Basil Valentine is the Anglicised version of the name Basilius Valentinus , ostensibly a 15th-century alchemist , possibly Canon of the Benedictine Priory of Saint Peter in Erfurt, Germany but more likely a pseudonym used by one or several 16th-century German authors. According to John Maxson Stillman , who wrote on the history of chemistry, there is no evidence of such a name on the rolls in Germany or Rome and no mention of this name before Whoever he was, Basil Valentine had considerable chemical knowledge. He showed that ammonia could be obtained by the action of alkali on sal-ammoniac ammonium chloride , described the production of hydrochloric acid by acidifying brine of common salt sodium chloride , and created oil of vitriol sulfuric acid , among other achievements. The Twelve Keys of Basil Valentine is a widely reproduced alchemical book attributed to Basil Valentine, first published in
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The first part of the book is a discussion of general alchemical principles and advice about the philosopher's stone. The second half of Ein kurtz summarischer Tractat , under the subtitle "The Twelve Keys", contains twelve short chapters.
Each chapter, or "key", is an allegorical description of one step in the process by which the philosopher's stone may be created. With each step, the symbolic names Deckname , or code name used to indicate the critical ingredients are changed, just as the ingredients themselves are transformed.
The keys are written in such a fashion as to conceal as well as to illuminate: only a knowledgeable reader or alchemical adept was expected to correctly interpret the veiled language of the allegorical text and its related images.
The edition does not include illustrations. Woodcuts appear in the edition. Revised engravings for all twelve steps appear in Tripus Aureus "Golden Tripod". This Latin translation by Michael Maier includes three works, the first of which is Basil Valentine's. The allegorical text and fantastic visual imagery of alchemical writings make them difficult to interpret.
A physicochemical reading was proposed in the twenty-first century. Chemist and historian Lawrence M. Principe has drawn on knowledge of chrysopoetic symbolism and experimentally tested possible chemical processes and practices which may correspond to several of Basil Valentine's twelve steps. Visually he refers to the woodcuts. Some of the early keys may encode descriptions of actual laboratory techniques and observed results. Other keys may be theoretical extrapolations of what could be accomplished: ideas for experiments that had not yet been successfully carried out.
The final keys may be descriptions of methods based on other writers' textual precedents. There is evidence that the "father of chemistry", Robert Boyle , also volatilized gold by following the steps in Basil Valentine's keys. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Woodcut from A Seventeenth Century Hoax. The Secrets of Alchemy. Retrieved 25 November Johns Hopkins Magazine.
Retrieved 26 November Princeton: Princeton university press. Memoirs of the life, writings, and discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton. Edinburgh: T. Constable and Co. Nigredo Albedo Citrinitas Rubedo. Categories : Alchemical documents Emblem books books in science. Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history. Contribute Help Community portal Recent changes Upload file.
The explanations of the famous keys are all too briefly spoken of here in the context of a seminar that revealed the work of Valentine, Newton, Flamel, Philalethes, Paracelsus, de Violette, Bacstrom, and countless others. It is offered here as an alternative to the series found on the Alchemy Website: Pay diligent attention to this fact, and observe it well, for here lies the master key of our whole Art. Antimony, which contains within itself its own vinegar, should be so prepared as to entirely remove its poisonous nature, in order that he who drinks it may not swallow with it any venom, but rather drive away and cast out all poison from his body. The preparation of Antimony, or the Key of Antimony, is that by which it is dissolved, opened, divided, and separated. Such processes are calcination, reverberation, sublimation, as we have previously declared.
Valentine, Basil, or Basilius Valentinus
The first part of the book is a discussion of general alchemical principles and advice about the philosopher's stone. The second half of Ein kurtz summarischer Tractat , under the subtitle "The Twelve Keys", contains twelve short chapters. Each chapter, or "key", is an allegorical description of one step in the process by which the philosopher's stone may be created. With each step, the symbolic names Deckname , or code name used to indicate the critical ingredients are changed, just as the ingredients themselves are transformed.
Other accounts mention that he traveled widely in Europe and that he made a journey to Egypt late in life. There is no contemporary evidence for any of the facts relating to Basil Valentine and, indeed, the works attributed to him refer to events that occurred after his death for example, the discovery of America. The actual author was clearly familiar both with laboratory procedures and mining techniques, and he refers to mines located in Central Europe and elsewhere frequently in the Letztes Testament. There are long lists of chemical recipes to be found throughout the Basilian corpus, and it is evident that the author was well aware of methods for the preparation of the three mineral acids. He discussed all of the then known metals as well as preparations that might be made from them, and he gave special attention to the precious metals that he believed could be produced through the transmutation of the less perfect metals.