Colenda Digital Repository

[Secrets of wisdom].

[Secrets of wisdom].
[after 1685?]-1835
Multilingual miscellany of culinary, medical, and household chemistry recipes; esoteric and alchemical notes; trade information and accounts; and family records, compiled over more than a century, possibly by members of one Sefardic family based in or near Amsterdam or Naarden. The oldest material at the beginning of the volume (f. 1r-23v) includes a medical treatise on the doctrine of signatures and a small group of prescriptions, both in Portuguese, and a biographical introduction to the reader in Spanish signed J.C.A., which refers to the arrival of Jewish physician Benedicto de Castro in Amsterdam in 1671 (f. 12r). An excerpt from the Amsterdamsche Courant dated 1797 relatively early in the volume (f. 40r) suggests that most of the volume was written in the 19th century before 1835. Esoteric content includes astrological references (f. 7v-9v); alchemical symbols (f. 10v-11r, 62v, 140v); a spell in Hebrew for killing an enemy (f. 34r); possible incantations (f. 50r); a magic square (f. 53v); reference to the angel Uriel (f. 98r); and page citations to items of alchemical interest in the diary of the French diplomat and physicist Balthasar de Monconys, published after his death in 1665 (f. 137r-138r), Twenty printed leaves with the running title Calendrier intéressant are pasted to leaves, covering recipes and notes (some printed leaves now loose and two missing from the sequence, f. 79v-90r). These are sequential leaves (p. 3-46) from a copy of Calendrier intéressant pour l'année ..., ou Almanach physico-économique, published by the Société Typographique of Bouillon from 1770 into the early 1780s. The pages here include references to the Calendriers of 1771 and 1772, so were likely printed in the years immediately following, but the writing on the pages beneath them is from the early decades of the 19th century (for example, a note on the death of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1821, f. 80r). A small amount of shipping, currency, and price information is scattered on a few leaves (Paris, Bordeaux, and Marseilles, f. 60r; Castilian weights, Livorno, Curaçao, New York, 131v-135r; Paris, Bordeaux, Geneva, Venice, Charlestown, New York, 148v-152v). The family records at the end of the volume (f. 171r-174r) document births and deaths, many with the family name Henriquez (or Henriques), from 1759 to 1835, not recorded in chronological order.
176 leaves : paper; 155 x 100 mm bound to 160 x 105 mm + 28 notes.
Dutch; Portuguese; Spanish; Hebrew; French; English
Jews -- Netherlands -- History -- Sources; Alchemy -- Early works to 1800; Chemistry -- Early works to 1800; Medicine -- Formulae, receipts, prescriptions -- Early works to 1800
Geographic Subject:
Title from translation of caption title (f. 1r). Collation: Paper, 176 leaves; 1¹²⁻⁵ (-1, -2, -3, -4, -5) 2-11¹² 12¹⁰ 13-15¹² 16⁴ (last leaf is pastedown); modern foliation in pencil, [i-ii, 1-102 (paginated 1-204), 103-174], lower right recto. Pagination, where present, is early, in ink, upper outer corners; references in this record are to modern foliation. Layout: Ruled for accounts in five columns, with a narrow column on the left, a wide second column for details, and three narrow columns on the right for amounts, but very few pages are used in this way (for example, f. 87v, 171r); octavo format. Script: Written in early modern cursive (f. 1r-23v) by one hand and modern cursive (f. 24r-174v) by multiple hands. Decoration: 4 small diagrams in ink (astrological triangles (f. 7v), Zodiac Man (f. 9r), magic square (f. 53v), clock (f. 63v)); alchemical symbols (f. 10v-11r). Binding: Original (late 17th-century) vellum. Origin: Probably written in the Netherlands, in or near Amsterdam or Naarden, from the late 17th century through 1835 (latest date in manuscript, f. 171v).
Call Number:
MS 56, Codex 034.1
Arnold and Deanne Kaplan Collection of Early American Judaica (University of Pennsylvania)