Entrepreneurial Alchemy: John Allin’s Portable Laboratory in Restoration London

Lunchtime Lectures
Tuesday, September 24, 2019
12:00 p.m.–1:00 p.m.
Science History Institute
315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
United States

Join us for a Lunchtime Lecture by Donna Bilak, Allington Fellow at the Science History Institute.

John Allin (1623–1683) was a Harvard-educated Puritan minister, physician, and alchemist who worked in England and America. Allin’s faith made him a political outcast in Restoration London throughout the 1670s, which pushed him into becoming an itinerant alchemist, carrying his practice on his back. Allin’s social networks in London and Rye were critical to his ability to manufacture chemical remedies for sale in local and colonial markets and to continue his laboratory experiments in producing the “Great Elixir.” This talk focuses on Allin’s involvement in manufacturing a pharmaceutical drug known as lapis prunellae as a case study in his entrepreneurial practice of alchemy.

About the Speaker

donna bilak_headshot.jpg

Donna Bilak Headshot

Donna Alexandra Bilak.

Donna Alexandra Bilak is a historian of early modern science, specializing in medico-alchemical laboratory practices in colonial America and England and on the Continent. Her current research focuses on the laboratory work of John Allin (1623–1683), a 17th-century Puritan alchemist, and his production of chemical remedies for his own medical practice and commercial gain in the transatlantic pharmaceutical trade. This project examines how Allin’s millenarian religious beliefs shaped his practice of experimental science in England and America. During Donna’s tenure as a Beckman Center short-term fellow, she is working on a critical edition of Allin’s letters and library list.

About the Series

Lunchtime Lectures are a series of (mostly) weekly, informal talks on the history of chemistry or related subjects, including the history and social studies of science, technology, and medicine. Based on original research (sometimes still in progress), these talks are given by local scholars for an audience of the Institute staff and fellows and interested members of the public.