Nicaise le Febvre, not to be confused with Nicolas le Fevre, was another well-known french seventeenth-century iatrochemist. Neglecting his Traitè de la Chymie, Paris 1660, might be a mistake. I consider this book indispensable to tying ancient chemistry to Alchemy. Here is a unique laboratory tool: the egg inside the egg.
As usual, my translation from the original french is in quotation marks:
“Chapter III. On the variety of vessels.
… Those wishing to work on actual fixations will need either philosophical eggs, or a toll of my invention, which I cannot call Egg inside Egg, or latin Ovum in Ovo. This tool has something to do with the Pelican, as for the circulation, and the tool is called Hell (enfer, in original french) because all put inside is forever prevented from getting out. This tool is for the fixation of “Mercure…”.
Mercure was an ambiguous term in seventeenth-century chemical and alchemical environments. The translation in English is “Mercury”, but more often than it was used to indicate our Mercurius/Secret Fire since even chemists did prefer the term Vif-Argent to define metallic mercury. Here we have to understand what does mean fixation of Mercure is. Our alchemical Mercurius is the product of reiterated salt volatilizations in preliminary works. It gives off a very volatile substance that does need to be fixed, that’s to say to be made less volatile. We called the product of this operation Mercurius Philosophorum (1). ( see an Opus Magnum scheme).
The representation of this tool, as said above, is unique. I don’t mean to add anything, but to end my translation:
“… there is also the image of an egg enclosed inside another one, so accurately to shorten ( raccourcy, old form for raccourcir, in original french) and the real perfection of these three vessels which may serve to fixation.
As the naive description of all these vessels cannot be written, and the demonstration is far more helpful than the reading, one may look at the picture before this chapter, where one can see the rendering that might be used as a model.”
We can see what Nicaise le Fevre defines and renders as Philosophic Egg, participating like the Pelican (3) on the left, number 8. Mind that the kind of “pendant” hanging like a necklace on the flask’s neck numbered nine at the top of the page is rigorously inside the vessel and not around the external neck of the same vessel. Which, indeed, makes the thing rather difficult to be understood and practiced.
- See also Atalanta Fugiens & Coral from Waters and Basilius Valentinus, Salt Azoth or Philosophers Gold?
- To see what a Pelican is for, go to my previous article Brouaut, how to Extract the Dye and Soul ;
- Canseliet, the Art of Music & Weight ;