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Silver to gold (and being sneaky)

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1369927.  Mon Dec 28, 2020 7:16 am Reply with quote

Apologies for shoehorning this into the S forum, and apologies for the rather dodgy translation. I don't think I've ever heard this story before.
I can't find better online references than the (well-informed) Book of Faces post I've shamelessly snatched from the "Old Copenhagen" group.

It's Scandi, and it's got some interesting points. I've bolded the bit that is of interest, the rest is just there for context.

Nyhavn was built / dug in the period 1671-1673, by Swedish prisoners of war.
At first it was only the ′′ sunny side ′′ (north side) that was built up. On the south side were Charlottenborg and a number of different gardening facilities.
In number 59 lived a gentleman Henrik Ehm in 1699 Henrik Ehm was no negligible man. He owned several copper mills in North Zealand - for a while also the Copper mill at Kronborg - along with quite a large land area.
No doubt that Ehm was an enterprising, skilled and diligent man. He must have had a rather disagreeable mind too. Whoever immerse himself in his history will discover that he was involved in litigation for almost all his life.
In 1700-1701 he is part of a trial that got a lot of attention at the time.

On September 14., 1699, Henrik Ehm had signed a contract with Dr. Christian Vilhelm Hacquart, a prominent doctor and brother of the king's personal physician.
The contract was that Ehm, for 600 rigsdaler (a substantial sum), should teach Hacquart how to transform silver into gold. Henrik Ehm also dabbled with ′′ The Alchemical Art ′′ which had the goal of making gold. In this case from silver.
As everyone knows, gold is much more expensive than silver. The ratio between the gold and silver price was around 1:60.

Ehm is taking Hacquart to court as he will not pay. Hacquart argues in his defense that he expected to pay with the gold he was going to learn to make.
The court upheld Hacquart.

Now it's worth noting that it's only when the payment should fall that the court decides on. Alchemy was actually a recognized science at this point. Without the alchemists of the time, neither organic nor inorganic chemistry would have existed today.
Ludvig Holberg writes the play ′′ Arabic Powder ′′ over the incident known as first performed on May 2., 1724, in which he, in the usual way, cheerfully mocks the stupidity of the past.


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