The Mineralogical Record
The Mineralogical Record - Join us on Facebook!  The Mineralogical Record - Sign up for our newsletter

Johann Rudolf Glauber
GLAUBER, Johann Rudolf.

GLAUBER, Johann Rudolf.
(1604 - 1670)

(Born: Karlstadt, Germany, 1604; Died: Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 10 March 1670) German chemist.

Glauber was self-taught with minimal formal training. He built a chemical laboratory in his house, designing special furnaces and other apparatus for it. He was the author of numerous works in chemistry. He is remembered for his discovery of "sal mirabile" (sodium sulfate or Glauber's salt) in the water of a mineral spring. He introduced it as a cure-all remedy. Glauber also prepared other substances and chemical compounds and sold them for medical purposes. He recognized that all mercury compounds are poisonous.

Biographical references: Great Chemists: 115-134, portrait. Gugel, K.F., Johann Rudolf Glauber, 1604-1670. Leben und Werk. Würzberg, 1955. NDB: 6, 437a-438a. Schaedler, Biographisch Handwörterbuch, 1891: 42. Van Spronsen, J.W., "Glauber grondlegger van chemische industrie", Nederlandse chemische industrie, Nr. 5, 3 March 1970, p. 3-11. World Who's Who in Science: p. 662.

1. Latin, 1658 [2nd Latin ed.].
Furni Novi Philosopici, sive Descriptio Destillatoriæ Novæ; Nec non Spirituum, Oleorum, Florum, aliorumque Medicamentorum ... Amsterdam, J. Janssonius 1658.

8°: 67, [5] p. (penultimate and last blank). With one engraved and folded plate.

Very scarce. (WITH:) GLAUBER: Furnorum philosophicorum pars altera, In qua Describitur secundae fornacis proprietas; cuius beneficio destillari possunt omnia volatilia, subtilia & combustibilia; vegetabilia, animalia & mineralia; viâ quâdam incognitâ hactenus & compendiosâ; quâ nihil perditur omninò, sed spiritus etiam subtilissimi capiuntur, quod aliàs per retortas, aliaque vasa fieri nequit. Amsterdam, J. Janssonius 1658. Sm.-8 . 148, (4) pp. (WITH:) GLAUBER: Furnorum philosophicorum pars tertia jn qua Describitur tertiae fornacis natura , cujus beneficio & quidem absque vesicis & ahenis; aliisque cupreis, ferreis, stannejs & p]umbejs jnstrumentis, fpiritus varii vegetabiles ardentes.extracta,.olea. salia. &c. Adminiculo autem exigui alicujus inftrumenti cuprei, vasorumque ljgneorum , ad usus tam chymicos quàm medjcos praeparari possunt. Amsterdam, J. Janssonius 1658. Sm.-8 . 55 pp. With 2 engraved and folded plates.(WITH:) GLAUBER: Fornacum philosophicarum pars quarta, Continens Descriptionem Fornacis Quartae, cuius beneficio Mineralia & Metalla probantur & examinantur viâ quâdam compendiosiore, quàm hactenus modo illo vulgari; item Metallorum separationem vi fusionis; aliaque necessaria vi fusionis perpetranda. Utilißima Chymicis, Mineralium probatoribus & fossoribus. Amsterdam, J. Janssonius 1658. Sm.-8 . 83, (5) pp. (the last 3 blank). With a full-page woodcut. (WITH:) GLAUBER: Fornacum philosophicarum pars quinta. Ubi agitur de natura Quintae Fornacis mirabili; ut & de instrumentorum & materialium ad praedictos 4. Furnos pertinentium, praeparatione facili. Utilißima Medicinae Hermeticae sectatoribus (-appendix). Amsterdam, J. Janssonius 1651. Sm.-8 . 54 pp., (1) leaf (blank). With 7 - in part full-page - woddcuts. (WITH): GLAUBER: Annotationes in appendicem quintae Partis Fornacum Philosophicarum, ubi de variis agitur Secretis utilissimis, optimis & incognitis, incredulorum & naturalium Secretorum ignarorum gratiâ publicatae. Amsterdam, J. Janssonius 1658. Sm.-8 . 72 pp. Contempoary calf (rubbed, spine defective). 6 parts in 1 vol. Sotheran I, 1560 (incompl.). Second Latin edition, part 5 + appendix in the first one. Very rare to find it complete with all plates. Glauber's main work on chemistry, mineralogy etc. Browned throughout, slim upper margins (affecting in places the head-line). Some browning and damp-staining throughout.

Glauber (1603-1668) apparently self-taught, read books on alchemy, experimented, and conversed with others to educate himself. "After many years of travel, study, and experiment, during which he acquired an extensive knowledge of chemistry, pharmacy, geology, mineralogy, and technology, Glauber in 1646 went to Holland; he settled in 1648 in Amsterdam, where he had a large laboratory, called a 'Hermetic Institute'..." Partington,341. The "Furni Novi" is Glauber's most famous work and his first, "This is certainly one of the most remarkable books on chemistry of the seventeenth century," Ferguson. It "...contains most of his important chemical discoveries," Partington. The work on potable gold was Glauber's first published treatise and in it he stated that it, " next to the philosopher's stone the most outstanding of all medicines, and that there is no difference between them." Thorndike VII,201. Caillet 4573,4566. Esoterica 1879. Duveen 258 (later ed.), 252. Ferguson I,324. Partington II,344. Hoover 362,360. Krivatsy 4784,4774. Wellcome 122,125.

Bibliographical references: Zeitlinger & Sotheran, Bibliotheca Chemico, 1921-52: 1, no. 1560 [incomplete].

Description, 1651

2. English, 1651 [English transl.].
[Contained within an ornamental box:] A | Description | Of New | Philosophical Furnaces, | Or | A new Art of Distilling, divided into five parts. | Whereunto is added a Description of | the Tincture of Gold, | Or the true | Avrvm Potable; | Also, | The First part of the Mineral | Work. | Set forth and published for the sakes of them | that are studious of the Truth. | [rule] | By John Rudolph Glauber. | [rule] | Set forth in English, By J.F. D.M. | [rule] | London, Printed by Richard Coats, for The: Williams, at | the Signe of the Bible in Little-Britain. 1651.


Very rare. First English edition of the Furni Novi Philosophici, translated by John French, m.d., [1616?-1657]. This work was one of the author's most important, describing a large number of new chemical processes with illustrations of the apparatus.

Bibliographical references: Zeitlinger & Sotheran, Bibliotheca Chemico, 1921-52: no. 8469.

Operis Mineralis, 1651

3. Latin, 1651 [First edition].
Operis | Mineralis. | Pars Prima. | Ubi docetur separatio auri è silicibus, are- | na, argillá, aliisque fossilibus per salis Spiri- | tum, quæ alias eliquati nequeunt. | Item | Panacea sive Médicina Vniversalis antimonialis, | ejusque usus | Inventa & publicata in gratiam Studiosorum | zrtis Chymicæ | Per Johannem Rudolphum | Glauberum. | [ornament] | Amsterodami. | Prostant apud Joannem Janssonium. | [rule] | cI[Backwards C] I[Backwards C]\c li.

3 parts bound in one volume. [Part 1] 8°: 67, [3] p. [Part 2] 8°: 47, [1] p. [Part 3] 8°: 110 p.

Very scarce. Translation of original German work: Operis mineralis. One of Glauber's most important works, the Operis Mineralis discusses all manner of phenomena associated with minerals and the earth. On the origin of ore deposits, Glauber is of the opinion that if this is not the actual lake of fire prepared for sinners the latter must at least be situated somewhere in the immediate vicinity. He also discusses of the arrangement of the metallic veins in the earth resembling a tree with its branches growing up from the center of the earth. He believed that base metals were continuously transforming to the nobler metals, going continuously forward in time, which in the course of time will result in the final passage to gold. Therefore, when miners found some other mineral substance other than gold, for example bismuth or tin, they have opened up an immature mineral vein. Glauber goes on to observe that if an ore body which has not been worked for some years is again opened that the exposure of the mineral veins to air causes one to frequently find an abundance of silver. It was the believe of the alchemists that the transformation from baser to nobler metals was indeed occurring in the earth's crust when the conditions were favorable. It was the alchemist's goal to recreate those conditions in the laboratory, but to cause the reaction to change more rapidly. Pars 1. Ubi docetur separatio auri e silicibus, arena, argilla aliisque fossilibus per salis spiritum, quae alias eliquari nequeunt : item panacea sive medicina universalis antimonialis, ejusque usus - pars 2. De ortu & origine omnium metallorum & mineralium, quo scilicet pacto illa per astra producantur ex aqua & terra corpus sibi suscipiant & multiplici forma formentur - pars 3. In qua titulo commentarii in libellum Paracelsi Coelum philosophorum, sive, Liber vexationum dictum, metallorum transmutationes in genere docentur, cum appendice specialem earum processum, ut & eorundem eliquationem, explorationem, separationem aliasque necessarias operationes demonstrante.

Bibliographical references: Adams, Birth and Development, 1938: p. 288. Ferguson, Bibliotheca Chemica, 1906: 1, 326. Freilich Sale Catalog: no. 211. Hoover Collection: no. 364. Neu, Chemical, Medical & Pharmaceutical Books, 1965: no. 1682. Partington, History of Chemistry, 1961-70: 2, 341-61.

4. Latin, 1659 [2nd edition].
Operis Mineralis ... Amsterdam, Johann Jansson, 1659.

3 parts in one volume. 8°: 67, [2], 47, 110 p. Separate title pages for each part. One folding illustration, four full-page woodcuts, and four textual woodcut figures. Woodcut ornaments on title pages, tailpieces. Catchwords throughout. Page size: 15.25 x 9.5 cm.

Very scarce. Glauber was born at Karlstadt, Germany, and was largely self- educated, visiting laboratories in Paris, Basel, Salzburg, and Vienna where he studied chemistry and alchemy. He was, for a short time after 1635, court apothecary in Giessen. He then settled in Amsterdam where he remained for most of the rest of his life. There he invented furnaces for distilling, and established an elaborate laboratory containing many devices of his own creation. He called himself a chemical philosopher and was a prolific writer. In his later years he leaned more to the extreme edges of alchemy and left off much of his laboratory work. In his mineralogy Glauber was most expert with salts, believing that the sun's power was carried to the earth in an aerial salt. In OPERIS MINERALIS he theorized about the sun's rays being concentrated in the earth to produce metals. His FURNI NOVI PHILOSOPHICI, first published 1646-49, the second work included here, is among his most famous writings. It is a work on the design and use of furnaces for distilling, extending greatly the numbers and types of materials that could be distilled. Ferguson calls it "one of the most remarkable books on chemistry of the seventeenth century." Glauber tended to bring more specific chemistry into alchemy than his predecessors had done, yet in much of his thinking he was still an alchemist of the traditional type. Foxed throughout, some pages browned, otherwise a very good copy of two important works in chemistry and alchemy. Thorndyke VII, 197-201. DSB V, 419-423. 1-1399

5. German, 1658-9 [German transl.].
Johannis Rudolphi | Glauberi | Philosophi & Medici Celeberrimi | Opera Chymica, | Bücher und Schrifften/ | so viel deren von ihme bißhero an | Tag gegeben worden. | Jetzo von neuem mit Fleiß übersehen/ auch mit | etlichen neuen Tractaten vermehret/ vnd vmb mehrer | Bequemlichkeit willen/ in diestFrom zusammen getragen/ sampt | ein darz verfertigen vollkommenen Register. | Mit Churf. Sächs. Als Vicarii, Reichs=Privilegio. | [vignette] | Franckfurt am Mäyn/ | In Verlegung Thomæ=Matthiæ Götzens. | [rule] | Im Jahr M DC LVIII.

2 vols. in one. [Vol 1] 4°: [24], 554 (i.e., 574) p. [Vol 2] 4°: 444, [30] p. Woodcut printer's mark on the title pages, 7 folding engraved plates. Also published separately. V.2 t.-p.: Johannis Rudolphi Glauberi Operum chymicorum. Errors in paging: v. 1, p. 285 numbered 287; v. 2, p. 451 numbered 45; 468-487 omitted in paging. Title vignettes; head and tail-pieces, initials. Errata: v. 2, p. 325. Includes indexes.

Rare. Last edition to appear during Glauber's lifetime, this work collects together several previously published works by the author. In volume one may be found Pharmacopaeae [sic] spagyricae - Grundliche und warhafftige Beschreibung, wie man an dem Weinhefen einen guten Wein-stein in grosser Menge extrahiren soll - Miraculum mundi - Miraculi mundi continuatio - Operis mineralis - Tractatus de natura salium - Tractatus de signatura salium, metallorum et planetarum - Trost der Seefahrenden. In volume two may be found Furni novi philosophici - Apologetische Schrifften - De auri tinctura sive auro potabili vero - Des Teutschlands Wohlfahrt.

Bibliographical references: Ferchl: p. 187. Ferguson, Bibliotheca Chemica, 1906: 1, 322. Sallander, Bibliotheca Walleriana, 1955: no. 11153.

6. German, 1705 [German transl.].
Operis mineralis oder vieler künstlicher und nützlichen metallischen Arbeiten Beschreibung erster (-dritter) Theil. Prag, Wussin, 1705.

8°: 324 (i.e., 320) p.

Very scarce. "Das Buch ist in drei Teile eingeteilt. In ihm befaßt sich Glauber eingehend mit der Gewinnung und Trennung der Metalle; er beschreibt darin teils alte, teils neue Verfahren und zeigt sich in der Materie außerordentlich bewandert. Das Werk enthält alle bisher im Bergbau angewendeten Methoden, auch auch einige neue" (Gugel). Er beschreibt aber auch, wie aus dem Antimonio eine allgemeine Medizin werden soll. - Ohne Vorsätze. Stellenweise leicht wasserrandig. Einband etwas fleckig und bestoßen. Unteres Kapital leicht eingerissen, sonst ordentlich. - Neu 1681; vgl. Gugel 3.

7. French, 1659 [French transl.].
La Premiere[-troisiesme] Partie de l'Oeuure Minerale par Iean Rudolphe Glauber et mise en François par le sr. Du Teil. A Paris, Chez Thomas Iolly ..., 1659.

3 parts in one volume.

Very scarce. v. 1. Ou est enseignee la separation de l'or des pierres a feu, sable, argile, & autres fossiles, par l'esprit de sel ... comme aussi vne panacee, ou medecine vniuerselle, antimoniale, & son vsage - v. 2. De la naissance & origine de tous les metaux & mineraux ... - v. 3. Commentaire sur le liure de Paracelse, appelle Le ciel des philosophes ... NOTES Translation of: Operis mineralis. INDEXES References: Kress Lib., 993.

Bibliographical references: Caillet, Manuel, 1912: no. 4584. Ferguson, Bibliotheca Chemica, 1906: 1, 327 [parts ii-iii]. Sudhoff, Bibliographia Paracelsica, 1894: 388.

Contents copyright © 2017 The Mineralogical Record, Inc. All rights reserved.  
Graphic design of this website by Wendell E. Wilson. Website programming by