Alembic Blog

Prints from Life: Ernst Wilhelm Martius and the History of Nature Printing

Does this print illustrating the belladonna plant look unusual to you? It's from a wonderful 18th-century book that we recently acquiredNeueste Anweisung, Pflanzen nach dem Leben abzudrucken by Wilhelm Martius. Compared to most botanical illustrations of the period (and even modern ones) this example is exceptionally detailed—you can see tiny veins in the leaves, the texture of the stem, and areas where the edges of the leaves have folded over on themselves, as if a living plant was preserved between the book's pages. And that tells us we're looking at, not a typical engraving first produced in wood or metal by an artisan, but a work of nature printing—an impression taken directly from a plant or animal.

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What's an Alembic? Alchemy, the History of Science, & Our Logo

One of the most exciting parts of starting a business is choosing your name, and as a science specialist I wanted one that would be evocative of the history of science, as well as broader concepts of discovery and knowledge. For a long time I’ve been interested in alchemy and its evolving place in the history of science, so an alchemical symbol seemed apt. And what better than the apparatus at the centre of so much alchemical, medical, and scientific work - the alembic?

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Fly Like a Bird: Carl Friederich Meerwein's Die Kunst zu Fliegen nach Art der Vögel

Our most recent acquisition is Die Kunst zu Fliegen nach Art der Vögel, a wonderful early book on mechanical flight by Carl Friederich Meerwein (1737-1810), architect and engineer to the Prince of Baden and an early aeronautical theorist and experimenter.

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