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Leonhard Thurneisser
THURNEISSER, Leonhard.

THURNEISSER, Leonhard.
(1531 - 1596)

(Born: Basel, Switzerland, 5 August 1531; Died: Cologne, Germany, 8 July 1596) Swiss alchemist.

Thurneysser was the son of a goldsmith. He took up his fathers profession, but at the same time was a famulus to a local physician and alchemist. However, he was forced to flee Basel after having been discovered selling gold-covered lead as pure gold. He spent some time in Holland, northern Germany, France and England, working as a goldsmith, armorer, and soldier. In 1552, he returned to Germany and joined the army of Albert, Margrave of Brandenburg. He was captured in 1553 by the Saxons and put to work in the mines at Tarenz in the Inn Valley. Following his release, he worked as a goldsmith and smelter in Nuremberg. In 1558, he returned to the Tirol where he ran a mine and smelting facilities. His success brought him to the attention of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria. From 1560-70, he was in the service of the Archduke, on whose instruction Thurneysser traveled to England, France, Bohemia, Hungary, Italy, Spain, and North Africa to acquaint himself with metallurgical methods and medicines. Thurneysser published a book in 1571 which brought him to the attention of the Elector of Brandenburg. After Thurnysser successfully treated the Elector's wife, he was made court physician in Berlin at a high salary. In Berlin, he also established a medical practice. In addition, he acted as adviser on metallurgy and mining, and established a huge laboratory-employing up to 300 people-at the nearby Greyfriars monastery for the production of saltpeter, mineral acids, alums, colored glass, drugs, essences, and amulets. Thurneysser became rich. He owned a large library, art collection, and a kind of natural history museum. He had agents in a number of German and Polish cities who advertised and sold his wares. In 1576, there was an outbreak of plague and Thurneysser fled with the court. In the years that followed, his second wife died, his business suffered terribly, and he became the object of increasing criticism from his colleagues. By 1580, he returned to Basel, where he purchased an estate, "Zum Thurn," and thereafter styled himself Leonhard Thurnysser zum Thurn. He married the daughter of the Basel patrician Hebrott. Unfortunately, all of the large sum of money which he brought with him to Basel was given to his wife by the Basel town council in the divorce proceedings that followed. Having to rebuild his life, he returned to Brandenburg, reentered the service of Elector, and spent several years trying to make gold. After failing to transmute a large amount of silver, he finally left and traveled to Italy. About 1591, he found a patron in Ferdinand de' Medici, and was converted to Catholicism. He returned to Germany shortly before his death in 1596.

Biographical references: ADB: 38, 226. Boerlin, F.H. and L. Münster, "Leonhard Thurneysser depicted as an anatomist on a 16th-century glass painting", Ciba Symp, 8, (1960), 32-6. Boerlin, P.H., Leonhard Thurneysser als Auftraggeber : Kunst im Dienste der Selbstdarstellung zwischen Humanismus und Barock. Basel; Stuttgart, Birkhauser, 1976. 230 p., illus. [ISBN 3764308664]. Bugge, G., Der Alchemist. Die Geschichte Leonhard Thurneyssers, des Goldmachers von Berlin. Berlin, Limpert, 1939. 303 p., 12 figs. DBA: I 1272, 151; II 1307, 356-358. Diergart, P., "Mitteilungen zur Wertung des Paracelsisten. Leonhard Thurnyser", Beiträge aus der Geschichte der Chemie, pp. 306-13. Drugulin, Sechstausend Portraits, 1863: nos. 5486-91. DSB: 13, 396-8 [by W. Hubicki]. Ferguson, Bibliotheca Chemica, 1906: 2, 450-5. Hirsch, Biographisches Lexikon, 1884-8: 5, 582-3. ISIS, 1913-65: 2, 548. Moehsen, Leben Leonhard Thurneissers zu Thurn, 1976. Moehsen, J.C.W., Beiträge zur Geschichte der Wissenschaften in der Mark Brandenburg von den ältesten Zeiten bis Ende des 16en Jahrhunderts. Berlin-Leipzig, 1783. [12], [1]-576, [7] p., 3 plates. [Reprinted, Hildesheim, Georg Olms Verlag, 1976. History of science in the German state of Brandenburg from beginnings through the 16th century.]: 55-198 [best biography]. Nouvelle Biographie Générale (Hoefer). Partington, History of Chemistry, 1961-70: 2, 151-2. Peuckert, W.-E., Der Alchymist und sein Weib. Gauner- und Ehescheidungsprozesse des Alchymisten Thurneysser. Stuttgart, F. Frommann, 1956. 186 p., plates, port. [Series title: Dokumente der Leidenschaft. Bd. 1]. Poggendorff: 2, col. 1104. Reber, B., "Zwei neue Dokumente über Leonhard Thurneysser zum Thurn", Mitteilungen zur Geschichte der Medizin und der Naturwissenschaften, 5, (1906), 432-9. Schaedler, Biographisch Handwörterbuch, 1891: 136. Schmieder, Geschichte der Alchemie, 1927: 284-6. Speter, Max. "Von Leonhard Thurneyssers Glück und Ende", Zeitschrift für Bücherfreunde, 39 (1935), 146-??. Spitzer, G., Und die Spree führt Gold. Leonhard Thurneysser zum Thurn Astrologe - Alchimist - Arzt und Drucker im Berlin des 16.Jahrhunderts. Berlin, 1996. 145 p., illus. [ISBN 0388268786]. Sudhoff, Karl., "Ein Beitrag zur Bibliographie der Paracelsisten im 16. Jahrhundert," Centralblatt für Bibliothekswesen, 10 (1893), 316-26 & 385-407. Thurneisser zum Thurn, L., Der Alchymist und sein Weib. Gauner- und Ehescheidungsprozesse des Alchymisten Thurneysser. Herausgegeben von Will-Erich Peuckert. Stuttgart, F. Frommann, 1956. 186 p., portrait, illus. [Published as Dokumente der Leidenschaft, 1.]. WBI. World Who's Who in Science: 1672. Zaunick, R. and Wein, "Ein Brief von Johannes Thal an Leonhart Thurneysser zum Thurn aus dem Jahre 1582 in rebus botanicis", Sudhoff's Archiv, 30, (1938), 401-6.

Archidoxa

Archidoxa, 1569

1. German, 1569 [First edition].
Archidoxa | Dorin der recht war | Motus, Lauff vnd Gang/ auch Heymalikai/ | Wirkung vnd Krafft/ der Planeten / Gestirns/ vnd gantzen | Firmaments, Mutierung, vnd Ausziechung aller Suptilite= | ten, vnd das fünfte Wesen/ aufs den Metallen/ Mineralia, | Kreyter/ Wurtzen/ Seften/ Steinen/ vnd aller andrenwesen | lichen dingen. Heimlifait des Büches aller naturlichen Ele= | mentischen, vnd Menschlichen sachen/ Hantierung/ Könst/ | Gewerb/ Arten/ Eygenschafften/ vnd in suma/ alle | verborgne Misteria, der Medicina, Al= | chemeya, vnnd anderer freyen | Könsten. | ZuEhren vnd wolgenallen/ dem Durchleuchtigesten/ | hochgepornen fursten vnd Herrn Hern ferdinanden/ | Ertzbergzogen zu Osterich/ Hertzog zu Burgundi/ | Grafen zu Tirol etc. Vnd allen Konstliebenden. | Durch | Leonhart Thurneysser zum Thurn / | Reymenas weyss an Tag gebn.

4°: A4 B10 C-Bb4 Bb2; 108l.; [216] p., frontispiece (portrait), illus., folding table. Colophon: Gedruckt zu Munster in Westphalen durch Johann Ossenbrug auff Verlegung H. Herr Leonhart Thurneyssers zum Thurn. 1569.

Very rare. This rare alchemical book is written in such an enigmatical style that it is practicably undecipherable. Printed at his own expense through the printer Johann Ossenbrügge of Münster, this first edition of the Archidoxa appeared in quarto format in 1569. The introductory letter is dated November 1569, and it records that the publication was supported by Duke Ferdinand.

Thurneisser was an ardent follower of Paracelsus in his chemical theories. The text is written in verse, and even balanced against the other alchemical works of the period, this is a book that is full of confused speculations and strange absurdities. Thurneisser repeats the common ideas of his fellow alchemists believing in the transmuting affects of the seven planets on the base metals, the importance of mercury in the process, the philosopher's stone, various oils, etc., with little in the way of new contributions from Thurneisser. But because the book treats the processes involved in metal transmutation, especially it solvents and reagents the work touches however lightly chemical mineralogy.

Bibliographical references: BL [1032.c.15.]. BM/STC German: p. 861. Ferguson, Bibliotheca Chemica, 1906: 2, 450n. Gmelin, Geschichte der Chemie, 1797-9: 1, 266-76. Houzeau, Bibliographie de l'Astronomie, 1964: 2681. Moehsen, Leben Leonhard Thurneissers zu Thurn, 1976: pp. 63-4, 74 & 188-9. NUC: 593, 415-7 [NT 0209019]. VD16: T-1165. Wellcome Catalog (Books): no. 6295.

2. Latin, 1575 [2nd edition].
Archidoxa. Dorin der recht war Motus, | Lauff vnd Gang / auch heimligkeit / Wirckung vnd | Krafft / der Planeten / Gestirns / vnd gantzen Firmaments Mutie- | rung / vnd ausziechung aller Subtiliteten / vnd das Fünffte wesen / auss den | Metallen / Mineralien / Kreytren / Wurtzen / Seften / Steinē / vnd aller andren | wesenlichen dingen / Heimlikait des Buchs aller Natürlichen Elementischen | vnd Menschlichen sachen Hantierung / Könst / Gwerb / Arten / Eigenschf- | ten vnd in summa / viel verborgner Hysterien / der Medicin, Alchimey / | vnd anderer freyen Künsten sampt dem auszug / vnd | Verstandt des Astrolabij / vnd aller | Zircklen Caracter / vnd | Zeichen. Zu Ehren vnd Wolgefallen / dem Durchleuchtig- | sten / Hochgebornen Fürsten / vnd Herrn / Herrn Ferdinan- | den / Ertzhertzogen / zu Oseterich / Hertzog zu Burgund / | Grafen zu Tyrol / etc. Vnd allen | Konstliebenden. | Zum andern mal vnd jetz von newen gemert / vnd sampt | dem Verstand der Caracter an tag geben / | Durch | Leonhardt Thurneisser zum Thurn / Churfürstlichen | Brandenburgischen Bestalten Leibs Medicum. | [ornament] | Gedruckt zu Berlin im Grawen Closter Anno 1575.

[Part 1] 2°: x6 )(2 A-K6 L2; 70l.; [16] p., 60 numb.l., [4] p., portrait. Title in red and black, with vignette of the author's coat of arms. [Part 2] 2°: [22] p., 156 numb.l., [2] p. Page size: 304 x 188 mm.

Rare. Printed at Thurneysser's own press. It is in verse. The first edition appeared at Münster in 1569. During his lifetime Leonhard Thurneysser Zum Thurn was associated with innumerable reports of adventures and rumours. While he was known as a physician, chemist and astrologer and also as a printer and geographer, he had a bad reputation as a quack, charlatan and producer of gold.

One of his best known works is his Archidoxa with the astrolabe, which contains the tables of the planets. It appeared in 1575. The surface of each of the eight coloured tables holds up to six further discs which can be slid against each other. With their help it was supposed to be possible to predict not only natural phenomena, but also the luck and misfortunes of individuals. The drafts for these tables were created by Jost Amman, a well known artist of woodcuts, drawings and etchings.

Bibliographical references: BL [no copy listed]. Ferguson, Bibliotheca Chemica, 1906: 2, 450. Kopp, Geschichte der Chemie, 1843-7: 1, 110. Moehsen, Leben Leonhard Thurneissers zu Thurn, 1976: pp. 74, 101, 106 & 191. NUC: 593, 415-7 [NT 0209028]. Shaaber, Sixteenth Century Imprints, 1976: T-216. Sudhoff, Bibliographia Paracelsica, 1894: no. 503. VD16: T-1166. Wellcome Catalog (Books): 1, no. 6295.

3. German, 1575.
Ευποραδηλωσις. | Das ist ein gnügsume vber- | flussige vnd lusfierliche erklerunge / oder erleute- | runge / vnd verstandt der Archidoxen / Leonhart Thurneissers zum | Thurn Anno 1570 zu Munster in Westphalen / vnd jetz Anno 1575. | zu Berlin wider suffs neiw gesprechs und Reimen | weis aussgangen. | Darin mancherley Dieffsinniger Explica- | tiones / vnd eröffnungen vieler streittiger sachen / von | Göttern / Englen / Teuffeln / Menschen / Tieren / Caracteren / Siglen / | Zaubreyen / Gespensten / Kreutteren / Metallen / | Mineren / vnd Gesteinen eroffnet. | Sunderlich aber von den Himlen / Gestirn / Planeten / Zeichen / | vnd Bilderen / Item von den Elementen / Commetten / vnd deren | Krefften / Faculteten / Wirckungen / Betriben / Arten / vnd | Aigenscafften / sambt dem | Astrolabio / vnd dem gebrauch desselbigen / durch welches Nati- | uiteten gestellt / Gluck / Vngluck / Kranckheitten / Tod vn Leben / Krieg / Tew | rung / vnd anders / nach Astronomischer weis / und Mathematischer Rechnung Or- | dentlich / vnd baldt kan Calculirt / vnd beschrieben / vnd ohne sunderliche | müeh erkandt werden. | [ornament] | Gemeinen Vatterlandt zů gůt erfunden / Vnd beschrieben / | Durch / Leonhardt Thurneisser zum Thurn / von Basel Churfürst= | lichen Brandenburgischern bestalten leibs Medico. | Gedruckt zu Berlin im Grawen Closter Anno 1575.

4°: x6 xx4 A-Z6 Aa-Bb6 Cc8; 168l.; [24] p., 2-156 numb.l., 1l., portrait. Title in red and black.

Rare. This book was printed at Thurneysser's own press. Like the Archidoxa, it is written in verse. The author states in the dedication that the Archidoxa and the Quinta Essentia, his second work are written in such an obscure or enigmatical style, that he would require to add an elucidation. This is contained in the present work, but the explanation is more obscure than the original, or, as Moehsen has it, it is "a wilderness of words without meaning."

This book is considered as part two of the Archidoxa of the same year.

Bibliographical references: BL [837.l.17.]. Ferguson, Bibliotheca Chemica, 1906: 2, 450-1. Moehsen, Leben Leonhard Thurneissers zu Thurn, 1976: pp. 77, 106 & 190-1. NUC: 593, 415-7 [NT 0209028]. Wellcome Catalog (Books): 1, no. 6296.

Magna Alchymia

Magna Alchymia, 1583

4. German, 1583 [First edition].
ME{Γ}A{Λ}H X{Υ}MIA, Vel Magna Alchymia. Das ist ein Lehr vnd vnterweisung von den offenbaren vnd verborgenlichen Naturen, Arten vnd Eigenschafften, allerhandt wunderlicher Erdtgewechssen, als Ertzen, Metallen, Mineren, Erdsäfften, Schwefeln, Mercurien, Saltzen vnd Gesteinen. Vnd was der dingen zum theil hoch in den Lüfften, zum theil in der Tieffe der Erden, vnd zum theil in den Wassern, welche aus dem Chaos oder der Confusion vnd vermischung Elementischer Substantzen, als Geistlicher, vn doch subtiler, noch vnbestendiger weis verursacht, empfangen vnd radicirt. Aber von Himelischer zuneigung der In Quentischen impression, oder Eintruckung, Seelischer vnd Fixer oder bestendiger weise, zu einer wesentlichen materia digerirt, coagulirt, oder præparirt, Vnd durch die natürliche Vermögligkeit, Krafft vnd forthtreibung, jedes in seiner gestalt, Als ein greiffelichs, eintzigs, wesentlichs ding, Corporalischer, volkommener weise, von seiner Radice abgelöset, an tag aufsgestossen, vnd in gestalt einer sichtigen Massæ geboren: Vnd wie, oder welcher gestalt, oder auff was weiss vn wege, deren ein jedes, mit zusatz des andern, durch Menschlichen Handgriff, oder den Vsum (dieser sehr alten Kunst) eintwreders in ein Liquorem, Oehl, Saltz, Stein, Wasser, Schwefel, Mercurium oder andere Mineren vnd Metall verwandelt, oder sonst zum nutz, gebrauch vnd wolstandt, Menschlichs zeitlichs Lebens zugericht vnd bereitet wird. Welches alles durch Leonharten Thurneissern zum Thurn von Basel, Churfürstischen Brandenburgischen bestalten Leibs Medicum, menniglichem zu nutz in 30. verschiedener Bücher, mit sonderlichem vnkosten, vleis vnd arbeit am tag geben. Gedruckt zu Berlin durch Nicolaum Voltzen. Anno M.D.LXXXIII.

2°: *2 )(2 ()2 A-Z2 Aa-Qq2 (Qq2 blank); 84l.; [12], 144, [12] p. Title in red and black in an elaborate woodcut border. Portrait and small woodcuts in the text. The portrait is followed by a number of texts in Ethiopic, Syriac, and other languages, the knowledge of which Thurneisser made great display at every opportumty.

Rare. The two parts here are bound together represent title editions of books that first appeared in 1583 and 1587 (Sudhoff 213). They represent two of the most important alchemical books, based on astrological themes and written in an obtuse allegorical style by the Basler alchemist and physician L. Thurneisser. The Magna Alchymia is of a more practical character than the author's other works and contains much valuable information on earlier alchemcial authors and techniques they used in their experiments. These books therefore link alchemy to chemistry and mineralogy together with astrology. The text treats sulfur, salts of ammonia, aluminum, salpeter, mercury, and metals. An entire chapter treats the origin of the minerals and ores, and a long section on astrology and horoscopes.

Bibliographical references: BL [1487.l.6.]. BM/STC German: p. 862. Bolton, Bibliography of Chemistry, 1893: p. 873. Duveen, Bibliotheca Alchemica et Chemica, 1965: p. 579. Ferguson, Bibliotheca Chemica, 1906: 2, 452. Moehsen, Leben Leonhard Thurneissers zu Thurn, 1976: pp. 76, 105 & 195-6. NUC: 593, 415-7 [NT 0209041]. Partington, History of Chemistry, 1961-70: 2, p. 155. Schmieder, Geschichte der Alchemie, 1927: p. 286, 2. Spitzer, G., Und die Spree führt Gold. Leonhard Thurneysser zum Thurn Astrologe - Alchimist - Arzt und Drucker im Berlin des 16.Jahrhunderts. Berlin, 1996. 145 p., illus. [ISBN 0388268786] [p. 89-91]. Sudhoff, Bibliographia Paracelsica, 1894: no. 364. Wellcome Catalog (Books): 1, no. 6302.

5. German, 1587 [2nd edition].
Magna Alchymia. Das ist ein Lehr vnd vnterweisung von den offenbaren vnd verborgenlichen Naturen, Arten vnd Eigenschafften, allerhandt wunderlicher Erdtgewechssen, als Ertzen, Metallen, Mineren, Erdsäfften, Schwefeln, Mercurien, Saltzen vnd Gesteinen. Vnd was der dingen zum theil hoch in den Lüfften, zum theil in der Tieffe der Erden, vnd zum theil in den Wassern, welche auß dem Chaos oder der Confusion vnd vermischung Elementischer Substantzen, als Geistlicher, vnd doch subtiler, noch vnbestendiger weiß verursacht, empfangen vnd radicirt. Item Onomasticvm vnd Interpretatio oder außführliche Erklerung, Etliche frembde vnd (bey vielen hochgelarten, die der Lateinischen vnd Griechischen Sprach erfahren) vnbekante Nomina, Verba, Prouerbia, Dicta, Sylben, Caracter, vnd sonst Reden. Deren nicht allein in des theuren Philosophi vnnd Medici Aurelij Theophrasti Paracelsi von Hohenheim, Sonder auch in anderer Authorum Schrifften, hin vnd wider weitleufftig gedacht, welche hie zusammen, nach dem Alphabet verzeichnet. Durch Leonhardt Thurneissern zum Thurn, Churfürstischen Brandenburgischen bestalten Leibs Medicum menniglichem zu nutz, mit sonderlichem vnkosten, vleiß vnd arbeit am tag geben, Neben Einfurung ettliche hochberümbter Menner Opinionen oder meinungen von dergleichen künstlein vnd de Lapide Philosophorum. Gedruckt zu Cölln, Durch Johannem Gymnicum im Einhorn. M.D.LXXXVII.

2°: *2 )(2 ()2 A-Z2 Aa-Qq2; )(2 *2 A-Z2 Aa-Zz2 a2; 184l.; [12], 144, [12] p.; [12], 188 p., 8 plates.

Very rare. A reissue of the 1583 edition with a new title page. In addition, the Onomasticon of Paracelsus (Sudhoff, no. 194) has been appended.

Bibliographical references: BL [no copy listed]. Gatterer, Mineralogischen Literatur, 1798-9: 2, 290. LKG: XVI 17. Moehsen, Leben Leonhard Thurneissers zu Thurn, 1976: pp. 187 & 196-7. Shaaber, Sixteenth Century Imprints, 1976: T-217 [part one only]. Sudhoff, Bibliographia Paracelsica, 1894: no. 213.

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