'Magic coins' and 'magic squares': the discovery of astrological sigils in the Oldenburg Letters

Roos, Anna Marie (2008) 'Magic coins' and 'magic squares': the discovery of astrological sigils in the Oldenburg Letters. Notes and Records of the Royal Society, 62 (3). pp. 271-288. ISSN 0035-9149

Full content URL: http://rsnr.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/62/...

Notes Rec. R. Soc.-2008-Roos-271-88.pdf
Notes Rec. R. Soc.-2008-Roos-271-88.pdf - Whole Document

Item Type:Article
Item Status:Live Archive


Enclosed in a 1673 letter to Henry Oldenburg were two drawings of a series of astrological sigils, coins and amulets from the collection of Strasbourg mathematician Julius Reichelt (1637–1719). As portrayals of particular medieval and early modern sigils are relatively rare, this paper will analyse the role of these medals in medieval and early modern medicine, the logic behind their perceived efficacy, and their significance in early modern astrological and cabalistic practice. I shall also demonstrate their change in status in the late seventeenth century from potent magical healing amulets tied to the mysteries of the heavens to objects kept in a cabinet for curiosos. The evolving perception of the purpose of sigils mirrored changing early modern beliefs in the occult influences of the heavens upon the body and the natural world, as well as the growing interests among virtuosi in collecting, numismatics and antiquities.

Keywords:Henry Oldenburg, Amulets, Sigils, Early Modern Magic, Coins, Astrology, Julius Reichelt, Medicine, Royal Society
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V380 History of Science
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V440 Iron Age
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V340 Intellectual History
Divisions:College of Arts > School of History & Heritage > School of History & Heritage (History)
ID Code:8065
Deposited On:18 Mar 2013 12:34

Repository Staff Only: item control page