PANTHEO, Giovanni Agostino (fl.1517-1530). Ars et theoria transmutationis metallicae cum Voarchadumia, proportionibus, numeris, & iconibus rei accommodis illustrata. Paris: Vivant Gaultherot, 1550.
2 parts in one volume, 8° (165 x 108 mm). General title, and separate title to second part. Roman and exotic types. Woodcut world map on title of first part. Woodcut illustrations and diagrams, 15 full-page, letterpress tables, woodcut initials and ornaments. (Variable light browning, light staining, principally affecting the first part, upper margins of second part a little wormed.) Early vellum, lettered in manuscript on the spine (vellum discoloured and cockled, lacking ties, hinges split). Provenance: traces of bookplate removed from front free endpaper -- Joseph A. Freilich (booklabel; his sale, Sotheby's NY, 10-11 January 2001, lot 422).
TWO ALCHEMICAL TEXTS BY A VENETIAN PRIEST; 'RARE ET RECHERCHé' (Caillet). Ferguson notes that, although a priest, Pantheo 'seems ... to have been devoted to chemical research'. His Ars et theoria ... (first published Venice: 1519) was dedicated to Pope Leo X, and, in the preface addressed Leo, Pantheo states that his work was 'very recently put together from varied readings of the philosophers. He wishes it to contain the sincere truth of the secret of transmutation, to abolish deceits and incredulity, to reveal the stone to the sons of wisdom and to conceal it from the ignorant .... Similarly in a second preface to the reader he promises to elucidate completely this most weighty theme of the transmutation of metals' (L. Thorndike A History of Magic and Experimental Science (NY: 1941), V, p.538). Thorndike suggests that Voarchadumia contra alchimiam (Venice: 1530) was the result of Pantheo's realisation that he was vulnerable to both papal and Venetian decrees against alchemy; as the title indicates, 'he now professed to be writing not on alchemy, but on Voarchadumia, an art distinct from alchemy. This Voarchadumia he represented as true wisdom, the very opposite of alchemy, a sort of ''cabala of metals,'' handed down from Tubal Cain through the Chaldeans and Indians .... Yet he repeats most of his work of 1518 in the course of Voarchadumia' (Thorndike, op. cit., p.540). The works are also of interest for the sections dealing with the assaying of gold and the chemical preparation of substances with practical purposes, such as white lead, and an alloy used for mirrors. This combined edition of the two texts is rare; the present copy is the only one recorded at auction since 1975. Adams P-184 (one incomplete copy); Caillet 8274; Duveen Bibliotheca alchemica et chemica p.450; Ferguson II, pp.166-7; Wellcome I, 4724.