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Detailed record for Harley 2407

Title Miscellaneous treatises on alchemy, including John Lydgate's 'The Churl and the Bird' (the latter imperfect at the beginning)
Origin England
Date 2nd half of the 15th century
Language English and Latin
Script Gothic cursive
Decoration Numerous drawings in pen with yellow shading (ff. 16v, 34v, 55-57v, 67, 68, 75v-78, 106v-11v). Text in red (ff.8-17v, 49v-50v, 75r-75v). Decorated initials in colours throughout. Spaces left blank for drawings (ff. 78v-90).
Dimensions in mm 180 x 130 (130 x 90)
Official foliation ff. 111 (+ 2 unfoliated paper flyleaves at the beginning and 2 at the end)
Form Paper and parchment codex
Binding BM/BL in-house
Provenance Marginal notations throughout, 16th century.
John Dee (b. 1527, d. 1609), mathematician, astrologer, and antiquary; a treatise 'Joannis Dee Testamentum, ad Jo.Gwynn transmissum, anno 1568', inscribed in his hand (f. 69).
Elias Ashmole (b. 1617, d. 1692) copies texts and images from Harley 2407 in his alchemical miscellany, Theatrum chemicum britannicum (1652). On pp. 213-226, Ashmole includes the text and drawings ff. 75-89v; on p. 350, he copies the illustration from f. 16v.
Added table of contents with the date 'Jan 12 67', 17th century (f. 1, 2).
Inscribed in the same hand: 'Mr. Ashmole 212' (f. 75v), which corresponds to p. 212 of Elias Ashmole's (b. 1617, d. 1692) Theatrum chemicum britannicum (1652) wherein Ashmole publishes the text and illustration from ff. 75-75v.
John Batteley (b. c.1646, d. 1708), Church of England clergyman and antiquary; bought in 1723 through his nephew, John Batteley, by Edward Harley, along with other manuscripts (see Diary 1966).
The Harley Collection, formed by Robert Harley (b. 1661, d. 1724), 1st earl of Oxford and Mortimer, politician, and Edward Harley (b. 1689, d. 1741), 2nd earl of Oxford and Mortimer, book collector and patron of the arts, inscribed as usual by their librarian, Humfrey Wanley ‘5 die Novembris, A.D. 1723’ (f. 1).
Edward Harley bequeathed the library to his widow, Henrietta Cavendish, née Holles (b. 1694, d. 1755) during her lifetime and thereafter to their daughter, Margaret Cavendish Bentinck (b. 1715, d. 1785), duchess of Portland; the manuscripts were sold by the Countess and the Duchess in 1753 to the nation for £10,000 (a fraction of their contemporary value) under the Act of Parliament that also established the British Museum; the Harley manuscripts form one of the foundation collections of the British Library.
Notes Full digital coverage available for this manuscript: see Digitised Manuscripts at http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts.
ff. 36-57 are parchment.
On f. 2v, marginal notation of a sequence of numbers '110111000001100111101000100110;' this sequence is also recorded on p. 31 of the notebook of Thomas Shakshaft (b. 1731, d. 1821) as 'An Experement betwects the English and french by 10,' which is held by the Birmingham Central Library (accession number 5564711R41). The sequence refers to the 10-man variant of the Josephus Problem.
Many of the alchemical diagrams in Harley 2407 are copied in Egerton 845. The following diagrams and illustrations correspond: Harley 2407 (ff. 55-57) and Egerton 845 (ff. 21-21v), Harley 2407 (ff. 57v, 68) and Egerton 845 (ff. 15v-16).
Many of the alchemical diagrams in Harley 2407 are copied in Sloane 1171, including Harley 2407 (f. 16v) with Sloane (f. 120) and Harley 2407 (f. 57v) with Sloane 1171 (f. 122).
Select bibliography The Diary of Humfrey Wanley 1715-1726, ed. by C. E. Wright and Ruth C. Wright, 2 vols (London: The Bibliographical Society, 1966), II, 1722-1726, p. 263.

John Dee's Library Catalogue, ed. by Julian Roberts and Andrew G. Watson,
(London: Bibliographical Society, 1990), p. 167-8.

Kathleen L. Scott, Later Gothic Manuscripts 1390-1490, A Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in the British Isles, 6, 2 vols (London: Harvey Miller, 1996), I, pp. 43, 71 n. 5, 72, n. 8, 73 n. 32, 75 n. 59.

Bowers, R. H. ‘Lydgate's "The Churl and the Bird," MS. Harley 2407, and Elias Ashmole’, Modern Language Notes, 49 (1934), 90-94.

Dorothea Waley Singer, 'An Unusual Plan of the Universe', Studies and essays in the history of science and learning offered in homage to George Sarton on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday, 31 August 1944, ed. by Ashley Montagu and George Sarton (New York: Schuman, 1969), pp. 415-19.

Dorothea Waley Singer, Annie Anderson, and Robina Addis, Catalogue of Latin and Vernacular Alchemical Manuscripts in Great Britain and Ireland Dating from before the XVI Century, 3 vols (Brussels: Lamertin, 1928-1931), III, 1040-41.

George R. Keiser, 'The Conclusion of the Canon's Yeoman's Tale: Readings and (Mis)readings', Chaucer Review, 35 (2000), 1-21 (p. 17 n. 4, 18).

George R. Keiser, 'Preserving the Heritage: Middle English Verse Treatises in Early Modern Manuscripts', Mystical Metal of Gold: Essays on Alchemy and Renaissance Culture, ed. by Stanton J. Linden, AMS Studies in the Renaissance, 42 (New York: AMS Press, 2007), 180-205 (pp. 195, 200, 202).

M.K. Corbett, 'Ashmole and the Pursuit of Alchemy: The Illustrations to the Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum, 1652', The Antiquaries Journal, 63 (1983), 326-36.


Images
* * *
 
Diagram

f. 16v
Diagram
Decorated initial

f. 54
Decorated initial
Diagram

f. 57
Diagram
 
Diagram

f. 57v
Diagram
Drawing

f. 68
Drawing
Decorated initial

f. 75v
Decorated initial
 
Drawing

f. 76
Drawing
Decorated Initial

f. 93v
Decorated Initial
Drawing

f. 107
Drawing
 

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