Ripley (George) (1415?-1490)

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About this work


Rotulum hieroglyphicum G. Riplaei Equitis Aurati. Copy of a copy made in 1588, of the 'Emblematicall scrowle: supposed to be invented by Geo. Ripley' as it is described by Elias Ashmole in his 'Theatrum chemicum Britannicum' London 1652, p. 375. The roll is divided into five panels: the first an Alchemist holding an alembic; the next, which is the largest, a fountain supported by a column with many symbolic accessory figures: the thrid, a golden eagle on a sphere, with legend 'The Birde of hermes is my name: eatings my winges to make me tame': the fourth, a large green dragon with other symbols: the last, a full-length figure of the Philosopher, bearing a staff having a scroll wrapped round it, one end terminating in a spear-haed, the other in a horse's hoof shod. Besides the descriptive legends there are four sets of verses. 1. At the top of the second panel, 10 lines beginning: 'Of the Sonne take ye thy light the redd gemme that is so bright' and ending: 'of him draw out a cinester flud and thy work shall be good'. 2. At the bottom of the second panel, 36 lines beginning: 'On the ground there is a hell [sic] also a serpent within a well' and ending: 'of the white stone and the redd hear is the very true deed' 3. At the bottom of the third panel, 12 lines beginning: 'In the Sea withouten lees standeth the bride of Hermes' and ending: 'Understand now well and right and thanck you God for this sight' 4. At the bottom of the fourth panel, 38 lines beginning: 'I shall tel you without leasing who and what is my generation' and ending: 'and make them all but one lok here is the philosophers stone'. In the right-hand border, against the end of this poem, is written: 'This long Rolle was drawne/in Collours for me in Lubeck/in Germay. 1588'.



Physical description

1 volume Roll. 328 x 40 cm. Mounted on linen, with wooden rollers. Slightly damaged at the top, and some cracks. Finely drawn and coloured, with descriptive legeneds, and enclosed within a coloured floreated border.

Acquisition note

Purchased at Sotheby's 4/8/1911, Lot 1077.

Biographical note

The poems show considerable variations from those in Ashmole's 'Verses' on pp. 375-379 of the 'Theatrum chemicum Britannicum'. In the Sotheby catalogue entry for the second copy of this scroll [MS. 693], which was the Ashburnham copy, purchased 23/4/1934, Lot 40, it is suggested that the copying was commissioned by John Dee [1527-1608]. Both our copies seem to be of the early 17th century.

Related material

Black's Catalogue of the Ashmolean MSS. enters an apparently incomplete copy of this scroll in Nos. 1530, 1535, and two other fragments in Nos. 1771, 1772.

Terms of use

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Finding aids

Database description transcribed from S.A.J. Moorat, Catalogue of Western Manuscripts on Medicine and Science in the Wellcome Historical Medical Library (London: Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, 1962-1973).


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Accession number

  • 26158