An unknown Leonardo

In recent dates two good friends (Manel Capdevila and David Vilasís) sent me documentation about a new finding in relation to the figure of Leonardo: a globe allegedly made in his workshop. In my book Los mensajes ocultos de Leonardo da Vinci, as well as in El viaje secreto de Leonardo da Vinci, I mention one facet of Leonardo so far not sufficiently studied: his involvement, as a cartographer, in the so-called age of discovery. Not in vain he was a friend of Americo Vespucio. With him would have produced a map of the world, today in the Windsor collection, mentioned twice in his Notebooks: in a list of objects (Br. M. 191 to), where he writes Mappamondo de Benci; and in the Atlantic Codex (118 a), where he writes Il mio mappamondo che à Giovanni Benci.

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World map of Leonardo, drawn in pencil, nowadays in the Windsor collection.

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Recreation of the new American continent on the map of Leonardo. Compare with the map of Cantino (1502), representing the trips until that date of Americo Vespucci.

Next I expound in a summarized way the essence of these news:

An Austrian collector (Stephan Missinne) has found what could be the first terrestrial globe, dated 1504, showing the new world. It is engraved with immaculate detail in two halves of an ostrich egg.

The globe, about the size of a grapefruit, is labeled in latin and includes exotic lands, such as Japan, Brazil and Saudi territories. North America is represented as a set of islands scattered over the sea. The only sentence of the globe, located on the coast of South-East Asia, is "Hic sunt dracones" (there are Dragons). A phrase very interesting, according to Thomas Sander, editor of The Portolan, the newsletter of the Washington Map Society. This publication has published a detailed analysis of this map.

The only other map or globe with this specific phrase (Hic sunt dracones) is a twin of the ostrich egg globe: the copper globe named Hunt-Lenox, dated to 1510 and retained by the Rare Book Division of the New York Public Library. Prior to this ostrich egg globe, the Hunt-Lenox had been considered the oldest known with presence of the new world. Both have remarkable coincidences.

After comparing the two globes, Stephan Missinne concluded that the Hunt-Lenox is a copy of the globe on ostrich egg. Small details, as the lines and the contours of the territories of the ostrich egg globe, as well as the oceans and its writing, coincide with the well studied globe Hunt-Lenox.

The  ostrich egg globe is slightly irregular, while the globe on copper is a perfect sphere.

Missinne argues that the egg has shrunk and deleted with the time. He has confirmed a loss in the density of the shell with the use of tomography. He also points out that the two halves were performed separately, and later united with a type of glue that darkened the engravings around the equator.

The egg, whose owner remains anonymous, was bought in the year 2012 in the London Map Fair, to a seller who claimed that it had belonged to an important European collection for decades, explains Missinne. Starting from here he consulted more than 100 experts in the year that lasted his research.

Missine speculates on the possibility that the ostrich egg globe can be connected with the workshop of Leonardo da Vinci, because a detail of a boat in the Indian Ocean, on this globe, is similar to one made by an artist associated with Leonardo.

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Globe of ostrich egg, possibly by the workshop of Leonardo da Vinci.

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Copper globe, named Hunt-Lenox. 

In this regard, the antiquarian Stephan Missinne has assured to me: "The shape of the globe, so unique, is leonardian. The drawing of its content must be of some assistant. There is no doubt of that: Leonardo is involved in the surrounding of the discovery of the new world, as so many others".

Note also that the dating of this terrestrial globe of copper by Leonardo (see above) matches which the date I calculated in relation to the world map of Leonardo. In my book Los mensajes ocultos de Leonardo da Vinci I explained that Leonardo could have made this map sometime after the year 1502; quite possibly, coinciding with the return from his fourth voyage of Americo Vespucci (in June 1504). In the second half of the year 1504 he could have met personally Leonardo in Spain. The proof: the world map of Leonardo is very similar to the one of Cantino, in 1502, which already shows the news of the third voyage of Vespucci. The most remarkable difference between these two is that Leonardo calls the new world with the name -feminized- of his friend Vespucio: America. So, this name would advance in three years the official baptism of America, made -supposedly- by Martin Waldseemüller in 1507.

Leonardo and the fabrication of artificial stone

Another important novelty around the activities so far little known of Leonardo can be found here:

In short, Leonardo would have developed a skull of artificial stone (a type of chalcedon) which he mentions in his work under the name of "mistioni", an alchemical mixture. Here is the summary of the article also written by the collector and expert Stephan Missinne:

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Artificial skull, supposedly made with "mistioni" (artificial stone), by Leonardo.

The more ancient hand made skull in the world, c. 1508: "The ugliness of growing old", attributed to Leonardo da Vinci.

An author (Stephan Missinne) analyzes an anatomical skull unknown previously, of the beginning of the XVI century (the Renaissance), made by hand. This small and naturalistic skull, made from agate stone (chalcedony), a blend that Leonardo called "mistioni", shows osteological remarkable details. Dr. Saban was the first to link the skull to Leonardo. The perspective in three dimensions and the pursuit of "common sense" are discussed (in this article). Some anatomical errors, both in the drawings of Leonardo and in the skull are evident. The article ends with the question of the physiognomy, the grotesque faces (made by Leonardo), the study of perspective and his experimentation, during the year 1508, with (alchemical) stone mixtures and with the human skull. The evidence, including the Italian scale (in Crazie and Braccia), the chemical analysis that lead to a mine in Volterra, and the search of Leonardo of the human soul in the skull are exposed.

There are written references in the inventory of Salai (1524), in the inventory of Villa Riposo (Raffaello Borghini 1584), and in the one of Don Ambrogio Mazenta (1635). The author (Stephan Missinne) attributed the skull to Leonardo da Vinci. It would have been made towards 1508.

This discovery once again makes me think in the so-called "alchemical peach" of the Archaeological Museum of Barcelona, found in the 1970s in the monastery of Sant Cugat del Vallès (Barcelona province).


"Alchemical" peach of the Archaeological Museum of Barcelona.

The Archaeological Museum of Barcelona maintains that this object, found hidden in a niche in a wall, while the restoration of the monastery was carried out, would be in fact one decorative piece, like many others that were made on its time. The problem in this case is: If it is so, why was hidden, with the intention of not being found? What has of special to have been hidden in this way?

I have no doubt that the alchemical "peach" is an object of decoration; but it may not be just that. According to the Museum, the optical analyses indicate that this piece is made from Carrara marble. My question is: could be, as in the case of the artificial skull supposedly made by Leonardo, an object molded from artificial stone of alchemical origin (in the style of the "mistioni" of Leonardo)?

I have consulted this aspect with Mr Stephan Missinne. I sent him all the documentation relating to this topic, including technical reports and photos of detail. His response is as follows: "The green color of the scanner (of the peach) reminds me of the scanners of the artifacts I've transported by the airports... And that allow you to see inside them. The marble would be black; on the other hand in the scanner (the peach) appears as green. The coral is green when is scanned... By what it refers to the base of the peach, that also has green color in the scanner... could be the solution to find the type of material".

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Scanner of the peach by initiative of José Antonio Lamich.

Ultimately, according to Stephan Missinne, it seems strange that the material with which is made the peach could be Carrara marble, when in the scanner appears green (and not black, as it would be normal). I do not say that this argument is entirely valid (I'm not an expert), but I consider that, given the reasonable doubts surrounding this matter, it would be worth an analysis in depth of this object (not only visual, but through chemical tests or otherwise).

We have to consider the following factors: 1) Leonardo, according to Stephan Missinne, developed an artificial object with a type of material (calcite) that until recent times has deceived to the specialists. In short, the Alchemy of his time allowed the possibility of producing artificial stone of remarkable quality and hardness. (2) The "alchemical peach" was hidden in a monastery, as used to be done in ancient times to preserve precious objects of alchemical nature. Here we have an example:

LA ALQUIMIA Y LOS ALQUIMISTAS, F. Sherwood Taylor (Editorial A.H.R, Barcelona, 1976, page 156):

"If we have to give credit to Charnock, it must be the last prior of the Abbey of Bath, William Holleweye, sometimes known as Gibbs, WHO, ON THE OCCASION OF THE DISSOLUTION OF THE MONASTERIES, gave the Abbey to the Crown in 1525 and received a pension of 80 pounds a year. Charnock met him nearly 30 years later, when he should already be old. The Prior told him, incidentally, that he used the famous spring of Bath water to get the soft heat required for his (alchemical) work. The Prior had possessed the Red stone, and WHEN THE ABBEY WAS SECULARIZED HID IT IN A WALL: but when he returned a few days later to pick it up he met that it had disappeared. As a result he lost reason and left the country, wandering from one part to another. When Charnock met him he was blind and had to be guided with a guide. Ashmole [] confirms this account with the following handwritten note appeared in the Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum (1652) [Isaac Newton had it in his library]: 'Shortly after the dissolution of the Abbey of Bath, WHEN SOME WALLS WERE KNOCKED DOWN, WAS FOUND A VIAL that was filled with red dye, that atfter being thrown into a dunghill, colored it with a bright red immediately...'".

Note also that the artificial manufacture of pearls and precious stones should be a common activity among the alchemists. In my book Temas de Historia Oculta II, Las doctrinas prohibidas I write:

"According to Jean Pierre Bayard, the article 22 of the Rosicrucian Ordinances ('is forbidden to make precious pearls thicker than those that are usual'), established by Sincerus Renatus at the beginning of the 18th century, described the prohibition of illegally enriching themselves through the indiscriminate production of artificial stones. Sincerus Renatus says that the Rosicrucians of his time had been garrisoned in the practice of Alchemy, since the true 'masters' had left Europe to go to the Indies in order to be able to live peacefully".

That is to say, making "artificial stone", and even jewelry and precious stones of different types, was commonplace, it seems, between the alchemists of centuries past.

Finally, notice that the skull of Leonardo keeps a remarkable similarity 1) with some of his drawings and 2) with the skull that appears in the so called Magdalena Leggente of Barcelona (see the article La Gioconda and the Magdalena Leggente of Barcelona; ¿a hidden link?).


Compare the skull of "mistioni" with this anatomical study and with the skull of the Magdalena Leggente de Barcelona.

And before to finish: The Magdalena Leggente is painted on copper. The so-called Hunt-Lenox globe is also made of copper. Just a coincidence?

Two receipts of artificial stone according Paracelsus (in Spanish)

He aquí unos ejemplos de fórmulas alquímicas elaboradas por un notorio alquimista: Paracelso (La naturaleza de las cosas, Ediciones Obelisco). 

Dos fórmulas para la creación de piedra artificial, tanto silícea como calcárea:

"Hay que saber que si tomamos cualquier sílice, la sumergimos en agua corriente y, puesta en una cucúrbita, vertimos sobre ella su agua fluvial hasta llenar la cucúrbita, destilamos después hasta que la última gota ascienda y la piedra se seque y de nuevo llenamos la cucúrbita de esta agua y de nuevo realizamos la separación por medio de la destilación y hacemos esto tantas veces como sea necesario, veremos al final que la cucúrbita queda llena de aquella piedra... De esta manera veréis como en pocos días puede confeccionarse alquímicamente una piedra muy grande por la fuerza del archaeus [la fuerza que une los tres materiales básicos de la materia según la Alquimia: el mercurio, el azufre y la sal] cuando las aguas de la naturaleza no lo consiguen sino en muchos años. Si después rompes el vaso, obtendrás la sílice con la forma de dicho vaso".

"También pueden obtenerse perlas de forma, tamaño, belleza y esplendor tan similares a las criadas en la ostra, que no es posible diferenciarlas [Los organismos que no producen nácar se dice que producen “concreciones calcáreas” que son básicamente “perlas no-nacaradas”, hechas principalmente de calcita que es otra forma amorfa de carbonato de calcio (como el mármol, el hueso y los cascarones de los huevos)]. Debe procederse así: limpia la clara de huevo por medio de una esponja hasta dejarla perfectamente pura y mézclala después con el más hermoso talco blanco, o bien con polvo de nácar de la ostra, o bien con mercurio coagulado por medio de júpiter. Dilúyelo, entonces, en alcohol hasta obtener una pasta densa como una amalgama. Se pone a secar al sol o en un horno hasta que quede como un queso o un requesón. Finalmente, con esta pasta forma perlas que no debes echar a los cerdos... Si ves que no poseen el esplendor deseado, báñalas con clara de huevo y espera que se sequen de nuevo; así resultarán todavía más hermosas por fuera aunque su virtud interior sea la misma".