- Wiesbaden, Harrasowitz Verlag, 2020 240x170 mm. VIII, 415 pp. Ill. Hardcover.
The Leopold-Sophien-Bibliothek in Überlingen holds 143 alchemical manuscripts whose existence is closely linked to the names Johann Baptist Sebastian von Sonnenthal (1759-1834) and Franz Sales Wocheler (1778-1848). What texts do these manuscripts transmit? Who was involved in the process of creating the collection? Why were the writings acquired by the town priest Wocheler for the library? And what was the state of interest in alchemy in the 18th and early 19th centuries?
Franziska Schaudeck pursues these and other questions in her study by recording the manuscripts for the first time in a detailed catalogue and positioning the entire ensemble culturally and historically. The classification of the collection in secret-society contexts is based on the results of codicological indexing work, which Schaudeck relates to the cultural-historical background of the phenomenon 'alchemy' and to other alchemica collections. Source studies on Sonnenthal and Wocheler as well as on their socio-cultural environment further document that alchemy and secret societies could also fascinate in the German southwest of the “Sattelzeit”. The Überlingen Alchemica are an impressive testimony to this period.