The Fantastic World of the Ripley Scroll

Kay Sutton, director of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts, decodes the Ripley Scroll, a truly magical 17th-century alchemical treatise with a ‘rich and detailed mix of cryptic verse, legend and image’.

‘Up to the 18th century, alchemy was viewed as a proper scientific discipline, regarded perfectly seriously,’ explains Kay Sutton, Director of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts at Christie’s in London.

‘Alchemists had two objectives,’ she continues. ‘One was to manufacture the Philosopher’s Stone, a sort of mythical entity — magical, wonderful, and capable of transmuting a base metal into gold. The other aim was to manufacture the elixir that would give you eternal life and cure all ills.’

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