DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY. DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY.
Illustration of a sixteenth century assay laboratory taken from Lazarus Ercker's "Treatise on Ores & Assaying" published in 1574. Ercker was an assay master by the age of 25 & later became chief superintendent of mines of the Holy Roman Empire & the kingdom of Bohemia. Assaying analyses metals by pyrotechnic methods similar to refining, as opposed to chemistry in solution, which is how it developed later. The illustrations show a variety of furnaces: (left), a cementation furnace, (middle) an open hearth furnace & (top right) a muffle furnace. The man at centre is making nitric acid, used for separating, or "parting", silver & gold.
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