Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 36.djvu/837

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In 1704 a goldsmith of Lubeck, named Stolle, received a visit from a stranger, supposed to be the celebrated adept Lascaris, who, after a discussion respecting the transmutation of metals, left with him, as a proof of the possibility of the operation, an ingot weighing about a half-livre, which he said he had just made; he asked Stolle to treat it with antimony to purify it, heat it, and cut it into seven pieces. He then left two of the pieces with the goldsmith as a souvenir, and added eight ducats. One of the pieces was given to King Augustus of Poland, and the other was deposited in the collection of medals at Lubeck. They bore the inscription "O tu. . . philosophorum" ("O thou. . . of philosophers!"), which the adept had had engraved by the goldsmith.

A Provençal locksmith, named Jean Troins, who called himself the Sieur Delisle,[1] fabricated in the presence of M. de Saint-Maurice, president of the mint at Lyons, and at the Chateau SaintAuban, two ingots of "gold," one from mercury and the other from lead. On trying to strike medals from this preparation at Lyons, the minter found it "so hard that it was not possible to work it." It was then sent to Paris, to the controller-general of finance, who had a number of medals struck from it bearing the inscription "Aurum ex arte factum" ("Gold made by art"). One of the medals was deposited in the Royal Cabinet, and, according to Langlet-Dufresnoy, its allotted square was still existing at the mint in 1762. I have handled and have an impression of a piece which, although the inscription is not identical with that described by Dufresnoy, was most probably made from Delisle's metal,[2] Its density is perceptibly different from that of gold, and that should give it a place in the class of tokens without value. Some spots of verdigris disappeared under the action of nitric acid, which did not attack the rest of the metal. Delisle likewise made, under similar circumstances, but with a different powder, an ingot of "silver," from which two crowns, two half-crowns, two quarters, and three ten-sous pieces were struck.

In 1717 Landgrave Ernest Louis of Hesse-Darmstadt, who

  1. Delisle is accused of having been the servant of Lascaris, and of having assassinated him in Savoy, in order to steal his powder. After this crime, in 1706, he established himself at Sisteron, where he married and soon achieved a great local notoriety by changing nails, knives, shoe-buckles, rings, etc., of iron and steel into "gold" or "silver." Some of these transformed objects might, perhaps, still be found in the country if one should be at the pains of searching for them. Delisle resided in succession at Sisteron, the château of Palud Digne, where he is said to have enriched a merchant named Taxis; at Castellane, and at Senéz, where he performed several times before the bishop.
  2. Possibly, however, this was a mock token, like those which were struck in England in 1815, when Napoleon was sent to St. Helena. That token was just like a twenty-franc piece, and bore the figure of the emperor on one side and a ship on the other, with the inscription "This is copper."