Alchemy Index


Transmutations of Lead & Mercury to Gold

Franz Tausend's Transmutations

Reviewed by

Robert A. Nelson

Just before World War II, a controversial young man named Franz Tausend entered into the industrial manufacture of gold. His business methods led him to be accused of fraud, but there is some evidence that he actually did realize the secret of low-energy transmutations of base metals to gold.

Franz Tausend was born in 1884 at Krumbach in the province of Swabia, Bavaria. His father was a tinsmith, and Franz learned the craft. His native intelligence prompted his pastor and schoolmaster to petition for his admission to a teachers’ training college. But Franz soon left that drear and transferred to a Non-Commissioned Officers’ school. After three years, however, Tausend left the school as a mere private. He went to work as a lab assistant in a chemical factory until the beginning of World War I, during which he was posted as a private at Metz.

During his military service, Franz Tausend read all available chemistry books and began to develop his own alchemical hypothesis of the structure of matter. When he was discharged from the army at age 34 in 1919, Tausend set to work to test his ideas on transmutation. In 1921 in Obermenzig (a suburb of Munich), Franz experimented fruitlessly with processes for the production of aluminum from clay, of morphia from salt, of nickel, and a method for the cheaper manufacture of steel.

Tausend moved his laboratory to Aubing, where he wrote a pamphlet entitled ‘180 Elements, Their Atomic Weight, and Their Incorporation in the System of harmonic Periods’. His fundamental thesis held that each element possesses a characteristic frequency of vibration which is related to the weight of the nucleus and the layers of electrons surrounding it. His theory can be compared to modern Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and other similar characteristic identifications of elements and molecules. Tausend thought that transmutation could be accomplished by comlementing or supplementing the frequencies of elements by means of ‘symphonic’ wave interactions of light and sound, thus to create new harmonics of matter.

Contemporarily in September 1919, the eminent physicist A. Sommerfeld declared a similar opinion: ‘What we now are able to learn from the language of the spectra is really the spheral music of the atom, a harmony of whole-number relations, a growing order and harmony despite all diversity’.

Tausend formed his first company, Tausend –Reinhardt Gmbh, in 1923. His 21-year old partner and general manager, Rudolf Reinhardt, was a law student who invested 5000 marks of his own, and secured a loan of 100,000 marks from a Frau Schielbach at 24% interest and 50% of the company’s profits. Tausend immediately spent 300,000 lire to purchase the Castle of Paschback (near Eppau in the South Tyrol) as his laboratory, where the company entered into the manufacture of zinc peroxide. Tausend also then married a pretty young waitress to make a home with him in the castle. Tausend spent 25,000 marks to equip an experimental laboratory. One of his experiments with a compound of lead exploded. When scraped off the walls, traces of gold were obviously evident in the splashes of melt.

Thus encouraged, Reinhardt advised Tausend to petition the government with his process. The Bavarian Minister of Finance believed Tausend and allowed experiments to be performed at the Munich Mint, but other officials there objected. At this, Rudolf Reinhardt then went to the Imperial Chancellor’s Office in Berlin, and convinced them to appoint a ‘Trustee of the German People’, who was none other than General Erich von Ludendorff.

General von Ludendorff had been acquitted as a co-conspirator with Adolf Hitler in 1924, when Hitler was jailed for attempting to organize a putsch in Munich. In 1925, the General ran for the office of President of the German Republic, but he was roundly defeated by General Hindenburg. Thereafter General Ludendorff offered his services as the Trustee requested by Tausend. Ludendorff visited Tausend with a group of associates comprised of a chemical engineer named Kummer, Alfred Mannesmann, a businessman, Herr Osthoff, a banker, a merchant of Koln named Stremmel, and Franz von Rebay.

Acting on Tausend’s instructions, Herr Stremmel bought the required materials, which were melted by Kummer and von Rebay, then remelted by the mixture in an electric furnace and added a bit of white powder. The melt was cooled and the crucible broken to reveal a gold nugget which weighed 7 grams. Herr Stremmel had the gold assayed by a Munich jeweler who declared it to be 23-carat quality. Unconvinced, Stremmel had the specimen tested again in Berlin, with the same result; the gold was genuine and pure.

In June, 1925, Franz Tausend and General Ludendorff concluded an agreement in which the General received the usufruct of manufacturing synthetic gold on behalf of the German Republic. But the agreement required ratification by President Hindenburg, who refused to do so.

On July 1, 1925, General Ludendorff made other, private arrangements with Tausend, who renounced all rights to his discovery and swore to absolute secrecy concerning the process. Furthermore, he assigned any further improvements in the invention to General Ludendorff. On October 14, 1925, Tausend and Ludendorff signed two contracts which were notarized by Munich Councillor Schramm. One contract was to form a new Company 164 --- 164 being a code for gold. The second contract was private with general Ludendorff, who thereby secured all rights to Tausend’s discoveries.

Tausend was to receive 5% of the profits, investors 12%, and General Ludendorff’s ‘special collaborators’, who invested nothing, were to enjoy 8%. The General’s share was 75%, which money was to e spent on ‘patriotic’ goals --- the Nazi party.

Ludendorff immediately proceeded to embezzle a large percentage of investment money, and he introduced more ‘special collaborators’ who contributed nothing, but claimed their 8%. In addition, they demanded to observe the process, which by them was producing up to one ounce of gold in each experiment. One collaborator, a chemist named Doering, learned the entire process and then offered his services to the General, claiming that he could manufacture gold too, and in larger amounts than Tausend. But Ludendorff remained ‘faithful’ to Tausend, so Doering left Company 164 to start his own business of manufacturing gold.

Excited investors put nearly one million marks into Company 164. These persons included the Princes Hermann and Ulrich con Schonberg-Waldenburg, each of whom invested 72,500 marks. A merchant named von Winkler, who invested 40,000 marks, begged Tausend for a bit of artificial gold with which to make a bracelet for his mother, who was celebrating her golden wedding anniversary with her husband. Tausend generously graced him with a gift of 100 grams of gold.

Tausend assured the investors that Company 164 already had 120 kilograms of gold deposited in a Berlin bank, that he was soon to produce it by the ton. But the investors were disturbed to see so much of their money --- over 400,000 marks --- disappearing into General Ludendorff’s schemes.

About this time, another of Tausend’s experiments exploded when gas was admitted into the smelting furnace. Franz von Rebay and others of Ludendorff’s confidants were present and scraped an ounce of gold from the walls of the furnace.

By December 1926, General Ludendorff had drained Company 164 to such an extent that he deemed it prudent to withdraw from the business. He returned all rights to the gold-manufacturing process --- and all of the company’s debts --- to Tausend. Company 164 was dissolved, and on January 9, 1927 the Tausend Research Society was formed in Frankfurt to replace Company 164 and take over its phantom holdings. Chairman Tausend generously limited the shareholders’ profits to 1500% of the original capital, ad allotted 15% of all new income to himself. The Society’s statutes warned that ‘All members of the Society clearly understand that tier subscriptions are paid in faith and without counter-security’.

Two former subscribers to Company 164, Johann and Fritz Kuchenmeister of Saxony had taken a bath I that venture and resolved to liquidate one of their industrial assets, an obsolete textile mill, at Tausend’s expense. They sold the building to Tausend for the exorbitant sum of 150,000 marks, and there in Frieburg the alchemist wstablished his new laboratory.

In November 1927, the merchant Stremmel of Koln, who had entered Germany 164 with General Ludendorff and remained as Tausend’s general manager, resigned his post. He was replaced by Herbert von Oberwirzer, a Dresden manufacturer. By this time, little more money was forthcoming from the German industrialists, so Tausend went to Vienna to seek further funding for his enterprise. Tausend successfully demonstrated his process to the steel magnates Phillip and Richard von Schooler. They and others in the so-called Vienna Group invested 235,000 marks and offered the use of three blast furnaces  (with a capacity of 60 tons each)for the production of gold. But Tausend demurred, saying that such large-scale production was premature at that time.

On June 16, 1928, Franz Tausend made his first large-scale experiment in manufacture of fold. A mixture of 750 grams of materials including lead and borax was melted according to Tausend’s formula, and a few milligrams of his secret catalyst, a white powder, was added. When the melt had nearly reached the melting point of gold, the crucible was removed from the furnace and examined. A yellow mass was visible beneath the original lead. The crucible was heated again for 24 hours. The yield was 723 grams of gold from 750 grams of base metals.

The success of this experiment prompted Tausend to issue a series of gold certificates valued at 10 kg each, or 25,000 marks. But a year later, when no more gold was forthcoming, an investigation of fraud was made, and Tausend was jailed while it ensued. During that time he was allowed to perform an experiment under strict supervision at the Munich Mint, with the understanding that he would be released if it was successful. The experiment succeeded, but the expert witnesses disagreed so violently that their testimonies were useless in court when the trial opened on January 19, 1931. On February 5, Tausend was convicted of fraud and sentenced to three years and eight months imprisonment. After he was released, he disappeared from public view.

According to Scheff’s description of Tausend’s process, 111 grams of lead chloride was fused under paraffin with 60 grams potassium hydroxide. Then more KOH was added, and the solution kept molten. The melt was cooled under vacuum.

76 grams of potassium and  55 grams of sodium were fused under paraffin, then 131.44 grams of mercury were added, and the mixture heated overnight,  followed by another 365 grams of mercury. The crystallized product was remelted.

17.4 grams of the lead chloride-KOH product was reacted with 5.4 grams of K-Na-Hg to yield 5.4 grams of gold.

Another process employed 25.2 grams KOH and silica, heated on a waterbath. After 5 minutes, 1.45 grams of iron oxide was added, and another 3.15 grams of silica. The mixture was heated rd-hot for 90 minutes. Workup yielded 1.9 grams of gold.

Tausend also employed other reagents in his experiments, but it is not known how or why they were used: ammonium carbonate, lime, potassium nitrate, soda, borax, sulfuric acid, and potassium cyanide, oxalic acid, uranyl nitrate, aluminum chloride, potassium arsenide, lead sulfate, tin oxide, silica, and asbestos.


Dr. H. Schleff: Das Goldmacher Franz Tausend (1929)

Dr Alfred Stern: ‘Was sagt die Chemie zu Tausend?’; Morgen-Ausgehe (6 February 1931).

Neue Freie Presse, No. 23849 (5 February 1931); ibid., No. 23850 (6 February 1931)

Volks-Zeitung, No. 27225 (5 February 1931); ibid., No. 27226 (6 February 1931)

Berliner Tagenblatt, No. 61 (5 February 1931)

Frankfurter Zeitung (5 February 1931)

Das Bayer Vaterland, #15 (19 January 1933)

The Literary Digest (9 May 1931); ‘Ludendorff’s Gold Maker and His Magic Powder’.