Item #2373 Kurtz abgefasstes sehr nutz- und erbauliches Berg- und Saltzwercks-Buch. David KELLNER.
Kurtz abgefasstes sehr nutz- und erbauliches Berg- und Saltzwercks-Buch.
A scientist among fantasists

Kurtz abgefasstes sehr nutz- und erbauliches Berg- und Saltzwercks-Buch. Frankfurt & Leipzig: Carl Christian Neuenhahn, 1702.

Bound with: Wohlangerichtetes Aerarium Chymicum Antiqvo-Novum, oder Alt-erneuert-und reichlichst vermehrte Chymische Schatzkammer. Leipzig: Johann Herbord Klotz (printed in Delitzsch by Christian Koberstein), 1702.

Bound with: Praxis Metallica Curiosa, oder Curieus-angestellt und experimentirte Schmelz Proben, so bisher als grosse Arcana, von den Besitzern des Manuscripti sehr secretiret und geheim gehalten worden.  Nordhausen: Carl Christian Neuenhahn, 1701.

3 works in one volume. 8vo (159 x 95 mm). I: [6] ff., 562 pp., [11] ff, [1] bl. f. Additional fold-out engraved title, double-page title in red and black. On pp. 446-447 full-page and half-page woodcuts of beakers with measurements. II: [11] ff. “389” [recte 386] pp., [15] ff. Title in red and black. Two woodcut illustrations (pp. 195-196). The final appendix (unpaginated 15 ff. at end) separately titled (Kurtze Vorstellung der zur edlen Chymie gehörigen Wissenschaft, Bestehend in CLIII Aphorismis … was zur Alchymie gehöret). III: [3] ff., 355, [1] pp., [10] ff. Occasional slight paper discoloration; tiny abrasion to engraved title in first work and bottom of full-page cut on p. 446 in first work cropped (in spite of the note to the bookbinder on last page [Oo7r] warning against this eventuality). Bound together in contemporary vellum over pasteboard, English ms. spine title “Kellners chymical works,” second work with red edges. Provenance: Earls of Macclesfield (bookplate, blindstamps).***

A Sammelband of treatises on alchemy, mining, assaying, chemistry and metallurgy, by and edited by a physician and metallurgist from Nordhausen; ; the first two works in first editions. David Kellner, court physician at Nordhausen, of whom little is known, was a significant figure in the transition from alchemy to modern chemistry. In his works and compilations of others’ works on assaying and metallurgical chemistry he attempted to “free this literature, and indeed all scientific publication, from the fantasies of alchemists. To this end he wrote for a lay audience and for future scientists, rather than for an exclusive circle of initiates” (DSB). Author of a number of serious “contributions to the science of assaying [in which he] sought to state, as clearly as possible, prescriptions and methods for experimentation,” he also wrote a rare comedy on alchemy which is “nowhere mentioned by historians of German literature” (op. cit.). Kellner has been equally neglected by historians of science and his works would deserve further study: “there is no secondary literature of any value that deals with his importance as a physician or and here the omission is more surprising with his contribution to the development of specialized literature in the field of metallurgy” (ibid.)

I: A compilation treating saltworks and the chemistry of salpetre, bringing together material from Wilhem von Schroder’s Fürstliche Schatz- und Rentkammer, and from works by Johannes Mathesius, Peter Eichholtz, Johann Friedrich Suchland, Johann Ludwig Glaser, and Jan Baptiste van Helmont. The last section, by Kellner, is an annotated geographical list of mines and mineral deposits throughout Germany. The engraved title shows four scenes of miners, assayers, and smelting works. NUC lists 4 copies in the US (OCLC listing only German libraries). Hoover Collection 474; Rosenthal, Bibliotheca magica, 924.

II: As promised by its title, the Aerarium chymicum is a “treasure trove” of chemical and alchemical recipes, in part translated from Martin Schmuck’s “little treasure chest” of secrets (Secretorum naturalium, chymicorum et medicorum Thesauriolus oder Schatzkästlein), first published in 1637. Kellner doubled the 100 assaying recipes that had appeared in the 1686 edition of Schmuck’s Schatzkästlein, adding recipes from several manuscript sources. This appears to be the first complete book printed in Delitzsch, preceded only by a funeral sermon (cf. Benzing p. 81).  A variant issue has the appendix in 22 instead of 15 leaves. (The imprint date “1701” occasionally cited by bibliographers is an error due to the blurred impression of the red-printed date on the title-page.) NUC & OCLC locate 5 US copies. Ferguson I:456 (part 2 in 15 ff. as here); Blake, p. 241; Wellcome III:383; Rosenthal, Bibliotheca magica, 473 (the last two with the appendix in 22 ff.).

III: Third edition (1st 1693), an original work containing dozens of recipes for assaying, smelting, and purifying metals. A search of OCLC & NUC reveals one US copy of the 1693 edition (Penn) only.

On Kellner, cf. DSB 7:283-4; Partington II:731; Schmieder, Geschichte der Alchemie, p. 513; Poggendorf I:1240.
Item #2373

Price: $5,200.00

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