Traicte’ de la vraye, unique, grande et universelle medicine des anciens; dite des recens or potable

Paris, chez Francois Targa, 1633

£1,950

FIRST EDITION. 8vo. pp. [xxviii], 163, [i] a8, e8, A-K8, L2. Roman letter, some Italic. Small woodcut ornament on title, finely engraved portrait of the Author within roundel (fractionally trimmed at outer edge), woodcut initials, grotesque woodcut headpieces, typographical ornaments, early autograph of Jean Claude Pajot on title. ‘1633’ in modern ink at foot. Age yellowing, some minor spotting, oil stain to one quire at the beginning, light waterstain mostly in lower blank margin. A good copy in contemporary calf over boards, spine with raised bands, gilt ruled in compartments, gilt fleurons, a.e.r.  small split in upper joint at head small chip at tail.

Very rare first edition of this most interesting medical work, based on alchemy, on the subject of potable gold as a universal medicine, with a fine engraved portrait of the author. “An author who deserves greater attention than he has received is David de Planis Campy (1589-ca.1644), who produced ten works on medical chemistry and traditional alchemy. He was a councillor and Chirurgien ordinaire to Louis XIII, and his works were collected and published in a folio volume in 1646. Planis Campy wrote in open admiration of Paracelsus. He argued that God had provided mankind with remedies for all illnesses and that the Paracelsian cure by similitude was not opposed to the Hippocratic or or Galenic theory of cure .. He wrote that alchemy is a science that teaches the means of separating the elements of each mixed body produced by nature and of separating the pure from the impure.”A. G. Debus, ‘The French Paracelsians’. Planis Campy wrote on phlebotomy, musket wounds, the plague, and mineral and chemical remedies. He made several references to Dee’s Monas in his works. The portrait of the author is also very fine. The circular French inscription gives his name and states that in 1627, he is in his 38th year and is surgeon to the French King. It refers to him as ‘L’Edelphe’ a follower of the theories of Paracelsus, also indicated by references to the microcosm and macrocosm in the book placed in front of him.

Historically one of the most challenging areas in alchemy was the production of potable gold. Alchemists aimed to profit from its great therapeutic value, derived from the metal’s indestructibility. This work deals entirely with soluble gold, or colloidal gold, as a universal medicine, starting with a history of its use in medicine by the ‘Ancients’. It discusses in detail its regenerative effects on human health, including its power to extend human life, its properties as a ‘universal’ medicine, where it can be found or how it can be manufactured. “Paracelsus wrote about the therapeutic qualities of quinta essentia auri’, which he obtained through reduction of auric chloride with alcohol or oil plant extracts. He used ‘potable gold to treat some mental disorders and syphilis .. From the seventeenth century, colloidal gold was used for the production of red (ruby) glasses, decoration on porcelain, and silk coloration. In 1633, alchemist David de Planis-Campy, surgeon to the king of France Louis XIII, recommended his ‘elixir of longevity’ – an aqueous colloidal gold solution – as a means of life prolongation.” Lev Dykman, ‘Gold Nanoparticles in Biomedical Applications’.

A very rare alchemical work.

USTC 6003625. Caillet III, 87235 Welcome 5082. Not in Durling or Osler.

L3252

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