a great chemist

Collegium physico-chemicum experimentale, Oder Laboratorium Chymicum, In welchem Deutlich und gründlich Von den wahren Principiis in der Natur und denen gewürckten Dingen so wohl über als in der Erden, Als Vegetabilien, Animalien, Mineralien, Metallen, wie auch deren wahrhafften Generation Eigenschafften und Scheidung, Nebst der Transmutation und Verbesserung der Metallen gehandelt wird, Denen Liebhabern natürlicher Wissenschafften zum ungemeinen Nutzen nunmehro endlich Mit einem vollständigen Register und Vorrede herausgegeben Von Johann Caspar Engelleder.

Hamburg and Leipzig, Samuel Heyl, 1716.

8vo, pp. [xxxvii], 737 [recte 739], [37], with engraved portrait frontispiece and an engraved folding plate (of distilling apparatus); some spotting and/or browning, title trimmed close at fore-margin (no loss); contemporary vellum; contemporary or nearly contemporary ownership inscription inside front cover of M.D. Kroeber, with a bibliographical note by him on the fly-leaf, annotations on the folding plate and underlinings in the chapter on distillation.


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the rare first edition of a famous chemical handbook, the most important work of the leading german chemist of the second half of the seventeenth century. Partington, devoting pp. 361-77 of vol. II to Kunckel, gives ‘a nearly complete bibliographical account with comment’ (Marie Boas Hall in DSB), with many references to the discoveries contained in this book, including as it does ‘an interesting account of the large laboratory (“gold house”) in Dresden, as big as a church, with furnaces and tall chimneys, of the old manuscripts, and of the harsh treatment of former alchemists who failed to achieve results ... Kunckel had great enthusiasm (es ist die Chymie das edelste Studium in der Welt), ample opportunities for experiment, a capacity for keen observation, great patience and stubborn application - in fact all the qualities which are found in a great chemist. He was a man of transparently honest character, and in such cases where his word is set against that of such men as Leibniz and Stahl, it may be accepted without hesitation’ (Partington).

‘Kunckel’s ... Laboratorium Chymicum [is] of some use for the history of transmutation, as he records several cases of such action ... and [it] contains autobiographical details’ (Ferguson).

Cole 732; Ferguson I 484 (1767 edition).

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