With the first catalogue of chemical books in English

Cooper, William (bap. 1639, d. 1689); Helvetius, Johann Friedrich, (d. 1709); Glauber, Johann Rudolf (1604-1670); Felgenhauer, Paul (1593-1677), attributed

The Philosophical epitaph of W.C. Esquire for a memento mori on his tomb-stone, vvith three hieroglyphical scutcheons and their philosophical motto's and explanation : with the philosophical Mercury, nature of seed and life, and growth of metalls, and a discovery of the immortal liquor alchahest : the salt of tartar volatized and other elixirs with their differences. Also, A brief of the golden calf, the worlds idol : discovering the rarest miracle in nature, ... / by Jo. Fr. Helvetius. And, The golden ass well managed and Midas restor'd to reason, or, A new chymical light : demonstrating to the blind world that good gold may be found as well in cold as hot regions, and be profitably extracted out of sand, stones, gravel and flints &c. .../ written by Jo. Rod. Glauber. With Jehior, aurora sapientiae, or, The day dawning or light of wisdom : containing the three principles or original of all things whereby are discovered the great and many mysteries of God, nature and the elements, hitherto hid, now revealed / all published by W.C. Esquire. : with a catalogue of chymical books.

London: Printed by T.R. and N.T. for William Cooper, att(sic!) the Pellican in Little Britain, 1673


Octavo: 16.5 x 10.5 cm. Collation: A8, π1, B-O8, P4-R4. With added engraved title and 6 plates (one of which is used as a frontispiece.)


A fine copy with a little light toning. Bound in contemporary speckled calf, rebacked. In addition to the 6 plates, leaves A7-8 have a Latin and English version of "An Epitaph CLowDeD by threatenIng DIsasters" with woodcut alchemical symbols.

"William Cooper was a prominent bookseller, writer, and England's first book auctioneer. His primary interests were occult, scientific, and medical books written in English, and his "Catalogue of Chymicall Books", first issued in 1673, is an invaluable guide to book production in these specializations.

"The curiously complex "philosophicall epitaph in hierogliphicall figures" features an engraved title-page and symbolic illustrations for which Cooper provides interpretive commentary; these are followed by his own translations of Johann Friedrich Helvetius's "Vitulus aureus, quem mundus adorat & orat." (Briefe of the Golden Calfe), Johann Rudolph Glauber's "Novum lumen chimicum"(The Golden Ass Well Managed), and "Jehior, the Day Dawning", usually attributed to Paul Felgenhauer. The book's addresses to the reader and dedications to Robert Boyle and Elias Ashmole, the latter alluding to past illness and unspecified 'Long troubles', reveal that Cooper seriously believed in alchemy, in both its physical and esoteric aspects. In his commentary, Christian, millenarian, cabbalistic, and neoplatonic ideas are intermingled, but his approach to physical alchemy and physic is primarily that of Paracelsus and Van Helmont.

"As the final section, Cooper added "A catalogue of chymicall books which have been written originally, or translated into English". Not narrowly 'chymicall' in coverage, this list includes sixteenth- and seventeenth-century books on magic, astronomy, physic, and pharmacy—both Galenical and Paracelsian—Rosicrucianism, and 'chemical philosophy', as well as many works which, in their empirical and inductive emphasis, were more closely allied with the 'new science'. The "Catalogue" contains more than 180 main entries.

England's First Book Auctioneer:

Primarily as the result of a large number of extant sale catalogues, knowledge of Cooper's activities as England's first book auctioneer is more complete than for any other aspect of his life. His auctioneering began on 31 October 1676 with the sale of the Lazarus Seaman library, included at least twenty-two sales, and ended in June 1688; his printed catalogues contain much additional information on the frequency and dates of his sales, his clients (who included Nathan Paget, Milton'sdoctor, and Richard Davis, Oxford bookseller), and estimates of the number of books included in certain of the sales. He was keenly aware of his historic role in this new method of bookselling in England, which was patterned after those used in Leiden and Amsterdam, and established a format and procedures to regulate this business. His auctioneering fame and that of his sometime partner Edward Millington are humorously celebrated in George Smalridge's Latin poem"Auctio Davisiana Oxonii habita, per Gul. Cooper & Edward Millington bibliopol" (1689)."(Linden, ODNB)

Duveen 144; Ferguson I 135; Wing C6062