For thousands of years, alchemy was mainly concerned , in classical folklore, with two objectives. First, to change base metals, especially lead, into gold. Second, to discover an elixir of immortality or at least to live in the physical sense for many centuries. Base metals were considered to be the common metals as iron, copper, nickel, and lead. When freshly cut, lead is bluish-white; it tarnishes to a dull grey color when in contact with the air. Also, the metal is easily extracted from its ores, even in prehistoric times; because of its heaviness, lead was looked upon as especially interesting.
Alchemical texts, throughout the ages, have described various activities; techniques involved to achieve the two goals, but, of course, there was just failure. Some of the manuscripts, scrolls, and books on alchemy were mistakenly thought to work by others until the actual procedures, when tried where discovered to be unproductive. Also, various literature on this occult practice, known to be fiction by others, were sold, for a tidy sum, to unsuspecting believers.
Over the many centuries there have been individuals who actually believed they could turn common metals into gold, but actually, they were very much mistaken. One example is ancient people finding copper and in experimentation, mixing in zinc (both metals are freely found in the world of nature) and from a smelting process, creating brass. Brass can appear to look like gold to untrained; un-knowledgeable individuals.
At times certain forms of bronze, that contain a strong yellowish color, can be mistaken by some people to be gold, over the centuries. Bronze is an alloy made basically of copper, commonly with about 12% tin and often with the addition of other metals and at times other non metals or metalloids such as arsenic, phosphorous, or silicon.
Brass and bronze, with a strong yellowish tint, can even be made to look brighter in color, more gold-like through the centuries old methods of polishing and then buffing metals. There could have been people, over centuries and centuries who produced, through metallurgical means, brass and bronze and not knowing about these 2 metals, actually thought gold was produced.
Another example is a mineral that is not gold, but resembles gold so much it is called “fool’s gold”. We are talking about what is known as iron pyrite. Iron pyrite is often found together with assorted sulfides or oxides in quartz veins, sedimentary rocks, metamorphic rocks, as well as in coal bed, and as a replacement mineral in certain fossils. If an alchemist was experimenting with boiling, heating, applying an acid solution over the rocks, quartz, coal, or fossil and happened to inadvertently free the iron pyrite; and the pyrite was not so noticeable to begin with, he could mistakenly think he caused gold particles to be created.
People who buy gold today, who are highly knowledgeable on the subject, use strong observation and make special tests with the item, in regards to checking weight and putting chemical solutions on the alleged gold item to verify for real gold. Also, such people check to see if something is gold painted, gold washed, gold plated, gold leafed, or gold filled.
Lastly, on YouTube, there are some videos about making (so called) gold. If you type in: copper to gold ; there are videos explaining how to turn a copper penny into silver, then gold. Explains an old alchemical formula. Actually the penny turns into silver colored from zinc, then gold colored from brass. If you type in mercury, electricity and gold; YouTube has at least 2 videos that claim a Japanese scientist, in the 1920’s, took mercury, subjected it to extremely high voltage electricity for weeks(every day nonstop) and them produced real gold. Mercury is a chemical element, known as quick silver, and is white and silvery in color, that is liquid at general room temperatures and very toxic. Mercury was known to the ancients and experimented upon by early alchemists.
In regards to the part of alchemy about immortality or living for many centuries; there are ancient mythical stories of these things and people have, since millenniums made claims f being immortal or being centuries and centuries old. People had their fun telling such extremely “tall tales” and sometimes people will sell people fraudulent secret techniques or false such elixirs.
There are people, as in the Orient or in the Middle East who many years ago, wore the same type of clothes people. then and in that part of the world, have been wearing for many centuries. Very old people, kin their 80’s, 90’s, even 100 years old, wearing such clothes seen by Westerners and listening to imaginary stories of them being centuries old could cause some people believing in their claims that were such elixirs.
There was a Chinese man named Li Ching-Yuen, who died in 1933 allegedly at age197 or 256 years old. He was either born in 1677 or 1736. Li Ching Yuen claimed he was born in 1736. He is reported to have used miraculous medical plants growing on the hills of Yunnan and Kweichow in China. Allegedly, there are even two recognition documents, both over a century apart, contained in dynastic records on this fantastic old man within the government of Peking(now Beijing),
In Chinese Taoist mythology, there are ancient stories about Chinese alchemists discovering “the pill of immortality” or old, old temporarily immortality.
Alchemy has been a quest for many nationalities, races, and individuals from kings to pauper’s for centuries.