Theodore Tiffereau’s failure to successfully repeat his experiment is, for him, so unacceptable that he starts to ask himself if it isn’t France’s climate which is compromising the transmutation.  He tells himself:

“Perhaps I need to again find the Mexican atmosphere, that state of electricity in the air, that hot sun.  For a body to be able to develop, it is indispensable that it be in a propitious milieu.  Is it because of the temperature of the tropical countries that gold mines are so numerous and so rich there, while they are, in our climates, so rare and so poor?”

Then, he comes to settle in Paris, 130 rue du Theatre, in the Grenelle quarter, and starts to look for financial aid to return to Mexico.  But the people to whom he addresses himself laugh at him, saying:

“If you are making gold, you don’t need us to lend you money!”

An economist warns him:

“I do not know, Sir, whether your discovery is serious.  But if it is, forget it straight away.  For, if you make gold, you will have to deliver your secret, and in less than ten years, the Bank of France’s gold will be worth nothing, and the country will be ruined!”

This does not discourage Tiffereau who writes to the Monnaie, to members of the Academy, to Ministers, to scholars.  They tell him that he is crazy, they laugh, they throw him out.  Years pass by, he becomes a photographer, earns a little money, and uses it to publish – at his own expense – a brochure which attracts the attention of the press.  Journalists come to interview him;  a few chroniclers consecrate an article to him.  Will someone at last help him?  Will he be able to return to Mexico?

In 1889, he suddenly has great hope.  The direction of the Universal Exhibition authorises him to exhibit behind glass, not far from Gustave Eiffel’s tower, the ten grammes of gold that he has made.  Every day, he is there, near his cherished pieces, ready to answer questions.  But the public passes by, indifferent.  When the exhibition closes its doors, he returns home, bitter, desperate.

And no-one will ever again hear of Theodore Tiffereau who had perhaps found, by accident, the secret of the Middle Ages alchemists…

***

The historian, G. Lenotre, who met Tiffereau.

This story is known because of the historian, G. Lenotre, who is a famous specialist of anecdotal History.  One day, around 1892, Lenotre accidentally met Tiffereau, who was then seventy-five, and became interested in him.  He listened to his story, and went to his little apartment in the Rue du Theatre, where he saw, under a glass globe, the ten grammes of gold made in Mexico…  Lenotre also climbed up to the laboratory that Tiffereau had installed in an empty maid’s room where, until the end of his life, he repeated – in vain – his experiment…

***

All chemists will tell you that it is impossible to transform copper and silver into gold, using sulphuric acid.

***

According to Lenotre, Tiffereau was absolutely not a charlatan.  He was a humble, timid, effaced man, dazzled by his discovery, but did not at all resemble a swindler…

***

The hypothesis that he may have been the victim of some sort of mystification in Mexico has been mentioned.  A few people say that someone had perhaps substituted gold shavings for the copper ones used in his experiment.  But a question immediately comes to mind:  given that he had spoken to no-one about the experiment that he wanted to attempt, why would anyone have played this joke on him?

***

There is another hypothesis, highly improbable, but not impossible, that the laboratory in Mexico, where he obtained the copper shavings, made a mistake and sold him – in error – gold shavings instead…

However, we must remember one detail:  during his first experiment, he placed in his bottle ten grammes of a mixture of silver and copper shavings…  And he obtained ten grammes of gold…  If we admit that he had not used copper shavings – either through an error, or through a mystification – but gold shavings, he must at least have transformed the silver shavings…

***

This story remains an enigma.  But if Theodore Tiffereau really did make gold, you have been given, in the first part of this story, the secret – at least partially – of the Great Work of the alchemists…

***

Advertisements