The emblem of the hand of the philosophers' should be quite familiar as it is often used in modern books on alchemy. This was originally an illustration in Isaac Holland's book Die Hand der Philosophen. The writings of Holland, who cannot yet be unidentified with a definite historical person, appeared at the end of the 16th century, and were revived in the mid 17th century and reprinted a number of times up to the end of the 18th century. The images placed on the hand are evocative, and it is tempting for people to interpret these through their present day belief systems, however, the author has left us a clear statement of their meaning. This is from his book Die Hand, of 1667. Below I show, on the left, the engraving from 1667 and, on the right, that from the 1743 version of the work.
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