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A Table Containing the General Heads of Natural Magick

"Preface To The Reader"

The Sixth Book of Natural Magick

"Of Counterfeiting Precious Stones"




The Proeme

Chapter I - "Of certain Salts used in the composition of Gems."

Chapter II - "How Flint, or Crystal is to prepared, and how Pastils are boiled."

Chapter III - "Of the fornace, and the Parts thereof."

Chapter IV - "To Make Colors."

Chapter V - "How Gems are Colored."

Chapter VI - "How Gems may otherwise be made."

Chapter VII - "Of Several Tinctures of Crystal."

Chapter VIII - "Of making Smalt or Enamel."

Chapter IX - "To make Smalt of a clear rose color."

Chapter X - "Of leaves of Metal to be put under Gems."

Chapter XI - "How leaves of Metals are to be Polished."

Chapter XII - "Of building a Fornace for the coloring of Plates."

Chapter XIII - "How rays are to be colored by a mixture of Metals."

The Proeme

From the adulterating of metals, we shall pass to the counterfeiting of jewels.  They are by the same reason, both arts of kin, and done by the fire.  And it is no fraud, says Pliny, to get gain to live by.  And the desire of  money has so kindled the firebrand of luxury, that the most cunning artists are sometimes cheated.  They are counterfeited by diverse ways, either by cutting jewels in the middle, and putting in the colors, and joining them together.  Or else by giving a tincture to Crystal that is all one piece, or counterfeiting Crystal by many ingredients, or we shall attempt to make true jewels to depart from their proper color, and all of them to be so handsomely colored, that they may show like natural jewels.  Lastly, I shall show how to made Smalt of divers colors.

Chapter I

"Of certain Salts used in the composition of Gems."

E will first set down certain operations, which are very necessary in the making of gems, lest we be forced to repeat the same thing over again.  And first,

"How to make Salt Soda."

The herb Kali or Saltwort is commonly called Soda.  Grind this Soda very small, and sift it into a powder.  Put it into a Brass Cauldron and boil it, pouring in for every pound of Soda, a Firkin of water.  Let it boil for four hours, till the water be consumed to a third part.  Then take it form the fire, and let it stand twelve hours, while the dregs settle to the bottom, and the water becomes clear.  Then drain out the water with a Linen cloth, into another vessel, and pour fresh water into the Cauldron.  Boil it again, and when it is cold, as before, and all the dross settled, filtrate the clear water out again.  Do as much the third time, still having a care to try with your tongue, whether it be still Salt.  At last, strain the water, and set it in an earthen vessel over the fire, keeping a constant fire under it, until the moisture being almost consumed, the water grow more thick, and be condensed to Salt, which must presently be taken out with an Iron ladle, and of five pounds of Soda, you will have one pound of Salt.

"How to make Salt of Tartar."

Take the Lees of old wine, and dry it carefully.  It is commonly called Tartar.  Put into an Alimbeck, made in such sort, that the flame may be retorted from the top, and so augment the heat.  There let it burn, you will see it grow white, then turn it with your Iron Tongs, so that the upper part which is white may be at bottom, and turn the back up to the flame.  When it has ceased smoking, take it out, and break part of it, to see whether it be white quite through, for that is an argument of the sufficient burning, because it often happens, that the outside only is burned, and the rest of it remains crude. Therefore, when it has gained the color of Chalk, it must be taken out.  And when it is cold, grind it, and lay it in water in some wide-mouthed vessel a quarter of a day.  When the water is grown clear, filtrate it, and strain it into another vessel, and the pour water again unto the settlement, observing the same things we spoke of before, until the water has taken out all the Salt, which will come to pass in the third or fourth time.  Pour your water under it, and attend the work until the water be consumed by the force of the fire, which being done, the Salt will stick to the bottom.  It being thus made, preserve it in a dry place, lest it turn to oil.

Chapter II

"How Flint, or Crystal is to prepared, and how Pastils are boiled."

The matter of which gems are made, is either Crystal or Flint, from whence we strike fire, or round pebbles found by the river sides.  Those are the best which are taken up by the river Thames, white, clear, and of the bigness of an Egg.  For of those are made best counterfeit gems, though all will serve in some sort.  Some think that Crystal is the best for this purpose, because of the brightness and transparency of it, but they are deceived.  The way of making gems, is this, take river pebbles and put them into a Fornace, in that place where the retorted flame is most intense.  When they are red hot, take them out and fling them into water.  Then dry them, and powder them in a Mortar, or a Handmill, until they are very fine, put them into a wide-mouthed vessel, full of rain water, and shake it well in your hands, for so the  finest part will rise to the top, and the grossest will settle to the bottom.  To that which swims at top, pour fresh water, and stir the dust again.  And do this often, until the gross part be quite separated and sunk down.  Then take out the water, and let it settle, and in the bottom there will lie a certain filmy matter.  Gather together, and reserve the refined powder.  But while the stone is ground, both the Mortar and the mill will lose somewhat of themselves, which being mixed with the powder will foul the gem.  Therefore it is worth the labor to wash that away.  To which end, let water be often poured into the Lavel, and stirred about, the dust of the Mortar will rise to the top, by reason of its levity, and powder of pebbles will retire to the bottom by the reason of its weight.  Skim the Lavel, and separate them with a spoon, till all that sandy and black dust be taken off, then strain out the water, and reserve the powder to dry.  These being done, we must teach,

"How Pastils are boiled."

Artificers call those pellets which are made of salts, and the forenamed powder and water, Pastils.  Take five parts of Salt of Tartar, as many of Salt of Soda, double the quantity of these of the fore spoken powder of pebbles, and mix them very well in a stone Mortar.  Sprinkle them with water and wet them, so that they may grow into a paste, and make Pastils of them in bigness of your fist.  Set them in the Sun, and dry them well.  Then put them into a Fornace of reverberation, the space of six hours, increasing the fire by degrees, that at last they may become red hot, but not melt, therefore use no Bellows.  When they are baked enough, let them cool, and they will become so hard, that they will endure almost the Hammer.

Chapter III

"Of the Fornace, and the Parts thereof."

Now the Fornace  is to be built, which is like to that of Glass makers, but less according to the proportion of the work.  Let your Fornace be eight foot high, and consist of two vaults, the roof the lower must be a handful and a half thick.  The vault itself must have a little door, by which you may cast in wood to feed the fire there.  Let it also have on the top, and in the middle of its roof, a hole about a foot in breadth, by which the flame may penetrate into the second vault, and reach the upper roof, whence the flame being reverberated, does cause a vehement heat.  In this upper vault there must be cut out in the wall small holes of a handful in breadth, which must open and shut, to set the pots and pans in on the floor, and to take them out again.  Artificers call these pots Crucibles.  They are made of Clay, which is brought from Valencia, and does very strongly endure fire.  They must be a finger thick, and a foot and a half deep, their bottom somewhat thicker, lest they should break with the force of the fire.  All things thus provided, cast in your wood and fire, and the Fornace heat by degrees, so that it may be perfectly hot in a quarter of a day.  Your workmen must be diligent to perform their duty, then let the Pastils, being broken into pieces about the bigness of a Walnut, be put in Crucibles, and set in the holes of the Fornace built for that purpose, with a pair of Iron Tongs to every pot.  When they melt, they will rise up in bubbles, growing greater and greater, must be pricked with sharp wires, that the vapor passing out, the bubbles may sink down again, and not run over the mouth of the Crucibles.  Then let other pieces be put in, and do as before, until the pots be filled to the top.  And continue the fire for a whole day, until the matter be concocted.  Then put an Iron hook into the pots, and try whether the matter has obtained a perfect transparency.  Which if it has, take it out of the post with Iron instruments for that purpose, and cast it into clear water, to wash off the filth and stains, and to purge out the Salt.  For when gems are made, on a sudden the Salt breaks forth, as if it were pulled out, and overcast them like a cloud.  Yet there must be a great deal of diligence used.  While you draw out this vitrified matter, let it touch the sides of the Fornace for it will cleave thereto like Birdlime, hardly to be pulled off without a part of the wall.  As also lest it fall into the vessels.  For it is very difficult again to separate it, and it prejudices the clearness of the Glass.  When it is cold, put it again into the Crucibles, and let it glow for two days, until it be concocted into perfect Glass.  When this vitrified matter has stood so for two days, some, to make it more fine and bright, lest it should be specked with certain little bubbles (to which Glass is very subject) put into the Crucible some White Lead, which presently grows red, when melts with the Glass and becomes clear and perspicuous.  Make your withdrawal then with an Iron  hook, for if it be clear of those bubble, it is perfected, and so will be a perfect mass of gems.  Now we will teach the several colors, yellow, green, or blue, wherein we will cast our gems.

Chapter IV

"To Make Colors."

While the Crystal is preparing in the Fornace, by the same fire the colors may also be made.  And first,

"How to make Crocus of Iron."

Take three or four pounds of the Limature of iron, wash it well in a broad vessel, for by putting it into water, the weight of the Iron will carry that to the bottom, but the straws and chips, and such kind of filth, will swim on the top, so you will have your filings clean and washed.  Then dry it well, and put it into an earthen glazed pot with a large mouth, and pour into it three or four gallons of the best and sharpest Vinegar.  There let it macerate three or four weeks, stirring it every day seven or eight times with an Iron rod.  Then giving it time to settle, pour out the Vinegar into another pot, and put fresh Vinegar into the Iron, and do this, till the Vinegar has consumed all the filings.  Then put all the Vinegar into an earthen vessel, and set it on the fire, and let it boil quite away.  In the bottom there will remain a filmy dirty matter, mixed with kind of a fatness of the Iron, which the fire by continuance will catch hold of.  Let it burn, and the remaining dust will be Crocus of iron.  Others file your rusty nails, and heating them red hot, quench them in Vinegar, then strain them and dry the rust, and set it again to the fire, till it be red hot, then quench it again with Vinegar, and this they do three or four times.  At length they boil the Vinegar away, and take the remaining Crocus from the bottom.  Next remains to show,

"How to reduce Zaphara into Powder."

A little window is to be made out of the side of the Fornace, nigh to which must be built a little cell or oven, so joined to the mouth of the oven, that the flame may be brought in through a little hole.  Let this cell have a little door without, to admit the workman's hand upon occasion.  Let this cell be a foot in length and breadth.  Set the Zaphara upon a potters tile, into the cell, and shut the door.  Let it be red hot, and after six hours take it out and put it into water, so will it cleave into pieces.  Let it be dried, stamped, and so finely seirced, that it may scarce be felt.  But if it cannot be effected with a pestle and mortar, pour water upon the powder, and stir it with your hands, and let it settle for a while, then strain it into another vessel, and pour fresh water into the powder, and reiterate this so often, till that which settles, being beat and brayed, do pass through with water.  Then dry it, and it will become very fine powder.

"How to burn Copper."

Set the filings of Copper, with an equal quantity of Salt mixed in an earthen pot, over the fire, and turn it about three or four hours with an Iron hook, that it may be burned on all sides.  There let it burn a whole day.  Then take it out, and divide it into two parts, lay the one part aside, and set the other with Salt on the fire again, for an artificial day.  Do the same three or four times, that it may be more perfectly Calcined, always having a care that it be as hot as may be, but that it melts not.  When it is burnt, it is black.

Chapter V

"How Gems are colored."

All things being thus prepared, there is nothing more, I think, remains to make an end of this work, but to know how to color them.  And we begin with the way,

"How to dye a Sapphire."

Artificers begin with a Sapphire.  For when it is colored, unless it be presently removed from the fire, it loses its tincture, and the longer it remains in the fire, the brighter it grows.  Put a little Zaphara , as they call it, into a pot of glass, and two Drachms to a pound of Glass, then stir it continually from top to bottom with an Iron hook.  When it is very well mixed, make trial whether the color please you or no, by taking a little out of the pot.  If it be too faint, add some more Zaphara, if too deep, put in more Glass, and let it boil for six hours.  Thus you may,

"Color Cyanus,"

Or Seawater, another kind of Sapphire.  Beat your Calcined brass into very fine powder, that you may scarce feel it, for otherwise it will mix with the crystal, and make it courser.  The quantity cannot be defined, for there are lighter and deeper of that kind.  For the most part, for one pound one Drachm will be sufficient.

"How to counterfeit the color of Amethyst."

To a pound of Crystal, put a dram of that they call Manganess, and so the color is made.  If the gem be great, make it paler, if small, make it deeper.  For they use such for rings, and other uses.

"To counterfeit the Topaz."

To every pound of Glass, add a quarter of an ounce of Crocus of iron, and three ounces of red lead, to make it of a brighter red.  First put in the lead, then the Crocus of iron.

"The Chrysolite."

When you have made a Topaz, and would have a Chrysolite, add a little more Copper, that it may have a little verdure.  For the Chrysolite differs from the Topaz in nothing, but that it has a greater luster.  So we are wont,

"To Counterfeit an Emerald."

This shall be the last.  For we must let our work be as quick as possible, because the Copper being heavy, when it is mixed with the Crystal, does presently sink down to the bottom of the pots, and so the gems will be too pale of a color.  Therefore thus you must do.  When you give the tincture to a Cyanus, you may easily turn it into a Smaragde, by adding Crocus of iron, in half the quantity of the Copper or Brass, viz., if at first you put in a forth part of Copper.  Now you must add an eighth part of Crocus of iron, and as much Copper.  After the colors are cast in, let it boil six hours, that the material may grow clear again.  For the casting in the colors will make them contract a cloudiness.  Afterwards let the fire decrease by degrees, until the Fornace be cold.  Then take out the pots and break them, wherein you shall find your counterfeit precious stones.

Chapter VI

"How Gems may be otherwise made."

The manner which I have set down, is peculiar and usual to our artificers, and by them is also accounted a secret.  But I will set down another way, which I had determined always to keep secret to myself.  For by it are made with less charge, less time, and less labor, much more refulgent, bright, and livelier gems.  Whose surfaces and luster, the Salt shall not deface in a much longer time.  Although those old counterfeits which are found at Puteoli, in the Mortar of ruined houses, and on the shores, are yet very bright, and of a perfect clearness, so that they  seem beyond the imitation of our age.  Yet I will endeavor by this way, not only to equal them, but make them much better.  Wherefore give ear, and believe.  The materials are thus made.  Take the comb of a Cock, and cutting his gullet in two, keep the head and neck.  Put it into a pot, and set it in a hard fire.  Stop it close that no coals or ashes arising with the smoke, or soot, fall in, and spoil the luster of it.  When the fire is kindled, you will hear it hiss.  When it is red hot, take it up with Iron tongs, and quench it in clear water, and dry it.  Do this three times, changing the water, lest there be any filth.  Then grind it on a Marble till it be so fine that you may blow it about, and reserve it for use.  Thence