Fossil sharks’ teeth, here described as petrified serpents’ tongues in Anselmus de Boodt’s Gemmarum Et Lapidum Historia, which was one of the first published examples of a classification scheme for minerals. (Hanoviae: typis Wechelianis apud Cladium Marnium and heredes Ioannis Aubrii, 1609. (Special Collections, University of Delaware Library, Newark, Delaware).

Feb. 26-March 31: 'Alchemy and Mineralogy'

Library sets 'Alchemy and Mineralogy: Selections from the Unidel Collection'


8:28 a.m., Feb. 23, 2016--The University of Delaware Library has announced the opening of a new single-case exhibition, “Alchemy and Mineralogy: Selections from the Unidel Collection,” which will be on display from Feb. 26 through March 31 in the Information Area on the first floor of the Morris Library.

The University of Delaware Library’s Special Collections are home to a vast selection of primary sources on the history of science and technology, at the core of which is the Unidel History of Chemistry Collection, which holds nearly 3,000 rare books and manuscripts on the history of chemistry and its precursor, alchemy. 

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The collection had its origins in the 1968 acquisition, with the support of the Unidel Foundation, of over 2,000 volumes that had been assembled by an Italian chemical engineer. To this day, Special Collections continues to add to its holdings on the history of science.

This exhibit presents a selection of Early Modern books and manuscripts related to alchemy, mineralogy, and other related sciences. Although it may seem strange today to see alchemy in the company of the sciences, the two were once linked closely together, and alchemy’s own golden age occurred alongside the Scientific Revolution in the Early Modern period. 

Although many of alchemy’s precepts have long since been discredited, the discipline did place a focus on practical work combined with theoretical speculation, with experiments and investigative techniques not unlike the scientific method that is used today. 

The selected items on display showcase the variety of scientific and pseudo-scientific work that were performed in past centuries, and which, in some cases, have paved the way to the scientific research of today.

“Alchemy and Mineralogy: Selections from the Unidel Collection” is curated by Alexander C. Johnston, senior assistant librarian, Special Collections department, with exhibition preparation by Timothy English, library assistant III, Special Collections Department. 

The exhibition will be available online at this website

Holdings of the Special Collections Department of the University of Delaware Library include books, manuscripts, maps, prints, photographs, broadsides, periodicals, pamphlets, ephemera and realia from the 15th to the 21st century. 

The collections complement the library's general collections with particular strengths in the subject areas of the arts; English, Irish and American literature; history and Delawareana; horticulture; and history of science and technology.

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