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Recent Acquisitions

The Emerald Tablet

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THE EMERALD TABLET

Recently acquired by The Ritman Library: The Emerald Tablet one of the root texts of alchemy is a brief alchemical work attributed to Hermes Trismegistus. Historically the work is part of the Hermetic corpus and seems to have the same origins as the rest of the Corpus Hermeticum.

Covers-4-4231-300x225The text was discovered, according to one version of the legend, by Apollonius of Tyana. After an earthquake a passageway opened up beneath a statue that led to a subterranean chamber. Seated there was a statue of Hermes Trismegistus holding a tablet of green stone (smaragda) engraved with the text of what is now known as the Emerald Tablet. The earliest known surviving texts are attributed to Apollonius of Tyana and it is the Arabic and Latin versions that are considered in this new work.

This edition is a collection of new translations of those earliest extant Arabic and Latin versions with accompanying essay and commentary. It is a distillation of the chapter on the Emerald Tablet in my forthcoming book Alchemy: The Poetry of Matter. There I present a more complete discussion, analysis and experimentation. Here I present it as a Hermetic work of art – a talismanic book in form, function and result. The Emerald Tablet is not only a fresh contribution to alchemical studies it is also an example of book art at its finest.

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Drawing on the elements of Islamic and Western sacred geometry in their design, the two cover emblems visually indicate the Arabic side and the Latin side of the book. The overall design and typesetting from case to cover to page to word to letter evolved from the same Hermetic principles and follows from these same geometries.

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This publication is a collection of new translations of the earliest extant Arabic and Latin versions with accompanying essay and commentary.

The Emerald Tablet is not only a fresh contribution to alchemical studies it is also an example of book art at its finest. Drawing on the elements of Islamic and Western sacred geometry in their design, the two cover emblems visually indicate the Arabic side and the Latin side of the book. The overall design and typesetting follow from these same geometries.

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Designed by Brian Cotnoir. Typeset by Lara Captan – English and Latin in Seria & Seria Sans by Martin Majoor; the Arabic in DecoType Naskh by Thomas Milo & Mirjam Somers. Letterpress printed by Roni Gross on Magnani Book paper with marbled end sheets. Cover Emblem Designs by Daud Sutton. Bound by Biruta Auna. Polymer plates by Boxcar Press.

Text by Brian Cotnoir http://khepripress.com/the-emerald-tablet/

Brian Cotnoir is an alchemist, artist, and award-winning filmmaker. Author of The Weiser Concise Guide to AlchemyThe Emerald Tablet, and Alchemical Meditations, he is currently writing his next book, Alchemy: The Poetry of Matter.

The contents of this blog expresses the author’s own ideas and opinions. If you would also like to post a blog with content relevant to the BPH please contact us at bph@ritmanlibrary.nl. The Ritman Library reserves the right not to post blogs that have no bearing on any of the library’s collecting areas.

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