A History of Inventions and Discoveries: Alum.
A History of Inventions and Discoveries.
By John Beckmann,
Public professor of economy in the University of Gottingen.
Translated from the German, by William Johnston.
Third edition, carefully corrected, enlarged by the addition of several new articles.
In four volumes.
Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown; Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy; R. Priestley; R. Scholey; T. Hamilton; W. Otridge; J. Walker; R. Fenner; J. Bell; J. Booker; E. Edwards; and J. Harding.
* What the Romans called alumen was by the Greeks called ---- This substance affords a striking instance how readily one may be deceived in giving names without proper examination. Our alum was certainly not known to the Greeks or the Romans; and what the latter called alumen* was vitriol; not, however, pure vitriol, but such as form itself in mines, and which is often nothing else than vitriolic earth. To those who know how deficient the ancients were in the knowledge of salts, and of mineralogy in general, this assertion will without further proof appear highly probable. Alum and vitriol are neutral salts, or to speak more correctly, saline substances, which have a very close affinity. Both contain the same acid called the vitriolic; both have a strong astringent quality, and on this account are often comprehended under the common name of styptic salts. Both are also not only found in the same places, but are frequently obtained from the same minerals; and both can be sometimes employed in the like manner, and for the same purposes. The difference, that vitriol is combined with a metallic earth, either that of iron, copper or zinc, and alum on the other hand with a peculiar white earth, called therefore alum earth, has been established only in modern times.
* Examen chymyque de différentes substances minerales, par M. Sage: or my translation Chemische untersuchung einiger mineralien Göttingen 1775, 8vo. p. 148.
*2 Some crystals of this kind were observed by Linnæus and Morand. See the Travels of the former through Scandinavia, p. 291, and the account of the latter in my Physical.-ökonom. Bibliothek. iii. p. 469.
*3 Nec ullius æque mira natura est. Plin. lib. xxxiv. c. 12. The same account is given by Isifor. Origin. lib. xvi. c. 2. and by Dioscorides, lib. v. c. 114. The latter, however, differs from Pliny in many circumstances.
*4 Those who are desirous of seeing every thing that the ancients have left us respecting their alum may consult Aldrovandi Museum metallicum, and Bernardi Casii Mineralogia. Lugduni 1636, fol. p. 334. A stronger proof, however, in favour of my assertion is what follows: The Greeks and the Romans speak of no other than natural alum; but our alum is seldom produced spontaneously in the earth, and several of our most accurate mineralogists, such as Scopoli and Sage,* deny the existence of natural alum. Real alum crystals are formed very rarely, on minerals which abound in a great degree with aluminous particles, when they have been exposed a sufficient time to the open air and the rain;*2 and even then they are so small and so much scattered, that it requires an experienced and attentive observer to know and discover them. The smallest trace of alum-works is not to be found in the ancients, nor even of works for making vitriol, except what is mentioned by Pliny, who tells us that blue vitriol was made in Spain, by the process of boiling; and this circumstance he considers as the only one of its kind, and so singular, that he is of opinion no other salt could be obtained in the same manner.*3 Besides, every thing related by the ancients of their alum agrees perfectly with natural vitriolic substances: but to describe them all might be difficult; for they do not speak of pure crystals, but of saline bodies, which nature of itself exhibits in various ways, and under a variety of forms; and every small difference in the colour, the exterior or interior conformation, however accidental, provided it could be clearly distinguished, was to them sufficient to make a distinct species, and to induce them to give it a new name. *4
The celebrity which the ancient alum had, as a substance extremely useful in dyeing and medicine, was entirely forgotten when the alum of the moderns became known; but this celebrity was again revived when it was discovered that real alum could be often made from vitriolic minerals; or that where the latter are found there are generally minerals which abound with it. In many of these places alum-works have, in the course of time, been erected: and this circumstance has served in some measure to strengthen the opinion that the alum of the ancients and that of the moderns are the same salt; because where the former was found in ancient times, the latter has since been procured by a chemical process. some historians of the fifteenth century even speak of the alum-works erected at that period, as if the art of making this salt had only been revived in Europe.
*------ Herodot. lib. ii. c. 180. Franc. 1608, fol.
*2 A catalogue of the Egyptian articles of commerce may be found in Nouvelle relation d'un voyage fait en Egypte, par le P. Vansleb, Paris 1677, 12mo. p. 204.
*3 Diodor. Sic. lib. v. ed. Wesselingii, i. p. 338.
*4 Tournefort, Voyage, i. p. 63.
*5 Matthews's Travels may be found in the German translation of Blainville's. Lemgo 1767, vol. v. p. 445, 446. There is also a French translation of them, intitled Voyage en France, en Italie, et aux isles de l'Archipel en 1750, traduit de l'Anglois. Paris 1763, four vol. 4to. Some information respecting the same subject may be seen in that expensive but useful work, Voyage pittoresque de la Grèce, i. p. 12.
*6Diodor. Sic. lib. c. Strabo, lib. vi. edit. Almel. p. 423.
*7 See Deodat. de Dolomieu, Reise nach den Liparischen INseln. Leipzig 1783, 8vo. p. 80.
*8 Copious information respecting the Spanish alum-works may be found in Introduccion à la historia natural y´à la geografia fisica de Espagna, par D Guil. Bowles; preliminary discourse, page 39, and in Travels through Spain, by Dillon, London, 1780, 4to. p. 220. The ancients procured their alum from various parts of the world. Herodotus mentions Egyptian alum; for he tells us that, when the people of Deplhos, after losing their temple by a fire, were collecting a contribution in order to rebuild it, Amasis king of Egypt sent them a thousand talents of alum.* In Pliny's time the Egyptian alum was accounted the best. It is well known that real alum is reckoned among the exports of Egypt at present;*2 but I am acquainted with no author who mentions the place where it is found or made, or who has described the method of preparing it.
The island of Melos, now called Milo, was particularly celebrated on account of its alum, as we learn from Diodorus Siculus, Celsus, Pliny, and others, though none was to be found there in the time of Diodorus.*3 This natural vitriol has been observed in the grottos of that island by several modern travelers, such as Tournefort*4 and Matthews,*5 who very properly consider it as the real alum of the ancients.
The islands of Lipara and Strongyle, or, as they are called at present, Lipari and Stromboli, contained so great a quantity of this substance, that the duty on it brought a considerable revenue to the Romans.*6 At one period, Lipari carried on an exclusive trade in alum, and raised the price of it at pleasure; but in that island, at present, there are neither vitriol nor alum-works.*7 Sardinia, Macedonia, and Spain, where alum was found formerly, produce still a salt known under that name.*8
*The derivation of the Latin name alumen, which, if I mistake not, occurs first in Columella and Pliny, is unknown. Some deduce it from ----; others from ----; and Isidore gives a derivation still more improbable. May it not have come from Egypt with the best sort of alum? Had it originated from a Greek word, it would undoubtedly have been formed from -----. This appellationis to be found in Herodotus; and nothing is clearer than that it has arisen from the astringent quality peculiar to both the salts, and also from ----, as has been remarked by Dioscorides, Pliny, and Galen. The latter says, ----. This drug has acquired its name from (---) astringency, because it possesses that quality in a high degree, Galenus de simp. medicam. facultat lib. ix. c. 3 30. See also G. J. Vossii Etymologicaon linguæ Latinæ, Neapoli 1762, fol. p. 30.
*2 Viride etiam. quod a quibusdam vitreolum vocatur. Alberti Magni Opera ombia. Lugduni 1651.
*3 G. Agricola. lib. iii. de nat. fossilium. Basiliæ 1546, fol. p. 219
*4Atramentum sutorium variis coloribus præditum est; --- candidum potissimum stiriæ figura reperitur Goslariæ, translicidum crystalli instar nec cæruleum nec viride caret perspicuitate; unde superior ætas atramento sutorio vitrioli nomen imporui. Vossii Etymol. p. 779.
*5 Color et cæruleus, perquam spectabili nitore, vitrumque creditur. Plin. lib. xxxiv. c. 12. When our alum became known, it was considered as a species of the ancient; and as it was purer, and more proper to be used on most occasions, the name of alum* was soon appropriated in a particular manner to it alone. The kinds of alum however known to the ancients, which were real vitriol, maintained a preference in medicine and for dyeing black; and on this account, these impure substances have been still retained in druggists' shops under the name of misy, osry, &c. But a method was at length found-out of forming them into a lye, and of procuring thence crystallized martial salts, which obtained the new name of vitriol. This appellation has its rise first in the eleventh or twelfth century; at least I know no writer older than Albertus Magnus*2 by whom it is mentioned or used. Agricola*3 conjectures that it was occasioned by the likeness which the crystals of vitriol has to glass. This is also the opinion of Vossius; *4 and it is very singular that Pliny says nearly the same thing; for he observes, speaking of blue vitriol, the only kind then known, that one might almost take it for glass.*5
* Verba Quadrigarii hæc sunt: Tum Sulla conatus est, et tempore magno eduxit copias, ut Archelai turrim unam, quam ille interposuit, ligneam incenderet. Venit, accessit, ligna subdidit, submovit Gæcos, ignem admovit; satis sunt diu conati, nunquam quiverunt incendere; ita Archelaus omnem materiam obleverat alumine. Quod SUlla atque milites mirabantur; et, postquam non succendit, reduxit copias. A. Gellii Noct. Att. lib. xv. c. l.
*2 The halotrcihum of Scopoli. See Scopoli Tentamen de hydragyro Idriendi, and his Principia mineralogiæ, p. 81. See also my observations on Sages Chemische untersuchung einiger mineralien, p. 149. Chartheuser, Elementa mineral. p. 43; and Wallerii System. Miner. ii. p. 32. The first person who discovered this salt to be vitriolic was Henkel, as we find in his Kiesshistorie, p. 856, where he calls it Atlas-vitriol.
*3 Wecker de Secretis, lib. ix. 18. p. 445.
*4 I can give only one instance of its being used for this purpose, taken from Ammaninus Marcellinus; Persæ aggerum altitudine jam in sublime porrecta, machinæque ingentis horrore perculsi, quam minores quoque sequebantur, omnes exurere vi maxima perculsi, quam minores quoque sequabantur, omnes exurere vi maxima nitebantur; et assidue malleolos atque incendiaria tela torquentes laborant incassum; ea re quod humectis scortis et centonibus erant opertæ materiæ plures, aliæ unctæ alumine diligenter, ut ignis per eas laberetur innoxius. Ammian. Marcel. lib. xx. c. 12.
*5 Majus juverit, si prius ligna aceto linantur; nam a materia aceto illita ignis abstinet, Æneæ Poliorcet. cap. 34.
*6 Johannis Serapionis Arabis de simplicibus medicinis opus; edit. Othonis Brunsfelsii, Argentorati 1531, fol. cap. 410. p. 276. By inquiring into the uses to which the ancients applied their alum, I find that it was sometimes employed to secure wooden buildings against fire. This remark I have here introduced to shew that this idea, which in modern times has given occasion to many expensive experiments, is not new. Aulus Gellius* relates, from the works of an historian now lost, that Archelaus, one of the generals of Mithridates, washed over a wooden tower with a solution of alum, and by these means rendered it so much proof against fire, that all Sylla's attempts to set it in flames proved abortive. Many have conjectured that the substance used for this purpose was neither vitriol nor our alum, but rather asbestos, which is often confounded with Atlas-vitriol;*2 and against this mistake cautions are to be found even in Theophrastus. But it may be asked, With that was the asbestos laid on? By what means were the threads, which are not soluble in water, made fast to the wood? How could a tower be covered with it? I am rather inclined to believe, that a strongly saturated vitriol-lye might have, in some measure, served to prevent the effects of the fire, at least as long as a thin coat of potters-earth or flour-paste, which, in the present age, have been thought deserving of experiments attended with considerable expense. It does not however appear that the invention of Archelaus, which is still retained in some old books,*3 has been often put in practise;*4 for writers on the art of war, such, for example, as Æneas,*5 recommended vinegar to be washed over wood, in order to prevent its being destroyed by fire.
I shall now proceed to the history of our present alum, which was undoubtedly first made in the East. The period of the invention I cannot exactly determine, but I conclude, with certainty, that it is later than the twelfth century; for John, the son of Serapion, who lived after Rhazes, was acquainted with no other alum than the impure vitriol of Dioscorides. *6 What made the new alum first and principally known, was its beneficial use in the art of dyeing, in which it is employed fro fixing as well as rendering brighter and more beautiful different colour. This art, therefore, the Europeans learned from the Orientals, who, even yet, though we have begun to apply chemistry to the improvement of dyeing, are in some respects superior to us, as is proved by the red of Adrianople, their silks, and their Turkey leather. The Italians procured their first alum from the Levant, along with other materials for dyeing; but when these countries were taken possession of by the Turks, it grieved the Christians to be obliged to purchase these necessary articles from the common enemy, and bitter complaints on that subject may be seen in the works of various authors. In the course of time, the Italians became acquainted with the art of boiling alum; for some of them had rented Turkish alum-works, and manufactured that salt on their own account. They, at length, found aluminous minerals in their own country, on which they made experiments. These having answered their expectations, they were soon brought into use; and this branch of trade declined afterwards so much in Turkey, that many of the alumworks there were abandoned.
* Büschings Geograph. v. p. 214. Beschreibung des Reyss Leonhardi Rauwolffen. Frank. 1582, 4to. ii. p. 36. Naukeurige bescryving van Asie - door Dapper. Amsterdam 1680, fol. p. 23.
*2 Reisebeschreibumg, ii. p. 408, 409. Dapper, p. 26. Büsching, p. 212. See also Michaelis Orientalische Bibliotek, xiii. p. 46.
*3 Büsching, p. 200. We are told by many historians, that the Europeans who first made alum in Italy learned their art, as Augustin Justinian says, at Rocca di Soria, or Rocca in Syria. Neither in books of geography nor in maps, however, can I find any place of this name in Syria. I at first conjectured that Rocca on the Euphrates might be here meant;* but at present it appears to me more probable that it is Edessa, which is sometimes called Roha, Raha, Ruha, Orfa, and also Roccha, as has been expressly remarked by Niebuhr. *2 Edessa is indeed reckoned to be in Mesopotamia; but some centuries ago Syria, perhaps, was understood in a more extended sense. This much, at least, is certain, that minerals which indicate alum, such for example as bitumen, have been often observed by travelers in that neighbourhood.*3
* This singular appellation occurs in Valentini Historia simplicium; in Martini's Dictionary of natural history; and several other works.
*2 Vulgo audis alumen rochæ, quæ Græca vox maximæ Europæ servit parti ad rupem significandam. Jul. Ces. Scaligeri Exot. exercitat. Francof. 1612, 8vo. p. 325.
*3 This is the opinion of Mazeas; a translation of whose treatise I caused to be inserted in the Naturforscher, ii. p. 217. I shall here take occasion to remark, that sand seems to have been employed for making alum in the time of Agricola, as appears by his book De ortu et causis subterraneorum, p. 47.
*4 Mercati is of this opinion, in his Metallotheca, p. 54.
*5 Pyrotechnia. In Venegia, 1559, 4 to. lib. ii. cap. 6
*6 Cum constet, ejus coquendi artem vix trecentis abbine annis a Rocca Syriæ in Europam rediisse (unde aluminis Roccæ non intellecta vulgo appellatio), atque in Italia primum exercitam, serius in Germaniam penetrasse. Leibnitii Protogæa, p. 47. It appears that the new alum was at first distinguished from the ancient vitriol by the denomination of Rocca, from which the French have made alun de roche, and some of the Germans rotzalaun.* Respecting the origin of this name very different conjectures have been formed. Some thing it is derived from rocca, which in the Greek signifies a rock, because this salt is by boiling procured from a stone; and these translate the word alumen rupeum, from which the French name is formed. *2 Some are of opinion, that alum boiled from stones has been so called to distinguish it from that procured from sand, which is generally combined more with iron than the former;*3 and others maintain that alum acquired the name of Rocca from the alum-rocks in the neighbourhood of Tolfa.*4 It is to be remarked, on the other hand, that Biringoccio, that expert Italian, confesses he does not know whence the name has arisen.*5 For my part, I am inclined to adopt the opinion of Leibnitz, that alumen roccæ was that kind first procured from Rocca in Syria; and that this name was afterwards given to every good species of alum, as we at present call the purest Roman alum.*6
*Bellonii Observationes, at the end of Clusii Exotica, cap. lxi. p. 64.
*2 The latter name occurs in Biringoccio, Pyrotechnia, p. 31.
*3 Carte de la Grèce, dressée sur les mémoires de MM. Wheeler, Tournefort - par G. de l'Isle. A Amsterdam, chez Ottens. In this map we find expressly noticed: Ypsala, Chapsilar, alum-mines. The same situation is given to Ipsela, Cypsela in the map of Thrace and Greece, in Pococ's Travles.
*4 In Lotter's map of Græcia nova
*5 Cellarii Geographia, i. p. 1299. In the map, however, published a few yars ago at Berlin, under the title of Græ antiqua delineata a I. C. :R. A. G. Scapta Hyla is placed on the west side, and Cypsela on the east. In the fifteenth century, there were alum-works in the neighbourhood of Constantinople, from which John di Castro, of whom I shall have occasion to speak hereafter, learned his art. May not these alum-works be those visited by Bellon, and of which he has given an excellent description.* He names the place Cypsella or Chypsilar, and says, that the alum in commerce is called alumen Lesbium, or di Metelin..*2 The alum procured from Constantinople at present, may perhaps be brought from the same spot; but I am not sufficiently acquainted with its situation to determine that point with certainty, for Büschung makes no mention of it. In some maps I find the names Ypsala and Chipsilar on the western side of the river Mariza, Maritz or Maricheh, which was the Hebrus of the ancients;*3 in other stands the name Scapsiler on the west side of lake Bouron;*4 and it is not improbable that these may be all derived from the old Scaptesyle or Scapta Hyla, where, according to the account of Theophrastus, Pliny, and others, there were considerable mines.*5
* Büschings Gegraph. v. p. 74.
*2 In Phocis, which lies close to Ionia, there is a mountain abundant in aluminous mineral (----). The stones found on the top of this mountain are first calcined in the fire, and then reduced to sand by being thrown into water. The water mixed with that sand is put into a kettle; and a little more water being added to it, and the whole having been made to boil, the sand is liquefied, and the thick part which falls to the bottom in a cake is preserved; what is hard and earthy is thrown away as of no use. The cake is afterwards suffered to dissolve in vessels for four days; at the end of which the alum is found in crystals around their edges, and the bottoms of them also are covered with pieces and fragments of the like nature. The remaining liquor, which at the end of four days does not coagulate or harden, is poured into a kettle, more water and more sand is added to it; and being boiled as before, it is put into proper vessels, and the alum obtained in this manner is preserved as an article very necessary for dyers. All masters of ships, bound from the Levant to Europe, consider alum as a very convenient and useful lading for vessels. - - - - In the reign of Michael Palæologus, the first emperor of his family, some Italians requested a lease of that mountain, for which they promised to pay a certain sum annually. - - - - The Romans and the Latins build Phocæa Nova on the seashore, at the bottom of that mountain which lies on the east side of it. On the west it has the island of Lesbos, on the north the neighbouring bay of Elæa, and on the south it looks towards the Ionian sea. Duæ, Michaelis Ducænepotis, Historia Byzantina, res imperio Græcorum gestas complectens a Joanne Palæologo I. ad Mehemetem II. - studio et opera Ismaëlis Bullialdi. Venetiis 1729, p. 71.
*3 Bouillaud in his observations on Ducas, p. 186.
*4 Observations sur le commerce et sur les arts, par Flachat . Lyön 1766, ii. p. 431. The alum of Smyrna is mentioned by Baumé in his Experimental Chemistry, i. p. 458
*5 Professor Sprengel was so kind as to point out to me where an account might be found of other Eastern alum-works. This information is contained in a treatise of Francesco Balducci Pegolotti, written in the middle of the fourteenth century, on the state of commerce at that time, and printed in a book entitled Della decima e di varie altre gravezze imposte dal commune di Firenze. Lisbona e Lucca 1765, 4to. 4 vol. Of Pegolotti, some account may be seen in vol. ii. p. 61 and 74; and what he says of the kinds of alum then in use is in vol. iii. p. 368. I must acknowledge that I do not understand this old Italian author; and the learned marquis Hippolito Durazzo of Genoa, author of the well-written Elogip di Christophoro Colombo, when I had the pleasure of seeing him lately, confessed that some parts were untintelligible even to him. It appears, however, from this work, that in the fourteenth century the Italians were acquainted with no other than Turkish alum. Another alum-work, no less celebrated in the fifteenth century, was established near the city Phocæa Nova, at present called Foya Nova, not far from the mouth of the Hermus, in the neighbourhood of Smyrna.* Of this work, Ducas, who had a house there, has given a particular description, from which we learn that in his time, that is under the reign of Michael Palæologus, it was farmed by Italians, who sold the produce of it to their countrymen, and to the Dutch, French, Spaniards, English, Arabs, Egyptians, and people of Syria. This author relates very minutely, in what manner the alum was made,*2 but that work has been long since abandoned:*3 alum however made in the neighbourhood is still exported from Smyrna.*4 It is much to be wished, that ingenious travelers would examine the alum-works in Thrace, around Smyrna, and in Turkey in general, and give an accurate description of them according to the state in which they are at present.*5
* I shall embrace this opportunity of giving a brief account of the situation of the island, and of the nature of its soil. That Ænaria has been at some time violently separated from the continent by an earthquake, seems proved by a variety of circumstances, such as calcined rocks; the ground full of cavers; and the earth, which, like that of the main land, being abundant in warm springs, and dry, feeds internal fire, and on that account contains a great deal of alum. A few years ago Bartholomew Perdix, a Genoese merchant, passing this island, in his way to Naples, observed some aluminous rocks scattered here and there along the sea-coast. About a hundred and sixty-.three years before that period, the earth having suddenly burst by the effects of fire confined in its bowels, a considerable part of Ænaria was involved in flames. By this eruption a small town as burned and afterwards swallowed up; and large masses of rock mixed with flames, sand, and smoke, thrown up, where the shore looks towards Cumæ, fell upon the neighbouring fields, and destroyed the most fruitful and the most pleasant part of the island. Some of these huge pieces of rock being at that time in a furnace, extracted alum from them, and revived that art which he had brought from Rocca in Syria, where he had trated for several years, and which had been neglected in Italy for many centuries. Joannis Joviani Pontani Historiæ Neapolitanæ libri sex, in Grævii Thesaurus antiquit, et historiarum Italiæ, vol. ix. part 3. p. 88.
*2 I must not omit to mention that about this time Bartholomew Pernix, a citiszen and merchant of Genoa, who had resided long in Syria for the purpose of commerce, returned to his native country. Soon after he made a voyage to the island of Ænaria, situated in the Tuscan sea, called formerly Pythacusa, and now in the vulgar Greek Iscla or Ischia; and being a man of an acute genius, and a diligent investigator of natural objects, he observed near the sea-coast several rocks fit for making alum. He took some fragments of them therefore, and, having calcined them in a furnace, he procured from them most excellent alum He was the first person who, to the incredible benefit of many, brought as it were again into use that art long abandoned and almost lost in Italy and the greater part of other countries. On that account his name deserves to be rescued from oblivion. Senatus populique Genuensis rerum hist. atque annal. auctore Petro Bizaro Sentinati.. Antverpæ 1579, fol. p. 302.
*3 About that period (1459) Bartholomew Pernix, a Genoese merchant, sailing past the island of &AEnaria or Ischia, learned that there were near the shore many aluminous rocks, that is to say, fit for making alum. He took some of them, therefore, and having caused them to be calcined in a furnace, he procured from them most excellent alum. This Bartholomew brought back to Italy from the city of Rocca, in Syria, where he had trated many years, the art of making alum, which had been neglected and lost for a long space of time. Castigatissimi annali, con la loro copiosa tavola, della republica di Genoa, da fideli e approvati scrittori, per Monsignore Agostino Giustiano, Genoese, Vescovo di Nebio.. Genoa 1537, fol. lib. v. p. 214.
*4 Dominici Bottone, Pyrologia topographica; id est, de gne dissertatio. Neapoli 1692, 4to. p. 313. This author calls the inventor Perdix, and not Pernix. The oldest alum-works in Europe were established about the middle of the fifteenth century, but where they were first erected cannot with certainty be ascertained; for it appears that several were set on foot in different places at the same period. Some affirm that the first alum made in Europe was manufactured in the island Ænaria, or Pithacusa, at present called Ischia, by a Genoese merchant, whom some name Bartholomew Perdix, and others Pernix. This man, who is praised on account of his ingenuity, and attachment to the study of natural history, having often travelled through Syria, learned the method of boiling alum at Rocca; and on his return found alum-stones among the substances thorn up by the eruption of a volcano which had destroyed part of the island, and gave occasion to their being first employed in making that salt. Such is the account of respectable historians, Pontanus, * Bizaro,*2 Augustine Justinian,*3 and Bottone,*4 who wrote much later. Bizaro says, that his happened in the year 1459, which agrees perfectly with the account of Pontanus; for he tells us that it was under the reign of Ferdinad I, natural son of Alphonsus, who mounted the throne in 1458. Besides, the earthquake, which had laid waste the island one hundred and sixty-three years before, took place in 1301, which makes the time of this invention to fall about the year 1464. So seems Bottone also to have reckoned, for he mentions expressly the year 1465.
*The most authentic account of Paul di Castro is to be found in Falricii Biblioth. lat. mediæ et infimæ ætatis, vol. v. p. 617, and in Joh. Fichardi Vitæ Ictorum, which is printed along with Pancirolli Libri de claris legum interpretibus. Lipsiæ 1721, 4to. p. 186. Paul di Castro was not of Castro in the kingdom of Naples, as is said in Jocher's Gelehrten Lexicon, but of Castro belonging to the duchy of the same name in the Ecclesiastical States.
*2 A little before that period came to Rome John di Castro, with whom the pontiff had been acquainted when he carried on trade at Basle, and was banker to Pope Eugenius. His father, Paul, was a celebrated lawyer of his time, who sat many years in the chair at Padua, and filled all Italy with his decisions; for law-suits were frequently referred to him, and judges paid great respect to his authority, as he was a man of integrity and sound learning. At his death he left considerable riches, and two sons arrived at the age of manhood; the elder of whom, following the profession of the father, acquired a very extensive knowledge of law. The other, who was a man of genius, and who applied more to study, made himself acquainted with grammar and history; but, being fond of traveling, he resided some time at Constantinople, and acquired much wealth by dyeing cloth made in Italy, which was transported thither, and committed to his care, on account of the abundance of alum in that neighbourhood. Having by these means an opportunity of seeing daily the manner in which alum was made, and from what stones or earth it was extracted, he soon learned the art. When, by the will of God, that city was taken and plundered about the year 1453, by Mahomet II, emperor of the Turks, he lost his whole property; but, happy to have escaped the fire and sword of these cruel people, he returned to Italy, after the assumption of Pius II, to whom he was related, and from whom he obtained, as an indemnification for his losses, the office of commissary-general over all the revenues of the Apostolic Chamber, both within and without the city. While, in this situation,l he was traversing all the hills and mountains, searching the bowels of the earth, leaving no stone or clod unexplored, he at length found some alum-stone in the neighbourhood of Tolfa. Old Tolfa is a town belonging to two brothers, subjects of the church of Rome, and situated at a small distance from Civita Vecchia. Here there are high mountains, retiring inland from the sea, which abound with wood and water. While Vastro was examining these, he observed that the grass had a new appearance. Being struck with wonder, and inquiring into the cause, he found that the mountains of Asia, which enrich the Turkish treasury by their alum, were covered with grass of the like kind. Perceiving several white stones, which seemed to be minerals, he bit some of them, and found that they had a saltish taste. This induced him to make some experiments by calcining them, and he at length obtained alum. He repaired, therefore, to the Pontiff, and addressing him, said, "I announce to you a victory over the Turk. He draws yearly from the Christians above three hundred thousand pieces of gold, paid to him for the alum with which we dye wool different colours, because none is found here but a little at the island of Hiscla, formerly called Æ naria, near Puteoli, and in the cave of Vulcan at Lipari, which, being formerly exhausted by the Romans, is now almost destitute of that substance. I have, however, found seven hills, so abundant in it, that they would be almost sufficient to supply seven worlds. If you will send for workmen, and cause furnaces to be constructed, the stones to be calcined, you may furnish alum to all Europe; and that fain which the Turk used to acquire by this article, being thrown into your hands, wil be to him a double loss. Wood and water are both plenty, and you have in the neighbourhood the port of Civita Vecchia, where vessels bound to the West may be loaded. You can now make war against the Turk: this mineral will supply you with the sinews of war, that is money, and, at the same time, deprive the Turk of them." These words of Castro appeared to the Pontiff the ravings of a madman: he considered them as mere dreams, like the predictions of astrologers; and all the cardinals were of the same opinion. Castro, however, though his proposals were often rejected, did not abandon his project, but applied to his holiness by various persons, in order that experiments might be made in his presence, on the stones which he had discovered. The Pontiff employed skilful people, who proved that the really contained alum; but lest some deception might have been practised, others were sent to the place where they had been found, who met with abundance of the like kind. Artists who had been employed in the Turkish mines in Asia were brought from Genoa; and these, having closely examined the nature of the place, declared it to be similar to that of the Asiatic mountains which produce alum; and, shedding tears for joy, they kneeled fown three times, worshipping God, and praising his kindness in confering so valuable a gift on our age. The stones were calcined, and produced alum more beautiful than that of Asia, and superior in quality. Some of it was sent to Vewnice and to Florence, and, being tried, was found to answer beyond expectation. The Genoese first purchased a quantity of it, to the amount of twenty thousand pieces of gold; and Cosmo of Medici for this article laid out afterwards seventy-five thousand. On account of this service, Pius thought Castro worthy of his highest honours, and of a statue, which was erected to him in his own country, with this inscription: "To John di Castro, the inventor of alum;" and he received besides a certain share of the profit. Immunities and a share also of the gain were granted to the two brothers, lords of Tolfa, in whose land the aluminous mineral had been found. This accession of wealth to the church of Rome was made, a, by the divine blessing, under the pontificate of Pius II; and if it escape, as it ought, the hands of tyrants, and be prudently managed, it may increase, and afford no small assistance to the Roman Pontiffs in supporting the burdens of the Christian religion. - Pii Secundi Comment. Rev. memorab. quæ temp. suis contigerunt, Joan. Gobellino compositi, a Franc. Bandino Picolomineo ex velusto origin. recog.; quibus hac edit. accedunt Jac. Picolominei Rer. gest. sui temp. commentarii. Francofurti 1614, fol. p. 185.
*3 The Frangipani a third time acquired lands in the kingdom of Naples. When they possessed in Maremma di Roma, Tolfa, Castello, and a jurisdiction which brings at present eighty thousand crowns annually to the Church, it happened that a son of Paul fi Castro, a celebrated doctor, and a vassal of these lords, who had been many years a slave in Turkey to an alum-merchant, returned free to his own country; and observing that in the territories of Tolfa there was abundance of alum mineral, he gave notice of it to Lodovico Frangipani, his lord, and was the cause of greatly increasing his revenues. Pope Paul II, however, pretending that the mineral belonged to the Apostolic See, as supreme lord of the fief; and not being able to persuade Lodovico to give it up to the Church, he declared war against him, but was vigorously opposed by Lodovico and his brother Peter, lords of Tolfa, assisted by the Orsini their relations, so that the pope was obliged to bring about an accommodation with them by means of king Ferrante I, and to paly them as the price of Tolfa sixteen thousand crowns of gold, of which Lodovico gave twelve thousand to the king, and was invested by him in the lordship of Serino in the year 1469. -Discorsi delle famiglie entitnte, forestiere, o non comprese ne' Seggi di Napoli, imparentate colla casa sdella Marra. Composti dall Signor Don Ferrante della Marra, duca della Guardia; dati in luce da Don Camillo Tutini Napolitano. In Napoli 1641, fol. p. 178.
See also Istoria dell' antichissima città de Civita Vecchia, scritta dal Marchese Antigono Frangipani. In Roma 1761, 4to. p. 119, 120, 121. 182. Platina, in his Life of Pope Pius II, says nothing further of this remarkable circumstance than: Fodinas invenit (Pius II), tuun primum aluminis apud Tolfam instituit.
*4 Ferbers Briefe über Welschland, p. 246.
*5 This year (1460) is distinguished by the discovery of alum at Tolfa Vecchia, no one there having been acquainted with it till that period: and this happened by means of one John di Castro, who had acquired some knowledge of it from a young man of Corneto, and a Genoese, who had learned in Turkey the whole process of making it. The said John jhaving observed that in the mountains of Tolfa there were undoubtedly veins of alum, he caused some of the earth and stones to be dug up, and the first experiments were made on them at Viterbo in the following manner. The stones were first calcinated in a furnace; a large quantity of water was then thrown over them; and when they were entirely dissolved, the water was boiled in great leaden cauldrons; after which it was poured into wooden vessels; where evaporating by degrees, the result was alum of the most perfect kind. Pope Pius II, sensible of the great benefit which might arise from this mineral to the Apostolic Chamber, employed, more than eight hundred persons at Tolfa in preparing it. - HIstoria della città di Viterbo, di Feliciano Bussi. In Roma 1742, fol. p. 262. The alum-work which is situated about an Italian mile north-west from Tolfa, and six from Civita Vecchia, in the territories of the Church, is by some Italian historians reckoned to have been the first. However this may be, it is certain that it is the oldest carried on at present. The founder of it was John di Castro, a son of the celebrated lawyer, Paul di Castro,* who had an opportunity at Constantinople, where he traded in Italian cloths, and sold dye-stuffs, of making himself acquainted with the method of boiling alum. He was there at the time when the city fell into the hands of the Turks; and after this unfortunate event, by which he lost all his property, he returned to his own country. Pursuing there his researches in natural history, he found in the neighbourhood of Tolfa a plant which he had observed growing in great abundance in the aluminous districts of Asia: from this he conjectured, that the earth of his native soil might also contain the same salt; and he was confirmed in that opinion by its astringent taste. At this time he held an important office in the Apostolic Chamber; and this discovery, which seemed to promise the greatest advantages, was considered as a real victory gained over the Turks, from whom the Italians had hitherto been obliged to purchase all their alum. Pope Pius II, who was too good a financier to neglect such a beneficial discovery, caused experiments to be first made at Viterbo, by some Genoese who had formerly been employed in the alum-works in the Levant, and the success of them was equal to his expectations. The alum, which was afterwards manufactured in large quantities, was sold to the Venetians, the Florentines, and the Genoese. The Pope himself has left us a very minute history of this discovery, and of the circumstances which gave rise to it. *2
Some pretend that Castro was several years a slave to a Turk who traded in alum;*3 others affirm, that he had even been obliged to labour as a slave in alum works; *4 and others, that he learned the art of boiling alum from a citizen of Corneto, a town in the dominions of the Pope, and from a Genoese, both of whom had acquired their knowledge in the Levant.*5 But as I do not with to ascribe a falsehood to the Pontiff, I am of opinion that the history of this discovery must have been best known to him. He has not, indeed, established the year with sufficient correctness; but we may conclude from this relation that it must have been 1460 or 1465. The former is the year given by Felician Bussi; and the latter that given in the history of the city of Civita Vecchia.
* Labat Reisen nach Welschland. Frankf. and Leipzig. vol. v. 1760, 8vo. p. 3 et seq.
*2 Museo di fisica e di esperienze, di Don Paoplo Boccone. In Venetia 1697, p. 152. [Tekstissä ei viittausta tähän kohtaan.]
*3 Targioni Tozzetti, Viaggi, vii. p. 234.
*4 Anno 1458. Rock alum, which the Greeks call pharno, was at this time first discovered by a Genoese in the territories of Volterra, where being boiled and found to be good, it began to be dug up afterwards in many of the mountains of Italy. Till that period the Italians had made no use of mines of this kind; for our alum was all brought from Turkey. The above discovery was, therefore, a grat advantage to us. - Supplementum supplementi chronicorum; edit. et cast. a patre Jacobo Philippo Bergomare. Venetiis 1513, fol. p. 299.
*5 Antonius quidam Senensis architectus, haud longe ab ea urbe (Berignone, jam diu deleta), ad eum prospectum qui verdit ad Cecinæ flovium, aluminis tolpham (probably mineram) comperuit, in publico usn atque vectigalium censu neutiquam spernendam. - Giovanni Giovanniense, Monarchia Medicea, p. 51. 58.
*6 An account of this dispute between the Florentines and the people of Volterra may be seen in Machiavel's History of Florence, book vii. - TRANS.
*7 Jo. Michaël. Bruti Historia Florentina. Venetiis 1764, 4to. lib. v. p. 244.
*8 Nunch foditur alumen nuper inventum pluribus in locia in Hetruria, apud Forum Claudii, præterea in agro Mussano et Volaterrano; sed Volaterranum jam desiit. - Raphaelis Volaterrani Comment. urbani. Fancof. 1603, fol. p. 1020.
*9 De Thermis.
*10 Relazioni d'alcuni viaggi fatti in diverse parti della Toscana In Firenze, tom. iii. p. 117. The plant which first induced John di Castro to search alum was that ever-green, prickly shrub, the ilex aquifolium, or holly, which in Italy is still considered as an indication that the regions where it grows abound with that salt.* But though it is undoubtedly certain that the quality of the soil may be often discovered by the wild plants which it produces, it is also true that this shrub is frequently found where there is not the smallest trace of alum; and that it is not to be seen where the soil abounds with it, as has been already remarked by Boccone and Tozzetti.*3
Among the earliest alum-works may be reckoned that which was erected at Volterra, in the district of Pisa, in 1458; by a Genoese named Antonius.*4 Others say that it was consctructed by an architect of Sienna;*5 but this opinion has, perhaps, arisen only from the work having been farmed by a citizen of Sienna, or built at his expense. On account of this alum-work an insurrection of the inhabitants of Volterra broke out in 1472; but it was at length quelled by the Florentines, who took and plundered the city.*6 Brutus,*7 who wrote his History of Florence in the year 1572, says that this alum-work was carried on in his time: but this is certainly false; for Raphael di Volterra, *8 who died in 1521 in his native city, expressly tells us, that, in his time, alum was no longer boiled there; and this is confirmed by Baccius, *9 who also lived in the sixteenth century. At present, no remains of it are left; so that Tozzetti was not able to discover the place where the alum-stones were broken.*10
* The words of the document are: Vendo montem rotundum cum balneis - et cum aurifodinis, argentifodinis, erifodinis, cretifodinia, sufodinis, et alumifodinis et aluminibus ceteribus perhaps veteribus). Tozzetti, Viaggi, vii. p. 51.
*2 Andreas Baccius de thermis. Venetiis 1588, fol. p. 293. Tozzetti, iv. p. 186. It appears from what has been said, that the art of boiling alum in Europe was first known in Italy, but not before the year 1458. That document, therefore, of the year 1284, quoted by Tozzetti, and in which alum-works, alumifodinæ, are mentioned, must, as he himself thinks, be undoubtedly false.
The great revenue which the Apostolical Chamber derived from alum, induced many to search for aluminous minerals, and works were erected wherever they were found. Several manufactories of this substance were established, therefore, in various parts, which are mentioned by Baccius, *2 Biringoccio, and other writers of the sixteenth century. The Pope, however, understood his own interest so well, that he never rested until he had caused all the works erected in the territories of others to be given up, and until he alone remained master of the prize. He then endeavoured, by every method possible, to prevent foreigners from acquiring an accurate knowledge of the art of boiling alum; and at the same time found means, by entering into commercial treaties with other nations, and by employing the medium of religion, which has always the greatest effect on weak minds, to extend his commerce in this article more and more. The price was raised from time to time, and it at length became so high that foreigners could purchase this salt at a cheaper rate from the Spaniards, and even when they sent for it to Turkey. His Holiness, that he might convert this freedom of trade into a sin, and prevent it by the terror of excommunication, artfully gave out that he meant to set apart the income arising from his alum-works to the defence of Christianity; that is, towards carrying on war against the Turks. Prohibitions and threats now followed in case nay one should be so unchristian as to purchase alum from the Infidels; but every person was at liberty to make what bargain he could with his Holiness for this commodity.
* Les anciens minéralogiates, par Goet, vol. ii. p. 805.
*2 Cum Pontifex Pius II hujusmodi inventi aluminis in TUscia redditus et proventus in fidei defensionem dedicasset et consecrasset, meritoque Julius II vetuerit alumina ex Indifdelium terris adduci, et Christianos ca mercari, ut ita solum cenderetur et emeretur inter Christianos quod in terris Romanæ Ecclesiæ insperato fuerat adinventum, ut constat ex Leon. X. bulla 36 et Pauli III. n. 48; ideo Julius III, imitatus dictum Julium II, qui primus hoc prohibuit sub excommunicatione, et Paul. III, qui eam renoavit, in alia sua constit. 42. in Bullario veteri edita anno 1553, quæ incipit: Etsi ea; cujus contextum adducit Scortia in Constit. pontif. epist. 66. theor. 173, ubi explicat ipse Julius III, renovat atque confirmat, contra facientes et complices vectores, ementes, vendentes, laborantes, sese in his immiscentes, naves et alumina assecurantes, Julii II et Pauli III excommunicationem; et, aggravando poenas, eosdem reddit intestabiles et incapaces hæreditatum, officiorum publicorum; cisque omnes actus legitimos interdicit, et oppida ac civiates, ad quas declinaverint, nisi inde eos expennat intra diem unum post habitam de his notitiam, supponit interdicto ecclesiastico, ut Leo X bulla 12, et alii in rebus gravibus fecerant; et reservat tam absolutionem illius quam relazationem hujus excomunicationis Pontifici Romano; et hanc eandem constitutionem confirmasse postea Paulum IV in bulla 43, quæ incipit: Ex Apostolica, et Greg. XIII, num. 21, quæ incipit: Muneris, quarum bullarum ratio ex testu nostro colligtur in vers. ibi: Dummodo in mercibus suis (vel alio modo) aliquod commodum vel subsidium provehiret; ut revera contigeret si Christiani emerent alumen a Turcis, pro illo pecunias argenteas et aureas darent, wquibus ditiores et potentiores fierant ad Christianos debellandos, et ex verbis d. c. olim. 12 hic. Nicol. Rodrig. Fermosini Tractatus criminalium. Lugd. 1670, 2 vol. fol. tom. ii. p. 62.
*3 Pyrotechn. p. 31. He says expressly, that this was the only alum-work in Europe in his time without the boundaries of Italy.
*4 Winkelmans Beschreibung von Hessen, i. p. 39.
*5 Peithners Versuch über die geschichte der Böhmischen un Mährischen begwerke. Wien 1780, fol. o. 68.
*6 Büschings Geographic, iv. p. 843.
*7 De natura fossilium, lib. xii. In the year 1468, Pope Paul II entered into a commercial treaty respecting alum with Charles de Bold, duke of Burgundy; but, in 1504, Roman alum had risen to such an exorbitant price, that Philip the Fair, archduke of Austria, caused a council of inquiry to be held at Bruges, by which it appeared that this article could be purchased at a much cheaper rate in Turkey. Commissions, therefore, were sent thither for that purpose;* but scarcely was this known at Rome, when a prohibition, under pain of excommunication, was issued by Pope Julius II. This pontiff, however, was not the only one from whom such prohibitions proceeded: bulls of the like kind were issued also by Julius III, Paul III, Paul IV, Gregory XIII, and others.*2
But these means, like all those founded on the simplicity of others, could not be of long duration; and as soon as men became a little more enlightened, they learned to know their own interest, and to discover the selfishness of the Pope's bulls. Unless Biringoccio, who visited a part of the German mines, be under a mistake, the first European alum-work without Italy was erected in Spain; and is that still carried on, with considerable profit, at Almacaron, not far from Carthagena.*3 In the beginning of the sixteenth century very large quantities of alum were brought to Antwerp, as we learn from Guicciardini's Description of the Netherlands.
At what time the first alum-work was erected in Germany, I am not able to determine; but it appears that alum began to be made at Oberkaufungen, in Hesse,*4 in the year 1554. For the alum-work at Commotau in Bohemia, *5 the first letters-patent were granted in 1558. An alum-work was established at Lower Langenau, in the county of Glatz, in 1563; but it was soon after abandoned.*6 Several more manufactories of alum are mentioned by Agricola, such as that of Dieben or Duben, in the circle of Leipsic, and those of Dippoldiswalda, Lobenstein, &c.*7
* History of Commerce, iv. p. 406. "The manufacture of alum," says he, "was first found out in England, and carried on with success in 1608. It was supported and patronized in the county of York by lord Sheffield, sir John Bourcher, and other landholders of the said county, to the great benefit of England in general, and of the proprietors in particular, to the present day. King James was a great promoter of this alum-work, after he had, by the advice of his minister, appropriated to himself a monopoly of it, and forbidden the importation of foreign alum.
*2 Such is the account of Pennant, in his Tour in Scotland, 1768, third edition, Warrington 1774, 4to. p.23. "The alum-works in this country are of some antiquity; they were first discovered by Thomas Chaloner, in the reign of queen Elizabeth, who observing the trees tinged with an unusual colour, made him suspicious of its being owing to some mineral in the neighbourhood. He found out that the strata abounded with aluminous salt. At that time the English being strangers to the method of managing it, there is a tradition that sir Thomas was obliged to seduce some workmen from the Pope's alum-works near Rome, then the greatest in Europe. If one may judge from the curse which his Holiness thundered out against sir Thomas and his fugitives, he certainly was not a little enraged; for he cursed by the very form that Ernulphus has left us, and not vaired a tittle from that most comprehensive imprecations. The first pits were near Gisborough, the seat of the Chaloners, who still flourish there notwithstanding his Holiness's anathema." See also A Political Survey of Britain by John Campbell, London 1774, 2 vol. 4to. i. p. 75, and ii. p. 20. The following passage, extracted from Britannia, or a Chorographical description of Great Britain, by W. Camden; the third edition, by E. Gibson, London 1753, 2 vol. fol. vol. ii. p. 910, is much to the same purpose: "This (alum) was first discovered a few years since (anno 1607) by the admirable sagacity of that learned naturalist sir Thomas Chaloner, knt. (to whose tuition his majesty [king James the First] committed the delight and glory of Britain, his son prince Henry), by observing that the leaves of trees were of a more weak sort of green here than in other places, &c."
*3 Taubes Abschilderung der Englischen handlung. Wien 1777. 8vo. i. p. 86. "For some time past the marquis of Lepri has farmed the alum-works at Civita Vecchia for 37,000 seudi. The Apostolical Chamber supplies the necessary wood, which the marquis must be at the expense of cutting down and transporting. About two hundred men are employed in the works; and alum to the amount of from forty-five to fifty thousand seudi is sold annually, particularly to the English and the French." See Observations faites pendant un voyage en Italie, par le Baron de R. (Riesch). Dresden 1781, 2 vol. 8vo.
*4 Voyages metallurgiques, par M. Jars. Paris 1781, 4to. vol.iii. p. 297. In England, the first alum-work was erected at Gisborough in Yorkshire, in the reign of queen Elizabeth, though Anderson * says in 1608. Sir Thomas Chaloner, who had an estate there, conjecturing from the nature of the plants which grew wild, that there must be minerals in the neighbourhood, after making some search, at length discovered alum. As there was, however, no one in England at that time who understood the method of preparing it, he privately engaged workmen belonging to the Pope's alum-works; and it is said, that as soon as the Pontiff heard this, he endeavoured to recall them by threats and anathemas. These, however, did no injury to the heretics; and in a little time the alum-work succeeded so well, that several more of the same kind were soon after established.*2 But what more dishonoured the Pontiff's denunciations was, that, in later times, the proprietors of the English alum-works farmed those of the Apostolic Chamber, and increased, in various ways, the benefit derived from them.*3
At what period alum-works were established in other countries I have not been able to learn. I however know that one was erected at Andradum*4 in Sweden, in 1630. Roman alum costs at present in Holland from 40 to 48 schillings per cent; that of Liege from 25 to 30; that of Smyrna from 36 to 40; and English, Danish, and Swedish alum from 30 to 35.