Built on Greco-Egyptian origins and expanded by Arabic authors, alchemy was enjoying a golden age in Britain and on the Continent by the time Isaac Newton turned his attention to a fast-growing literature of metallic transmutation, chemical medicine, and chemical technology, overlapping subjects for which scholars (and we) use the early modern term â€œchymistry.â€ Chymistryâ€™s cultural valence soared in the 16th and 17th centuries, engaging â€œartists, poets, humanists, playwrights, devotional writers, [and] theologiansâ€ as well as â€œchymistsâ€ (Principe 2013â€“full references at http://go.wisc.edu/ui61p4) and spurring ambitious publishing projects about â€œthe golden calf, which the world adores & desiresâ€ (Helvetius 1670). Newtonâ€™s reading of â€œchymicalâ€ literature in print was both explicit and expansive, as evident in his elaborate manuscript reading notes and library. The starting point for materials we propose to digitize are those printed books relevant to â€œchymistryâ€ and known to Newton (as documented in Harrison 1978, â€œAbout Newtonâ€™s Libraryâ€ at â€œThe Newton Project,â€ and scholarsâ€™ work on Newtonâ€™s â€œIndex Chemicusâ€ and related manuscripts, most recently via the ongoing â€œChymistry of Isaac Newtonâ€ project based at Indiana University). The IU projectâ€™s transcription/TEI coding of extant Newton â€œIndex Chemicusâ€ manuscripts has highlighted often cryptic bibliographical references (following the lead of Figala et al. 1992). By matching those references to Harrison and other bibliographical tools, the IU project has identified 122 titles, of which the University of Wisconsinâ€“Madison Special Collections holds 94 titles. When other early printed editions/translations/versions of these 94 texts in our strong alchemy/â€chymistryâ€ holdings are added, the number of physical volumes to be digitized grows to 174, acquired by purchase and gift: many contain more than one title, and we plan to digitize cover-to-cover. A few of our holdings (notably Starkeyâ€™s â€˜Secrets revealâ€™d,â€™ with copious annotations in Newtonâ€™s hand) are in fact Newtonâ€™s own copies.
University of Wisconsinâ€“Madison Libraries
Mr. Doug Way
1521 - 1521
Printed works in Latin, German, English, French, and Italian, by Continental and British authors, as published in cities from Toulouse to Paris to Amsterdam, Nuremberg to LÃ¼beck, Rome to Geneva to Copenhagen, Oxford to Gdansk.