News | April 26, 2024

Important Handwritten Isaac Newton Manuscript on Alchemy to Auction


A Key to Snyders

Isaac Newton's manuscript on alchemy A Key to Snyders will be offered at Bonhams’ Important Science, Philosophy & Alchemy sale running April 28 – May 7 with an estimate of $100,000 – $150,000. One of the historic Portsmouth Papers, it was last seen at auction in 1936.

One of the most famous students of alchemy, Newton's manuscript represents a distillation of the chemical processes contained in 17th century alchemist Johann de Monte Snyders’ influential Commentatio de pharmaco catholico (1666). Newton's own copy, with plentiful annontations, is held by the Cambridge University Library.

Newton's writings suggest that his quest was to discover the method for producing the Philosopher's Stone, a guiding light in his quest to discover the principles of chemistry, which occupied him for more than 30 years and resulted in one of the largest alchemical libraries in Europe.

In his Key to Snyders, Newton - who had one of the largest alchemical libraries in Europe despite his guarded approach to the subject's research - identifies what he believes are Snyder's most important passages, along with his own interpretations, focusing on the concrete details of Snyders' chemical procedure.