Dr. S. A. Peters, writing to the Spiritual Telegraph, states that he saw in the laboratory of Professor Hare, in Philadelphia, some copper cents which had been changed into gold by the spirits, and then rechanged to copper. He also saw two pieces of platina ore placed into a box, together with two sealed glass tubes, quite empty, and in a short time the spirits had reduced the ore into pieces of metallic platinum which were in the glass tubes; and other experiments equally wonderful. These changes were all performed by the agency of a young man, a medium, through whom the spirits announced their magical power. We must confess that we are surprised that in this age, men of intelligence and learning, as many spiritualists undoubtedly are, can be deceived by such tricks, which are only worthy the booth of a traveling conjurer; and we are disposed to believe that the box into which all these articles have to be placed for the change to be performed, is one of those mechanical devices which aid the magic of a Robert Houdin or Professor Anderson. At any rate, from our knowledge of what spirit life is, deduced from logical inference, we confidently assert that no disembodied spirit ever condescended from a higher sphere, or ascended from a lower one, to amuse the world with the tricks of an itinerant magician. If the spirits can, and are willing to change copper cents into gold, which is made to appear in the above statement, California gold mines are of no value. We have only to get copper from Lake Superior, and get the spirits to transform it into gold. The whole statement bears the seal of trickery upon its very face.
This article was originally published with the title "Spiritual Alchemy" in Scientific American 13, 37, 294 (May 1858)