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

Andreas Libavius
LIBAVIUS (Libau), Andreas.

LIBAVIUS (Libau), Andreas.
(c1560 - 1616)

(Born: Halle, Germany, c1560; Died: Coburg, Germany, 25 July 1616) German physician & alchemist.

Libavius was born the son of a poor weaver, Johann Libau, who traveled from Harz to Halle in search of work. He attended the Universities of Wittenberg and Jena, and finally Basel from which he received his M.D. In 1581, he became a teacher at Illmenau. In 1586, he was appointed "Stadt- und Raths-Schulen Rector" (rector of the schools) in Coburg. From 1588-1591, Libavius worked as professor of history and poetry at the University of Jena. In 1591, he moved to Rothenburg, where he became municipal physician. In 1592, he was also appointed inspector of schools and received a teaching position. Endless quarrels with the rector of the town schools led to his early departure. Libavius returned to Coburg in 1607, where he was named rector of the newly-founded Gymnasium Casimirianum Academicum.

Biographical references: ADB: 18, 530. DBA: I 760, 425-431; II 810, 12-14. DSB: 8, 309-12 [by W. Hubicki; other refs.]. Ferguson, Bibliotheca Chemica, 1906: 2, 31-4. Günther, Lebensskizzen der Professoren, 1858. Hirsch, Biographisches Lexikon, 1884-8: 3, 699-700. ISIS, 1913-65: 2, 89. Jöcher, Gelehrten-Lexikon, 1750-51. Kopp, Beiträge zur Geschichte der Chemie, 1869: 3, 145-50. Lambrecht & Quenstedt, Catalogus, 1938: 262. Nouvelle Biographie Générale (Hoefer): 31, cols. 116-8. NDB: 14, 441-2 [by F. Rex]. Poggendorff: 1, col. 1449. Schaedler, Biographisch Handwörterbuch, 1891: 69-70. WBI. World Who's Who in Science: 1040.

D.O.M.A. Alchemia, 1597

1. Latin, 1597 [First edition].
D.O.M.A. | Alchemia. | Andreae Li- | bavii Med. D. Poet. | Physici Rotembvrg. | operâ | e dispersis passim optimorvm avto- | rum, veterum & recentium exemplis potissimum, tum etiam prae- | ceptis quibusdam operosè collecta, adhibitisq; ratione & ex- | perientia, quanta potuit esse, methodo accura- | tâ explicata, & In integrum corpus redacta. | Accesserunt | Tractatus nonnulli Physici Chymici, item methodicè ab eodem autore explicati, | quorum titulos versa pagella exhibet. | Sunt etiam in Chymicis eiusdem D. Libavii epistolis, iam antè im- | pressis, multa, huic operi lucem allatura. | [ornament] | Cum gratia & Priuilegio Caesareo speciali ad decennium. | Francofvrti | Excudebat Iohannes Saurius, impensis Petri Kopffij, | [rule] | M. D. XCVII.

4°: a-lll4 mmm3 ($3 signed; ss3 as s3, mmm3 as mm3); 231l.; [18], [1]-424, [20] p. (p. 270 as 370).

Contents: a1r, Title page.; a1v, "Tractatvs Physici Chymici Alchemiae adiecti."; a2r, Dedicatory epistle.; a2v-b2v, "Praefatio Ad Lectorem."; b3r, "Tabvla Libri Secvndi Alchemiae."; b3v, "Phalevci ..."; b4r-c1v, "Avtores qvos in hoc opera sum secutus."; [1]-84, "Alchemiae Liber Primvs de Encheria."; 85-241, "Liber Secvndvs Alchemiae. Tractatvs Primvs de Magisteriis."; 242-408, "Libri Secvndi Alchemiae. Tractatvs Sevcndvs de Extractis."; 409-424, "Libri Secvndi Alchemiae. TractatvsTertivs de Speciebvs Chymicis Compositis."; 3k2r-3m3r, "Index Rervm Dvobvs Alchemiae Libris Contentarvm."; 3m3v, Printer's device followed by the colophon: "Francofvrti, | Excudebat Iohannes Saurius, im- | pensis Petri Kopffij, Anno | [rule] | M. D. XCVII."

Rare. Called the first systematic and practical textbook of chemistry, the 1595 edition listed by some bibliographers is a ghost. Within this work Libavius displays his full command of both the theoretical and practical sides of chemistry. Included in the text are frequent references to analysis of mineralogical examples. The author also provides an amazingly detailed account for setting up a complete chemical institute: a main laboratory, an analytical laboratory and a private laboratory for the director. There was also a chemical store, a preparation room, a crystallizing room, store rooms, , cellars, a wine cellar, a wood store, a room for the assistants, and a steam bath. Upper stories of the facility contained living quarters, study rooms and a well stocked library.

Sometimes bound with the Alchemia is the author's commentary on alchemy. It has the title: D.O.M.A. Commentationum Metallicarum Libri Quatuor de Natura Metallorum, Mercurio Philosophorum, Azotho, et Lapide seu tinctura physicorum conficienda è Rerum Natura, Experientia, et Autorum præstantium fide. (Francofurti, 1597; 4°: [8], 392 p.).

Bibliographical references: Adams, Cambridge Books, 1967: L-634. BL. Bolton, Bibliography of Chemistry, 1893: 621-2. Cole, Chemical Literature, 1988: no. 827. Dana's 7th (Bibliography): 76. DSB: 8, 309-12. Duveen, Bibliotheca Alchemica et Chemica, 1965: p. 355-6. Ferguson, Bibliotheca Chemica, 1906: 2, 31. Kopp, Geschichte der Chemie, 1843-7: 1, 115 [wrong year]. Neu, Chemical, Medical & Pharmaceutical Books, 1965: no. 2385. NUC: 331, 433-4 [NL 335077]. Partington, History of Chemistry, 1961-70: 2, 247-8. Roller & Goodman, Catalogue, 1976: 2, 107. Wellcome Catalog (Books): 1, no. 3371.

2. Latin, 1606 [2nd edition].
[{\fui Contained wArcanovm Natvralivm | cupidi, ea absque inuolucris elementarium & | anigmaticarum sordium, intueri | gaudent. | Praemissa Defensione Artis: | opposita censurae Parisianae: | Cum Gratia & Priuilegio Caesareo speciali ad decennium. | [{\fui Bottom compartment:}] Francofvrti, | Excudebat Joannes Saurius, impensis Petri Kopffii. | [rule] | Anno M. D. VI.

3 parts in one volume. [Part 1] 2° (in 6s): A-T6 ($4 signed); 114l.; [20], 1-196, [12] p. [Part 2] 2° (in 6s): Aa-Kkk6 Lll-Mmm4 ($4 signed); 206l.; [10], 1-402 p. 134 as `334', 278 as `178,' and 364 as `366'. [Part 3] 2° (in 6s): Aa-Rr6 ($4 signed); 102l.; [1]-192, [12] p. 92 as `102' and 93 as `103.' Finely engraved title to the first part, separate title pages for parts 2 & 3 and numerous woodcut diagrams in the texts (several full-page).

Scarce. An important chemical text by one of the founders of chemical analysis. Second edition of the first modern chemical textbook, which is generally considered one of the most beautiful of the seventeeth century because of its heavy use of illustrations. It contains over 200 designs and pictures of various sorts of chemical glassware, vessels, apparatuses and furnaces, as well as detailed architectural plans for building the chemical institute first outlined in the first edition.

"Libavius's Alchemia is an excellent practical text-book in the sense that the author shows a full mastery of his sources and a clear, concise and sensible style, entirely different from the rambling, bombastic, and obscure verbosity of Paracelsus or the alchemical authors." -Partington, II, p. 253 -(& see pages 247-67 for a detailed account of the contents of this book).

Sometimes bound with D.O.M.A. Syntagma Selectorum undiquaque et perspicue traditorum Alchymiae Arcanorum. Frankfurt, N. Hoffmann for P. Kopff, 1611. 2°: [12], 480, [8] p. Finely engraved title & numerous woodcut diagrams in the text. This is a rare supplement to and a further commentary on the Alchemia.

Bibliographical references: BL. Cole, Chemical Literature, 1988: no. 828. Duveen, Bibliotheca Alchemica et Chemica, 1965: p. 357. NUC: 331, 433-4 [NL 0335079]. Wellcome Catalog (Books): 1, no. 3776.

Singulariarium Liber IV, 1599

3. Latin, 1599-1601.
D.O.M.A. | Singvlariarivm | Andreæ Libavii | Med. Phys. Rotemb. | Pars Prima. | In Qva De Abstrvsioribvs, | difficilioribusqz nonnulis in Philosophia, Me- | diciva, Chymia, &c. quæstioni- | bus, vtpote | De | Metallorvm, Svcciniqve | natura: carne fossili, vt credita est, de gestatione ca- | codæmonvm; veneno, aliisque rarioribus, | quæ versa indicat pagina, pluri- | mis accuratè diffe- | ritur. | [ornament] | Francofvrti, | Impressa typis Ioannis Saurii, impensis | Petri Kopffij. | [rule] | M. D. XCIX.

4 parts. [Part 1: 1599] 8°: A-Z8 a4; 188l.; 375 p.; [Part 2: 1599] 8°: Aa-Kkk8 (Kkk7 & Kkk8 blank); 262l.; 324 (i.e., 524) p.; [Part 3: 1601] 8°: 2015 (i.e., 1114), [4] p.; [Part 4: 1601] 8°: 704, [16] p., one folding woodcut plate. Printer's device on dach of the title pages, head and tail pieces, and woodcuts initials.

Very rare, especially in complete sets. This series of authoritative essays on a wide range of subjects probably reproduce Libavius' lectures and may have been used as a text book in his classes. Included is a great deal of practical and speculative information on the mineral wealth of the earth: the nature and transmution of metals, amber, fossil teeth, asphalt, bitumen, naptha, petroleum, coal, turf, and belemnites. Throughout Libarvius includes references to medicinal, alchemical and chemical properties. Also described in this compendium are Paracelsus' legacy, the flight of witches, posions, manna and honey, astrology, comets, the phases of the moon, silk and silkworms, mineral waters, frogs, toads, and other diverse matters.

Bibliographical references: Adams, Cambridge Books, 1967: L-641. BL. BM/STC German: 497. Caillet, Manuel, 1912: no. 6662. Duveen, Bibliotheca Alchemica et Chemica, 1965: p. 356 [parts I & II]. Ferchl: 313. Ferguson, Bibliotheca Chemica, 1906: 2, 34n. Jonathan Hill, Bookseller: cat. 64 (1996), no, 89. LKG: III 16. Mellon, Alchemy and the Occult, 1968-77: no. 54 [parts I & II]. Neu, Chemical, Medical & Pharmaceutical Books, 1965: no. 2341. NUC: 331, 433-4 [NL 0335106]. Partington, History of Chemistry, 1961-70: 2, 246-7. VD16 [no copy listed].

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