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Thread: Transmuted Gold and Silver by Boettger

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    Transmuted Gold and Silver by Boettger

    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.
    I found the alchemist and a picture of the objects.
    The text on the website where I have it from says: "One gold, one silver nuggets, allegedly transmuted by Johann Friedrich Boettger for King August of Poland in 1713. Boettger probably made them from ducats to win the King’s favour."


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    Does it say anything about the method of transmutation?
    Formerly known as True Puffer

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    Quote Originally Posted by True Initiate View Post
    Does it say anything about the method of transmutation?
    No. But I guess JDP might know more about Boettger's methods and if they are legit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Florius Frammel View Post
    No. But I guess JDP might know more about Boettger's methods and if they are legit.
    According to Robert E. Röntgen (The book of Meissen, page 28), these two transmutations were achieved through a "complicated process by which Bottger changed copper into silver and lead into gold." I quote the passage in full from the above mentioned source:

    "In March of 1713, Bottger performed a transmutation in the presence of August and three other witnesses. One of them left a protocol describing the complicated process by which Bottger changed copper into silver and lead into gold. Both pieces have been preserved and they are now in the Dresden Porcelain Collection."

    So it seems these pieces of silver and gold were not made with the Stone but through some "particular" processes out of copper and lead, respectively. By 1713 Bottger was likely all out of the sample of the Stone that he had obtained from the Greek monk Lascaris, so he could no longer perform genuine alchemical transmutations (i.e. by means of "projection" of a small amount of the white or red Stone on a much larger amount of molten base metal), and had to resort to other methods (very similar to what happened to Seyler once he ran out of his sample of the Stone.) This prompts the question: were these other methods that Bottger used really effective and could produce silver & gold out of copper and lead? Impossible to know unless we can gain access to the above mentioned "protocol" written by one of the witnesses to get a better idea of what operations Bottger was employing. From my own experience, I have no problem whatsoever with silver being made from copper, as I have done it myself through "chymical" methods, but the yield is very low, you would have to work rather large amounts of the substances involved in order to get a sizable amount of silver. Turning lead into gold without the Stone or some other true alchemical "tincture" I strongly doubt, though, as I have yet to see even one chymical process that can give gold without silver being involved in one way or another. And even then the yield is small in comparison to the amount of the reagents employed. So if Bottger was employing "chymical" methods to make this apparently large amount of silver and gold (the pictures unfortunately do not give an idea as to how big the "nuggets" really are) he must:

    1- have used rather large amounts of the substances involved

    2- have used lead, or one or more of the other ingredients involved in the gold-making process, that also contained silver, or have added silver on purpose as one of the reagents, otherwise he could not have obtained any gold from it

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    The pictures unfortunately don't give an idea as to how big the "nuggets" really are
    I've seen them. From memory I estimate the nuggets have a diameter between 5 to 10 cm.

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    Based on those photos alone I will tell you how it is done. Notice that you can see a fingerprint on both samples? That means those samples were once plastic at room temperature.

    The top sample is mercury/gold amalgam

    The bottom sample is gold after the mercury has been roasted off leaving pure gold.

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    The description of this transmutation demonstration in Janet Gleeson's book (The Arcanum: The Extraordinary True Story) seems to differ from the one in Röntgen's book, and it suggests that the gold and silver were made by alchemical methods (i.e. projection of a "tincture" on molten metals):

    https://fullenglishbooks.com/english...ine-chapter-13

    So Baron Böttger was neither alone, nor deprived of comfort and intellectual stimulation. Yet one feels, from the pattern of his life, that anything that this impassioned soul lacked could easily become an overriding obsession, and the one thing missing after he had found the formula for porcelain was liberty. Augustus, however, had no intention of setting him free until he fulfilled his promise to produce gold. In 1713, the king, urged on by Nehmitz, began yet again to pressure Böttger to provide some concrete evidence of his skill. He was ordered to demonstrate a transmutation in the presence of the king, Prince von Fürstenberg and Nehmitz on March 20. If he failed, his fate would again hang in the balance. Yet again Böttger was forced to return to the illusions that had ultimately been responsible for the years of captivity. In front of the royal party he placed copper in one crucible and lead in another and placed them on the furnace. As before, when the metals were molten he added a mystery tincture and waited for the contents to mingle. When the crucibles were removed from the heat and uncovered, the copper was found to have transmuted into silver, the lead was now gold. Once again Böttger by clever sleight of hand had managed to cheat the executioners axe.

    Note: Gleeson's "explanations" are very "iffy". What "sleight of hand" can possibly have been used here? There were 3 (or 4, according to Röntgen) people watching him, and the crucibles were placed inside a blazing furnace. We would need a more detailed description of the demonstration to know what security measures were put in place to insure against possible fraud.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Luxus View Post
    Based on those photos alone I will tell you how it is done. Notice that you can see a fingerprint on both samples? That means those samples were once plastic at room temperature.

    The top sample is mercury/gold amalgam

    The bottom sample is gold after the mercury has been roasted off leaving pure gold.
    The top sample is silver, the bottom one is gold.

    Regarding the "fingerprints" and amalgams: I doubt that is possible. I have distilled silver amalgams (while testing those "animated mercury" claims of Starkey & company) and they melt with heat, so they would lose any "fingerprints" on their surface. The "fingerprints" might actually be just that: fingerprints left on the samples of artificial silver & gold by someone inspecting them. Since these are historical pieces, the museum staff would not have cleaned them up and left the fingerprints "as is".

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    Very easy to do, you make a ball of mercury/silver amalgam and roll it in copper powder. Then heat it over a naked flame briskly.
    Make another ball of mercury/gold amalgam and roll it in lead powder. Then heat it briskly over a naked flame.

    You are left with two samples one looking like it is copper and the other looking like it is lead.

    Now you place them in a crucible adding a corrosive (the mystery tincture) and hit it with just enough head to drive off the mercury.

    The copper ball will magically transmute into silver and the lead ball will magically transmute into gold

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luxus View Post
    Very easy to do, you make a ball of mercury/silver amalgam and roll it in copper powder. Then heat it over a naked flame briskly.
    Make another ball of mercury/gold amalgam and roll it in lead powder. Then heat it briskly over a naked flame.

    You are left with two samples one looking like it is copper and the other looking like it is lead.

    Now you place them in a crucible adding a corrosive (the mystery tincture) and hit it with just enough head to drive off the mercury.

    The copper ball will magically transmute into silver and the lead ball will magically transmute into gold
    Apparently you must think that the king and the other witnesses were retarded and would not have obviously seen such a simple trick. Even entire manuals were written in order to expose the tricks of con-men and charlatans trying to pass as "alchemists". See, for example, Maier's Examen Fucorum Pseudo-Chymicorum, entirely devoted to the subject of advising unwary people regarding such tricks. There's just no way that the king and the other court fellows would have fallen for such a gimmick. We are not talking about illiterate "rustics" here, but educated people who were familiar with the subject.

    In order to easily expose this trick, all you have to do is simply take a sample of the "copper" and the "lead" and give them a nice hammer blow. They will break apart, like all amalgams, and unlike pure metals, which are malleable. In such transmutation demonstrations it was customary to give the alchemist performing the demonstration the metals which he was going to transmute right in front of all witnesses, not let him bring these metals himself and thus giving him (should he really be a crook) a chance to tamper with them beforehand.

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