[Waite, Arthur Edward] Valentinus, Basilius | The Triumphal Chariot of Antimony
First edition of mystic Arthur E. Waite’s translation of this key alchemical text. Rare in commerce: we can locate only three other copies in auction records since 1915, at Swann in 2000 and 1998.
The mysterious Basil Valentine was “one of the most celebrated figures of early modern chymistry” (Principe, The Secrets of Alchemy, p. 138). Though described as the work of a 15th-century German monk, his large corpus was likely the work of several authors beginning in the 1590s, primarily Johann Thölde (1565-1624), a salt manufacturer who published the first five books that appeared under Valentine’s name.
“The most famous book in the Valentine corpus appeared in 1604 under the grand title of The Triumphal Chariot of Antimony (Der Triumph-Wagen Antimonii). The first part is largely theoretical, while the second contains about two dozen practical preparations seemingly very clearly described, based on antimony. Today, antimony is known as a fairly rare, semimetallic element of moderate toxicity... but for early modern chymists it was a source of inexhaustible fascination. Despite the toxicity of antimony compounds, most of Valentine’s preparations are pharmaceutical... The Triumphal Chariot’s emphasis on transforming poisons into pharmaceuticals, and its vitriolic condemnations of the medical establishment, places it firmly in the tradition of Parcelsianism.” (Principe, The Secrets of Alchemy, p. 140).
Arthur Edward Waite (1857-1942) is perhaps best known as co-creator of the famed Raider-Waite-Smith tarot deck. He was involved with numerous aspects of turn-of-the-century mysticism and the occult, including the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia, and his own organisation, the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross. Waite was also a prolific author, publishing widely on the history of esotericism, alchemy, ceremonial magic, Kabbalah, the Holy Grail, and Freemasonry, and preparing translations of a number of important texts in these traditions.
...With the Commentary of Theodore Kerckringius. Being the Latin Version Published at Amsterdam in the Year 1685 Translated into English, with a Biographical Preface. London: James Elliott and Co., 1893.
Octavo. Original black cloth blocked in red, titles to spine gilt. 4 page publisher’s ads at rear. Frontispiece, illustrations within the text. Pencilled circling and check marks to the publisher’s ads. Spine rolled, cloth a little rubbed with some spots and scuffs, slight wear to the tips and ends of spine, contents tanned. A very good copy.