Compendium Naturalis

Il Libro del Cavalier Borri

Il Libro Del Cavalier Borri, cover

Front cover

Il libro del Cavalier Borri
A cura di Alessandro Boella e Antonella Galli

The book begins with an extensive biography of Francesco Giuseppe Borri, an Italian alchemist born in Milan 1627, and ends with the partial transcription of a manuscript held at the Koninklijke Bibliotheek in The Hague. A very interesting book to read. The authors Alessandro Boella and Antonella Galli have included lots of very helpful notes and references. It is a thoroughly researched and annotated work.

It is a soft cover book measuring 15 x 21 cm with 256 pages. Signatures are printed in black only and thread sewn with spine glued. Written in Italian, published in Rome by Edizioni Mediterranee, March 2012.

Book can be bought here at the publisher website.
ISBN: 978-88-272-2179-2

Il Libro Del Cavalier Borri, title page

Title page with a portrait of Giuseppe Francesco Borri (1675)

Il Libro Del Cavalier Borri, pages 54-55

Pages 54-55, chapter III, portrait of Henry Oldenburg (1668)

Il Libro Del Cavalier Borri, pages 142-143

Pages 142-143, beginning of the transcript with a reproduction of the manuscript title page

Il Libro Del Cavalier Borri, pages 180-181

Pages 180-181, manuscript transcript, chapter “Il trattato de bianchimenti”


The transcribed manuscript (Koninklijke Bibliotheek, shelf mark: 72 J 55) is dated to the first decades of the 18th century, and contains a collection of alchemical processes and recipes. The contents are probably (this is fully elaborated in the book) based on the material found in the cell Borri inhabited at the Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome, where he was incarcerated for 23 years, and died in August 1695. The origins of the manuscript are discussed in the book, retracing it to Jean-Philippe-Eugène Count de Mérode (1674-1732), a Belgian military and Feldmarschall of the Holy Roman Empire, who bought it during a stay in Rome.
The manuscript is now held at the Koninklijke Bibliotheek in The Hague. It is written in Italian (with a few parts in Latin) and titled “Libro del Cavalier Borri, dove si descrivano molte operazioni de secreti della natura, manipulazioni di metalli, oglii, balsami, quinte essenze et il modo per potere operare li vegetabili con sperimenti“.

The transcribed receipts and processes presented in the book are (chapters):

La quinta essenza vera di antimonio per la salute de Corpi humani e giova ad ogni Infirmità e opera per insensibile traspirazione per orina e seccesso

Il trattato delli Oglij Come si fanno, e come si devano manipulare, destillare, e per liquefare nelle loro pure Solutioni

Il trattato de bianchimenti Dove si dinotano le sue manipulationi e destillationi da farsi per trasmutare li Metalli

Le quinte essenze che Borri operava Le quale Quinte Essenze fanno Miracoli, e lui Medesimo le manipolava, e se insegna molti bellissimi Secreti di natura

Unguenti, decotioni, pillole, impastri, polveri

Lo oro potabile che Borri Faceva lui medesimo Il quale serve per la salute de corpi Humani E sue rare virtù

Il vero balsamo e sue virtù universali del cavalier Borri

Il balsamo del medesimo Che Borri soleva pura adoprare, e con questo faceva moltissime operazioni massime nei veleni

Il balsamo di Borri –  Balsamo vulnerario di Borri

Other transcribed receipts accredited to Borri, from various sources:

Florilegio di rimedi o varianti degli stessi provenienti da fonti diverse

Empirica de’ più insigni segreti ritrovati dall’illustrissimo signor cavalier Borri per diverse infermità de’ corpi umani

 

Portrait of Giuseppe Francesco Borri, 1675

Portrait of Giuseppe Francesco Borri, 1675. Copper engraving by Peter Ludwig van Schuppen (1627-1702) from a painting of Jürgen Ovens (1623-1678).

The catalog entry of the manuscript at the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (no static link provided) is as follows:

Shelf mark: Den Haag, KB : 72 J 55
Title: “Libro del Cavalier Borri, dove si descrivano molte operazioni de secreti della natura, manipulazioni di metalli, oglii, balsami, quinte essenze et il modo per potere operare
li vegetabili con sperimenti” / door Giuseppe Francesco Borri (1627-1695), alchemist
Author: Giuseppe Francesco Borri (1627?-1695)
Possessor: C. Braccioli, N. Crevenna
Institutional possessor: Gaillard, J. (auctie, 1789)
Annotation primary acquisition: In 1807 acquired, coll. Romswinckel
Place of origin: C. Braccioli. N. Crev[enna?] (auction J. Gaillard te Den Haag, 23 nov. e.v. 1789, cat. p. 55 nr. 211); J. Romswinckel
Material: Papier, 292 fol
Illustration: ill
Size: 195 x 140 mm
Binding: Contemporaine rode marokijnen band met goudstempeling
Code KB: 12 / 2
Request number: KW 72 J 55

Further resources:

A translated article in to English about Borri can be found here, and the original italian article by Massimo Marra here.
Article (in Italian) by Lisa Roscioni about Borri, link (PDF).
Article (in Italian) by Arturo Magnocavallo, link. (DjVu plug-in required)
Chronology of his life can be found here (italian).
Portrait of Borri, 1662 – 1666, held at the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, catalog ref. Van Someren 656, link.
Transcribed text of “Due lettere sul commercio cabalistico col mondo elementare – Da La chiave del Gabinetto del cavagliere G. F. Borri Colonia (Ginevra) 1681″ by Massimo Marra, link.

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Source of the portrait image:

Teylers Museum, Haarlem, The Netherlands
http://teylers.adlibhosting.com/internetserver/Details/kunst/14455#