tincture" is reused, and it manifestly shows that now is less powerful. It could only transmute a much smaller amount (i.e. one drachma instead of an ounce) of base metal into silver, and that was the end of it.

  4. #4
    Is there a book or manuscript out there that focuses primarily on the historical accounts of transmutation...at least the relatively credible ones?

    If not, someone needs to publish such a compendium. I would certainly buy a copy.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dendritic Xylem View Post
    Is there a book or manuscript out there that focuses primarily on the historical accounts of transmutation...at least the relatively credible ones?

    If not, someone needs to publish such a compendium. I would certainly buy a copy.
    If you can understand German, Creiling collected a bunch of them in his Ehrenrettung Der Alchymie. And there was another 18th century German writer, whose name eludes me right now, who collected even more!

    If you can understand French, Bernard Husson collected a bunch of them in his Transmutations Alchimiques.

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    Maybe we can work out a sort of crowd-funded translation project?

    I can see a detailed anthology of alchemical transmutation being very popular in the field.
    Art is Nature in the flask; Nature is a vial thing.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by JDP View Post
    If you can understand German, Creiling collected a bunch of them in his Ehrenrettung Der Alchymie. And there was another 18th century German writer, whose name eludes me right now, who collected even more!

    If you can understand French, Bernard Husson collected a bunch of them in his Transmutations Alchimiques.
    English is my only language, and I'm not even good with it.
    Germany and France seem to be alchemical powerhouses. Thanks for the info.


    Kiorionis...I agree. Surprised it hasn't been done yet.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by JDP View Post
    If you can understand German, Creiling collected a bunch of them in his Ehrenrettung Der Alchymie. And there was another 18th century German writer, whose name eludes me right now, who collected even more!

    If you can understand French, Bernard Husson collected a bunch of them in his Transmutations Alchimiques.
    I think this is the one written by Siegmund Heinrich Güldenfalk. He is reporting of more than one hundred true transmutation stories.

    https://books.google.de/books?id=ucm...page&q&f=false

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Weidenfeld View Post
    I think this is the one written by Siegmund Heinrich Güldenfalk. He is reporting of more than one hundred true transmutation stories.

    https://books.google.de/books?id=ucm...page&q&f=false
    Yes, thank you, I could not remember his name.

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