Chymia: A Treasure-trove of Alchemical History


Edgar Fahs Smith (1854-1912), Professor of Chemistry and Provost of the University of Pennsylvania — was also an enthusiast of historical chemical and alchemical texts, which he collected throughout his career.  His accumulated works became an endowed (still growing) collection that bears his name – a go-to for gorgeous engravings on pyrotechnics, brewing.  Many of these engravings are digitized and browse-able at fairly high resolution via categories like: portraits, apparatus, or laboratories.

What are these awesome letterpress blocks in the picture, you ask? What is that block that seems to be a creepy glove?

From 1948-67 the Smith collection produced, Chymia: Annual Studies in the History of Chemistry.  A recent move unearthed the original letterpress blocks used to print the journal, and now, UPenn’s Common Press – has responded with Chymia (2012), a collaborative book, printed by Marc Blumthal, Marianne Dages, Matt Neff, Ivanco Talevski, and Tricia Treacy, which includes impressions of the original blocks as well as contemporary responses to prints in the collection.  Pictures are from the Chymia Book release party at the Print Center.   Sweet!

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Categories: Current Events, Exhibitions, Interesting Printmaking, Print-related

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