Full Chisel Blog

April 25, 2009

Alchemy Tools

Filed under: Historical Material,Of Interest,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 11:24 am

There is more to alchemy than bottles, flasks, beakers and torches.  Here is an interesting engraving by Albert Durer c 1514 called ‘Melancholia’.  I think just there to the left of the philosopher’s stone is a glue pot on a brazier.


I have been enjoying this image, trying to find all of the tools.  I believe there is a mortise gauge in her lap, behind the compasses.  What is that to the upper left of the sphere, and is that a square between the horned smoother and sphere?



  1. Stephen, I found this picture in a very large size on Google and it looks like it is a book on her lap behind the dividers. There is an old style hammer to the upper left corner from the dog, those with a strap to the hold the head. I can’t tell what that thing between the sphere and the smoother is, maybe some type of square.
    I also found nails, a straight edge, a saw, and it looks like a chalk line betweek the dog and the sphere. Very interesting piece of art.

    Comment by Regis — April 25, 2009 @ 6:01 pm

  2. Regis,

    There are a number of examples of this image, some are better than others. I spent some time this morning reading the academic and artistic analysis of Durer’s work. What a hoot! It is interesting what people get out of this image and what they put into it as well. After all of the symbolism is delineated and the iconography parsed, there seems to be many meanings to this work.

    Durer didn’t comment on this work as far as I know, and no one really knows what this work represents and I wouldn’t be surprised if that was Durer’s intention. I look at this image and see tools from the early 1500’s, tools which Albert Durer was familiar and accurately portrayed in this engraving.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — April 26, 2009 @ 7:01 am

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