The Alchemy web site on Levity.com
Joannes Agricola - Treatise on Gold
Chapter 3.Back to Agricola page .
Oil of Gold Prepared in the Common Way.
This process may well be short but it has many difficulties in it. It is not so easy to tinge as many believe and as the words look because it requires two strong requisites, namely, the circulated salt-oil and oil of wine, and it takes a great deal of trouble and work before the oil of wine is made. The author has not indicated how it is to be prepared, but in the treatise on tartar he has written about it. However, it is just as little the correct one as that of which he warns us in this process. But I have added the right preparation, obtained by my experience, which can be found in my Note, where the kind reader can look it up. It must not be made from the feces of the wine, as the author indicates, but from the purest wine, if anything good is to be done with it, as experience teaches. For the pure oil of wine mixes with the wine. That which is made of the feces of wine, however, may well mix with it but it does not take its essentials over the retort. Whether this be a right solution, I let everybody see for himself.
What has just been said of the oil of wine also applies to the circulated oil of salt. If the gold is to be rightly opened, it must be the circulated quintessence of the salt - but how it is to be prepared, the author does not indicate here either; although he has a description of the oil of salt under that title, it is also bad and according to the common manner. I have added a preparation taken from my own experience, which can also be found there.
But in order to make the process soon available, uncurtailed, to a beginner, I have not spared the effort of adding it also here. If anything were perhaps lacking in one place, he could find the discrepancy compensated in another. It takes a lot of industry and time to get it right. To make it right, however, the process must be done as follows:
Have a retort made for you that has a tube at the back of the bottom. It must be quite narrow below, somewhat wider above. Fill it completely with stone-salt, such as is hewn in the mountains of Salzburg, Austria, and in Styria. Wall it in a furnace, lute a receiver in front but make a small hole between the joints with a quill, to give it air when the spirits move. Now give fire per degrees till the salt flows in the retort like water, which you can easily notice. Then let a few drops of water drip inside through the tubes, and the salt spirits will soon rise, penetrating forcibly into the receiver. Now you must give them some air through the small holes but close them up soon again, and they will move all the quicker, and it is so nice to see. You must continue doing this till all the salt changes into spirit. Take all the spirit and rectify it to remove the phlegma.
Of this spirit take 1 lb., add to it as much melted salt, knead it under potter's clay and turn it into little balls. Let them dry in the air and distill them trough a retort, as is customary. You will obtain a beautiful yellow-green spirit. Take the caput mortuum (death's head) out of the retort, powder it, and lixiviate the salt from it with lukewarm rain water, filter and coagulate it, dissolve it again and coagulate it. You must repeat this till the salt has become as beautifully transparent as crystal and flows like wax.
Add it to the spirit and let both well unite in the digestion. Now you have a fine spirit of salt that dissolves gold rightly and liquifies it. Aside from doing this, it is also a good spirit for use in medicine, and the common spirit can never equal its performance. True, it requires a lot of work but it pays the effort well, as everyone who uses it in such work will see for himself. The gold calx will also become as beautifully brown as if it had been calcined for some time with Mercury and Sulphur.
Thomas Kessler of Strasbourg also indicates a fine manner of making the spirit of salt with bellows: One has to have a retort made of good clay. It must have a tube at the back into which the bellows are directed, to enable the wind to get directly into the center of the retort, driving the spirit into the receiver. True, it is a fine piece of workmanship, but does not yield much. The retort must strongly glow for three hours before one begins with the bellows. I tried it, but when I saw that it would not yield much, I did as follows:
I had a retort made with two tubes, one in the center and one bellow at the bottom, as the figure shows. Through tube (a) I let the water drop in as indicated in the previous process, and quickly closed the hole up. After that, I directed the bellows into tube (b),and as soon as the cold water had dripped inside, I worked the bellows. An observer would have had great fun seeing how frequently and wonderfully the spirits ran into the receiver, and of what colors they were. It all goes fast, but the bellows must be glued to the tube to prevent the spirits from running out backwards. Therefore, it must be fitted with a long iron tube at the beak, so that it does not burn. The furnace must also be arranged accordingly, to let the tube stick out far enough. Likewise that which is supposed to stick out above. In this way things will go very well. It is possible to prepare a good amount in one day, because the air of the bellows does not permit the spirits to fall down again, to be united again with the Body, as happens otherwise. For they must go - but the receiver must be big enough, or else it is not without danger, as anyone will easily agree. For if the spirits force their way out and do not find enough room, they break the receiver, as happened to myself, not knowing that they are so violent and push almost like the spirit of tartar.
If someone cannot work this process of the spirit of salt for lack of the right instruments, and yet would need it, let him take 1 lb. of crushed salt and 2 lbs. of coaldust, mix them well together and distill them in the common way through a retort. He will also obtain a good spirit, but it must be well rectified once or three times to rid it if its feces. He can also use it in the dissolution of the Sun, as our author would have it.
The reason why I here describe the spirit of salt in so many ways is so that the laboratory worker be instructed how important the menstrua are. Often a single bad manipulation hinders a great work, and those who will only use a common spirit of salt, as the distillers sell, will no doubt work in vain and achieve nothing useful. It is the same with the oil of wine whose preparation, as already mentioned, you will find further on. The better the wine, the more wonderful the oil will be. You can use Spanish wine and will obtain all the more, as experience has taught me. But his you must take careful note of: If you have distilled once, you must repeat it once or several times. Then you will get a good medicament, for the often repeated process turns the work into a subtle medicine.
When you have driven all the gold over the alembic, put it in a cold place for some time, such as a cool cellar, and in time beautiful transparent crystals, like rubies, will sprout. You can take those out with a wooden pair of tongs, and dry them on paper. There are very few of them, as the Body does not all rise in one go over the alembic. Therefore the Death's Head can be taken out, reverberated with sulphur flowers, and the gold calx will become quite pure. Pour again some spirit of salt of salt and oil of wine over that, and proceed as before. The entire Body will finally rise over the alembic. More will be reported on this at another place when we will deal with other preparations.
These crystals still have another advantage: Take one part of them, add 3 parts of Mercury of Saturn optim. purified, set it together in sand in a phial and give it a graduated fire. Mercury will precipitate in a short time, and it will not only result in a fine medicine but also in a sample of gold, so that you can see with your own eyes that the Mercury of lead can thereby be turned into gold. It can either be melted with borax or melted and assayed by the cupel with lead. Thus you will certainly find that it is no empty talk, although some would deny that it is a proof. It might well be so, as the crystals made of gold can again be brought back into a Body and provide a gold proof. It is easy to answer this by first observing the weight of the crystals, then that of the added Mercury and the prepared gold. In this way you will see if you have an excess or not. I am of opinion that there will be some, but I do not say that it will be of great importance in regard to all costs incurred, because it does cost something to prepare the Mercury of lead. Thus, these crystals also do not just cost a little, yet one can nevertheless prove thereby that it is possible to make a transmutation without the Universal Tincture. Whoever wishes, can try it, he will not work in vain, nor will he lose much thereby, and the gold will turn out quite beautiful, more beautiful than that from the Hungarian mines, of which I once had 3 ounces together.
Nor is this oil of gold to be despised, because it is of great usefulness in medicine if properly applied. Whatever I have learned, I will reveal. It may well be that others have also tried it for other sicknesses, but I have mostly used this composition for the French disease (venereal disease), when it strongly drove the poison out through perspiration, thus healing the infected persons.
First I tried it on a scholar who had a training school not far from Vienna in Austria. He was not satisfied with Germany but devoted himself to the French. ("The French" was the name given to syphilis). He had acquired it from a French "putain", or whore. He already had it to the highest degree: his hair was falling out, boils came out on his temples, spots were also on his thighs, and whatever other symptoms there are in such an infection. I did tell him that I was willing to cure him, but that it would be at great expense as the infection had already advanced so far. The woman with whom he was living offered to assume all the costs, if only he could be restored to good health. I thought they were sleeping together, and it looked to me as if she were also infected, but she did not say anything about it. I prepared this oil of gold for him, as I had received enough money for it, and gave him 6 drops a day in one dose, in some spirit of Lignum Sanctum (holy wood). I made him perspire to dryness in a bathroom, and when he had done this for four days, he got a rash over his body like the rind of a birchtree. He was very ugly to look at, as his blood was totally infected. I continued for 14 days, and it drove the disease out of his body most formidably. Then I made him take a bath in the following solution: 2 lbs. of sulphur, 4 lbs. of salt, 1 lb. of tartar. All this had to boil strongly in a kettle with water, till the water was quite whitish. In that he bathed four times, when the dirt fell off him and he became quite clean and healthy.
When children contract smallpox or the measles, they cannot be helped by any better remedy than this oil of gold, giving them once, twice, or three times each time 4 drops in a tablespoon of lentil broth. It will soon drive them out and off the heart, so that they are rid of the sickness in a few days.
Against dizzy spells it is likewise a wonderful expedient. With it I cured two wealthy persons in a short time, one a man, the other a woman, both belonging to the nobility of Thuringia. I did not give them more than 6 drops in a spoonful of swallow-water, continuing thus for 14 days. Externally, I had their temples rubbed with snake grease. Their dizziness disappeared, and one has to-date not noticed anything of it in them.
Nasal polyps are chased away very quickly, as I tried doing for a noble young lady in 1630. She was greatly troubled with it. I first put some spirit of Nieri on it until was everywhere sorely corroded, although it was sore enough by itself, greatly hindering her breathing and speaking. After that, she had to coat it every morning and evening with this oil, and it may well have still other virtues in medicine. But because I have no experience in that regard, I cannot give a true report on it. The kind reader will have to be content with the experiments I have related.
With this oil I still did something else: I took one Quentlein (1.66 gr.) of it, added to it 3 Quentlein oil or tincture of sweet antimony and congealed it in a phial to a fixed, darkred powder, which took four weeks. Finally I gave it a very strong fire and it flowed together in a glass. I removed it, pulverized it, and used it in many sicknesses. It also did its share amazingly well and was almost like a panacea.
I wanted to know if I could also put a golden-yellow coat on Luna (silver) in aquafort. I beat the calx down and edulcorated it, then added some of this medicine and set it in a gradation fire. The Luna calx turned brownred in 8 days, and red oildrops were hanging in the phial above the matter. I congealed it still longer, the drops vanished, and everything became red. On the very day I intended to take it out, the imperial invasion took place. Not only was the glass smashed but I was robbed of all my medicines, so that I cannot tell whether or not it would have resulted in something. Someone who has this medicament in stock should test it, he cannot lose much by doing so. I am of opinion that it would turn into something, especially because the ferment had been united to and congealed with the tincture of antimony. But I do not wish to be the cause that everybody embarks on goldmaking, because I myself cannot do it. I only say that Nature is wonderful in her works. Whoever reflects on them may well occasionally discover a secret. Often a bad and mean thing has so much in it that nobody would believe it.
If you have problems understanding these alchemical texts, Adam McLean now provides a study course entitled How to read alchemical texts : a guide for the perplexed.
Works of Nicolas Flamel
Works of George Ripley
Works of Sendivogius
Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum
Emerald tablet of Hermes
Texts from Musaeum Hermeticum
Spanish alchemical texts
German alchemical texts
French alchemical texts
Russian alchemical texts
Italian alchemical texts