Sixteenth Century Floor - Books of distillation room
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Beginning in the sixteenth century there appeared books of distillation. These were not directly alchemical, but were practical books for the perparation of chemical substances, plant oils, etc., using distillations. These books contained recipes and practical details of the apparatus and techniques necessary for the different kinds of distillation. Many of these were lavishly illustrated. Though these were not alchemical books as such, they provided imagery which was used by alchemists as templates for alchemical illustrations. Most of the images are of apparatus, but some took a more emblematic form.

Hieronymus von Braunschweig Das Buch zu Distillieren, 1500
Hieronymus from Brunswick in Germany was born in 1450 and died around 1512. His great contribution to human knowledge was his Liber de arte distillandi. Das buch der rechten kunst zu distillieren printed in Strassburg in 1500. It was so popular that it was issued in many editions in German, Latin and English throughout the 16th century. The first part of the work dealt with the methods and apparatus for the distillation of plant or animal products. The second part, is a compendium of the traditional herbal texts, and the third part provides a list plant remedies made by distillation grouped under the conditions they are to treat.

Closed pelican flask and receiver.

A distillation helm, within which the distillate is collected.

Two types of alembic.

Simple flask.

A Moor's head distillation apparatus. This head contains cooling water.

A continuous distillation furnace, with the large tower for fuel in the background.

Workers performing complex double distillation of the aqua vitae using a water cooled tower.

Two operators discuss the correct astrological time to make the distillation. Here when the Sun enters the constellation of Scorpio.

In an enclosed garden workers collect the correct herbs for the operator to distil.