BECHER, Johann Joachim (1635-1682). Actorum Laboratorii Chymici Monacensis, seu Physicae subterraneae libri duo. Frankfurt: for Johann David Zunner, 1667.
8o (156 x 92 mm). Folding engraved frontispiece, representing the earth as a matrix (some stains and repairs with slight loss). (Title-page with lower margin clipped, some browning and staining to text.) Modern calf, spine gilt. Provenance: early owner's signature deleted on title-page.
FIRST EDITION OF BECKER'S IMPORTANT WORK CONTAINING HIS THEORY OF MATTER. In the tradition of Paracelsus and Helmont, Becher set forth in this work his alchemical and chemical theories. As represented symbolically in the frontispiece of this work, Becher believed that air, water and earth were the true elementary principles, with the latter two forming the basis of all material things. He disagreed with the traditional theories of the four elements, as well as the Paracelsian principles of sulfur, salt and mercury. "An important work, which contains Becher's theory of matter, later adopted by his pupil [Georg Ernst] Stahl, and therefore the basis of the phlogiston theory. It was Becher's assumption that on burning substances or calcining metals the 'terra pinguis' escaped" (Duveen). Despite the reference to a second book on the title, the work consists of only one book; two supplements were added later (see below). BM/STC German (17th-c.) B487; Duveen p. 56; NLM/Krivatsy 981; Partington II, pp. 637-52; Wellcome II, p. 125; Norman 153.
BECHER, Johann Joachim. Experimentum chymicum novum, quo artificialis & instantanea metallorum generatio & transmutatio ad oculum demonstratur. Frankfurt: Heinrich Friese for Johann David Zunner, 1671. 8o. (Some browning and spotting.) FIRST EDITION of the first supplement to the Physica subterranea, dealing with the generation and transmutation of metals. The work is a defence of alchemy directed against his opponent, Werner Rolfinck. "Becher accepted the common belief of his time that metals grow in the earth" (Norman). A second supplement was published in 1675, also by Zunner. See BM/STC German (17th-c.) B487; Duveen, p. 56; Norman 154.