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Alchemy discussion forum > Alchemical Symbolism and Imagery > Alchemy Symbolism and Imagery > Images of Edward Kelly's 'Theatrum astronomiae terrestris'

Images of Edward Kelly's 'Theatrum astronomiae terrestris'
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adammclean
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 Posted: Fri Dec 5th, 2008 11:22 am
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I have discovered a version of the Edward Kelly  Theatrum astronomiae terrestris in an 18th century manuscript in Dresden. This has some rather fine coloured drawings. I only have access to a few greyscale images but have written to the library requesting scans of the coloured images.
The original work supposed to be by Edward Kelly was not printed till 1676 where it was illustrated with a series of small circular woodcuts.  There does not appears to be an earlier manuscript, so one is uncertain as to whether this was actually written at the time of Kelly  or invented shortly before the printed book appeared, though the material certainly appears consistent with a late 16th century origin.

Here I show my own coloured version of the circular woodcut alongside the black and white image of the corresponding figure from the Dresden manuscript.





Attached Image (viewed 1031 times):

kelly dresden.jpg

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Fri Dec 5th, 2008 11:54 am
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Harvard has a copy that they date to 1594 - MS LAT 16:

http://hcl.harvard.edu/libraries/houghton/collections/early_manuscripts/bibliographies/Lat.html

"Transcription in an unidentified hand followed by miscellaneous notes on alchemy in Latin and French. 16 pen and ink drawings illustrate Kelly’s treatise."

adammclean
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 Posted: Fri Dec 5th, 2008 02:17 pm
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I will order a microfilm. It will be interesting to see if this manuscript is in the hand of Kelly.

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Fri Dec 5th, 2008 04:28 pm
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The MS bears an interesting inscription, according to the Harvard cataloguers:

"This book was the bishops, that was found in his tomb in walls (?) by Sr. Edward Kelley, and not his owne."

A.E. Waite tells the story of the "bishop's book" in his "Lives of Alchemystical Philosophers". It is retold here by Reginald Merton:

http://www.alchemylab.com/kellydee.htm

"One night, the innkeeper brought out a tattered old book. He was accustomed to showing his customers, as a curiosity, an unintelligible old manuscript. He showed it to Kelly, who was quite well aware of the profit sometimes to be derived from old papers, and inquired the origin of the manuscript.

"It appeared that a few years before, during the religious wars, some Protestant soldiers had rifled the grave of a Catholic bishop, who, during his lifetime, had been a very rich man. In the grave they found this manuscript and two ivory balls, one red and the other white. They broke the red ball and, finding in it nothing but a dark powder, threw it away. The manuscript and the white ball they had left with the innkeeper in exchange for a few bottles of wine. Even as the innkeeper was showing Kelly the manuscript, his children were playing with the white ball."

adammclean
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 Posted: Fri Dec 5th, 2008 04:54 pm
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There were many invented stories about alchemists, arising especially during the 19th century. Often these were embroidered versions of fragments from manuscripts from sources such as the Ashmole collection. Barrett's work is rather unreliable. These spurious manuscripts and stories were eagerly collected by Hockley, Ayton et al. We see this in the recent publication of a supposed recipe for the stone by Kelly and Dee from the manuscript of Ayton.  Ayton was a rather gullible and uncritical collector. I am afraid that people continue to recycle these stories. The alchemylab seems to adopt an entirely uncritical view - they prefer a good story to the truth.

Hopefully with the Harvard manuscript we might get a little closer to the real Kelly.

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Fri Dec 5th, 2008 04:55 pm
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adammclean wrote:
I will order a microfilm. It will be interesting to see if this manuscript is in the hand of Kelly.



I understand that MS Sloane 3189 is believed to be in Kelly's hand. It can be inspected here:

http://www.themagickalreview.org/enochian/mss/sloane_3189.php

adammclean
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 Posted: Fri Dec 5th, 2008 05:04 pm
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I think also that Rafal Prinke is quite familiar with Kelly's hand. When I get the microfilm (it will probaby take a few months) I will also ask him to have a look at it.

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Sat Dec 6th, 2008 05:49 pm
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Paul Ferguson wrote:
The MS bears an interesting inscription, according to the Harvard cataloguers:

"This book was the bishops, that was found in his tomb in walls (?) by Sr. Edward Kelley, and not his owne."


From what I have read I think "walls" should be "Wales". I believe the story is Ashmole's and should therefore be taken with a large pinch of the proverbial,

Paul

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Sun Dec 7th, 2008 12:52 am
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Does Ludwig Combach's 1647 Geismar compilation include any bits of the Theatrum?

LUDWIG COMBACH, (1647), "Tractatus aliquot chemici singulares summum philosophorum arcanum continentes, 1. Liber de principiis naturae, & artis chemicae, incerti authoris. 2. Johannis Belye ... tractatulus novus, & alius Bernhardi Comitis Trevirensis, ex Gallico versus. Cum fragmentis Eduardi Kellaei, H. Aquilae Thuringi, & Joh. Isaaci Hollandi. 3. Fratris Ferrarii tractatus integer, hactenus fere suppressus, & in principio & fine plus quam dimidia parte mutilatus. 4. Johannis Daustenii Angli Rosarium. Opuscula partim nondum in lucem producta ...", Typis Salomonis Schadewitz, Sumptibus Sebaldi Kohlers, Geismariae.

Leigh Penman
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 Posted: Tue Dec 9th, 2008 10:06 am
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Paul Ferguson wrote: Paul Ferguson wrote:
The MS bears an interesting inscription, according to the Harvard cataloguers:

"This book was the bishops, that was found in his tomb in walls (?) by Sr. Edward Kelley, and not his owne."


From what I have read I think "walls" should be "Wales". I believe the story is Ashmole's and should therefore be taken with a large pinch of the proverbial,

Paul

It was also repeated by de Fresnoy, with all kinds of bizarre elaborations.

adammclean
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 Posted: Wed Dec 10th, 2008 05:01 pm
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Probably some of these stories emanated from Kelly himself, in order to influence the ways in which people related to him. Some were later reworked and embellished in the 19th century. Even today people make up stories related to alchemical matters.

It raises the whole question of the fabrication of alchemical stories. When viewed as a whole, one does recognise certain key narrative elements in such stories.

I have always wanted to have the famous collection of alchemical transmutation stories by Guldenfalk translated into English, however, I have never been able to find anyone willing to tackle this long German work.

Siegmund Heinrich GÜLDENFALK.
Sammlung von mehr als hundert wahrhaften Transmutations-geschichten, oder ganz ausserordentlich merkwürdige Beyspiele von Verwandlung der Metallen in Gold oder Silber nebst der Art und Weise wie damit verfahren worden.
Frankfurt, 1784.



 

adammclean
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 Posted: Wed Dec 10th, 2008 05:05 pm
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I have now received a reply back from the Dresden Library which has the Kelly  Theatrum astronomiae terrestris 18th century manuscript with coloured drawings. I will get some copies made, however, I was saddened to hear that some of the images may have sustained water damage during the Second World War.


Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Wed Dec 10th, 2008 09:14 pm
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adammclean wrote:

I have always wanted to have the famous collection of alchemical transmutation stories by Guldenfalk translated into English, however, I have never been able to find anyone willing to tackle this long German work.


A book entitled "Anecdotes Alchimiques" attributed to Goldenfalck or Guldenfalck was published in Lyons in 1783 (i.e. the year before the Sammlung was published). Heckethorn mentions it in his "Secret Societies" (1875) and Giovanni De Castro in "Il mondo secreto" (1864). Does anyone know this work and what relation (if any) it bears to the Sammlung?

Last edited on Wed Dec 10th, 2008 09:21 pm by Paul Ferguson


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