The Art of Distillation, or A Treatise of the Choicest Spagyricall Preparations performed by way of Distillation. Together with the Description of the Chiefest Furnaces and Vessels used by Ancient and Moderne Chymists. Also, A Discourse of divers Spagyricall Experiment, and Curiosities: And the Anatomy of Gold and Silver, with the Chiefest Preparations and Curiosities thereof; together with their Vertues. To which is added, The London-Distiller: Exactly and truly shewing the way (in words at length, and not in mysterious Characters and Figures) to Draw all Sorts of Spirits and Strong-Waters: To which is added their Vertues: With the Additions of other Excellent Waters. - John French 1653 - Printed by E. Cotes, London - Second Edition, with First Edition of London-Distiller There is a glut of chemical books, but a scarcity of chemical truths

A rare example of one of the earliest English works on distillation, in the original boards, sheets loose, all housed in a custom made leather clamshell case and matching marbled card chemise.

Complete with 42 woodcut illustrations showing various methods of distilling, and the apparatus for re-distillation, as well as decorated Initials and headpieces. This second edition was published together with the first appearance of French’s new work ‘
The London Distiller’ which provides sections with recipes and calculations for various specific spirits and medicinal waters, complete with 1 woodcut.

‘In addition to much practical information on furnaces and preparations the work contains a number of curious recipes’ [Gabler].

Compiled by French, the Oxford educated Doctor of Physic, who had earlier translated Glauber’s
Furni, Novi Philosophici, considered by many to be the most important chemical treatise of the 17th century.
  ‘French (1616?-1657), an army physician, was well versed in the literature of the period and in 1651 or 1652 he published a translation of Glauber’s Furni, Novi Philosophici, considered by many to be the most important chemical treatise of the 17th century. “Spagirie” is derived from two contradictory Greek verbs meaning “to extract” and “to combine” and denoted early chemistry or alchemy. A spagiste was a doctor who diagnosed diseases purely on chemical theories. The application of chemistry to medicine was popular with medical schools in the Netherlands in the 17th century. Many of the woodcuts in this work are also used in Glauber’s and are copied from the original edition.’ - Gabler, Wine into Words.

‘In 1633 he was entered at New Inn Hall, Oxford, where he took the degrees in arts, B.A. 19 Oct. 1637, M.A. 9 July 1640, then 'entred on the physic line, practised his faculty in the parliament army by the encouragement of the Fiennes, men of authority in the said army, and at length became one of the two physicians to the whole army, under the conduct of sir Thomas Fairfax, knight. On 14 April 1648, at which time the earl of Pembroke visited this university, he was actually created doctor of physic, being about that time physician to the hospital called the Savoy.' He died in October or November in sixteen hundred fifty and seven, at, or near, Bullogne in France, being then physician to the English army there.’ - DNB.

‘This edition included the 'London Distiller' for the first time. In addition to much practical information on furnaces and preparations the work contains a number of curious recipes. The author borrowed some of the woodcuts and preparations from his translation of 'New Philosophical Furnaces of Glauber’ – William Cole,
Chemical Literature.

Provenance: James Jolliffe with his contemporary signature to title and dedication page.

References: ‘
Art of Distillation, with The London-Distiller’: Gabler Wine into Words G20990, G20995. Simon Bibliotheca Vinaria 151. Simon, Bibliotheca Gastronomica ,715, 717. Bitting, Gastronomic Bibliography, 167. William Cole, Chemical Literature 1700-1860, 942. Buxton & Hughes, The Science and Commerce of Whisky 1, 37; ‘Art of Distillation’: Crahan, 116 uncommon Books on Food and Drink, 57. Sotheby’s, Marcus and Elizabeth Crahan Collection (1984), 144.

Book size 19.1x14cm, pp. [1 (title)] [1] [4 (dedication)] [10 (To the Reader)] 191; [1 (title)] [1] 3-64; [16 (An Alphabetical Table of all the Oils, Waters, Experiments, and Curiosities contained in the six foregoing books)]

Collated 4/3/2020: 17 decorated headpieces, 11 decorated initials, 43 woodcuts - Art of distillation 42; London Distiller 1.
Art of Distillation
7 Thick decorated headpieces - Dedication, 1, 44, 63, 89, 105, 167.
2 Thin decorated headpieces - To the reader, 188.
8 Decorated initials - Dedication, To the Reader, 1, 44, 63, 89, 105, 167.
36 Woodcuts of apparatus - 5, 6, 7, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 23, 24, 25, 27, 28, 29, 29, 31, 41, 42, 44, 64, 64, 71, 75, 83, 83, 88, 120, 121, 141, 142, 143, 144, 146, 148, *153.
5 Woodcuts of apparatus in action enclosed in twin line bordered frame - 8, 67, 76, 112, 150.
1 Woodcut illustration of a fire - *151.
1 Small block decoration - Title page
7 Thick decorated headpieces - 3, 6, 9, 36, 43, 62, 65,
1 Thin decorated headpieces - Page 12 of ’
The Table’ at rear.
3 Decorated initials - 3, 6, 36,
1 Woodcut of apparatus - 42 (a repeat of the woodcut in ‘
Art of Distillation’ page 25 ‘The Furnace used in the drawing of the preceding Spirits and waters’).
  Housed in custom clamshell case of tan calf over marbled boards, spine lettered in gilt, felt lined, additional matching marbled card chemise.   Condition: Clean with some browning to edges and light watermarks to lower edges of later pages not affecting text, final pages with some creasing to corners, sheets loose, with remains of stitching, remainder of original boards, in fine clamshell case and chemise.   Ref: 109668   Price: HK$ 23,000