Isaac of Holland (fl. fifteenth century)
Little is known about the life of this alchemist, but he is commonly
supposed to have lived and worked early in the fifteenth
century. The main reason for assigning his career to that period
is that in his writings he refers to Geber, Dastin, Morien, and
Arnaldus de Villanova, but not to more modern authorities.
Furthermore, he appears to have been acquainted with various
chemical processes discovered toward the close of the fourteenth
century. Therefore, it may be deduced that he did not
live before that time.
According to tradition Isaac worked with his son, whose
name is not recorded, and the pair are usually regarded as having
been the first men to exploit chemistry in the Netherlands.
They are said to have been particularly skillful in the manufacture
of enamels and artificial gems, and it is noteworthy that no
less distinguished an alchemist than Paracelsus attached value
to the Dutchmen’s research. Isaac and his son were also mentioned
with honor by the seventeenth-century English scientist
Robert Boyle.
Isaac compiled two scientific treatises on alchemy, one entitled
Opera Mineralia Joannis Isaaci Hollandi, sive de Lapide Philosophico
(1600), and the other De Triplici Ordine Elixiris et Lapidis
Theoria (1608). Both were published at the beginning of the
seventeenth century. The latter treatise is the more important
of the two because the author sets forth his ideas on exalting
base metals into Sol and Luna (gold and silver) and illustrates
exactly what kind of vessel should be used for each.