On the Sublimation of Mercury. Here Carlo Lancillotti knowingly borders on Alchemy. Farmaceutica Antimoniale Trionfo del Mercurio, third book.
In these ten chapters on mercury sublimation, the title Triumph of Mercury achieves its goal. The part Lancillotti gives more importance to is the fifth chapter, in which the side note Detractors of mercury accompany did not know the philosophical arcane. After the process exposition, he lets Quercetanus comment in his place.
The proceedings presented below may have much in common with the alchemical first or preparatory works.
My translation from Farmaceutica Antimoniale Trionfo del Mercurio, 1683, third book:
“Chapter 1: First Common Sublimation.
Take some roman vitriol, common salt, and mercury in equal parts one pound, incorporate everything, and amalgamate with little vinegar, place in a suitable bowl to sublime with its hat and container giving scalar fire until all the water is out and after increasing the fire till is all sublimated, and then to get it purer and more crystalline it will be sublimed again with one pound of common salt, and vitriol four ounces, and the third time it will be sublimed only with salt. The reader is warned that the salts must be decrepitated and the vitriol dried.
Chapter 2 Second Sublimation.
Take mercury one pound off, vitriol four ounces of, salt armoniac four ounces of, and rock salt four ounces, wet all with vinegar, and mix them into a marble mortar, then place in a bowl with a hat, and container, then distill the vinegar the hat’s pipe must be very well closed to prevent air from entering, then get the mercury sublime increasing the fire. You will have a clear like a crystal sublimed.
Chapter 3. Third Sublimation.
Get the mercury calcined or dissolved into strong water (made from one part of niter and two parts of vitriol) and then distill the water and take the precipitated get mixed with a lot of vitriol, dried, and common decrepitated salt in equal parts as must as the quicksilver did weigh, put in a bowl to sublime according to the art, and then mix again with salt a quarter of its weight, as said above. It will sublime for the second time, and this is the best sublimed to be used in medicine.
Chapter 4: Fourth Sublimation with the Regulus of Antimony.
Take purged mercury and regulus of antimony in equal parts one pound, “rubificato” vitriol (1) eight ounces, decrepitated salt (2) one pound, get all smashed and place into a “sagiolo” (probably a flask for sublimation), putting on two or three pounds of strong water, and then sublime according to the art, then again take the sublime, and the caput mortuum, and again, mix, and sublime, and repeat the said operation for the third time, and this sublimed is very good to get the sweet mercury in place of the usual one.
Chapter 5: Fifth Philosophical Sublimed, or Metallic Vinegar of Philosophers.
Take well purged mercury, that’s to say extracted from cinnabar and dissolve into aqua fortis strong water made from saltpeter and vitriol in equal parts, and let precipitate by distilling, into a retort with container, separate the sublimed portion, and powder the precipitate, and join as much decrepitated salt (see end note 2) and vitriol rubificato (see end note 1) as mercury’s weight, I mean if the mercury did weigh one pound of vitriol and one pound of salt then put all to sublime according to the art, gathering the aqua fortis-strong water, which will distill, and take the sublimed and powder it and add calcined tartar and quicklime in equal parts and place into a retort and distill fitting a half water container where the living mercury will be distilled inside, which again will be distilled in aqua fortis, or the mentioned mercury will be taken, decrepitated salt, vitriol rubificato in equal parts and for every pound of mercury four ounces of saltpeter, mix all together in a marble mortar, having first slightly diluted the mercury with the said aqua fortis, and put all the things united into a bowl with heat to sublime, and after having sublimed get back again with tartar, and sublime as above to rectify the mercury, which again will be sublimed as said above, and repeating that sublimation, and regeneration up to nine times, which has to be kept sublimed, which it will be then philosophical as with happiness it will be ready to be used in every operation, as this is the real philosophical sublimed as Quercetanus says in his Tetrad. From his words, the adept can imagine how much in esteem he should have mercury, as he can have whatever he wishes.
Quercetanus, in his Tetrad, says the following latin words: Mercurius autem item tribus medis redditur philosophicus sublimatione, precipitatione, distillation... Mercury can be made Philosophicus with three operations, that’s to say Sublimation, Precipitation, Distillation; and all these operations are found in this recipe; and to better authenticate my own opinion on the matter, I will quote what Quercetanus says further on essentialized mercury from the doctrine of Paracelsus tome 6 page 29: “Essensificatus Mercurius ex Paracelsi doctrina sit reiteratis sublimationibus ex vitriolo et sale……. They are repeated sublimation from vitriol to resurrect and take it to the highest perfection and strength. Certain sublimations carry the quicksilver to the supreme purity rising from black and removing impurities; through these sublimations, it gets soaked with sulfur and fire, and all effective and admirable celestial properties that make it philosophical, the real metallic vinegar of philosophers is output and transforms the Sun and the Moon in their first matter, nature of spirits with their vital radical bodies and seminal humor, that holds fiery and sulfurous nature (which philosophers have much hidden). I even add this essentialized and exalted mercury to dissolve in philosophical vinegar, where the Sun is dissolved in due philosophical proportion. And then it will be separated from menstruum, after that, with the art of sublimation separated from the wet, which is why the mercury will be adorned in the purple robe of the Sun (3), the life of the Sun which transfers the power to accomplish the magisterium and perfectly clean anybody. Even in mercury, there is latently the nature of the Sun, which can accordingly be fixed, coagulated, frozen in crystalline hardness, especially with the right weight of metallic and flowing waters, or roughly pushed to force the contrary so extinguished and mixed to the womb to have no slightest substance of these particles lost or diminished” ( it is not difficult here to distinguish all our first work operations, with the sublimations necessary to volatilize salts and to come out of the dark phase, the fixation by gold, the removing of excessive humidity).
“Side note “Detractors of mercury did not know the philosophical arcane”.
Chapter 6: Sixth Sweet Sublimed of Common Sweet Mercury or Mitigated Dragon.
Take of purged mercury three ounces, of sublimed four ounces, get all ground in a marble mortar till no living mercury appears, and then put it into a subliming vessel to sublime at sand heat; once sublimed, separate the crystalline part and white from dark soot from feces found in the bottom then again occur to sublime for the second time and again for the third and fourth if necessary. If the sublimed mercury is insipid and without sharpness, don’t get any further with sublimations, as it will alienate the purging nature. The best sublimed to do this operation is the Regulino sublimed, which is the fourth place above ( perhaps Lancillotti means the fourth chapter). The reader must be warned to perform the sublimation on his own to do the mentioned operation to avoid any falsification, the virtue of this sweet mercury is to purge so finely and magnificently to deserve the name of metallic manna, and it can be safely supplied to pregnant women and toddlers without any fear. Surely any bad humidity will be expelled when supplied with the suitable vehicle, that’s to say with pills. The dosage is from ten to thirty grains and two to six for newborn babies.
Chapter 7: Seventh Sweet Sublimed, Red, or Paracelsus Coral Arcane.
Take well purged mercury, one pound of well refined saltpeter, and two pounds free of salt, two pounds of rubificato mercury (see end note 1), get all in powder, and mix everything together into a marble mortar and watering with strong distilled vinegar, till no evidence of living mercury will appear, and then put to sublime at scalable sand fire till all the phlegm is out, then increase the fire for twenty-four hours to sublime the whole, and then separate the feces from mercury, which will be risen to the top of the bowl from the red sublimated, and yellow which will powder, and merge with a pound of mercury ( as said above and the reader must be warned that the saltpeter should be free from any other impurity) and lightly calcined alum kneading with the phlegm the above mentioned vinegar, and get back to sublime for twelve hours, separating the feces, and the mercury, and gather aside the red sublimed from the yellow one and wash with lightly alcoholized waters and burn some spirit of wine on the surface, and get the yellow slightly calcined at moderate fire as to turn red, and in the meanwhile wash with alcoholized waters and repeat with the burning of spirit of wine.
This is specific for hydropsy and syphilis and leprosy, cancers, and simile. The dosage is from three to eight grains, as said above.
Chapter 8: Eighth Sweet Sublimed, or Quintessence of Sublimed Mercury.
Take some purged mercury and get to boil into a soap makers lye, for five or six hours, then do the same with very strong vinegar, of the said take one pound, rubificato vitriol (end-note 1) and saltpeter in equal parts two pounds, mix perfectly everything in a marble mortar, pour some vinegar till the mercury is no more apparent, then have all sublimed as above mentioned, and finished the first sublimation divide the sublimed from the feces, and the second time sublime alone, then the third with its weight of calcined rock alum, and the fourth with saltpeter as above and it will sublime a red sublimed which, smashed, you will put into a suitable flask, and pour on some good alkalized spirit of wine closing very well the flask, put to digest fire during fourteen days, then remove the menstruum, and replace with another if necessary, and all the tinted spirit put to distill at balneum light fire, so all the spirit will pass, and the remaining coagulate at moderate fire, and place in a cellar on a glass, or porphyry to get dissolved by itself, and once solved start again to coagulate in glass and for the second time it will get back to dissolve again, and to coagulate repeating for the third time, and so you will have a very noble coagulated essence of mercury, which given a grain will do wonders.
Chapter 9: Ninth Lunar Sublimed.
Take six ounces of sublimed, cupeled silver in filings, or silver foils two ounces, get all ground, merge all, and put to sublime at sand heat, and once cooled down the vessel, separate the volatile part from the fixed and crystalline which merge with the feces, and get back to sublime again for two times as above, and then wash over and over, and keep in safe.
The dosage is from six to ten grains.
Chapter 10: Tenth Lunar Sublimed.
From the sublimed, take four ounces of purged mercury of life, silver in foils, and talc in equal parts, reduce all in powder, and get all sublimed as above four times and the sublimed has to be powdered, and placed into a flask on a sand hat for two days, and will turn into a white powder.
The dosage is from five to ten grains.
Chapter 11: Eleventh Sublimed, Metallic, or Mercurial, Laudanum.
Take six ounces of the salt extracted from the caput mortuum of strong water aqua fortis ( made of niter and vitriol in equal parts), purged mercury two ounces of, purify niter two drams, get the whole in powder and mix with vinegar, and sublime according to the art, and so will rise a white part, another will be yellowish, another one crocus color, and the red one, get all powdered together. Sublime once again gives intense fire, and all will turn red, then get all in powder, then wash, and in the end, will correct by burning over some spirit of wine.
The dosage is from six to eight grains.
Chapter 12: Twelfth Sweet Sublimed, or Panacea of Purged Mercury.
Make the butter of antimony (4) with very good mercury sublimed in two parts and regulus of antimony in one part, get it all distilled, and then get all precipitated in mercury of life; you can find the method in Guida alla Chimica first part third book (5). take of the said mercury of life two ounces, the mercury of the kind come out of the said butter one ounce, get sublimed like the sweet mercury, and keep sublimated like a treasure for every disease.
The dosage is from four to eight grains.
- From Martino Poli Trionfo degli Acidi 1706 ( triumph of acids) page 433: “Unguent for Gangrene. Take vitriol rubificato, that’s to say, the caput mortuum remaining after the extraction of the spirit, finely grind, and wash over and over according to the art, then let it dry, and finely grind on porphyry, and with three parts of oil, and one of wax an unguent is made according to the common use of “Speziarie” (pharmacopeia), and when cooled down add some drops of lavender oil, with this unguent gangrene and other plagues are treated, previously washed with tepid wine.”
- The process of Decrepitation of Common Salt, or calcination, can be found in Lemery & the Spirits of Common Salt with Wine, paragraph “Common Salt calcination;
- Metallic gold is known to fix the volatile Mercurius; see also Atalanta Fugiens and the Golden Apples;
- Carlo Lancillotti Guida alla Chimica, first book page 162: Butter of Antimony, or Powder of Algaroth, called mercury of life. Take of good raw antimony, the type with bright beams, six ounces, of sublimed mercury six ounces, get all in powder, get all mixed together in a marble mortar, and beware of the smell, as it is a venom, then put all in a retort with gathering container, place to distill at sand fire, giving moderate fire, an if the liquor will paste to the retort neck, you will take a red hot coal to liquefy the butter, and once finished the distillation, and the sign is the coming out of a red liquor, get the retort to cool down, then have the liquor to be dissolved at light fire, and when dissolved poured into the same retort to be dissolved again, and once distilled get to distill again, as before, reiterating the said distillation for three-four times, even if some content themselves to distill just one time, but I distill it at least two times, which is better, as the powder is white which is done in the following way: that’s to say putting some common water into the container on the distilled liquor, and you will see all to get back as milk, the white powder precipitating in the bottom, and all will be washed as many times as the water will have no acidity and then you will have it washed two or three times with some cordial distilled water and then will be dried. When all the butter of antimony is distilled we will have the cinnabar of antimony, and the fire will be increased; place red hot coals around and on the retort, keep on the same fire for three-four hours, and the cinnabar will be sublimed at the retort neck. It will be rectified by sublimation at least once more time. The water impregnated with vitriolic spirit will be all distilled until the spirit remains in the bottom of the vessel, which will be called the spirit of philosophical vitriol”.