Thursday, February 09, 2006

Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum

Corrected Edition: A Treasure House of English Alchemical Poetry

*UPDATE: More details about this project here!*

Does Elias Ashmole need an introduction? Being a Hermetic Philosopher and Antiquarian, Ashmole's literary eye recognized the richness of the royal art expressed in the poetry of English alchemists. His monumental Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum gathered together several of the finest examples of a flourishing alchemical tradition.

Ouroboros Press Corrected Edition
The original edition of Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum was produced in London 1652 by J. Grismond for Nathaniel Brooke. The task of printing such a large tome [nearly 500 pages] was tremendous and required many laboring hands to set the lead type, cut the engravings and print the pages. While printing houses often had numerous sets of typefaces, it was often necessary to redistribute the type in order to have enough of the face to print subsequent pages. Inevitably mistakes would be discovered before the rest of the book was actually printed. Thus it was common practice at the time for the foreman of the presses to keep a record of the errors so that these could be printed at the end of the book in an effort at correction. This 17th century example of the errata sheet survived and forms the basis of the present edition.

The Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum is an important collection of Alchemical material which encompasses many authors of the Hermetic Tradition and deserves to be in print to this day. A useful facsimile edition was to be had back in the 70s and it was better than the cheaply produced photocopies of the same available in recent times, yet both fail to make corrections to the original printer's typographical errors despite the errata clearly printed in the rear of the text. The Ouroboros Press edition of Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum is entirely reset in historical typefaces and features the Complete Corrected Text.

This is Fine Esoteric Bookarts at its best. An edition Elias Ashmole himself would be proud of; A Treasure House of English Alchemical Poetry!

Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum

Table of Contents

1. Prolegomena. Elias Ashmole.
2. Ordinal of Alchemie. Thomas Norton. [*6 illustrations].
3. Compound of Alchemie. George Ripley. [*folding plate: Ripley's Wheel].
4. Pater Sapientae. Anonymous.
5. In the Name of the Holy Triniti. [*2 illustrations].
6. Hermes's Bird. Anonymous. [*1 illustration].
7. Chanon's Yeoman's Tale. Geoffry Chaucer. [*illustration].
8. Dastin's Dreame. John Dastin.
9. Pearce the Black Monke upon the Elixir.
10. Richard Carpenter's Worke.
11. Hunting of the Greene Lyon. Abraham Andrews.
12. Breviary of Natrurall Philosophy. Thomas Charnock.
13. Aenigmaes. Thomas Charnock.
14. Bloomefields Blossoms. William Bloomefield.
15. Sir Edward Kelley's Worke.
16. Sir Edward Kelley to G. S. Gent.
17. Doctor John Dee's Testament.
18. Thomas Robinson of the Philosophers Stone.
19. Experience and Philosophy. Anonymous.
20. The Magistery. W. B.
21. Anonymi, or several Workes of unknowne Authors. [* 2 illustrations].
22. John Gower upon the Philosophers Stone.
23. George Ripley's Vision.
24. Verses belonging to Ripley's Scrowle. [*1 illustration].
25. Mystery of the Alchemists.
26. Preface to the Medulla. George Ripley.
27. A Short Worke. George Ripley.
28. Secreta Secretorum. John Lydgate.
29. Hermit's Tale. Anonymous.
30. Description of the Stone. Anonymous.
31. The Standing of the Glasse. &c. Anonymous.
32. Aenigma Philosophicum. W. Redman.
33. Fragments.
34. Annotations and Discourses. Elias Ashmole. [* astrological chart].
35. Table of Obscure & Obsolete Words.
Stout Octavo. Letterpress dust jacket. 500+ pages entirely reset in Williams Caslon Text
Engraved illustrations, woodcut ornaments, fleurons and folding plate. 

Festina Lente Alchemical Series
Release Date: 2011

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