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16th century
The Book of Lambspring, 1556, folio 1v, Zentralbibliothek Zürich, Ms P 2177

The Book of Lambspring, 1556, folio 1v

This is one of the earliest copies of The Book of Lambspring I could find so far, dated 1556. The treatise is written in German (with a few parts in Latin), with a postumus dedication to Hermannus Marsoui Ecclesiae Doreptensis superintendens.

This alchemical manuscript is held at the central library of Zürich in Switzerland. Catalog entry is Ms P 2177.
The reproductions can be found here (PDF available) at the e-manuscript platform.

The Book of Lambspring is an alchemical treatise devoted to inner and outer alchemy. The tract is structured with a sequence of 15 allegorical drawings identifying alchemical stages.

Nicolas Barnaud has published in the Triga Chemica (Antwerp, 1599) a translation of the German text in to Latin. And Arthur Edward Waite has published an English translation of the Latin text in The Hermetic Museum Restored and Enlarged (London, 1893). A full transcription of the English text can be found here. Also of interest is an article by Adam McLean, titled “A Threefold Alchemical Journey Through the Book of Lambspring“. He also has made and printed a coloured edition of The Book of Lambspring, A5 hardback, available here.

The text that accompanies the following images of the manuscript, was taken form the above mentioned English version.

The Book of Lambspring, 1556, Figure 1, Zentralbibliothek Zürich, Ms P 2177

Figure 1
BE WARNED AND UNDERSTAND TRULY THAT TWO FISHES ARE SWIMMING IN OUR SEA.
The Sea is the Body, the two Fishes are Soul and Spirit.

The Book of Lambspring, 1556, Figure 2, Zentralbibliothek Zürich, Ms P 2177

Figure 2
HERE YOU STRAIGHTWAY BEHOLD A BLACK BEAST IN THE FOREST.
Putrefaction.

The Book of Lambspring, 1556, Figure 3, Zentralbibliothek Zürich, Ms P 2177

Figure 3
HEAR WITHOUT TERROR THAT IN THE FOREST ARE HIDDEN A DEER AND AN UNICORN.
In the Body there is Soul and Spirit.

The Book of Lambspring, 1556, Figure 4, Zentralbibliothek Zürich, Ms P 2177

Figure 4
HERE YOU BEHOLD A GREAT MARVEL – TWO LIONS ARE JOINED INTO ONE.
The Spirit and Soul must be united in their Body.

The Book of Lambspring, 1556, Figure 5, Zentralbibliothek Zürich, Ms P 2177

Figure 5
A WOLF AND A DOG ARE IN ONE HOUSE, AND ARE AFTERWARDS CHANGED INTO ONE.
The Body is mortified and rendered white, then joined to Soul and Spirit by being saturated with them.

The Book of Lambspring, 1556, Figure 6, Zentralbibliothek Zürich, Ms P 2177

Figure 6
THIS SURELY IS A GREAT MIRACLE AND WITHOUT ANY DECEPTION -
THAT IN A VENOMOUS DRAGON THERE SHOULD BE THE GREAT MEDICINE.
The Mercury is precipitated or sublimed, dissolved in its own proper water,
and then once more coagulated.

The Book of Lambspring, 1556, Figure 7, Zentralbibliothek Zürich, Ms P 2177

Figure 7
WE HEAR TWO BIRDS IN THE FOREST, YET WE MUST UNDERSTAND THEM TO BE ONLY ONE.
The Mercury having been often sublimed, is at length fixed, and becomes capable of resisting fire: the sublimation must be repeated until at length the fixation is attained.

The Book of Lambspring, 1556, Figure 8, Zentralbibliothek Zürich, Ms P 2177

Figure 8
HERE ARE TWO BIRDS, GREAT AND STRONG – THE BODY AND SPIRIT; ONE DEVOURS THE OTHER.
Let the Body be placed in horse-dung, or a warm bath, the Spirit having been extracted from it. The Body has become white by the process, the Spirit red by our Art. All that exists tends towards perfection, and thus is the Philosopher’s Stone prepared.

The Book of Lambspring, 1556, Figure 9, Zentralbibliothek Zürich, Ms P 2177

Figure 9
THE LORD OF THE FORESTS HAS RECOVERED HIS KINGDOM, AND MOUNTED FROM THE LOWEST TO THE HIGHEST DEGREE. IF FORTUNE SMILE, YOU MAY FROM A RHETOR BECOME A CONSUL; IF FORTUNE FROWN, THE CONSUL MAY BECOME A RHETOR.
Thus you may know that the Tincture has truly attained the first degree.

The Book of Lambspring, 1556, Figure 10, Zentralbibliothek Zürich, Ms P 2177

Figure 10
A SALAMANDER LIVES IN THE FIRE, WHICH IMPARTS TO IT A MOST GLORIOUS HUE.
This is the reiteration, gradation, and amelioration of the Tincture, or Philosopher’s Stone; and the whole is called its Augmentation.

The Book of Lambspring, 1556, Figure 11, Zentralbibliothek Zürich, Ms P 2177

Figure 11
THE FATHER AND THE SON HAVE LINKED THEIR HANDS WITH THOSE OF THE GUIDE: KNOW THAT THE THREE ARE BODY, SOUL, AND SPIRIT.

The Book of Lambspring, 1556, Figure 12, Zentralbibliothek Zürich, Ms P 2177

Figure 12
ANOTHER MOUNTAIN OF INDIA LIES IN THE VESSEL, WHICH THE SPIRIT AND THE SOUL – THAT IS, THE SON AND THE GUIDE – HAVE CLIMBED.

The Book of Lambspring, 1556, Figure 13, Zentralbibliothek Zürich, Ms P 2177

Figure 13
HERE THE FATHER DEVOURS THE SON; THE SOUL AND SPIRIT FLOW FORTH FROM THE BODY.

The Book of Lambspring, 1556, Figure 14, Zentralbibliothek Zürich, Ms P 2177

Figure 14
HERE THE FATHER SWEATS PROFUSELY, WHILE OIL AND THE TRUE TINCTURE OF THE SAGES FLOW FORTH FROM HIM.

The Book of Lambspring, 1556, Figure 15, Zentralbibliothek Zürich, Ms P 2177

Figure 15
HERE FATHER AND SON ARE JOINED IN ONE SO TO REMAIN FOR EVER.

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Ripley Scroll, Prima Materia, detail of Mellon MS 41, Beinecke Library, Yale University.

Prima Materia, detail of Ripley Scroll, Mellon MS 41, Beinecke Library

The Ripley scroll is a truly beautiful alchemical manuscript, attributed to George Ripley (c. 1415 – 1490), Canon Regular of the priory at Bridlington in Yorkshire, England. It is certainly one of the largest of all alchemical drawings, with some copies measuring over 5.5 meters in length and 50 cm across.

At present there are 23 known copies, ranging form the early sixteenth to the seventeenth century.
The latest discovered copy is kept at the London Science Museum Library, and was discovered in 2012 by library staff while preparing an exhibition about alchemy (the actual scroll is on display, part of this temporary exhibition at the museum till 27 April 2013).

The scroll at the Beinecke Library is an exquisite specimen, photographs can be accessed here (exceptional quality). Reproductions of the Huntington Library scroll are available here. Also the Bodleian Library has put online photographs of their four scrolls, viewable here. The two scrolls at the Welcome Library can be viewed at the Welcome Images website (search for “Ripley”).

Ripley Scroll at the Beinecke Library, Yale University, Mellon MS 41

Mellon MS 41, Beinecke Library

Ripley Scroll at the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, MS. Ash. Rolls 53

MS. Ash. Rolls 53, Bodleian Library

Ripley Scroll at the Huntington Library, HM 30313

HM 30313, Huntington Library

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A modernised and unified text from various version of the scroll can be found at The Alchemy Website, and additional texts attributed to the alchemist George Ripley are available here.

An interesting article (of 2008) about the Ripley scroll by Jennifer M. Rampling can be found here (PDF). Also of interest is an article (of 1996) by R.I. McCallum to be found here (PDF). At the end of the article a useful summary of nineteen scrolls can be found.

Ripley Scroll, detail of Mellon MS 41, Beinecke Library, Yale University.

Ripley Scroll, detail of Mellon MS 41

An other article by the same author is online at the Sibbald Library webpage; link to the article here. Both articles refer to the scroll at the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh. The mentioned commentary published in 1876 can be found here (PDF). Titled “Account of an Alchemical Roll on parchment (18 feet in length), presented to the Royal College of Physicians, from the Library of Sir George Areskine of Innertiel, by George Earl of Cromarty, in 1707.” by W. Moncrieff and J. Small, part of the eleventh volume of “Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Edinburg” (link to the PDF repository). An Italian translation of the 1876 published commentary can be found here, on Massimo Marra’s website.

Adam McLean has made a study course about the scroll, guiding the reader through the intricate drawings. Book is available here.

The Ripley scroll has not lost its appeal to be hand reproduced still to the present day! Wonderful.

 

Further resources:
– Information on Ripley and a bibliography of printed books, link.
– An extensive online article in French and Italian.
– Nineteen scrolls listed and grouped by visual details (published in “Art & Alchemy” edited by Jacob Wamberg, Museum Tusculanum Press, 2006, ISBN 87-635-0267-4), link.
– A catalougue of alchemical writings attributed to George Ripley, compiled by Jennifer M. Rampling (2010), link to PDF.
– Spliced image from the images of scroll segments at the Beinecke Digital Library, link.
– Pictures of the Science Museum Library scroll, link.

Links to online catalogue entries I could find so far:
Beinecke Library, Yale University, Connecticut, USA – Mellon MS 41
British Library, London, UK –  (not complete) – MS 2524 A, Sloane MS 2523 B, Add MS 32621
Getty Institute, Malibu CA, USA – Manly P. Hall Collection, 950053
Huntington Library, San Marino CA, USA – HM 30313
Welcome Institute, London, UK – MS.692 and MS.693

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Source of the images:

Mellon MS 41, Beinecke Library, Yale University
http://brbl-dl.library.yale.edu/vufind/Record/3592268

HM 30313, Huntington Library, San Marino CA
http://dpg.lib.berkeley.edu/webdb/dsheh/heh_brf?Description=&CallNumber=HM+30313

MS. Ash. Rolls 53, Bodleian Library, University of Oxford
http://bodley30.bodley.ox.ac.uk:8180/luna/servlet/view/all/who/George+Ripley

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