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1665 - Book of Alchemical Secrets Written by a Woman

1665 - Book of Alchemical Secrets Written by a Woman


Isabella Cortese (f. 1561) is among the handful of women alchemists to have published books that survive.  Indeed, her Book of Secrets, written in Italian rather than Latin, would prove extremely popular, going into a dozen or so editions.  In this work she declares that alchemists should reject slavish appeals to authorities and trust experiments for which she provides on everything from cosmetics and perfumes to the preparation of alcohols, acids and even the Stone of the Philosophers.  It’s truly an amazing volume and a great insight into the alchemical practices of the period from the rare point of view of a woman.  In fact, I’ve decided to name my commercial absinthe for Isabella Cortese - a rather rare and choice volume!


1665 - Half leather binding on parchment plates, spine with four raised bands bearing red label with handwritten author and title. Copy with the binding retouched on the spine, complete and in good internal condition. [24], 329 numbered pages.

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