Becher's alchemical furnace assembled, 1689.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The furnace (scyphus Becheri) could be broken down into many smaller pieces, carried as baggage and reassembled when needed. Robert Boyle (1627-1691) and Prince Rupert, second son of the Winter King, acquired examples of this furnace. It is surrounded by mottos such as 'this is sacred, thieves do not touch'. Some have religious significance; the base of the furnace reads, 'Drink brothers and live', a reference to communion wine. Illustration from 'Tripus Hermeticus Fatidicus' ('The Prophetical Hermetic Tripod') by Johann Joachim Becher (1635-1682) published in Frankfurt in 1689. Becher is not only famous in the history of chemistry for his theory of combustion but is notable as a technologist, miner, metallurgist and he proposed many economic schemes.