Jun 04, 2020
The Arcanum: The Extraordinary True Story
Posted by Janet Gleeson

The 1 bestseller in England tells the story of the obsessive pursuit of the secret formula to 18th century Europe s most precious commodity fine porcelain.

  • Title: The Arcanum: The Extraordinary True Story
  • Author: Janet Gleeson
  • ISBN: 9780446674843
  • Page: 473
  • Format: Paperback
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    The Arcanum The Extraordinary True Story The bestseller in England tells the story of the obsessive pursuit of the secret formula to th century Europe s most precious commodity fine porcelain


    Wow Whoever thought that the history of porcelain making in Europe would make almost a novel Apparently the King of Poland in the early 1700 s hired an alchemist actually, it s like he emprisoned him to make gold Instead, the alchemist figures out how to do something actually possible, how to make porcelain The King goes nuts for it All of Europe, or at least those in a position to spend money like royalty, goes for it Factories are started Corruption reigns Industrial secrets are kept and stol [...]


    I will never again look at a piece of china or porcelain decoration without thinking of where it was made This book gave a really interesting story of how alchemy and the search for the philosopher s stone to make gold out of base metals led to the first true porcelain manufacturing in Europe Arcana means secret knowledge confined to a certain group of initiates in this book it applies to the formula for successful porcelain making But it could just as well apply to the book itself this is the k [...]

    Joy Wilson

    This is a fascinating book about the history of porcelain I must admit, I bought it because of the title Although I love history, I never would have a book about porcelain could be so interesting It has all the elements of a good mystery with an interesting cast of characters that you will come to like or loathe depending on your preferences You will probably be appalled at how the average workman was treated and abhor those in power Although Gleeson doesn t go onto all the details of the wars b [...]

    Kater Cheek

    As a ceramicist with a fascination for history and chemistry, I found this a worthwhile read Since it was an audiobook, it also made the ride shorter.Even though this book is about the history of Germany s recreation of porcelain, it has many personal stories about the people involved, with violence, greed, lust, tragedy, and pride My main complaint is that there were so many different names, and all so foreign, that I had trouble keeping them straight This might have been because I was listenin [...]


    Fascinating, fascinating book on the development of fine porcelain and how it became the measure of wealth and an object of such obssession that rulers killed and fought for it and plotted to steal formulas Didn t hurt that some of the developed formulas and the products were among items we saw displayed in various museums around the time I read this.

    Alex Sarll

    Not that I have any great interest in porcelain per se, but when you take into account that its birth in Europe was rooted in alchemy, and took in royal debauchery, industrial espionage and an awful lot of backstabbing along the way well, that s another matter Gleeson is no Neal Stephenson when it comes to the prose style, but this still reads somewhat like a side story from the Baroque Cycle.

    Claudia Aroni

    Quite often reality is fascinating than fiction Was Johann Frederick Bottger a charlatan A trickster A fraud Nah He discovered the secret of making porcelain, which after all was the next best thing to gold in Europe of his time.

    Alvin Mccoy

    wow great read, no idea that the history of porcelain could be so interesting.

    Mary Martin

    Stupendous Never look at glass the same way again.

    Bernard Pauwels

    Fascinerend relaas van een cruciale periode in de geschiedenis van het Europees porselein en van Europa in het algemeen En eindelijk eens een boek dat op inzicht geeft in het universum van de keramiek, de technieken, de verhouding tussen keramieksoorten en centra, de inzet en het belang En dat zonder een moment te vervelen.

    Les Dangerfield

    Up to now it seems I ve been overgenerous with my star ratings according to the scale, so I am now adjusting to three stars as I liked it but not exceptional Worth a read to learn about the early struggles of European monarchs to produce porcelain of a comparable quality to that made in China.

    Daniel Lambauer

    Well written pageturner about the origins of European porcellaine and how its story was intrinsically linked to 18th century politics A very interesting history I knew nothing about and in particular I had no idea how difficult it was to invent European porcellaine.

    Kayla Tornello

    This story tells how the art of porcelain making developed in Europe There is a surprising amount of intrigue involved The story was interesting and I learned a lot from it I was really disappointed that there were no pictures, though That would have really enhanced the book.


    Nice balance of history, interpersonal drama, and technicalities It made me actually want to go see some of these places and objects Gleeson s style is quite readable not breezy, but not textbooky either.


    I read this book because I am a porcelain arts painter It was fascinating to read about the history.


    A victory for good storytelling This book makes what is ostensibly a boring and staid subject into a riveting topic.

    Anne Williams

    Surprisingly interesting and readable I knew nothing about porcelain or its making and had no idea that it originated in China and took years of experimentation in Europe to uncover the Arcanum formula and process for making it I also had no idea how valuable and sort after it was the porcelain collections of museums will be areas of some interest to me now As fascinating as the story of European porcelain, are the depictions of the social and political climate of eighteenth century Europe I was [...]


    A SDMB recommendation thanks, selkie , I requested this book via InterLibrary Loan I got it on the 7th, started reading in the 19th finished it earlier today In the Europe of the early 1700 s, porcelain was as rare and as precious as gold and used to flaunt one s wealth, as well as for artistic purposes The drive to discover the formula and start reaping the profits currently going back to China was strong Gleeson compares it to the search for the philosopher s stone In fact, it was an alchemist [...]

    Jenny Chisnell

    I wrote some comments on this, but they have disappeared into the internet somewhere Long story short, I was just at the Walters Art Museum in Balti enjoying their ridiculously awesome collection of 18th century rococo porcelain in all its teals and pinks and golds and corals ex artewalters viewwoap and was pleasantly surprised to happen across this book, a forgotten interlibrary loan, on my return it s neat when your experiences and what you happen to be reading seamlessly coalesce into an inte [...]


    This is the story of how Porcelain came to be Its been awhile since I read this and thanks to someonelse s review I was reminded that its discovery was a result of trying to find the secret for turning things into Gold and their is a connection to The Philosopher s Stone I believe many people now associate it with J.K Rowlings Hary Potter Series but it was around long before her books, According to The philosopher s stone Latin lapis philosophorum is a legendary alchemical substance said to be c [...]

    Alex K.

    This book was actually a very fun read despite its appearance Even when I attempt to hand it to others to enjoy they look at it with ire and declare why the hell would they want to read a book on the history of porcelain The Author makes it a very enjoyable book Having read one other I knew what to expect from her series of historical pieces This book though is a pretty good look at how money really influences a lot in today and past society It also shows how much we take for granted in society [...]


    Did you know that for centuries, only Asian countries knew the secret of creating porcelain Neither did I, until I happened upon Janet Gleeson s The Arcanum The Extraordinary True Story Gleeson s book tells the story of a self proclaimed alchemist who convinced a king that he could turn lead into gold Unable to duplicate his initial success, the alchemist was imprisoned until such time as he made good on his claims He was never able to turn lead into gold, but he did stumble upon the recipe for [...]

    Margaret Pinard

    Interesting treatment of the intrigues over porcelain technology I picked this up because I loved a fiction work of Gleeson s, but found this nonfiction book to be a little less captivating, mostly because she repeated things that were still true, when it wasn t necessary It felt like stretching out the narrative The king was impatient again or Bottger was still getting drunk all the time to drown away his sorrows or the spies were swarming around Meissen factory, still etc But if you cut those [...]


    I can honestly say I never thought the history of European porcelain making would be this interesting Gleeson keeps the story moving along with just the right amount of detail, and the characters are all very well fleshed out but understandably never seem very relatable A minor complaint, but this book really could have benefitted from extensive illustrations it would have been great to actually see the artworks being described I understand the BBC did a miniseries of this book, and I think I wi [...]


    A surprisingly lively story about the development of European porcelain And the title is not misleading It was indeed a practicing alchemist who was sidetracked from his quest to change base metals into gold that ended up discovering the process for making porcelain Probably this sounds boring to a lot of folks, so that s why I started with that bit about being surprisingly lively While the history of porcelain proves than interesting enough, the details of the sufferings, triumphs, and machina [...]


    The story of how porcelain and porcelain manufacture came to Europe It was a time of overindulgence, opulence, the divine right of Kings and intrigue And I thought the relationship of my fellow art students in college was nasty Not the fastest read and I wished all the way through there were many pictures of the porcelain to which I could refer, but it was quite interesting and surprising, or perhaps eye opening would be a better description.


    This is one of my favorite history books It was the first one for me that really made it click how interconnected things are, that events in history and in an area rarely happen on their own and only influence the people directly involved.The writing was very approachable and easy to read but I still felt I was given a lot of information and insight and the people involved felt real to me, not flat and one dimensional

    Pamela Pickering

    Well, I guess since I m sending this one out via paperbackswap it qualifies as abandoned I was disappointed in this one especially after all the hype non fiction that reads like a novel , maybe a boring novel Frankly, I just couldn t get into it I gave it the ole 100 page rule and went on to something else Maybe it s the writer s style that just didn t hook me I did learn a wee bit about the search for porcelain though.

    Tatiana Pastukhova

    Amazing, astonishing, stupendous Would never guess that documentary historical book can be so thrilling.It is a story of european porcelain, born by genious mind of adventurer Alchemist It will lead you through intrigues, conspiracies, warsI think anyone who ve read this book would never hold a cup on his hand without feeling centures of history which stands behind it


    Beautifully written history a young alchemist is imprisoned by Augustus the Strong, king of Saxony, and given a laboratory The Alchemist, Johann Frederick B ttger, fails to transmute base metal into gold, but he does discover the secrets of making white gold , or porcelain, and still spends decades in jail

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      Posted by:Janet Gleeson
      Published :2020-03-15T14:16:05+00:00