To this end the alchemists have two main objectives : to create gold by mingling sulfur and mercury and to obtain the elixir of life. In the state of knowledge of the Middle Ages such research was not aberrant. It was known how to gild the metals and to prescribe healing potions, and alchemy was indeed an additional issue of obtaining perfection by an initiatory transmission of empirical observations and by new experiments in the laboratory.
The first chemists were particularly skilled or fortunate alchemists but none of them could find the philosopher's stone or the elixir. Alchemy has fallen into disuse and has become an object of reprobation when the mechanisms of the universe have been explained by demonstrable principles. Unlike astrology which is only speculative, alchemy is an obsoleted precursor to modern science.
A Ripley scroll is a manuscript synthesis of alchemy. It is known in 23 copies which are very similar one another. The texts are partially in Middle English of the 15th century and its designation is a tribute to the most famous English alchemist from that time, George Ripley. The dates of these copies extend from the middle of the 16th century to the 18th century. The previous history of this work is not known.
The illustration of the Ripley scroll is a parody of Christian illuminations, from the alambic creation of man and woman by the alchemist and his assistants up to the liberation of the Apocalyptic monsters. The uninterrupted transition from one action to the next one in vertical scrolling is read like a fabulous comic strip. The comparison with Christianity must not go further and the instructions for use of a Ripley scroll in the secret cabinet of the alchemists remain a mystery.
Only one Ripley scroll is still in private hands. It is an assembly of seven vellum membranes of variable width for a total length of 3.70 m. It is dated 1624 in the colophon and signed by a craftsman registered in Manchester as a heraldic illustrator. This fantastic illuminated manuscript is estimated £ 200K for sale by Christie's in London on December 13, lot 22. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
SOLD for £ 580K including premium