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Thread: The Alchemical Medal of Leopold I

  1. #1
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    The Alchemical Medal of Leopold I

    Someone asked me something about the "Alchemie exhibition" of Berlin. Actually the question was if I remembered the name of the alchemist whose "transmuted gold" was on display there.... but none of us could remember it.

    So, as we were talking about the exhibition of Berlin, I told this person that something that truly amazed me was the "Alchemical Medal" that was NOT at that exhibition, but at the permanent exhibition of the History Museum of Budapest (which is inside the Buda Castle, which has several museums inside). I wanted to show this person the medal and since I can't look at many photos right now, I used google as to find it.

    I found it in this page: http://www.alaintruong.com/archives/.../32804693.html

    But since the page contains many things, I will paste it here:

    An alchemical medal (1677), illustrated with portraits in relief of the Habsburgs, by Johann Permann


    Johann Permann, Alchemical Medallion, November 15, 1677. Gold-silver-copper cast. Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Austria.



    Johann Permann, Alchemical Medallion -reverse side, November 15, 1677. Gold-silver-copper cast. Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Austria.


    And with my currently screwed up eyes, I can't read the text, but it's a medal for Leopold I , who was of course openly interested in Alchemy.

    The medal at the History Museum of the Buda Castle is more or less 70 cm tall and is surrounded by a set of some 12 minor medals (maybe 15 centimeters tall each one) with the faces of the alchemists of the court.

    So it was interesting to find it by chance, because I almost skipped the Numismatics Collection, because the Museums are HUGE and I wanted to see the art, whilst "old coins" is not really my thing. BUT thankfully I got into that room and I saw this fantastic medal. It seems to have been made with gold, silver and copper... but it is still labeled as "Alchemical Medal".

    Finding it was, as to say it in a colloquial way, a true "Kodak Moment".

    _______________________________

    I am having a minor problem with my eyes, so I can't read the text, but if someone likes the idea of transcribing it to letters (to text), then I will gladly translate it to English.
    IF not, then it is still interesting to see it as something that belongs to the History of Alchemy.

    Other than that, if anyone knows something else related to this medal, then probably this is the thread to open your mouth or remain silent forever.

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    That was me asking about the Berlin exhibition. Actually there was transmuted gold and silver that looked really nice (bubble structures - maybe formed when the metals were cooling down).

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    Quote Originally Posted by zoas23 View Post
    Someone asked me something about the "Alchemie exhibition" of Berlin. Actually the question was if I remembered the name of the alchemist whose "transmuted gold" was on display there.... but none of us could remember it.

    So, as we were talking about the exhibition of Berlin, I told this person that something that truly amazed me was the "Alchemical Medal" that was NOT at that exhibition, but at the permanent exhibition of the History Museum of Budapest (which is inside the Buda Castle, which has several museums inside). I wanted to show this person the medal and since I can't look at many photos right now, I used google as to find it.

    I found it in this page: http://www.alaintruong.com/archives/.../32804693.html

    But since the page contains many things, I will paste it here:

    An alchemical medal (1677), illustrated with portraits in relief of the Habsburgs, by Johann Permann


    Johann Permann, Alchemical Medallion, November 15, 1677. Gold-silver-copper cast. Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Austria.



    Johann Permann, Alchemical Medallion -reverse side, November 15, 1677. Gold-silver-copper cast. Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Austria.


    And with my currently screwed up eyes, I can't read the text, but it's a medal for Leopold I , who was of course openly interested in Alchemy.

    The medal at the History Museum of the Buda Castle is more or less 70 cm tall and is surrounded by a set of some 12 minor medals (maybe 15 centimeters tall each one) with the faces of the alchemists of the court.

    So it was interesting to find it by chance, because I almost skipped the Numismatics Collection, because the Museums are HUGE and I wanted to see the art, whilst "old coins" is not really my thing. BUT thankfully I got into that room and I saw this fantastic medal. It seems to have been made with gold, silver and copper... but it is still labeled as "Alchemical Medal".

    Finding it was, as to say it in a colloquial way, a true "Kodak Moment".

    _______________________________

    I am having a minor problem with my eyes, so I can't read the text, but if someone likes the idea of transcribing it to letters (to text), then I will gladly translate it to English.
    IF not, then it is still interesting to see it as something that belongs to the History of Alchemy.

    Other than that, if anyone knows something else related to this medal, then probably this is the thread to open your mouth or remain silent forever.
    It says:

    Sacratissimo
    Potentissimo et Invictissimo
    Romanorum Imperatori LEOPOLDO I
    Arcanorum naturae Scrutat curios
    Genuinum hoc verae ac perfectae
    Metamorphoseos metallicae
    Specimen
    Pro exiguo Anniversarii diei nominalis
    Mnemosyno
    Cum omnigenoe prosperitatis voto
    Humillima veneratione offert et dicat
    Joannes Wenceslaus de Reinburg
    Numini Maiestatique eius
    Devotissimus.
    Anno Christi MDCLXXVII die Festo
    S.Leopoldi
    Congnomine pii olim Marchion Austriae
    nunc autem Patroni Augustissimae
    Domus Austriacae
    Benignissimi


    The portraits are not of alchemists of the court but of the emperor's predecessors.

    If the medal was "transmuted" by simply "dipping" it in a liquid, as some historians say, then it is very likely that it was the product of trickery and not a genuine transmutation (the liquid could simply have been an acid liquor that would attack the silver and copper and left a more gold-concentrated surface.) But if it was instead cast & struck from previously made artificial gold, then the fact that the gold was alloyed with copper and silver does not really mean much against its alleged alchemical origin. Pure gold is too soft to make medals. Anyone who has handled pure gold coins knows how easily they deform (merely dropping them on the floor is enough to cause deformation.) So it makes sense that for casting a more durable object other harder metals should be added. Silver and copper are the ideal metals to use, in fact, since they easily form alloys with gold that, in the right proportions, still retain a golden color.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JDP View Post
    It says:

    Sacratissimo
    Potentissimo et Invictissimo
    Romanorum Imperatori LEOPOLDO I
    Arcanorum naturae Scrutat curios
    Genuinum hoc verae ac perfectae
    Metamorphoseos metallicae
    Specimen
    Pro exiguo Anniversarii diei nominalis
    Mnemosyno
    Cum omnigenoe prosperitatis voto
    Humillima veneratione offert et dicat
    Joannes Wenceslaus de Reinburg
    Numini Maiestatique eius
    Devotissimus.
    Anno Christi MDCLXXVII die Festo
    S.Leopoldi
    Congnomine pii olim Marchion Austriae
    nunc autem Patroni Augustissimae
    Domus Austriacae
    Benignissimi


    The portraits are not of alchemists of the court but of the emperor's predecessors.

    If the medal was "transmuted" by simply "dipping" it in a liquid, as some historians say, then it is very likely that it was the product of trickery and not a genuine transmutation (the liquid could simply have been an acid liquor that would attack the silver and copper and left a more gold-concentrated surface.) But if it was instead cast & struck from previously made artificial gold, then the fact that the gold was alloyed with copper and silver does not really mean much against its alleged alchemical origin. Pure gold is too soft to make medals. Anyone who has handled pure gold coins knows how easily they deform (merely dropping them on the floor is enough to cause deformation.) So it makes sense that for casting a more durable object other harder metals should be added. Silver and copper are the ideal metals to use, in fact, since they easily form alloys with gold that, in the right proportions, still retain a golden color.
    Thank you, JDP. A very quick and with probably some mistakes translation, but I do not want to pick the Latin dictionary.

    Very Sacred
    Very Powerful (and) Very Invincible
    Roman Emperor Leopold I
    Investigate the arcanum of nature with curiosity
    Genuinely [or "Legitimately"] this is a true and perfect
    metamorphosis of a metallic
    ornament*
    as a "Souvenir" (or "remembrance") [done] On behalf of the "exact" nominal day of the anniversary of the vote ("Coronation")
    (and) With all types of prosperity
    That offers and "proclaims" with a very humble veneration
    Johannes Wenzel of Rheinburg**
    Whose divine power and majesty are
    Very devout.
    On the Festive day of Leopold, in the year 1677
    Previously known as the pious Marquis of Austria
    But now the Patron (Emperor) Of the Very August and Benign*** Kingdom of Austria

    *"Specimen" has too many meanings... "ornament" was the one the fitted better, but other meanings give the sentence an absolute different sense (This is an example of a metallic metamorphosis" would also be acceptable).

    ** Wenzel seems to be the alchemist who did the transmutation and the King Leopold I gave him a nobiliary title.

    *** Hard to tell, because of the grammar, if the Kingdom of Austria is "benign" in this medal or if Leopold is "benign"... BUT I think that the Kingdom is "Benign" in this sentence.


    When I said about the medals of the "alchemists" is about OTHER minor (and smaller) medals that were done when this "big one" was casted. Though maybe you are right and the OTHER medals were for remembering his predecessors. My memory isn't perfect. They are exhibited next to the "big medal" at the Museum of History of Hungary.

    So it seems that this person, Wenzel, gave this Medal to Leopold I as a gift or "souvenir" on an anniversary of his coronation as a king, and Wenzel also invites of suggests to Leopold that he (Leopold) should investigate the Arcanum of nature (as if he was suggesting that doing such thing, Leopold could find out how to transmute metals too).

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by zoas23 View Post
    Thank you, JDP. A very quick and with probably some mistakes translation, but I do not want to pick the Latin dictionary.

    Very Sacred
    Very Powerful (and) Very Invincible
    Roman Emperor Leopold I
    Investigate the arcanum of nature with curiosity
    Genuinely [or "Legitimately"] this is a true and perfect
    metamorphosis of a metallic
    ornament*
    as a "Souvenir" (or "remembrance") [done] On behalf of the "exact" nominal day of the anniversary of the vote ("Coronation")
    (and) With all types of prosperity
    That offers and "proclaims" with a very humble veneration
    Johannes Wenzel of Rheinburg**
    Whose divine power and majesty are
    Very devout.
    On the Festive day of Leopold, in the year 1677
    Previously known as the pious Marquis of Austria
    But now the Patron (Emperor) Of the Very August and Benign*** Kingdom of Austria

    *"Specimen" has too many meanings... "ornament" was the one the fitted better, but other meanings give the sentence an absolute different sense (This is an example of a metallic metamorphosis" would also be acceptable).

    ** Wenzel seems to be the alchemist who did the transmutation and the King Leopold I gave him a nobiliary title.

    *** Hard to tell, because of the grammar, if the Kingdom of Austria is "benign" in this medal or if Leopold is "benign"... BUT I think that the Kingdom is "Benign" in this sentence.


    When I said about the medals of the "alchemists" is about OTHER minor (and smaller) medals that were done when this "big one" was casted. Though maybe you are right and the OTHER medals were for remembering his predecessors. My memory isn't perfect. They are exhibited next to the "big medal" at the Museum of History of Hungary.

    So it seems that this person, Wenzel, gave this Medal to Leopold I as a gift or "souvenir" on an anniversary of his coronation as a king, and Wenzel also invites of suggests to Leopold that he (Leopold) should investigate the Arcanum of nature (as if he was suggesting that doing such thing, Leopold could find out how to transmute metals too).
    I thought you were talking about the portraits on the medal itself.

    Yes, Wenceslas Seiler (or Seyler) was the guy who performed this alleged "transmutation". This one was suspect because of how it was apparently carried out (through "dipping", if some historians who have commented about this incident are correct.) But Seiler actually had already performed other transmutations before, of copper, pewter and tin into gold, and these ones have all the looks to be genuine alchemical transmutations: a small amount of a red powder was cast on a much larger amount of the chosen molten metal or alloy, converting the whole mass of them into gold (the gold produced from some of these transmutations is described as having had "red veins" and being a bit brittle, indicating an excess of "tincture"; the "tinging" power of Seiler's sample of the Stone was estimated at 1 part for 10,000 parts of base metal, very powerful stuff!) Seiler himself was not really an "alchemist" but had gained access to a large sample of the Stone. After the sample was gone in performing such demonstrations, he apparently had to resort to trickery for his "transmutations". These events are the subject of the book "Magnalia Naturae", usually attributed to the chymist Becher (notice, however, that the narrative within the book itself mentions Becher in third person, as one of the men invited to supervise one of these transmutation demonstrations of Seiler's powder, which would appear to suggest that it was not actually written by Becher himself but by someone else who gained access to all this information.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by JDP View Post
    I thought you were talking about the portraits on the medal itself.

    Yes, Wenceslas Seiler (or Seyler) was the guy who performed this alleged "transmutation". This one was suspect because of how it was apparently carried out (through "dipping", if some historians who have commented about this incident are correct.) But Seiler actually had already performed other transmutations before, of copper, pewter and tin into gold, and these ones have all the looks to be genuine alchemical transmutations: a small amount of a red powder was cast on a much larger amount of the chosen molten metal or alloy, converting the whole mass of them into gold (the gold produced from some of these transmutations is described as having had "red veins" and being a bit brittle, indicating an excess of "tincture"; the "tinging" power of Seiler's sample of the Stone was estimated at 1 part for 10,000 parts of base metal, very powerful stuff!) Seiler himself was not really an "alchemist" but had gained access to a large sample of the Stone. After the sample was gone in performing such demonstrations, he apparently had to resort to trickery for his "transmutations". These events are the subject of the book "Magnalia Naturae", usually attributed to the chymist Becher (notice, however, that the narrative within the book itself mentions Becher in third person, as one of the men invited to supervise one of these transmutation demonstrations of Seiler's powder, which would appear to suggest that it was not actually written by Becher himself but by someone else who gained access to all this information.)
    Oh, so Wenceslas was the name!
    I simply looked for examples of "Wenceslaus" and all the examples I found were persons called "Wenzel", so I assumed that it was right and it was a quick translation. I do not like to leave the "Latinized" names when I translate.

    It's funny, we often disagree about alchemical ideas, but I truly adore your schollarity. I would certainly enjoy to meet you face to face one day and talk about one of the most interesting things that mankind has invented (no, not the Philosopher's Stone... I mean BOOKS).

    I don't buy the story you are explaining, but because we've heard this story with slight variations a thousand times (this Wenceslas Seiler, Kelley... or even the more contemporary Richard Chanfray). These characters that receive from an alchemist a big portion of the Stone and they become rich, but then they run out of it... or in some variations a "spirit" guided them to dig a hole in the ground and surprisingly the stone was there.

    My Occam's razor says that these stories happening again and again do not make much sense (unless we have an immortal alchemist who has been having fun with the same trick during the last 500 years... He always gives a lot of the "Stone" to random persons and then watches how they get rich and then they get in troubles, because he is bored and has fun doing such thing).

    I think it's more logical to ASSUME that all these persons who "received" the stone from a stranger, actually found the way to transmute metals. At least that assumption makes more sense to me than the glamorous story of the person who accidentally receives or finds a sample of the stone and always has the same fate (right now Nietzsche is mad at me because I am stating that his Eternal Recurrence doesn't make sense to me).

    Finally, yes, it was Florius who asked me, but I didn't know if Florius was OK with disclosing a private conversation, even if it was just about finding the name of the creator of an object that was displayed at an exhibition.

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    (unless we have an immortal alchemist who has been having fun with the same trick during the last 500 years... He always gives a lot of the "Stone" to random persons and then watches how they get rich and then they get in troubles, because he is bored and has fun doing such thing).
    This makes a lot of sense
    I think it's more logical to ASSUME that all these persons who "received" the stone from a stranger, actually found the way to transmute metals. At least that assumption makes more sense to me than the glamorous story of the person who accidentally receives or finds a sample of the stone and always has the same fate
    given the specialist nature of the work its more plausible that a stranger did show up

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by zoas23 View Post
    Oh, so Wenceslas was the name!
    I simply looked for examples of "Wenceslaus" and all the examples I found were persons called "Wenzel", so I assumed that it was right and it was a quick translation. I do not like to leave the "Latinized" names when I translate.

    It's funny, we often disagree about alchemical ideas, but I truly adore your schollarity. I would certainly enjoy to meet you face to face one day and talk about one of the most interesting things that mankind has invented (no, not the Philosopher's Stone... I mean BOOKS).

    I don't buy the story you are explaining, but because we've heard this story with slight variations a thousand times (this Wenceslas Seiler, Kelley... or even the more contemporary Richard Chanfray). These characters that receive from an alchemist a big portion of the Stone and they become rich, but then they run out of it... or in some variations a "spirit" guided them to dig a hole in the ground and surprisingly the stone was there.

    My Occam's razor says that these stories happening again and again do not make much sense (unless we have an immortal alchemist who has been having fun with the same trick during the last 500 years... He always gives a lot of the "Stone" to random persons and then watches how they get rich and then they get in troubles, because he is bored and has fun doing such thing).

    I think it's more logical to ASSUME that all these persons who "received" the stone from a stranger, actually found the way to transmute metals. At least that assumption makes more sense to me than the glamorous story of the person who accidentally receives or finds a sample of the stone and always has the same fate (right now Nietzsche is mad at me because I am stating that his Eternal Recurrence doesn't make sense to me).

    Finally, yes, it was Florius who asked me, but I didn't know if Florius was OK with disclosing a private conversation, even if it was just about finding the name of the creator of an object that was displayed at an exhibition.
    I strongly disagree (except for the "supernatural" embellishments of some of these accounts, which are obviously BALONEY invented to either try to impress some gullible people involved in the accounts, or to inject more "mystery" in the narrative and make it more appealing to some minds that thirst for this kind of stuff): first of all because figuring out how to make the Stone is not an easy task, so we should not expect too many people to have succeeded, second, because many of these historical witness accounts are in fact by people who were not alchemists themselves and had never attempted to make the Stone, third, because many of these accounts were in fact private and never intended for publication (but eventually they found their way to the printing press thanks to the efforts of publishers and historians), and fourth, the amount of people from different countries, cultures and times who have had access to samples of the Stone thanks to either fortunate findings or donations from other people is by itself rather incriminating that this is not just some sort of "conspiracy" or some sort of "convention" of a particular culture, time and/or place. For example, Richard Stanihurst (a 16th century Irishman who ended up residing in England, Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium) knew nothing about Johann Friedrich Böttger (a late 17th & early 18th century German who never made it out of the Germanosphere), and Böttger in his turn knew nothing about Stanihurst, yet both of them received samples of the Stone from someone else. And they did not end up the same way, BTW. Both men went through very different fates as a result of their similar experience. These are just two examples of two historical people who knew nothing of each other, yet they experienced a very similar situation (viz. someone donates a sample of the Stone to them) due to their involvement (whether purposeful or accidental) with the subject. I could give quite more of such historical examples of totally disconnected people that the only thing they have in common is a donated or found sample of the Stone. It is quite difficult to believe that all of the people involved in these historical accounts were just lying, unless you want to believe in very implausible conspiracy theories through the centuries by people who otherwise are totally disconnected from one another. It is obvious to me that many alchemists in past centuries used to: 1- go around demonstrating the reality of transmutation and/or donating samples of the Stone to others 2- hiding samples of the Stone in some places, some of which would eventually get discovered by someone else. There's just too much evidence to dismiss this. Even Robert Boyle himself was involved in such cases! (the "Theodorus Mundanus" incident and the "Anti-Elixir" incident.)

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    Yes, JDP, I know many stories too...
    I do not discard the idea that an alchemist gave a sample of the stone to someone a few times in history, but I truly consider that in MOST of these cases, the most likely option was that the person itself made the Stone and invented a "baloney" story as to avoid troubles.

    Yes, many of the persons who allegedly received a sample didn't know about each other... which means nothing. Most criminals around the world also claim that they are innocent when they get caught... and such thing is not a "conspiracy".

    We both know that these stories are, at least, a bit strange, so I am SPECULATING about the most reasonable explanation.... quite far from inventing a "conspiracy theory", but the opposite: trying to find a more reasonable explanation.

    Then again, this is a matter of SPECULATIONS and OPINIONS, because none of us can know "the historical truth" with 100% accuracy when it comes to these events.

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