What do early modern book titles like Aristotle’s Masterpiece, The Queen’s Closet, and Natural Magic all have in common? These books, printed in Europe and continuing the medieval tradition of “books of secrets,” all promise to reveal desirable technical knowledge to their privileged readers.
You’ll survey culinary recipes, magic tricks, recipes for sexual pleasure, and alchemical formulas promising to turn baser metals to gold. Authored by magicians, alchemists and artisans alike, they aim to deliver specialized knowledge to a wider readership. And while you may not find that elusive Philosopher’s Stone, you’ll have a better understanding of how modern science got its sea legs.
In this three-part series, we’ll explore The New York Academy of Medicine’s collections in the intimate after-hours setting of its beautiful Drs. Barri and Bobbi Coller Rare Book Reading Room, guided by two of its stewards.