In our research for “Ingenious Mechanicks,” we translated parts of a codex from 1505 that was written and illustrated by Martin Löffelholz. In it, Löffelholz showed what are likely the first modern workbenches with a tail vise and face vise.
During the translation, we also encountered a recipe for what we thought was a love potion.
As “Ingenious Mechanicks” is a woodworking book, and I have no need for a love potion (I’m married), translator Görge Jonuschat and I skipped the love potion section.
For my birthday, Görge set out to translate the section and perhaps concoct the potion. But what he found was the “love potion” wasn’t exactly about making someone fall in love with you. Here is his translated text from page 73 of the codex:
If someone fell in love (or else) with you
Which comes unwanted or something else,
Then from a ditch through which corpses are carried
To their grave
Take from it one stone, chip off a piece the size of a hazel;
Where a crosspiece spans this creek or water,
Cut a little splinter
Then take moss from a wayside shrine.
More accurately arrange a bit of everything,
Then add consecrated salt,
Place in a neat cloth,
Dip into Holy Water,
Hang it on that someone’s neck,
And it will pass, which is certain.
If you’re so inclined, pay heed to remain chaste –
If that is your will, etc.
There are a number of ways to read this passage, and I leave that interpretation to you. However, it’s clear that this potion would not be the answer to your awkward high school dreams.
— Christopher Schwarz