Gustenhover (17th century)
A goldsmith who resided at Strasbourg, Germany, in 1603.
In a period of much danger he gave shelter to one M. Hirschborgen,
who was described as ‘‘good and religious.’’ In return
for the hospitality of his host, Hirschborgen gave Gustenhover
some powder of projection and departed on his journey. Gustenhover
indiscreetly used the powder to perform alchemical
transmutation before many people, and news of this reached
Rudolph II, himself an amateur alchemist. He ordered the
Strasbourg magistrates to send the goldsmith to him. Gustenhover
was accordingly arrested.
On learning that he was to be sent to the emperor at Prague,
Gustenhover requested that the magistrates meet after procuring
a crucible and charcoal. Without coming near them, he had
them melt some lead. When the lead was molten, he then gave
them a small quantity of a reddish powder that, when thrown
into the crucible, produced a considerable amount of pure gold
from the lead. On being brought into the presence of the emperor,
Gustenhover confessed that he had not himself prepared
the magic powder and that, being but a beginning student
of alchemy, was wholly ignorant of the nature of its
composition. This the emperor refused to believe in spite of the
repeated protests of the goldsmith.
After the powder was exhausted, Gustenhover was set to the
now impossible task of making more gold. Still convinced that
the alchemist was concealing his secret, the emperor had him
imprisoned for the rest of his life.
It is believed that Hirschborgen, who presented Gustenhover
with the powder, was none other than the alchemist Alexander
Seton, who at that period was traveling through Germany
in various disguises.

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