Acc No2013/89
TitleAlchemical manuscripts of George Erskine: The Ripley Scroll
Date17th century
Description Of ItemThe scroll contains a series of pictures which purport to illustrates the steps necessary for the acquisition of the philosopher's Stone with text in Latin and alchemical poems by George Ripley. The sequence of emblems is a version of the pattern most often found in these scrolls and consists of a series of figures. The scroll is 18 feet long and 23 inches wide and consists of sheets of parchment attached to linen with a roller at the top and a wooden bar at the bottom. At the top is an inscription by George Cromartie, the donor, written in 1707.

This is an example of a group of alchemical scrolls which are associated with John Dee who is thought to have commissioned one or more at Lubeck in 1588. There are known to be 16 scrolls in the UK and a further 5 in other countries. The provenance is obscure. This scroll has its origins traceable back to the 1640s at the latest. Erskine was in contact with the Rosicrucians of Hess so it is possible that they brought the scroll to Erskine.

George Ripley was an Augustinian and a canon of Bridlington who had studied in Italy before returning to England, by 1471, to study alchemy. He published 'The Compound of Alchemie' in 1471 and dedicated it to Edward IV and in 1476, he published 'Medulla Alchimiae' dedicated to George Neville, the Archbishop of York. He was also the first to popularise the works attributed to Raymond Lull or Lully which were translated into Latin in 1445.

A detailed description of the panels can be found in an article by W Moncrieff in 'Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland', 11, 1875-76.
Extent1 scroll
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