Cribbed from the Dutch Alchemist Bookshelf
Nick Bredie

1.Stated goals of Alchemy: one, the transmutation of base metal into gold; two, the indefinite prolongation of human life in beverage form; three, the transmutation of human life.

2.The 15th century Dutch composer and alchemist Jacobus Obrecht ciphered the 'music of the spheres' into atonal and polytonal structures. When asked why he would do such a thing, he responded, "Could you hear it in the first place?" He was told to stick to the lead. When he died of the plague in 1505 he was out of work.

3. Johann Rudolf Glauber, moved into a second floor apartment along the Amstel river canal in 1655. Its previous owner had been a tulip broker. Glauber had made his fortune inventing 'Glauber's Salts,' recommended for nausea, biliousness, dermatitis, rheumatism, hepatobiliary disorders, bronchial asthma, diarrhea, and nervous trauma. Mostly the salts loosened stool. His alchemy was limited to pouring aqua regia over gold, even eventually his own filings. The rusty fizz and then nothing. Everyone suspected him of playing the market, reducing supply &c.; but he never seemed to invest in base metals.

4.Cornelius Drebbel invented the perpetual motion machine and the submarine. Only one of these things is a possibility today. Nevertheless, he was seated among the court entertainment at the king's wedding. His only book was a hermetic ramble. Near the end of his life, in 1633, he was running an unsuccessful ale house. In Ben Jonson's play 'The Staple of News,' he is mentioned in a tabloid headline: "Cornelius-Son, Hath made the Hollanders an invisible Eel, to swim the Haven at Dunkirk, and sink all the shipping there." Drebbel was working for the English at the time.

5.Eliaser Bamberg (1760-1833) claimed to be the son of a Dutch alchemist. As was common during the Enlightenment, he lost his leg to a freak explosion. He had the idea of hollowing out his wooden leg to hide a nip of Jenever. Before he knew it, he was performing slight of hand under the stage-name 'The Crippled Devil.' His best trick was transmuting gold florins into lead washers. When his marks would shake him down for their money they would find nothing; the coins having slid into his hollow prosthesis. He went on to sire a six generation line of magicians ending with one who went by the name Fu Manchu. For a short while everyone lost the ability to distinguish reality from fiction. At least in Latin America, where the executors of the Sax Rohmer estate couldn't claim copyright. Fu Manchu starred in six Mexican movies and died there in 1974.

Postscript: In 1980, American physicist of Swedish descent Glenn Seaborg successfully transmuted lead into gold using the atom-smasher at the Berkeley National Lab. The cost of the process far exceeded the value of the several thousand atoms of gold produced.