Glass of Antimony and the Oil of it. Antimony as a fume. And an enigmatic Festina Lente. Carlo Lancillotti repeats the works in Basilius Currus Triumphalis.
By the time of Lancillotti writing Farmaceutica Antimoniale ovvero Trionfo dell’Antimonio, that’s to say Antimonial Pharmaceutics or the Antimony Triumph, Modena 1683, the works on metallic antimony and mercury were heavily debated by iatro-chemists to be too hazardous. Carlo Lancillotti demonstrates how their beliefs were caused by ignorance of Basilius Valentinus proceedings.
Basilius in his Currus Triumphalis Antimonii, or Triumphant Chariot of Antimony, said that Antimony is nothing else than a fume, that’s to say a mineral vapor made by the stars and then by the Elements can be taken to perfection. And this perfection is the Philosophers Stone. Daring statement for a iatro-chemist, but Lancillotti is protected by the great Basilius as well as Theodor Kerkringer’s commentary on him.
I decided to translate and publish this first part of Farmaceutica Antimoniale ovvero Trionfo dell’Antimonio, after having already published the final part on the Starry Regulus and Lapis Ignis. There is a reason, of course. You can find the part on Starry Regulus and Lapis Ignis at Lancillotti and the Starry Regulus according to Basilius. My translation from Italian, without comments: Lancillotti proceedings are clear enough.
Chapter IV. Calcination, and Antimony Glass by Basilius:
“Take some antimony of the best you can find, which has long and bright golden color striations, reduce it in very subtle and impalpable powder and the mentioned is meant to be put in a plain and short pot, which you put on a moderate fire, and beginning to give smoke the above mentioned powder will be stirred back and forth continuously without stop and in the case the above mentioned antimony because of the excessive fire ( which sometimes happens) will clot, it will be let cool down, and again reduced in powder, as before, and you will get to calcine as above mentioned and that several times, till necessary, until taking a bit and put it over the red hot coals, it doesn’t give fumes anymore, remaining said antimony in ashes color.
Take then the antimony so calcined and put inside a crucible to melt in a fornello da vento wind oven, or other suitable for melting, and when melted, and very well, being water-shaped and clear, and pure without spots on the surface, to make sure you will hold a little iron stick, and if cold it will detach and you will check if the glass is clear and transparent and without any red spot, being in that way so it will be taken to perfection and matureness, which is very important because if not it is very dangerous and so the artist has to operate in this way, back to our topic, being the matter in this form, you will have a copper, or brass, plain basin to be well heated, and throw inside the above mentioned glass which will get subtle, moving as you like, and being a little congealed it will get sealed, or will be marked with the seal, or mark you like, and it is done.
Of the above mentioned glass a red tincture with some composed spirit of wine can be extracted, as noted by Kerkringer in his commentary, and it is as follows:
Take some salt Armoniac sublimated three times….”
The method is in Guida alla Chimica in the first part of book three.The chapter on the Sublimation of Salt Armoniac is instead in the second part, number twenty. So below my translation of Nuova Guida alla Chimica, New Guide to Chemistry, by Carlo Lancillotti, Venezia 1681, page 130:
“Take some Salt Armoniac ounces VIII. Some fillings of Iron, of the kind dropped from iron beating on an anvil. Grind and mix very well, then put to sublimate in a vessel with very strong fire, and being sublimated, let cooled down the vessel, and breaking it the sublimated part will separate and you will mix it with two or three ounces of prepared common salt, repeating this operation five or six times, adding always new salt, and the remaining salt, after every sublimation, can be useful to extract even the Spirit. The said Salt Armoniac so prepared is an excellent diaphoretic for every kind of fever, to take in suitable waters twelve, or more, grains.”
Resuming the “Trionfo dell’Antimonio” Chapter V:
“Spirit of Wine for the Tincture of Antimony by Theodor Kerkringer , from where we have interrupted: Take some salt Armoniac sublimated three times, Spirit of Wine passed over salt Tartar and free of any phlegm ounces ten, put the whole in a flask, sealing accurately the opening in order to avoid breathing, and place at moderate cinders heat and let digest for eight or ten days and then distill at balneum, accurately sealing all recipient’s joints, and you will have a perfect Menstruum to extract with some circulating time the tincture of glass of antimony, which is a perfect remedy to remove many chronic diseases.
Take some of the above mentioned antimony glass and put into a crucible, leaving under fire condition as much as a third will be consumed, and after being cooled down is reduced in impalpable and subtle powder, which is to be put inside a bowl, pouring over some spirit of wine very certificated, which has to be three fingers more than the powder, then well seal all the joints of the blind cap to have no breathing, and placing this bowl in balneum, or cinders, to circulate for three months, then the bowl will be emptied of the colored Spirit, which is a wonderful remedy, and the glass, which will be at the bottom, get again melted in a crucible, which well-managed, purged with delicacy, as the nature wants, and moving the vomit ( “vomito” in the original, probably meaning an emission), naturally moves it without interfering too much, and will be done in the same way as the other glass, with two parts of borax and one of crude antimony, giving melting fire, in the same way as melting a metal, for the rest you can go ahead as above mentioned.
Take one part of ground antimony, refined borax four parts, powder together, and mix, and keep continuously flowing, till all is reduced in very clear glass, which you will know by means of iron, as above mentioned, which you then in a bowl as said above.
You must be warned, that despite the glass of antimony is not so poor quality, like the raw antimony, and having by this preparation get rid of not only of the blackness, which it has before, and of a great amount of its venomous quality, not for this reason the glass is not totally in absence of that, but in order to remove this nastiness do as follows.
Chapter VIII. Sulphur of the Glass of Antimony and Tincture of the said.
Take some pure glass, and without addition, as above mentioned, reduce in impalpable powder grinding it on a porphyry with a little of distilled vinegar, as you do with precious stones, then put in a plain bath basin, with a lot of distilled, rectified and very strong vinegar, which has to be at least three or four fingers above the powder, and place the basin on cinders heat, and let in this way till the vinegar has a bright color like pure gold (rubicondo I in original text), then free the basin from the vinegar, by bending, and pour vinegar again, repeating as long as the vinegar is no more tinted, then take all the colored vinegars and filter them, then put in a bath basin, of a size double than the vinegar level, but not too much higher, then put the cap with spout, get the vinegar distilled till a texture is achieved, as Kerkringer notes, and not as Basilius said till dryness, because the tincture will take a horrible taste, when the vinegar lows down you have to change the basin for a shorter one, as many times as you have the right texture, when you finish the vinegar pour inside rain water and distill at low balneum, repeating this operation till three times, and the third you will observe that the water starts to come out sweet, then stop at once the whole operation, that’s to say the distillation, otherwise you will lose all, and put he remaining in the basin in a plain dish to dry at sun, or in oven, at a very low heat, and when dry grind it in a marble or glass mortar, which before has been a little heated, that done put in a flask, pouring over some Spirit of Wine, at least three fingers over the powder, and put to digest at low heat as long as the said Spirit has extracted the tincture of Antimony, of a very bright color ( above Lancillotti compares this color to that of pure gold. Basilius in his Currus Thriumphalis calls it flavum (golden), which you will separate from an earth, or faeces which are at the bottom, and that you will keep in a closed glass vessel as a precious treasure.