A catalogue of Western manuscripts at the Bodleian Libraries and selected Oxford colleges

MS. Ash. Rolls 52

Former shelfmark: MS. Ashmole 1530

Summary Catalogue no.: 7662


George Ripley (attrib.), Alchemical roll
Language(s): English, Latin

Physical Description

Form: roll
Support: paper


Good miniatures (coloured drawings), copies of a MS. of 15th century. (Pächt and Alexander iii. 1209)

The process for preparing the philosopher's stone in four scenes:

(1) alchemist with hermetic vessel with eight roundels depicting stages in the alchemical process;

(2) 'philosophical tree' and grape vine planted in the centre of a heptagonal basin; the basin is surmounted by parapets upon which seven human figures examine contents of beakers which they hold; this is supported by a column rising from a lower square pool, the front of which is decorated with a toad-spewing griffin; nude male and female figures ascend and descend the 'tree' or simply stand in water;

(3) two lions flanking the mouth of a furnace; sun; bird with the head of an old man crowned and bearded, standing on a globe;

(4) sunburst design with three linked coloured circles; crescent moon, held in the jaws of a dragon, perched on a winged globe; the dragon's blood descending to three circles at the bottom of the globe; text flanked by two human figures, a king and a commoner, with staffs.


Origin: 16th century, end ; English

Record Sources

Summary description abbreviated from the Quarto Catalogue (W. H. Black, A descriptive, analytical, and critical catalogue of the manuscripts bequeathed unto the University of Oxford by Elias Ashmole Esq...., Quarto Catalogues X, 1845). Decoration, localization and date follow Pächt and Alexander (1973).

Digital Images

Digital Bodleian (10 images from 35mm slides)


Last Substantive Revision

2022-03-21: Separate record for MS. Ashmole 52.