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Vol. I, 2007

From : Berj N. Ensanian <>
Sent : Monday, February 26, 2007 1:34 AM
To :

Subject : J.VS: Beginnings

Hello to All

I thought it a good idea to comment very briefly, for the record, on the beginnings of the Journal Of Voynich Studies.

J.VS came out of private email exchanges between myself, Greg, Jan, and Dennis / N3ZCK. These emails concerned the growing need for a Voynich study forum focused on precision approaches to the Voynich manuscript problem and its associated valid fields, with the forum restricted to such a focus, and not encumbered with smorgasboard Voynich interests, however valid. Jan, Greg, and I, have been variously active members of the venerable Voynich Manuscript Mailing List.

In looking over the many email exchanges that resulted in the founding of J.VS I have determined that the de facto birthdate is 23 FEB 2007. We have been busy setting up the temporary mechanics for operation, presently they are manual rather than automated, but we have now put together sufficent mechanics to return to actual Voynich study and try out the mechanics and fine tune them, while also working toward an efficient automated communications system.

It is a rather complicated challenge setting up something like this. Each of the four of us, located in widely different parts of our Earth, thought of critical things that were necessary to get started. I sincerely thank Jan, Dennis, and Greg, (age before beauty :) for being inspiring in addition to being effective.

It is my sincerest hope that J.VS will gather the energies of the best Voynich students in the world, and through their combined efforts build a communications circuit and Journal that will answer admirably the most advanced requirements of this fascinating field of study.

Thank you.

Berj / KI3U
EPI, Northwestern Pennsylvania
From : Jan Hurych <>
Sent : Monday, February 26, 2007 4:35 PM
To :

Subject : J.VS: Welcoming the Journal

I would like to welcome the Journal and wish it a good start and Godspeed,

Date: Mon, 26 Feb 2007 23:51:13 +0100
From: Greg Stachowski <>
To: "J.VS:" < >

Subject: J.VS: Re: Beginnings

A new standard in on-line research publication, and a return to the old values of Voynich research. Here's to the future of the J.VS, may it be long and fruitful.

Greg Stachowski
Date: Tue, 27 Feb 2007 02:23:58 -0500
From: "Berj N. Ensanian" <>

Subject: J.VS: Just Latin, or something more? - Marci vs Marcus vs Marcius etc.

I have noticed that among the 38 "Marci letters" addressed to Athanasius
Kircher, S.J., that we know of, the name / signature of our
person-of-interest "Joannes Marcus Marci" appears in a great variety of

For example: J Marcus Marci, Joannes Marci Marci + sine

Is this merely unimportant switching between different language writing
forms, say between Latin and Czech, or are there two persons "Marci" ?

This question adds to the analytic problems already encountered with the
Marci letters - which are original and which are copies, who exactly wrote
them, who exactly signed them, when were the letters, or their components,
penned, what is the significance of the presence or absence of the
monogrammatic sine along with a particular signature, why are there some
major differences among the sines, what is the significance of the arm-star
diagram on one of the letters [1], are any of the watermarks significant,
and how does Marci's alleged throughout-life-steadily-deteriorating eyesight
square with the penmanship?

And of course, Marci's "last letter to Kircher" is the main pillar upon
which the standard history of the Nine Rosettes Manuscript rests, as
originally given by Wilfrid M. Voynich; and that history has been very
problematic from the beginning on to this day, for its inability to generate
much in the way of illuminating the overall mystery. Nevertheless, a key
element in the standard history is a supposed connection between the
manuscript and Fr. Athanasius Kircher, S.J.

Of the 38 letters, 37 are in the archive of the Pontifical Gregorian
University of Rome (APUG), and one, the so-called "last Marci letter",
written on apparently quite different paper from the others, is the letter
that Wilfrid M. Voynich said he found with the Voynich manuscript, and it is
today together with the VMS at the Beinecke Library of Yale University. [2]

I think that it is quite possible that Marci wrote other letters to Kircher
that are yet to be discovered: the known letters have conspicuous gaps in
the long time period that Marci and Kircher corresponded with each other.
They were friends.

I have not been able to find a discussion concerning that "Marci Marci"
could be a simple substitute for "Marcus Marci" or "Marcius Marci" and that
the difference is indisputably trivial relative to our concerns and points
to a less dramatic possibility than: two different persons, or, say, some
form of secret signalling by one and the same Marci. In light of the other
analytic problems mentioned above, I would be interested in reading some
opinions on this.

We generally think of "Joannes Marcus Marci", but in surveying the letters
we find also: Joannis, Jo, J. and more variations in the components of the
name as scripted.

From the addressing side of some letters it appears that Marci would also
use the Latin abbreviation "9" = "us" : Marc9 Marci = Marcus Marci

In some cases I am not sure if it is "Marcus" or "Marcas".

To look into this systematically, we need an inventory of the Marci letters,
focusing on the signatures. I constructed the TABLE 1 following from two
sources. [5]


The 38 Marci letters with brief observations on the signatures:


3 August 1640 APUG 557 124r : J Marcus Marci + sine
12 September 1640 APUG 557 127r : Joannes Marcus Marci + sine
12 January 1641 APUG 557 64r : Joannes Marcius Marci + sine
2 March 1641 APUG 557 92r : Joannes Marcus Marci + sine
5 October 1641 APUG 557 65r : J Marcus Marci + sine
25 January 1642 APUG 557 82r & v : J. Marcus Marci + sine
15 March 1642 APUG 557 71r : J Marcus Marci + sine
10 May 1642 APUG 557 69r : J Marcus Marci + sine
6 December 1642 APUG 557 86r : J Marcus Marci + sine
28 March 1643? APUG 557 88r : J Marcus Marci
19 September 1643 APUG 557 107r : J Marcus Marci + sine
7 November 1643 APUG 557 90r : J Marcus Marci + sine
28 November 1643 APUG 557 102r : not available
26 December 1643 APUG 557 105r : J Marcus Marci + sine
13 February 1644 APUG 557 104r : J Marcus Marci + sine
3 September 1644 APUG 557 113r : J Marcus Marci + sine
29 October 1644 APUG 557 115r : J. Marcus Marci + sine
25 February 1645 APUG 557 111r : J. Marcus Marci + sine
10 June 1645 APUG 557 116r : ?Marcus Marci + sine
10 March 1646 APUG 557 120r : Joannes Marcus Marci + sine
8 September 1646 APUG 557 117r & v : Joannes Marci Marci + sine
8 September 1646 APUG 557 100r & v : D. Doctoris Joannis Marci Marci
Protomedici - (not a signature)
29 December 1646 APUG 557 128r : J Marcus Marci + sine
15 August 1647 APUG 557 109r : Jo Marcus Marci + sine
11 July 1648 APUG 557 84r : J Marcus Marci + sine
19 March 1649 APUG 557 118r : JM. Marci + sine


23 July 1650 APUG 557 122r : J. Marcus Marci
5 August 1650? arm-star letter APUG 557 130r : J M Marci + sine
10 December 1650 APUG 557 123r & v : ambiguous images, but tending to
support J Marcus Marci + sine
8 March 1653 APUG 557 126r : Jo Marcus Marci
9 July 1655? APUG 557 97r : JM Marci
7 August 1655 APUG 557 94r : J Marcus Marci
October 1655 APUG 557 95r : J Marcus Marci
11 December 1655 APUG 557 96r : J. Marcus Marci
19 August 1658? APUG 557 99r : Jo Marcus Marci
23 February 1659? APUG 557 62r : Jo . Marcus Marci + sine


10 September 1665 APUG 562 114r : Joannes Marcus Marci a Cronland
19 August 1666? Beinecke 408A : Joannes Marcus Marci a Cronland .

One can get the impression that something akin to Ligatura Steganographia is
operative in the signatures and sines. [3]

We lack solid data on the dimensions of the letters, and therefore on the
size of the signatures. I have previously suggested that we might look
closely at the hands in these letters toward the possibility that a woman
did some of the writing, and perhaps it is the same hypothetical woman who
wrote some of the Voynich text of Beinecke MS 408. [4]

Eliciting some comments on that intriguing thought was really the main
motivation for this communication.

Berj / KI3U

[1] vms-list thread: VMs: The arm-star diagram on APUG 557 130v; Thursday,
February 15, 2007 10:05 AM

[2] images of Marci's last letter to Kircher are reproduced in D'Imperio's
book, in the 1928 Newbold-Kent book "The Cipher Of Roger Bacon", and online;
for example, Dana Scott has different images of it:

[3] vms-list post: Re: VMs: Possible Voynich text in a Kircherr letter;
Monday, February 19, 2007 5:51 PM

[4] vms-list post: Re: VMs: The Mysterious Miss Nill; Wednesday, February
21, 2007 8:52 PM

[5] I used the old handwritten indexes:

"TOMUS IIIus continet Epistolas Litteratorum Externorum" : APUG 557 1v and

"INDEX Literarum et Rerum in Tomo 8uo contentarum" : APUG 562 1v

Note that in these it is always "Marci Marci".

I also used the list of the Marci letters constructed by Philip Neal:

To directly view an APUG image, say APUG 557 118r, construct the url as

Background information on these images, as well as the much larger scope of
the Athanasius Kircher Correspondence Project, is online here:
Date: Wed, 28 Feb 2007 00:48:47 +0100
From: Greg Stachowski <>
To: "J.VS:" < >

Subject: J.VS: Re: Just Latin, or something more? - Marci vs Marcus vs Marcius etc.

Having now had time to think about it, it seems to me that what you term 'sine' are examples of 'manu propria' [1], that is marks indicating that the letter was written by Marci himself (or at least directly verified by him), whereas the others were written indirectly on his behalf by scribes or secretaries. This is also consistent with most of the signatures both without manu propria and showing more variation in style being later in his life. An analysis of the handwriting (which I don't have time to do at the moment) should confirm all this.

The 'Marci Marci' is simply the genitive case (that is, possessive). In each case it should be read as 'of Marcus Marci', for example:

" Ex Libris D. Doctoris Johannis Marci Marci " (APUG 557 f100r)


" From the books of D. Doctor Johannes Marcus Marci ".

Similarly in the indexes, where the implied meaning is "[Letter of] Marcus Marci", or, more naturally in English, "Marcus Marci's letter".


Date: Wed, 28 Feb 2007 08:16:14 +0100
From: Greg Stachowski <>
To: "J.VS:" < >

Subject: J.VS: Re: Just Latin, or something more? - Marci vs Marcus vs Marcius etc.

My apologies, the text on APUG 557 f100r is of course

" Ex Literis D. Doctoris Johannis Marci Marci "

not "Ex Libris ..."; "from the letters" rather than "from the books".

Of course, the rest (genitive case) is the same.

Date: Wed, 28 Feb 2007 04:44:40 -0800 (PST)
From: Jan Hurych <>

Subject: J.VS: Re: Just Latin, or something more? - Marci vs Marcus vs Marcius etc.

I would like to summarize here the background of the problem, which may appear to non-regular student of Voynich Manuscript (in short the VM) as only marginal. It goes however to he core of the existing provenance of the VM, which was lately compromised by new discoveries.

The Voynich manuscript was found in villa Frascati in Italy and was bought by Wilfrid M. Voynich, the antique dealer and scholar. It was originally there as a part of Jesuit scholar Athanasius Kircher's collection and it was found together (tied together?) with the letter from Ioannes Marcus Marci, once a rector of Prague University. The letter was confirming that the Manuscript was once in Prague and was sent by Marci to Kircher as a gift. Also, Voynich later found in the manuscript (invisible, but revealed under ultraviolet light) the erased name of Jacobus de Tepenec, famous Prague Court official and later the heytman of the Melnik castle and county.

So far the provenance and those two items were - until recently - considered the only iron-clad facts about the VM. Since the author, the script and the language of the VM was not known (and still is not), it was popularly called the Voynich manuscript.

Later, however, the facts started to appear throwing some doubts on those facts as well. Should the letter was not found tied with the manuscript but elsewhere, both items would not support each other in the provenance and there will be no proof that Marci's letter is talking about our VM manuscript. The only confirmation would be the erased name of Horczicky connecting it to Prague, but we do not have any other proof either. So the other options still open: the letter may be talking about another manuscript and the whole provenance may fall apart,

The doubts I mentioned are now supported by two finds: the letter was not written in Marci's hand and after the recent discovery of Horczicky's signature in Prague, by joint efforts of Rafal Prinke and Peter Kazil ( supported by another sample of the signature found in Melnik archive) lead to investigation of the one in teh VM. We are now almost certain that the name of Horczicky, hidden in the VM, was not written in Horcizcky's hand.

There may be some acceptable explanations for both cases but again, they are only indirectly supported and questionable as well. The name of Tepenec could have been written there by anybody, say the archiver (or even by Kircher). However, we know that Horczicky had a habit to exlibris his books in his own hand (Prague signature is actually his exlibris and Melnik signature is his official signature). The doubts are also supported by the fact hat the signature was found already erased - or to look like it was erased. The research in this problem might follow, thanks to excellent scans of the VM by Beinecke library (the scans are on the Net), but until more facts are found, we seem to be at standstill.

The only opened avenue is of course Marci's letter and again, it is not written in his hand. The explanation may be that - according to Czech sources - Marci was losing his eyesight and eventually went completely blind. That would explain while the letter was written by somebody else, apparently his scribe. But again, it might have been written by anybody, even after Marci's death. So only verifiable detail there is Marci's signature, which Marci always used to confirm by his "sine" next to his name. To make things more complicated, that particular letter has no "sine".

For the above reasons, the collection of other Marci's letters in Carteggio Kircheriana at the Gregorian University in Rome (again, the scans are on Internet) by Berj Ansanian. I consider his work very important for the provenance of the VM and I anxiously following his results.

Jan Hurych

1) The VM, Wikipedia summary:
2) Fletcher, John E. "Johann Marcus Marci writes to Athanasius Kircher", Janus, 59 (1972)

* * * * *

Correction communicated to J.VS by Jan Hurych 28 FEB 2007:

"For the above reasons, the collection of other Marci's letters in Carteggio Kircheriana at the Gregorian University in Rome (again, the scans are on Internet) was studied by Berj Ensanian. I consider his work very important for the provenance of the VM and I am anxiously following his results."

Date: Thu, 01 Mar 2007 01:02:08 -0500
From: "Berj N. Ensanian" <>

Subject: J.VS: Re: Just Latin, or something more? - Marci vs Marcus vs Marcius etc.

I think that directly, or indirectly, we are saying that we believe that the
last two Marci letters:

10 September 1665 APUG 562 114r : Joannes Marcus Marci a Cronland
19 August 1666? Beinecke 408A : Joannes Marcus Marci a Cronland .

were neither written, nor signed by Joannes Marcus Marci, the friend of
Kircher, but that it appears that these two letters were at least signed by
the same hand. And, we really do not know if Marci was cognizant that these
two letters were written. Of course it is possible that he directed them to
be written on his behalf, because he was unable due to poor health and
eyesight or something.

The outstanding difference between these two letters is that the 10
September 1665 letter was among Kircher's papers, and was recorded as
existing in Kircher's papers when the old TOMO 8uo INDEX was penned (APUG
562 1r & v).

In that index (APUG 562 1v), the entry for this letter (APUG 562 114r)

Joannis Marci Marci . Praga 10 Septembris 1665

The letter itself is signed Joannes, not Joannis, and also it includes the
"a Cronland".

In the old indexes there is quite a lot of variation in how letters are
recorded. It would take a lot of work to go over it all and see if there are
any possible peculiarities of interest to us.

However, aside from the difference in paper the two letters were writen on,
the similarity of the hands between these last two Marci letters is a strong
case for: a "Marci letter" long extant in Kircher's papers, and the "Marci
letter" that Voynich found with the ms, and of which there is no other
record that we know of, appear to have a connection - the person who penned
them. (Discounting the thought that the 19 August letter is a fake by
someone, sometime, somewhere.)

So far, that is old territory. Lets try to go further.

Now, the writing, and the signatures in these letters is quite small. As is
the writing in the VMS. Do we have any strong logical reasons why it is
impossible, or highly improbable, that whoever penned these letters also
penned some parts of the Voynich manuscript? A woman perhaps?

What do we know about the women in Marci's life? Wife, sister, daughter,
housekeeper, friend ?

Date: Thu, 1 Mar 2007 07:45:01 -0800 (PST)
From: Jan Hurych <>

Subject: J.VS: Re: Just Latin, or something more? - Marci vs Marcus vs Marcius etc.

In regard to Marci's last letter ( I called it " last ", since no later letter to Kircher was found, irregardless the fact he died on 10.4.1667) I went back to the book of Mary d"Imperio " The Voynich manuscript - An Elegant Enigma " and found another interesting doubts.

In Chapter 1.1. of the above book it is said " a letter, found between the pages of the manuscript " while in Chapter2.1 is quoted Voynich himself:
" It was not until some time after the manuscript came into my hands that I read the document bearing the date 1665 (or 1666), which was attached to the cover. Because of this late date I had regarded it as of no consequence and therefore neglected it during the first examination of the manuscript ".

We can assume that Voynich description is more accurate and the other statement, the letter " being found between the pages " was apparently only the figure of speech and not a reference to other description of the event. Similarly, the statement " tied to the manuscript " that I we can see sometimes quoted on Net, is probably just a figure of speech.
It makes for the whole difference where and how the letter was found - inserting of the letter inside the manuscript could have been done any time later while the attaching of the letter to manuscript could have been done be even by Kircher himself.

The quite important is also the fact that Voynich haven't read the letter before his examination of the VM (but he did see the date :-). In another quote by Voynich in the above book (Chapter 2.1) he claims that he did the brief examination and the " the vellum, the calligraphy, the drawings and the pigment suggested to me as the date of its origin the latter part of the thirteenth century ". He further asserts he was thinking right away about Roger Bacon and was surprised when he later read the letter also confirmed the name.

So Mr. Voynich admits he read the letter much later. It is however hard to believe that the expert as he was was not looking into the letter first. The curiosity aside, he surely must have read the letter before he was buying the VM - the price of the manuscript depends on its provenance. The find of the letter attached right to the book was an event the anriquarists were only dreaming of. Why it was necessary to mention that he first thought about it and then it was confirmed by the letter? To enforce the rumor about Bacon mentioned in the letter - or was it just a interesting coincidence worth mentioning?

As for other data in the book (Chapter 2,1), d'Imperio concludes that the VM " must have come into Marci's possession sometime before 1644 ", since Marci talked about it with Mr. Missowski who died in that year. However, Marcimight have known about the Vm before he inhereted it. He stated in his letter that "This book, bequeathed to me by an intimate friend, I destined for you, my very dear Athanasius, as soon as it came into my possession... " True, he did not say exactly when he got it, but it must have been after Barschius sent his first (or even after his second) letter to Kircher, since Marci says in his letter " The former owner of this book once asked your opinion by letter ".

Those two letters were sent by Barschiusint 1637 and 1639 respectively). And Marci surely got the VM after Barschius's death, estimated by Rene Zandbergen as being " before 1662 " (and it is a general consensus that it was not too much before). Marci then owned the VM for some short time and apparently tried to solve it (he did some decrypting works before). It would be interesting if we can find his scribbles in the VM .

The situation is more complex since Marci knew Barschius since " before 1622 " (as per Rene) and they were friends, therefore Marci could have seen the VM soon after that date. In the same year, Horczicky died and it is also the latest date he could have had the VM in his possession. Marci surely did not have the manuscript in 1640, when he was with Kircher in Rome (says John Manly). Moreover, Marci did not say the year when he got the VM, he only said that since that day he destined to Kircher, not that he really sent it as soon as he got it. Apparently, when he lost his eyesight, the VM had no use for him. The dating of the letter fits closely to the time he lost his sight, that is shortly before he died.

Note: D'Imperio apparently did not know about the name ' Barschius ', since she mentions that Manly suggests Marci got the VM from Miserone, his father in law. As for Voynich, there is a good possibility he knew about Barschius - he corresponded with Czech archives. Or he could have got the name from Marci's book " Philosophia vetus restituta " (1662).

1) Mary d"Imperio " The Voynich manuscript - An Elegant Enigma ", Aegean Park Press
2) The translation of the last Marci's letter by Tiltman (as published in the above book)
3) The Internet website of René Zandbergen,

Date: Thu, 01 Mar 2007 19:56:49 -0500
From: "Berj N. Ensanian" <>

Subject: J.VS: Letters to Kircher by Baresch and Marci

Standard VMS history identifies M. Georgius Baresch as an owner, post- de
Tepenec / Horcizcky / Sinapius, of the book now residing at the Yale
Beinecke Library as MS 408, our manuscript. [1]

How positive is this identification of Baresch as an owner of the book?
I have some fair attack-questions designed to probe the precision and
solidity of the indentification.

Among Athanasius Kircher's papers at the Pontifical Gregorian University of
Rome (PUG), is recorded a letter to him, written in Prague, on 27 April
1639, by one M. Georgy Baresch. [2]

The actual letter, signed "M. Georgius Baresch", exists in the archives of
the PUG. [3]

In this letter Baresch tells Kircher that the letter is being delivered to
Kircher by one Fr. Moretum, S.J.

Baresch says that a year and a half earlier (therefore in 1637), he sent to
Kircher a careful transcript of portions of an old book of unknown symbols.
And Fr. Moretum has seen the transcript.

Now, in standard Voynich ms history, it is proposed that Baresch, a friend
of Marci, is in this 1639 letter talking about our manuscript.

We have no other letters from Baresch to Kircher. The first letter from
Marci to Kircher that we know of, is dated not quite a year and a half after
the Baresch letter: 3 August 1640. [4]

The critical last Marci letter to Kircher (1665 or 1666) [5] mentions a
friend that Marci received the book from (the book that Marci is now, in
1665 or 1666, sending to Kircher), but Marci does not name that friend.

I am interested in stimulating commentary on these questions:

1.) Baresch in his letter introduces the subject of the transcript (he wants
Kircher to solve it) by first starting off paying homage to Kircher's
ability to read the "Sphinx" of Coptic (Kircher has become famous for
that), and pointing out that Kircher, in his famous 1636 book, Prodromus
coptus sive aegyptiacus, invites readers to send him additional (similar?)
material to work on.

It seems to me that Baresch implies that the transcript he has sent Kircher
is similar to Coptic script.

How does this square with the VMS script, which is not at all similar to
Coptic script?

The individual VMS glyphs are not even mysterious - they are common, even if
only as ligatures, in European writing, at the time-of-interest. The
anomalous character of the VMS script derives from its alphabet being
constructed of those particular glyphs, not because the glyphs by themselves
are particularly strange.

Why would anybody, Baresch for instance, think that the challenge of
deciphering Voynich script involves advanced and inspired knowledge of
ancient Coptic?

2.) Baresch tells Kircher that the mysterious book (which Baresch has partly
transcribed) was uselessly taking up space in his library.

But Marci, in his last letter to Kircher, says that the former owner of the
"Sphynxes" book devoted unflagging toil in trying to decipher it (he was
unsuccessful), and reliquished hope only with his life.

In standard VMS history, if the VMS provenance hypothesis has:

Baresch = the former owner of the book that Marci mentions in the last
Marci-to-Kircher letter

then how does one reconcile the book uselessly taking up space in Baresch's
library, with Baresch unflaggingly toiling unto death over it?

Or, is it hypothesized that there is another owner of the book between
Baresch and Marci?

3.) In his letter Baresch conjectures that the mysterious book's subject is
totally of medical essence, and he mentions the book's numerous herbal
pictures, and diverse images, and stars, and apparently chemical secrets.

As I have written before, altogether one can get the impression that Baresch
is talking about an old Egyptian embalming herbs manual, perhaps a copy of
an original, especially when one takes into consideration the conceptions of
links between life and death in ancient Egypt.

Baresch seems to think similarly, but more along the lines of Egyptian
medical practice. He reinforces this assessment by mentioning the book's
exotic herbs, that the German intellectuals do not know of.

How can Baresch, a university-level thinker, view Voynich herbal pages like
f2r and f52r, and think of them as exotic Egyptian, rather than just unusual
late European medieval style alchemical herbal with symbolic content?

I believe Baresch is German. Kircher is German. So a German telling a German
that f2r and f52r are depictions of exotic Egyptian plants?

Why doesn't Baresch specifically mention the grand dramatic nine rosettes
foldout when he describes the book to Kircher?

I've often written that in my opinion the nine rosettes foldout is the
climax of the entire book, and it is the very first item one would logically
mention in any characterizing description of the mysterious manuscript. That
is why I often refer to Beinecke MS 408 as "The Nine Rosettes Manuscript",

I suppose one could conjecture that Baresch subsumed the 9 rosettes foldout
under "diverse images", or that the foldout was added to the book later than
when Baresch wrote - that could save Baresch as an "identified" owner of the
ms, while raising new questions and possibilities for the origin of MS 408
as we have it.

4.) Why doesn't Baresch mention the numerous unusual images of naked women,
both in astrological diagrams, and even more unusual, in pictures with
tanks, pipes, and rainbows etc. - the so-called balneological pictures? Is
Baresch just being discreet, and again subsuming these under "diverse

The main unifying question is: if Baresch and Marci, in their letters to
Kircher, are talking about the same book, and that book is our ms, Beinecke
MS 408, then do the emphases of their descriptions of the book make sense in
some way? For example, are they purposefully being vague with their
descriptions for some reason? If yes, then what reason?

Standard VMS history sometimes invokes the idea that people tricked Kircher
with respect to manuscripts and scripts. What would be the risk, to a fellow
Jesuit, or a non-Jesuit, in attempting to trick Athanasius Kircher?

It seems to me that the standard history of the VMS ought to have some
answers here if Baresch as "identified" book-owner is to be regarded as a
likely reality.

Berj / KI3U

[1] Jan Hurych mentions Baresch / Barschius in another current J.VS thread:
J.VS: Re: Just Latin, or something more? - Marci vs Marcus vs Marcius etc.;
Thu, 1 Mar 2007 07:45:01 -0800 (PST); com. no. 9

[2] APUG 557 4v

[3] APUG 557 353r & v

[4] APUG 557 124r

[5] in the Beinecke MS 408A material.

Date: Sun, 4 Mar 2007 13:12:45 +0100
From: Greg Stachowski <>
To: "J.VS:" < >

Subject: J.VS: Re: Letters to Kircher by Baresch and Marci

Without commenting further at the moment, it seems to me that one of the most important things to do is to find the original Baresch transcript which he sent to KIrcher. This would confirm the later letter, and decide the issue of Baresch's ownership once and for all.

Where is this transcript? I find it hard to believe that Kircher would throw it away, he seems the sort to archive everything.


Date: Sun, 4 Mar 2007 09:11:55 -0800 (PST)
From: Jan Hurych <>

Subject: J.VS: Re: Letters to Kircher by Baresch and Marci

It is true that we cannot positively tell that our VM if the manuscript once owned by Bares. All we know is that Bares had some manuscript (see his letter) and that Marci sent it to Kircher, the manuscript I would rather call the " Prague manuscript " - since the manuscript stayed for long time in Prague and we still have to prove it is really the VM and both mean the same thing. All so far presented evidence is only circumstantial or even speculative.

The appearance of the VM in Kircher's possession and Baresch sending his Prague manuscript to him could be two different events and their connection purely coincidental. If the samples sent by Baresch were (apparently) lost, so could have been the Prague manuscript. Again, only the exceptionally lucky presence of Marci's letter makes the necessary connection between those two manuscripts. However Marci's letter is not in Marci's hand and the signature there can be a copy as well, the letter cannot be considered as a scientific proof (and definitely not as a proof in the court of law - that's why the last will also needs a witness, to confirm the signature of the deceased, since dead man tells no tales :-). Since we do not even know the name of the scribe, we do not have any admissible verification. Besides, the "sine" is missing there as well, while other Marci letters have it.

There can be objected to this that Marci and Baresch really existed, but that does not mean the things went the way they are so far presented in the provenance. For instance: if it is true that Marci inherited Baresch's library, but that information could have been known to the forger of the letter as well. As for switching the manuscripts, there are many possible scenarios: say Kircher had in his possession many manuscripts and he - by mistake or intent - substituted the Prague manuscript by another one (i.e. by our VM). We may not know the reason but the possibility was there. Or even more credible: after Kircher's death (or during the hasty evacuation of the Jesuit stuff from Rome), somebody found the letter and fixed it to the manuscript by mistake. Or one really humorous story: when selling it to Voynich, the seller knew that the VM without provenance would not sell so well, but he happened to have one isolated manuscript without any documentation and one letter without manuscript . . .you get the picture.

Now back to reality: we cannot say which scenario is more possible, we can only guess. We may even go back to believing that the letter was attached to the manuscript by Kircher himself, even if he forged it - who else would know that letter talks about the Prague manuscript and not about the VM? That also makes for high possibility for some other possibility: maybe Kircher planned to use it for another book of his but died before he wrote it and did not tie them together either - and by honest mistake somebody later believed the VM is the Prague manuscript and fixed them together. All that of course if we believe that those two were really attached when they were found by Voynich and we have have only Voynich's word for it. We have his own statement that he read letter only later, after the thorough investigation of the manuscript :-). This does not mean there was no letter at all - his public statement could have been challenged by the seller later but it was not.

As for Baresch's letter: all we know about Baresch is that he was educated in university (in Prague and in Sapienza, Rome), that he was the Magister or Mister, professional chemist (meaning apparently the 'alchemist', in Marci's book " Philosophia vetus restituta " he is using the word 'chemist'). Also, that he was a Marci's friend ( per the same book) and spent the great part of his life trying to solve the VM (or Prague manuscript, if you wish). When we study his letter, we find however some very suspicious points (some of them already pointed out by Berj):

1) He did not want Kircher to have the original so he sent only the sample copies - even the second time when he wrote to Kircher. He did not even sent any original pages, but the truth is some pages are missing. Too careful or not too trusting?
2) While he did not sent the whole the original, only few lines copied, he wanted badly for Kircher to solve the VM. How could he believe that only few lines could suffice? Was he afraid Kircher would solve the mystery as well?
3) He in reality did not want Kircher to find the mystery itself (we feel he would never part with the book for that reason) otherwise he would copy major part of the book (see above, 2)
5) He suggested medical secrets as a content and it was a poorly masked attempt to get Kircher's attention. There is much more in the book than some medical recipes if any. Also, he is talking about the benefit for the people which sounds a lot like a cliche and we feel he was more interested in the benefit for Baresch.
6) He suggested hieroglyphs and even admitted he knew Kircher wrote a book about hieroglyphs ('Prodromus Coptus'), but the script in the VM is not in Egyptian hieroglyphs). Again, purposeful distortion.
7) It is obvious that the he expected some great benefit from the mystery for himself (say transmutation of metals or even making gold or elixir vitae). Maybe he wanted the recipe of Aqua Sinapia by Horczicky that made Jacobus so rich, but then he would have to know about Horczicky's ownership - or authorship - but he never told about it to anybody.
8) He said the book only collected dust in his library to look like he does not care but we know he was obsessed by it for years. Why he was hiding the fact? Again, why not to send the whole book if he would not care?
9) He suggests that author made a trip to Orient, something which was then (and still is, for some the a synonymum for mystery :-).
10) He is smartly using Kircher's offer (in his book Kircher asked for more material and help with his new book) as an introduction to his letter, pretending he sends it for Kircher's benefit. However later in the letter he is more concerned about the benefit of the mankind (and in one place even the benefit for himself :-).
11) Baresch does not mention how he got the book. If he knew, he apparently did not considered it useful or proper. Or he simply did not know, not even about erased Horczicky's name there ( if the name is not of the later date :-).

We can probably find even more there, but it is sufficient to say that there is a lot of insincerity felt in the letter. In second part of the letter, he even forgot what he said before. We have to admit however, that this letter would be much better proof that the VM is Prague Manuscript, since Baresch described something the content in more the details the than Marci did. One can attach Marci's letter to any unknown manuscript and its content would not raise suspicion.Some Baresch's explanations are of course pure inventions.

As for Marci Marci's letter: if somebody wanted to forge Marci's letter, the Baresch's letter and some rumors would be enough information for anybody. And closer to Marci's time, the better. Kircher, who survived Marci (Marci died 1667, Kircher died 1680) comes here in mind. He knew the content of Baresch's letter and from Marci, he might have know the rumors (not via letters, but they have met once in Rome). There is a possibility, that Kircher actually worked on the solution and was preparing book about it. We know he was saving all letters as well as all artifacts for his " gallery of curiosities ", today's Museo Kircheriano.

All in all, the highest probability still rests with assumption that Marci's letter is real and the VM is really being the " Prague manuscript " . The conspiracy theory requires some other actions that are more complicated and cannot be proven either. The Occam razor rule still applies here and it is simpler to assume that pieces nicely fit together, unless of course they were to be made to ' nicely fit together ' :-).

Until more facts are found, we cannot prove but neither disprove the existing provenance. We can only doubt it. But if somebody happens to solve the VM . . .


Date: Sun, 04 Mar 2007 22:50:20 -0500
From: "Berj N. Ensanian" <>

Subject: J.VS: Re: Letters to Kircher by Baresch and Marci

Greg wrote in com. #11 :

" Where is this transcript? I find it hard to believe that Kircher would
throw it away, he seems the sort to archive everything. "

Indeed. And, if it is true that Baresch sent a transcript of the mysterious
script to Kircher in 1637, and yet another one in 1639, then Kircher (d.
1680) would have known about the mysterious script, and the mysterious book,
for more than 40 years!

But as far as I know, the single solitary only scrap of any evidence of any
kind that Kircher was aware of the mysterious script, is the recently
discovered possible Voynich word in a draft? of a letter written by Kircher
himself in 1664 to the astronomer Fr. Schall in China. [1]

Jan wrote in com. # 12 :

" It is true that we cannot positively tell that our VM if the manuscript
once owned by Bares. All we know is that Bares had some manuscript (see
his letter) and that Marci sent it to Kircher, the manuscript I would rather
call the " Prague manuscript " - since the manuscript stayed for long time
in Prague and we still have to prove it is really the VM and both mean the
same thing. All so far presented evidence is only circumstantial or even
speculative. "

Well we don't even know positively if the book Marci sent to Kircher is
Baresch's book. However, I agree - until positively proven otherwise, it is
best to distingush between the "Prague manuscript", and the "Voynich
manuscript" that we know of as Beinecke MS 408.

It is remarkable that according to the standard VMS history, so many people
are supposed to have been aware of the mysterious manuscript, yet there is
for evidence only the problematic: the 1639 letter of Baresch, the 1665 or
1666 last letter of Marci, and the 5 January 1667 letter of Kinner:

TABLE I : Persons theoretically cognizant of the Prague ms, as indicated by
extant handwritten letters in ()

1. M. Georgy Baresch (APUG 557 353r & v)
2. Fr. Moretum, S.J. (APUG 557 353r & v)
3. Fr. Kircher, S.J. (APUG 557 353r & v, & Beinecke MS 408A)
4. Dr. Raphael (Beinecke MS 408A)
5. Joannes Marcus Marci (Beinecke MS 408A)
6. Godefridui Aloysius Kinner (APUG 562 151r & v)

Have I left anyone out? I left Rudolf et al out because the Marci letter is
somewhat ambiguous on that, and Baresch is silent about it. But Table I
could be fine tuned, depending on its purpose.

All these people, and possibly more, supposedly knew about the book, but we
find no solid evidence other than the possibility of [1].

I think Kircher still is the hub of everything. His papers that exhibit his
sine also underneath his signature, seem to be curiously rare. Here are two
such papers:

4 March 1651 letter to Herzog (i.e. Duke) August of Wolffenbuttl

30 January 1666, a formal statement of some kind?
APUG 563 259r


[1] vms-list thread: VMs: Possible Voynich text in a Kircher letter; Sunday,
February 18, 2007 2:31 AM

Date: Mon, 05 Mar 2007 00:47:56 -0500
From: "Berj N. Ensanian" <>

Subject: J.VS: Re: Just Latin, or something more? - Marci vs Marcus vs Marcius etc.

Jan, in com. # 7 you wrote:

" ... ( supported by another sample of the signature found in Melnik
archive) ... "

Can you give some details about this - I know it is all scattered out there
somewhere, but it would be useful to have it here in this thread.


Date: Wed, 07 Mar 2007 21:04:28 -0500
From: "Berj N. Ensanian" <>

Subject: J.VS: Ligature double-looped symmetric gallows in a Kircher paper

In [1] we have the only known possible candidate for a piece of Voynich text
in Fr. Athanasius Kircher's papers (APUG 563 292r). The main problem with
making analytic progress with it, is that it is visible only as a
bleed-through of the ink from the verso side of the paper, or it is some
kind of transfer shadow, and we have not yet located an image of its
own-side page.

We do know that it is hard to imagine any person of the 17th century more
likely than Kircher to have been familiar with Voynich text: daily, every
imaginable hand and script and set of symbols was coming across his desk,
those writings exhibiting here and there the common elements, even if only
as ligatures, that someone organized into the Voynich script alphabet seen
in Beinecke MS 408. Of all persons on Earth back then, it seems that Kircher
would have been the likely one to at least imagine a Voynich-like script,
without even trying. But, we also entertain the possibility that the Voynich
script was a highly secret well-established one, perhaps a block-print
version of a Ligatura Steganographia, and drawing heavily upon Latin
abbreviations forms for its alphabet design. [2]

Toward making progress with the analysis of the APUG 563 292r fragment, it
may help to gather examples of Voynich-script-like ligature forms in
Kircher's own hand, for comparison. I have already noted previously, that
one can get the impression that Kircher, whose hand had great calligraphic
range, seems to avoid the gallows forms; but without knowing for sure that
he knew the Voynich script, we can't make much of that observation.

Nevertheless, among the Kircher papers images, online, of the Pontifical
Gregorian University of Rome, luckily I have just come across a very nice
gallows ligature, of the classic Voynich-text-trademark "gallows"
double-loop tall letter, appearing over Kircher's name, and possibly his own

APUG 558 091r

This document likely may be a draft (it has strong corrections), apparently
for a letter to one "Fabius". It is dated 25 March 1667, and is signed only
"Athanasius". There is no immediately sure way I can tell if it is indeed
Kircher's own hand, but I think there is a good chance that it is.

The ligature in question occurs on absolute-line 14, approximately one-third
in from the right end of the line. The gallows form occurs as a ligatured
abbreviation at the end of the word "Cardinalis" (so I take it with my
limited Latin skills).

Expressed in Voynich studies transcription systems, this ligature is similar
to the gallows letter / symbol / glyph:


VMS transcription system: the symbol

Tiltman: H (first symbol)
First Study Group: H
Second Study Group: B
Currier: P
D'Imperio: A
Bennett: H
Frogguy: qp
EVA: t
GC: k

In this line 14 example we can see how naturally the gallows just flows
right out of the hand, presumably Kircher's hand.

I did some quick blinking (using IrfanView) of this ligature gallows against
the left-right-reversed possible VMS text group in APUG 563 292r. I was
expecting the blinking experiment to lean me toward the conclusion that the
group in APUG 563 292r is just a ligatures construction, and not a piece of
text directly genetically related to Voynich script. However instead, the
blinking had me note even more than before how much like the common
symmetric gallows, as found in the VMS, the 292r gallows is. The form of the
558 91r example is also found in the VMS, but we think of it as a variation
of the basic design form. The 563 292r example appears more like the
standard of its type in the Voynich manuscript.

Have a look.

Berj / KI3U

[1] vms-list thread: VMs: Possible Voynich text in a Kircher letter; Sunday,
February 18, 2007 2:31 AM

[2] vms-list post: Re: VMs: Possible Voynich text in a Kircher letter;
Monday, February 19, 2007 5:51 PM

Date: Fri, 09 Mar 2007 10:22:08 -0500
From: "Berj N. Ensanian" <>

Subject: J.VS: CM: New Journal contributor-member

The Journal Of Voynich Studies welcomes aboard Robert Teague, well familiar
to us as a fellow Voynich Studies researcher.

Berj / KI3U

Date: Sun, 18 Mar 2007 13:45:20 -0400
From: "Berj N. Ensanian" <>

Subject: J.VS: official Library

Dear All

How do we deal with reference materials?

This has had some off-J discussion, and action on it is becoming urgent. In
particular Robert is nearly ready to provide a valuable list he has
compiled. Here I want to discuss on-J a solution I've proposed off-J.

First, I want to emphasize that J.VS is not designed to be an ordinary
online "list", much less an online "Group", and least of all the seed for
some sort of future Voyn-Mart. It is designed to be a proper balance between
a Journal, for advanced workers, and today's online instant electronic
communications and publishing. Online publishing tends to informalize even
material that is properly formal. A balance solution is needed, and J.VS is
so designed. J.VS is pioneering in that sense, and we are learning what
works and what doesn't, as we go along.

Every J.VS communication ("post") must conform to the published Rules, and
these include that only plaintext ASCII formats are posted.

So what do we do about reference material, especially reference material
that cannot be expressed in ASCII plaintext?

In my own case, I often have to reference my own earlier work, most of which
was published to vms-list. As we know, the disfunctionality of the vms-list
archive causes problems when anything later than 10 OCT 2006 is referenced.
In addition I've published reference-able stuff elsewhere than vms-list. So
I have Voynich stuff scattered all over the web, including the PM-curve on
crosshairs picture - I need to have it all in one reliable library!

Needless to say, in the context of J.VS, such material must be reliable for
J.VS reference purposes, and therefore the collection of such reference
materials must be operated by J.VS.

The simple solution I've proposed to the CM of J.VS is the establishing of
an official J.VS Library.

Basically it amounts to a permanent library operated by J.VS.

Web-locations can change - that is not a problem. But J.VS and its resources
(presently these are mostly computer files) remain forever unified, and
reference-able, under the J.VS banner. Presently we have under the J.VS
banner the Journal, with its web-presence: consisting of the front-page, the
rules page, and the archive of J.VS communications.

It is simply a matter of officially creating the J.VS Library, and giving it
a web-page. Material to be deposited in the Library by a J.VS member is
simply sent to the J.VS librarian, a CM, and the librarian places it in the
Library, where it becomes reference-able. The Library's holdings are
mirrored online, as much as is practical. If it is not practical to have a
Library catalog item online, say because it is too huge in terms of webspace
size and bandwidth, it can nevertheless be retrieved by a simple request to
the J.VS librarian.

So, lets say I want to communicate to the Journal a list of things that is
best presented in a .doc format, say: identifiedVMSwordslist.doc

1.) I send identifiedVMSwordslist.doc to the J.VS librarian (this is not a
communication/post to J.VS) and request that the librarian deposit it in the

2.) I wait until identifiedVMSwordslist.doc becomes deposited in the
Library - I get a confirmation from the librarian, and/or see it on the
Library webpage.

3.) I post to J.VS a simple notice that identifiedVMSwordslist.doc has
been deposited in the Library.


I just include a reference to identifiedVMSwordslist.doc in a J.VS post,
when it becomes necessary to reference it. This eliminates un-necessarily
communicating to J.VS every Library acquisition.

The mechanics of all this is very simple. I think it can be operational
within a few days - it is just a matter of getting CM to adopt the policy
officially, designate the Librarian (most likely me to begin), find a
website to mirror the Library, put links to the Library on the J.VS web
front-page, and announce the Library in a J.VS post.

Comments anyone?

Berj / KI3U

Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2007 14:09:51 +0100
From: Greg Stachowski <>
To: "J.VS:" < >

Subject: J.VS: Re: official Library

Indeed, the need for a library for materials referenced in posts to
the VMS is clear. Further, these materials need to be kept safe and
central so that if in the future the J.VS is made available in print
the materials (say, images) can be added as necessary.

The mechanics for an archival Library with a designated Librarian seem
reasonable; any kinks can be worked out in practice.


Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2007 13:49:53 +0100
From: Greg Stachowski <>
To: "J.VS:" < >

Subject: J.VS: 1924 Christian Science Monitor article on Anne Nill

In 1924, the Christian Science Monitor published an article about
Anne Margaret Nill, Wilfrid Voynich's secretary and assistant and the
person responsible for the Voynich Manuscript after the deaths of
Voynich (WMV) and his wife, Ethel. It is the source of the photograph
of Anne Nill posted to the vms-list by Dana Scott [1],[2]. Despite
Miss Nill's obvious importance in tracing the history of the VMS,
little has been known about her until very recently [3], and even now
she remains the least well-researched owner of the VMS. This article,
as a first-hand account by someone who spoke with Miss Nill (and,
presumably, WMV himself) is therefore extremely valuable.

The article, titled " Something More Than a Secretary " and
dated " Sep 30, 1924 ", is available to buy in scanned form from the
Christian Science Monitor archives [4].
It is approximately 1000 words long, and includes the aforementioned
photo. Unfortunately the scan quality is very poor, and the photo is
much worse than that posted by Dana Scott. (The scan appears to have
been made from a photocopy f the article, rather than an original.)

The article itself is actually more of an interview with Miss Nill
(AMN), written in a fairly literary style reminiscent of literature of
the period (Wodehouse, for example). The unknown female author (from
her use of pronouns) usually refers to herself in the third person, as
" the author ", and quotes her questions as reported speech. The
conversation (as it is) revolves around AMN's background and
education, her duties with Voynich, her interest in books and gentle
inquiries about clients and income -- both of which AMN answers very

We learn (from the author) that :

" Mr Voynich [...] regards her as a highly qualified assistant "

" Miss Nill is [...] enthusiastically eager to learn the
technique of the business as well as to inform herself of all its
details. "

" Though still in the twenties (sic), she has been with Mr.
Voynich for several years and for the last three summers [...] has
accompanied him abroad on his annual visits to his London office. "

Of her life, that AMN was born in the city of Buffalo and went to
public high school there, where she " took German ". She knew that
college was financially impossible (although she wanted to go), so
additionally studied stenography and typing while at school. However,
once she arrived in New York she enrolled at Columbia -- which
suggests that either WMV was paying her fees, or that her pay in his
employ was sufficient for her to do so herself. Indeed, towards the
end of the interview, AMN gives " a frank smile " and says:

" ... work done for a business firm usually offers better returns
than that done under academic conditions, as in a library or musuem. "

At Columbia, she studied " a number of things , including
languages -- Latin, French, and Italian [...] as well as literature,
history, etc ". She chose these subjects deliberately because of their
bearing on her work for WMV, who (in her words):

" confines himself almost entirely to mediaeval manuscripts
illuminated missals, etc, and to incunabula [...] Mr Voynich deals
more in the incunabula of the continental countries than in English
literature. "

Her work for WMV covers all aspects of the business. Of particular
note is her description of " collating ":

" It means the careful inspection of every page of a book or
manuscript to see if it is perfect, or whether there are any pages
missing or any portion injured or mutilated "

Further, AMN admits that:

" one finds [...] a manuscript which costs only a few hundred
dollars [ yet ] its value [ is really ] reckoned in thousands "

For reference, the buying power of the US dollar in 1924 was about 10
times that of the dollar in 2006 [5]. This gives a sense of the scale
of WMV's business and, therefore, his likely clients. These, according
to AMN, include " libraries, museums, and private collectors ".
Indeed, her work:

" intensely interesting and it constantly offers fresh avenues of
inspiration to study, and new incentives for the gaining of
information. "


" brings one in contact with various sorts of peoples (sic), both
dealers and clients who are interesting, entertaining, or amusing. "

Which again, I think, hints at the range of WMV's social and business network.

Lastly, her own comment on her work:

" I enjoy examining, handling and studying the many rare and
beautiful books which come into our office. "

The final paragraph of the interview is the only one which refers
to the VMS directly. In full, it says:

" One of the works which has occupied much of Miss Nill's time
and thought during the last three or four years is the history of the
famous Roger Bacon cipher manuscript, so romantically -discovered-
(hyphens sic) by Mr. Voynich. "

As can be seen, the article is disappointingly light on specific
details. However, we do get the impression that AMN was very closely
involved with WMV's business, both including detailed study of the
books themselves and in the social network of clients and other
dealers, and further, that she was well trained and educated for the
role (probably with WMV's help). Moreover, the last paragraph,
combined with the details of her time with WMV given earlier in the
article, show that she must have had extensive knowledge of the VMS
and likely studied it in detail, both as part of her work and simply
because of how intrinsically interesting it must have been to her. She
was indeed " Something More Than a Secretary ", and it is one of the
failures of VMS research that she has for so long been dismissed and
ignored. It is almost inconceivable that she did not research the VMS
with WMV, that she was privy to information about its provenance
known only to him, and that she left notes and papers relating to it
besides those by WMV himself. These need to be found, if they exist.
The recent discovery of her relatives [6] gives a belated but
important opportunity to do so.

Greg Stachowski


[1] See vms-list thread " The mysterious Miss Nill ", approx Jan. 30, 2007.
[2] available at
[3] vms-list discussions approx. Feb. 3, 2007 to Feb. 9, 2007
[6] vms-list thread " Anne's Niece ", Feb. 4, 2007.

Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2007 15:50:01 -0400
From: "Berj N. Ensanian" <>

Subject: J.VS: Re: 1924 Christian Science Monitor article on Anne Nill


Thanks very much for that excellent information. There is a lot there that
can be mined further I think.

One immediate thought I have, concerns the statement:

" Though still in the twenties (sic), she has been with Mr. Voynich for
several years and for the last three summers [...] has accompanied him
abroad on his annual visits to his London office. "

The CSM article is dated 30 SEP 1924. Suppose we assume that the actual Nill
interview took place no sooner than three months earlier - the summer of
1924. Then, if Miss Nill is still in her twenties in the summer of 1924, we
would expect her to have been born no earlier than the summer of 1895.

Recent posts to vms-list delt with the problem of Miss Nill's birthdate,
with years 1894 and 1895 available. [1]

The most secure date seems to be from the "List of United States Citizens"
at the arrival of the S.S. MAJESTIC at the port of New York on 21 NOV 1923.

This list gives the birthdate of Anne M. Nill as January 12, 1894. So this
has me wondering - the mysterious Miss Nill continues to mystify.

I had another thought: perhaps Wilfrid found Miss Nill because he
specifically went looking for a suitable aide at Columbia. I am guessing,
but it seems that Miss Nill may have come into the Voynich world in the
critical year of 1921, when Wilfrid Voynich, with Prof. Newbold at his side,
formally presented his cipher manuscript at the College of Physicians of


[1] vms-list threads:
VMs: Anne's Niece; Saturday; February 3, 2007 2:51 AM
VMs: The mysterious Miss Nill; Tuesday, January 30, 2007 12:51 AM

[2] An image of this document was for a while available on a website
operated by Rafal T. Prinke, but the url for it no longer functions. Many
advanced VMS students have a copy of this image of the MAJESTIC list.

Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2007 16:53:58 +0200
From: Greg Stachowski <>
To: "J.VS:" < >

Subject: J.VS: Re: 1924 Christian Science Monitor article on Anne Nill

On 3/22/07, Berj N. Ensanian wrote:

" Recent posts to vms-list delt with the problem of Miss Nill's birthdate,
with years 1894 and 1895 available. "

It should be possible to obtain Anne Nill's birth certificate from the
Buffalo public records office (or equivalent), now that we know where
to look and the names of her parents, etc.


Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2007 11:26:03 -0400
From: "Berj N. Ensanian" <>

Subject: J.VS: Re: 1924 Christian Science Monitor article on Anne Nill

In response to Greg's com. #21,

the website of is here:

and it has information and also url's for researching persons born in the
Buffalo, NY area. These leads seem to be the ones to start with for Miss
Nill. Unfortunately, it appears that it may not be easy to find Miss Nill
born in the 1890's, unless there is a stroke of luck. In any case, some
planning is called for before embarking to where the microfilms are kept.


Date: Thu, 05 Apr 2007 11:54:28 -0400
From: "Berj N. Ensanian" <>

Subject: J.VS: Re: official Library


From off-J discussions so far, as I understand it, the launch of the library
system goes like this:

1.) A temporary J.VS library holdings webpage is provided by one of us.

1a.) This library page is separate from the rest of the provider's personal
website, and his normal webpages do not mention or link to it.

2.) The main J.VS website gives the official link to the library holdings

2a.) Once bigger web space becomes available, the holdings page is moved
there, and the link to it on the main J.VS website is accordingly changed.

The foregoing mechanicals are transparent to library users - at worst they
have to change their "Favorites" when a move is made.

3.) Library depositing procedure:

3a.) A J.VS member wishing to make a deposit, contacts the J.VS librarian
with a request to deposit, giving a very brief description of the nature of
the deposit, and also its file-size.

3b.) The librarian issues to the requesting depositor a deposit header
consisting of a deposit number, and an official deposit date:

J.VS Library Deposit #n, 5 APR 2007

3c.) The depositor adds the header exactly as received to the top of the
document that is to be deposited.

3d.) The depositor converts the deposit document to html format, and names
the html file like this:


3e.) The depositor sends the deposit html file to the librarian.

3f.) The librarian uploads the ready html file to the holdings web page, and
notifies the webmaster of the J.VS main website to add a link to the new

Is this prety much what we are agreeing on? It has the advantage of the
workload being well distributed. Of course the librarian may insist to the
depositor to be efficient with the construction of the html file so that it
is not bloated in bytes size.

Additionally, the librarian, and the webmaster of the holdings page, need
not be the same person.

In the far future, if non-electronic items are to be deposited, the sytem
can be easily adjusted to handle the situation. For example, the physical
deposit is made, but the foregoing is still done - the html deposit file in
that case is then a description of the deposit, like a normal library
catalog item description.



J.VS communications #17, 18

Date: Tue, 10 Apr 2007 14:16:21 +0200
From: Greg Stachowski <>
To: "J.VS:" < >

Subject: J.VS: Re: official Library


I agree with your suggestions regarding the library (and also the main
website). I now have space available and ready, so we can get going.

I do however have a couple of suggestions to make. First, we shouldn't
restrict the library to files in HTML. Part of the point of the
library is to allow access to stuff which cannot be distributed as
text or HTML, such as images. So we should allow any reasonably
portable document format: PDF, JPG, PNG, TIFF, DOC, XLS, ODF, zipfiles
with VMS fonts (for example) etc.

Secondly, we should allow for packages which may consist of multiple
files: for example an HTML document with associated images. This is
easy enough to do, we just make a subdirectory rather than a single

Through off-list discussions we are agreed that the filename of the
deposited material should include a deposit index number and an
identifier for its source, such as a sequential member number. This
can be made to tie in very nicely with my suggestions above: rather
than renaming the file, for each deposit we make a subdirectory with
this naming scheme and place the file in there, under its original
name, even if it is just one file. This allows
(a) multiple files where necessary and (b) allows us to add metadata
to any given library holding, for example a text file with more
detailed information (author, date, short description, details of
file format etc). It also allows updated versions of submissions to be
easily added while preserving the original file and number. Further,
for non-electronic objects the directory could be created as above,
and the readme.txt file would contain the information on where the
physical object is held, thus preserving the universal scheme.

So, lets say that hypothetical member number 56, Arnold Badger, wishes
to add a spreadsheet which contains calculations of VMS statistics.
This is best left in its original format, as then anyone can easily
use the formulae in the spreadsheet, rather than just seeing a table
of results. Arnold sends it to
the Librarian (following your suggested procedure) and eventually it
ends up in the Library as submission no. 172 on 1 May 2007. The file
itself is called stats.xls.

In the library it would then be visible as:


and alongside it would be:


which would contain the metadata. In this way the information is
easily accessible by submission number (which is unique), by member
number (also unique) and by date, and any potential reader can easily
see what their getting by examining readme.txt.

I've used hyphens rather than any other symbol, as other symbols may
be meaningful in regular expressions used by programs we might created
to look through the data. Also I've used the ISO date format as it is
also easier for a computer to process automatically.

What say you?



Date: Fri, 13 Apr 2007 00:43:03 -0400
From: "Berj N. Ensanian" <>

Subject: J.VS: Re: official Library


Concerning your comments in J.VS comm. #24 on the library file system:

I like the system. Only one thing I'm not yet clear on - what does the
library master index, or main catalog webpage look like? Is it simply a list
of consecutive entries like this:




If yes, that is ok with me, since a search function will be used anyway.

I had intended to email you an initial library deposit for a test, but the
recent disastrous crash of my computer resources require me to start from
scratch. In that vein I made a discovery of possible important interest to
vms-list archives file holders, and will note that in a separate


Date: Fri, 13 Apr 2007 00:51:13 -0400
From: "Berj N. Ensanian" <>

Subject: J.VS: possible virus problem in 1999 data file

There have long been available for download here and there on the web .zip
files of vms-list posts. I just discovered that one of the ones I have,, 1334 KB, containing the vms-list posts during the year 1999, may
have a virus infection.

The latest free edition of "PC Tools AntiVirus" [1] reports this file, as it
exists on my computer, as being infected with a "SKA" virus. I recently
transferred this file from one computer where it had resided a long time, to
a newer computer, so it is quite possible the original zip file was clean
and only became contaminated during the transfer. However, PC Tools found no
other viruses in this same computer.

Unfortunately I don't remember when and from where I downloaded that
file.[2] Apparently I never unzipped it.

If any members have this file I think it would be good if you run a virus
scan on it and report what you find - it would be very helpful all around.



[2] possibly from here:

Date: Sat, 14 Apr 2007 10:37:11 -0400
From: Robert Teague <>
To: Journal of VMs Studies < >

Subject: J.VS: Re: possible virus problem in 1999 data file

I have available the Zip files from 1991 to 2002, all virus-free.


Law of Cartoon Physics #9: Everything falls faster than an anvil.

Date: Fri, 20 Apr 2007 11:38:43 -0400
From: "Berj N. Ensanian" <>

Subject: J.VS: Cosmological dualism / polarity in the zodiac

The so-called zodiac section of illustrated pages in the Voynich ms, f70v2 -
f73v, is notorious for its own puzzles, not the least of which is: are these
diagrams really primarily depicting something directly related to an
astronomical zodiac of any kind of any era?

Traditionally calling them "zodiac" does not automatically make them so.

Whatever these diagrams really are supposed to represent, I do notice the
possibility that some of them seem to project a ying-yang like emphasis on
the dual of male - female, that is an emphasis on the idea of
eternally-bound polarities.

The two fishes (some have them as sturgeon) in the Pisces panel are
different enough so that one can ponder a male and female projection,
perhaps even a projection of courting.

Then we have the two "Taurus" panels, side by side, and although both
animals are horned, the deep red colored one clearly exhibits unmistakable
male characteristics in contrast with the other one.

Also, the two Taurus panels are connected with the "Gemini" panel, f72r2,
that in its center shows a man and a woman with their hands joined. I have
commented in the past, in connection with the Christine De Pizan ideas, that
I think this image is one of the more important ones in the entire nine
rosettes manuscript: it projects a notion of partnership between opposites,
between woman and man.

Saggitarius doesn't need much comment to point out that its symbolism fits
in with this observation.

Even the scorpions on page f72r3, connected to each other by some kind of
line giving a similar impression as the Pisces, project first, if not male -
female, then duality, do they not? I mean to say that the figures resemble
scorpions, is secondary to the projection of the concept of bound duality.

The zodiac pages are rich in data. And it is difficult to argue that in the
end they will not have something to do with astrology and astronomy. However
I suggest that, it may be worthwhile to view them from an even broader
perspective - cosmology. That is, it may be fruitful to review their data
with the question in mind:

Do these pages mean to project a cosmological view, a cosmological

That is quite different from the question: is this a certain horoscope?

But, the two views could be connected also:

Is this a cosmological horoscope, concerned with eons and the birth, life,
and decline of entire worlds at all levels, rather than the birth, life, and
death of any particular person?

Berj / KI3U

Date: Sat, 05 May 2007 23:15:31 -0400
From: "Berj N. Ensanian" <>

Subject: J.VS: Re: official Library

Dear All,

I have completed assembling my first J.VS Library deposit, with the catalog
identification as per Greg's suggested system in communication #24, and have
emailed the material to Greg to install in the Library's webspace. So we
will see how this works out.

The meta-data for the deposit (readme text-file) is simply this:

- - - - - - - - - -

5 MAY 2007

Meta-data for J. VS Library deposit:


This deposit contains, in addition to this meta-data text-file, four htm

1JVSlibKI3U.htm ~147 Kb

2JVSlibKI3U.htm ~270 Kb

3JVSlibKI3U.htm ~702 Kb

4JVSlibKI3U.htm ~357 Kb

These files contain on-line posts by Berj N. Ensanian / KI3U concerning his
work on the Voynich Manuscript (Beinecke MS-408) over the period 18 MAR
2006 - 22 FEB 2007.

Most of the posts are to the vms-list (now defunct).

Berj / KI3U

- - - - - - - - - -

It should be easy making references to the deposited material I think. I
double-checked the files to make sure private email addresses were removed.

Re-constructing this personal archive of the last year was a very tedious
job, but also very interesting: following the trains of thought, and also
observing the sudden out-of-the-blue ideas. I am looking forward to browsing
similar deposits by other members to see how their thoughts on the
manuscript progressed.

Date: Thu, 10 May 2007 10:40:48 +0200
From: Greg Stachowski < >

Subject: J.VS: Official Library deposit

The first J.VS Library deposit, made by Berj in parallel with comm.
#29, is now available online at:

In the near-ish future I shall set up a proper indexing system for the
higher-level directory.
Date: Thu, 10 May 2007 13:57:47 -0400
From: "Berj N. Ensanian"

Subject: J.VS: Re: Official Library deposit

Thanks Greg. I think the system will work fine.

I added a link to the Library's index-page near the top of the J.VS web front-page.

As for my first deposit, it isn't pretty in html format, and I hadn't then yet figured out how to make the background color plain white,but the important thing is that it is easily reference-able and searchable.

Date: Sat, 12 May 2007 11:03:55 +0200
From: Greg Stachowski

Subject: J.VS: Re: Official Library deposit

On 5/10/07, Berj N. Ensanian wrote:
"... but the important thing is that it is easily reference-able and searchable."

Indeed. With the links in place, Google should start indexing it soon.
We can add out own search scripts at some point as well, which will be useful once the volume increases.

Date: Sat, 12 May 2007 19:55:38 -0400
From: Berj N. Ensanian

Subject: J.VS: What happened to Miss Nill's remains?

Earlier this year, January - February, there was in the old vms-list considerable interest devoted to the mysterious Miss Anne Margaret Nill. A notable carry-over into J.VS was Greg Stachowski's communication #19 in March - Greg's information establishes about as well as presently can be, that our Miss Nill was indeed born in Buffalo, New York, and sometime in the 1890's. [1]

During the Jan-Feb-March period the general mysteries surrounding Miss Nill saw some progress toward clarification, but also new mysteries emerged. [2]

Some fundamental questions about Miss Nill continued to resist precision determination, notably her birth and death dates. It is generally assumed that Miss Nill was born in 1894 in Buffalo, New York, but uncertainties spread the time 1893-1895. In that investigative vein, well-known VMS researcher Dana Scott produced information that Miss Nill was related to a family named "Seilheimer", and that Miss Nill's final resting place is the Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, New York. [3]

These days being in the area, I went to Forest Lawn Cemetery yesterday, and again today, and investigated Dana Scott's new lead, with the hope of finding Miss Nill's grave, and dates. I photographed all Nill burial plots I could locate. Unfortunately I must report to the Journal that my visits there only compounded the Miss Nill mystery.

Forest Lawn is situated on the northern periphery of Buffalo's downtown. I count this as one of the two most impressive major cemeteries I have seen, the other being adjacent to the Olympic Stadium in Berlin. Even with Voynich research in mind, one can nevertheless become distracted by the world-class grave art and the landscape. The main office is at the main entrance at Delaware and Delevan. There, I had the very helpful attendance of Mr. Larry Macks, and Miss Mili Picone, who went through all available relevant records for me, several times during my two visits, including the closely guarded original paper records. Some 160,000 persons are buried in Forest Lawn, and the records vary widely in detail, and are only partly computerized.

From the records, computer and paper, the following was obtained:

Table 1

BUF Forest Lawn Cemetery

Name; date of death; Section no.; Lot no.

Nill, A;
Nill, A;

Nill, Agnes M.; 12/24/1896; 40; 376

Nill, George J.; 9/20/1926; 27; 399
Nill, Lillian K.; 7/10/1957; 27; 399

Nill, Helen B.; 4/13/2001; 8; 428
Nill, Robert C.; 10/20/1994; 8; 428

Nill, Bernhard; 6/3/1940; 8; 436
Nill, Margaret; 4/30/1950; 8; 436

Dana Scott had identified Lot No. 436, Section 8, as our Miss Nill's grave. But, the Cemetery records, and my actual inspection, indicate that Mrs. Margaret Nill, d. 4/30/1950, is buried there, next to her husband Bernhard. Notwithstanding the name problems in Miss Nill research, this immediately rules out our Miss Nill, who remained Miss until her death, so far as we know, and was alive at least as late as 1953 [4], and is commonly believed to have survived Ethel Voynich as the co-owner of the Voynich Manuscript and to have sold it to H. P Kraus in 1960 or 1961. [5]

At the graves I looked hard for any clues, like symbols inscribed upon the stone markers, that might suggest even the slightest hint of our Miss Nill, but I perceived none.

Dana Scott's information had included that our Miss Nill's niece was the just-deceased Anne Seilheimer. Indeed, now that the ground is no longer frozen, the burial of Anne Seilheimer was in progress, yesterday and today. The Seilheimers are buried directly above (north of) the # 428 and # 436 Nill Lots in Section 8. After the burial is completed (presumably by the end of today), I plan to return sometime and complete my inspection of that area, although there are no records in the Cemetery office suggesting I will find anything of interest. I will report to the Journal after I have had the chance to do this.

We come now to the new puzzles.

The computer record brings up two instances of "Nill A", but with absolutely no other information. The office staff, looking into this, at first thought it might be a reserved Lot, with the person, A Nill, still alive, but on finding absolutely no other records, concluded it must be errors when the data was keyed into the original computer data-base, long ago. The bottom line is that over two days of pursuing this "Nill A" I hit a dead end, no pun intended. It was not lost on me that this sort of thing is right at home in Miss Nill research.

I encountered one last puzzle today in one of the Cemetery's for-the-less-wealthy Sections: Agnes M. Nill, died 1896, and having the same initials as our Miss Anne Margaret Nill, has at her grave two adjacent, but set at a right angle to one another, different stone markers, bearing the identical inscription:

DEC. 24, 1896,

The only difference between the inscriptions I could see was that the taller stone's has a period chiseled after the "NILL". It also has a large "NILL" on its base and it is a fancier marker - it resembles a stubby obelisk, with "N" near the top on all four sides. It gives a somewhat mathematical geometry impression of a huge quartz crystal - the kind of marker that would appeal to a mineralogist. The smaller marker is a panel stone set on a base, rather plain and common, but not at the bottom of the cost scale.

Whether or not this oddity of two orthogonally placed grave stones for Agnes M. Nill has anything whatsoever to do with our Miss Nill I don't know, but I am still looking into it, and if anything relevant comes up I will report on it. One can conjecture that the taller, fancier marker was installed later when more money was available, and the original was left in place for one reason or another. Or, perhaps two relatives were at odds honoring Agnes separately. But, I recall saying more than once on the old vms-list, that in the pursuit of precision information in the overall mystery: leave no stone un-turned.

So, where does this leave us concerning our Miss Nill's remains? For sure the indications are that they are NOT in Section 8, Lot # 436. I told Forest Lawn's staff why I was there, and the significance of our Miss Nill. They were confident that they had records on all persons buried at Forest Lawn. In other words, barring some new twist, our Miss Nill's remains are not in the Forest Lawn Cemetery. Then where are they? Was she cremated and were her ashes scattered? Was she buried besides her parents, wherevever they are?

To my knowledge, no-one in VMS research has produced a copy of Miss Nill's death certificate, so we do not have the minimum basic facts of her end. We might assume she died in New York State and try Albany. Then, somewhere in some funeral home there must be a record. Presumably also somewhere there is an obituary - the funeral home might well have a copy of it.

To place this in overall perspective: Miss Nill was a major 20th century co-custodian of the world's most mysterious manuscript. And she remains nearly as mysterious as the manuscript.

Berj / KI3U

[1] J.VS: 1924 Christian Science Monitor article on Anne Nill; com. #19, G. Stachowski, 22 MAR 2007

[2] For example, the Lone Ranger Mask - see J.VS Library, deposit 1-1-2007-05-05, 4vmsKI3Ulab.htm

[3] The disfunctionality of the old vms-list archive continues to make for some difficulties in referencing. Around 3 FEB 2007 Dana Scott posted his most recent findings, which along with his website material on this, became the source for the lead that our Miss Nill is buried in Lot No. 436, Section 8, of the Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, NY. Some of Dana Scott's posts material, including his identification of Forest Lawn, can be found in the J.VS Library, deposit 1-1-2007-05-05, 4vmsKI3Ulab.htm, and his original web-pages relating to this are still online:

[4] D'Imperio, 4.2(1), pg. 25

[5] D'Imperio, pg. 2. This is a rare instance of problematic information in D'Imperio - Kraus could not have donated the VMS to Yale in 1960 if he did not own it before 1961. As for the Yale Beinecke Library MS-408 website, its front-page says that Kraus gave the VMS to the Beinecke in 1969, which would have been after 1968, that date being the Tiltman reference that D'Imperio cites. The Beinecke web-page, with its breath-taking discriminations between demonstrable facts and conjectures, still has Miss Nill's name spelled "Nills". Sad to say this, but the venerable Beinecke, otherwise indispensible to Voynich research, remains one of the most visible examples of the enormous global problem of LACK OF PRECISION INFORMATION in Voynichology.
Date: Sun, 13 May 2007 12:23:49 -0400
From: Berj N. Ensanian

Subject: J.VS: List of Journal communications Subjects

Dear All

I have begun maintaining a List of the Subject lines of the Journal's communications, and placed a link to the List on the Archive web-page.

This Subjects List is one more aid in locating information quickly.

Date: Sun, 13 May 2007 23:41:04 +0200
From: Greg Stachowski
To: "J.VS:"

Subject: J.VS: Re: List of Journal communications Subjects

Good idea with the subject list. Perhaps you could make each one a link to the first post in the series? That would make it even better, I think.

Date: Sun, 13 May 2007 19:50:27 -0400
From: Berj N. Ensanian

Subject: J.VS: (Was: Re: List of Journal communications Subjects)

Greg wrote in com. #35:

" Perhaps you could make each one a link to the first post in the series? "

Hi Greg. Yes eventually. Currently, you've probably noticed, my html operations are not polished. In fact they are marginal and, frankly, bothersome - it is tedious doing all these operations manually, and without adequate knowledge of html editing (for which I have little learning time presently, and even less interest).

However, we are doing pretty well with the design of Journal operations I think. Your Library system has really proven its worth already, and I took full advantage of it with com. #33 (Miss Nill's remains).

My next Library deposit, hopefully this week, is a set of images that are referenced in the current Library deposits, things like the PM-curve, Voynich's cane, the blinking pictures for Miss Nill's Lone Ranger Mask, and so on.

I would like to see deposited in the Library the image of the 1923 SS Majestic List of U.S. Citizens - that is the List from which the nominal birthdate of Miss Nill (Jan. 12, 1894) is usually taken. But we can't just deposit the image of that document fragment without providing its source-chain. Does anyone know how this image originally got into Voynichville circulation?

Speaking of com. #33, this afternoon I received an email back from Mili - apparently she too thought the Agnes M. Nill gravesite sufficiently odd so as to forward my report to the Cemetery's historian(s) for investigation. My report included a short synopsis of our Miss Nill's significance:

' The motive in researching Miss Nill is that she, known to have been born in Buffalo, 1894 ?, was for years co-custodian of "the world's most mysterious manuscript" - The Voynich Manuscript (VMS). Miss Nill was an antiquarian working for the manuscript's discoverer, Wilfrid Voynich, husband of world-famous author Ethel Lilian Voynich. Miss Nill became Ethel's steady companion after Wilfrid died in 1930. Miss Nill is as mysterious as the VMS! She is known to have been alive at least in 1953, and most probably also in 1961. True experts in VMS study number only about a hundred or so in the world, and a great deal of public VMS information is outright inaccurate. A couple of months ago one of the VMS experts developed the lead that Miss Nill was buried at Forest Lawn. Being in the area these days, I took the oportunity to investigate, and yesterday I was helped by Larry Macks, and today you. I plan to return one more time to look around Lot # 436, Section 8, after the burial (in progress today) of Anne Seilheimer, she being assumed to be the niece of Miss Nill. '

About 0.1% of the 160,000 persons buried at Forest Lawn are famous, and apparently my visits have alerted the office to the possibility of another becoming-famous Buffalonian buried there. We'll see. Perhaps in some roundabout way, via Agnes, we'll find out something more about our Miss Nill. If you want a copy of the Agnes gravesite photo that was attached to my report to Mili, let me know off-J and I'll email it to you.

Date: Mon, 14 May 2007 11:42:53 -0400
From: Berj N. Ensanian

Subject: J.VS: Robert Hooke's use of the glyph GC-N

Robert Hooke (1635-1703) emerged as a major person-of-interest (POI) in the Voynich manuscript historical network-of-interest (NOI) once the significance of the VMS folio f68r3 Pleiades-Moon curve (PM-curve) was recognized, and in addition f68r3's stars-count was noted to equal 76, matching the count of seventy-six stars in Schem. XXXVIII of Hooke's Micrographia. [1]

One aspect of variously investigating Hooke is of course the examining of his hand written records. In [2] was given a table, Table 16-A, of similarity correspondences between Voynich text glyphs and glyphs employed by the 17th c. NOI that includes Hooke.

I've just noticed that there are online some excellent high-resolution images of pages from Hooke's recently discovered diaries, that I was not aware of before. Apparently the recently discovered Hooke diary was sold by Bonham's in London on March 28, and images were placed on-line in connection with the sale. [3]

I've had a only a few minutes to look over the treasure trove, but I seem to see a clear instance where the glyph that in VMS work we denote GC-N or AGC-78 (EVA-n), is used by Hooke as an abbreviation for "rd" in "3rd". This is another, slightly more complex use by Hooke of the GC-N glyph, than the one already noted in the Table 16-A.

To see this in [3], zoom in on the right-most of the three images in a row that are directly underneath the large image of the diary at the top of the web-page. The image, of a verso and a recto, shows diary notes as the time transitions from 1671 to 1672. You can find Newton mentioned, and what appears to be two strings of code. The GC-N is easy to locate: it is on the last line of the verso page, almost at the start of the line, and in the sentence: "The 3rd was ..."

Lets then update the glyphs correspondences table, the value of which is as an alternative to correspondences based on Latin-abbreviations glyphs:

Table 1

Preliminary observations of similarities between "9RMS hand" and "17th c. NOI hand"

English alphabet group ~ 9RMS (VMS) group in GC transcription alphabet

a ~ GC-a
and ~ GC-am
d ~ GC-N
rd ~ GC-N
d ~ GC-y
n ~ GC-I
o ~ GC-o
ph ~ GC-h
phe ~ GC-h
s ~ GC-8
th ~ GC-h
the ~ GC-h

Berj / KI3U

[1] The PM-curve developments were/are complicated and highly controversial in Voynich study circles. They began with the 4:49 PM, 4 DEC 2006, old-vms-list post "Re: VMs: 3x3 matrix of f58r and the f68r3 moon-ring". The detailed record is preserved in the J.VS Library, deposit 1-1-2007-05-05, 3JVSlibKI3U.htm and 4vmsKI3Ulab.htm

[2] old-vms-list post Re: VMs: Analysis of the f68r3 Pleiades - moon curve, January 25, 2007 5:06 PM, see J.VS Library deposit 1-1-2007-05-05, 4vmsKI3Ulab.htm

Date: Mon, 21 May 2007 22:12:18 -0400
From: Berj N. Ensanian

Subject: J.VS: Re: What happened to Miss Nill's remains?

Per J. VS communication #33 I had a chance to return to Forest Lawn Cemetery last week and better inspect Lots 428 and 436 of Section 8, with the burial of Miss Anne M. Seilheimer (d. 24 JAN 2007) completed, thus making such better inspection possible.

I found no new evidence for our Miss Nill's remains being there.

To summarize the Buffalo, NY, Forest Lawn Cemetery data, in context:

1.) Section 8, Lot 428 holds the Seilheimer, and Lot 436, adjacent directly below (south of) holds Nill family members. These lots are easily located using the Firemen Memorial as a reference.

2.) Although a precision determination with citations is still needed, we already knew that it is likely that 19th c. German immigrants Bernhard and Margaret Nill were the parents of our Miss Nill, another daughter Emma, a son Fred, and another son Robert.

3.) Emma was the wife of physician Dr. Frederick Seilheimer [1].

Anne M. Seilheimer was Frederick and Emma's daughter, and was the niece of our Miss Nill, the niece who is indicated in the Grolier Club (NYC) Voynich papers holdings. [2]

4.) Standing south of them, and northwardly viewing Lots 428 and 436 as a complex, the dominant major stone is the Lot 428 marker of Dr. Frederick Seilheimer (1879-1956) and his wife Emma (1895-1983). On the left flank are (one marker) Robert C. (1914-1994) and Helen B. (1912-2001) Nill. On the right flank is Anne M Seilheimer (1928-2007).

South of them, more or less centered on the Seilheimer marker, are on the left a marker for Bernhard Nill (1871-1940), and on the right a marker for Margaret A. Nill (1870-1950). In the Cemetery's Lot Register, the Owner of Bernhard and Margaret's Lot 436, after the death of Margaret, is recorded as "Wilbert".

If all is as assumed, then our Miss Nill lost both her parents in the period 1940-1950, and this may help in the analysis of Miss Nill material from that period.

5.) The Nills in Section 27, Lot 399, George J., Lillian K., and their daughter Charlotte M. Vogele, are visible in currently available United States census data, but connections with the Nills of interest to us are unknown to me. The parents and daughter have a common grave marker, and the only visible indication of a possible connection, is that George's dates (1877-1926), rather than being separated by a dash, are separated by an arc'ed chain of three links - an essentially identical chain symbol is on Bernhard's marker stone, but above his name.

6.) Odds & Ends for possible further investigation:

a.) The peculiarity of Agnes M. Nill's grave, Section 40, Lot 376, remains unexplained, while there is no indication it is indeed relevant to Miss Nill research.

b.) The peculiarity of two otherwise absolutely data-void occurrences of "Nill A" in the Forest Lawn computer remains without definitive explanation.

c.) From 4.) above we see that there is an asymmetry in the known occupation of the 428 and 436 Lots: the left flank holds two persons, Robert and Helen, but the right flank holds only the recently deceased Anne.

d.) A few feet in front of Bernhard's marker, and presumably therefore over his actual grave, there is just below the grass/ground a somewhat rusty round iron plug of several inches diameter. It suggests a cap access of some kind to something beneath. I wondered if it could possibly be an indication of a cremation urn buried atop Bernhard, but so far I have not been able to find out what it is.

If we can find an obituary for Miss Nill, and from that find out the Funeral Home that handled her funeral, we should be able to find out who made the funeral arrangements for Miss Nill. That person could be very interesting, as they may have come into possession of some of Miss Nill's personal papers. Miss Nill, we know, was an expert on medieval manuscripts, and had access to / possession of, the Voynich manuscript for forty years.

Berj / KI3U

[1] The Seilheimer family was prominent among the 19th c. German immigrants to the Buffalo area: Geschichte der Deutschen in Buffalo und Erie County, N.Y., Reinecke & Zesch., Buffalo, 1897/98; online with translation:

Date: Sun, 03 Jun 2007 11:25:11 -0400
From: Berj N. Ensanian

Subject: J.VS: CM: the Journal's email address is changing

Dear All

Circumstances beyond my control are necessitating a change in the Journal's e-address: beginning three days from now, 6 JAN 2007, the current e-address will no longer be valid.

The new email address for the Journal will be:

Everything else remains as before and you will have no additional considerations for posting. For me there will be slightly more work in handling the still-manual electronic distribution mechanics, but I don't anticipate any problems.

Berj / KI3U
From: "Greg Stachowski"
Date: 4 Jun 2007 22:40:41 +0200

Subject: J.VS: Library deposit

Jan Hurych's Library deposit is now available online at:

From: "Berj N. Ensanian"

Subject: J.VS: Re: Library deposit

Date: Mon, 04 Jun 2007 19:51:47 -0400

Reference com. # 40, Jan Hurych's deposit is an excellent article with three color pictures titled:

" THE NUMBERS IN THE VM (and who numbered the pages?) "

It is short and to the point, while covering a lot of ground on the subject, and is very well written. A great reference to have handy. Thanks Jan.

From: Jan Hurych

Subject: J.VS: Re: Library deposit

Date: Tue, 5 Jun 2007 08:58:35 -0700 (PDT)

If you click on link provided by Greg,

and then on

at "jbh1.htm"

you get the article already assembled with pictures

The same happened in one step operation, if you directly click on link:

I am aware that there is a discussion about quires on the VM List, but that is a separate problem, since it deals with some asumptions. In the above article, I am here simply pointing out that the true page numbering does look like being it was done by author himself.



From: "Greg Stachowski"
To: "J.VS:"
Subject: J.VS: Library deposit
Date: Mon, 4 Jun 2007 22:40:41 +0200

Jan Hurych's Library deposit is now available online at:

From: Greg Stachowski
To: "J.VS:"

Subject: J.VS: Library deposit # 2-4-2007-06-06

Date: Fri, 8 Jun 2007 18:03:37 +0200

The latest JVS library deposit is now available, at the URL:

This is a 23 January 2007 paper by Jan Hurych titled:

" THE NEW SIGNATURE OF HORCZICKY (and the comparison of them all) "

This paper concerns the latest best available data on the long standing conjecture: that along the bottom of Voynich Manuscript page f1r some writing constitutes a "signature", and that the "signator" is Horczicky / Sinapius / de Tepenece.

Greg Stachowski
From: Jan Hurych

Subject: J.VS: Re: Library deposit # 2-4-2007-06-06

Date: Fri, 8 Jun 2007 16:11:52 -0700 (PDT)

Thanks Greg,

I will take a break, to provide two articles so quick is too much :-). Howvever, I explained Berj that I am just refreshing the articles on my site and will forward only those which I see still pertinent to JVS.

No fresh research soo far, but I am reading all the comments about Baresch in the VM LIst (about 200 items) so I might get idea where to look next. It sems thatt he is still for us the most important link sinc ewe know so little about him (how he got the VM, did he know the author, did he erase the "signature", how much he actually told Marci), etc.)


From: Berj N. Ensanian

Subject: J.VS: CM: New contributor-member

Date: Sun, 10 Jun 2007 09:16:27 -0400

The Journal Of Voynich Studies welcomes aboard Richard SantaColoma, well familiar to us as a fellow Voynich Studies researcher.

Berj / KI3U
From: Jan Hurych

Subject: J.VS: Re: CM: New contributor-member

Date: Sun, 10 Jun 2007 12:17:59 -0700 (PDT)

Welcome Richard,

From: Richard SantaColoma

Subject: J.VS: Re: CM: New contributor-member

Date: Sun, 10 Jun 2007 21:00:00 +0000

Thank you, Jan, Berj et al: I appreciate it, and will get together some materials for the J.VS. Any suggestions are appreciated. Berj suggested I make up the list of points to my theory, with citatiions.

I'll learn the in's and outs to the J.VS. website structure so that I know how it works. Thanks, Rich.
From: Berj N. Ensanian

Subject: J.VS: Images: PM-curve; gallows-letters Christianity symbolism

Date: Sat, 16 Jun 2007 13:04:56 -0400

Dear All

Library deposit # 2-1-2007-06-13 is now installed (Thanks Greg.). [1]

This deposit contains three images, described and referenced in the deposit's readme metadata file. Briefly:

The images gPMf68r3.bmp and its sub-image dPMf68r3.bmp are the PM-curve on crosshairs source-images that were used for the digitization of the Voynich ms f68r3 Pleiades-moon curve ( PM-curve ) in the original analysis paper posted to the old vms-list in December, 2006.

The image VMSChristGallowsSymbls.jpg is a sketch illustrating conjectural Christianity-symbolism of the major "gallows" letters (tall looped text symbols) that are characteristic of the Voynich text alphabet. I discussed this conjecture on the old vms-list in the spring of 2006, but as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Berj / KI3U


From: Berj N. Ensanian

Subject: J.VS: The f67r2 circle-perimeter patterns: are they simple codes?

Date: Sat, 23 Jun 2007 21:59:47 -0400

Recently, my off-J discussions with Jan Hurych on the possibility of Armenian connections in the Voynich manuscript prompted me to look over my old notes on that theme, and I came across an interesting little find involving Voynich page f67r2 that I thought might be worth communicating to the Journal, before it again slips like a needle back into the get-around-to-it-sometime haystack.

Voynich ms f67r is a foldout, altogether of two pages, each bearing a circular astronomical diagram. Identified per the system given in D'Imperio, the left of these recto panels, the one that bears "67" at its upper right, is f67r1, and the other panel is then f67r2. [1]

f67r2 has its "unusual" niche in the manuscript for reasons that include that it is, I believe, recognized as one of the very few, if not the only text-bearing page in the manuscript, where guide-line rulings for the text are clearly indicated: at the bottom of the circular diagram, for three lines of text, the middle line of which is written in heavy red ink.

The perimeter band of f67r2's circle diagram consists of repeating variations of simple geometric patterns / designs / symbols. Presently, for ease of discussion, I will denote these as "glyphs".

At least one of these glyphs, or variations of it, appears elsewhere here and there in other VMS illustrations. I have long called it the "box-cross" [2]. Economically stroked, it appears in its general form basically as a box or rectangle, with two internal perpendicular pairs of opposing tabs; the immediate impression of it, especially when the rectangle is square, is: a cross in a box. In one variation of it only one pair of the tabs is present, and the impression of a cross is absent. The tabs may be found hollow, or inked in. A single instance of this box-cross glyph is immediately seen in the left page f67r1, at about 11:30 o'clock, in its diagram's perimeter's second from most-outward band, where it sits suggesting itself as a kind of index or reference marker for the diagram's information navigation.

Returning to the perimeter of f67r2, the box-crosses share the perimeter with, it appears to me, two basic other kinds of glyphs:

Opposed strokes, at least two in number. But typically we see a pair of opposed rows, each made of a series, typically seven, of strokes. Sometimes these strokes are slanted, suggesting an elongated chevron with its longitudinal axis open (that is, the strokes of the rows do not meet to make vertices). One example at lower right has three dots on the longitudinal axis.

A double-T glyph that appears like a pair of ninety-degrees rotated and facing T's, with a varying number of strokes in the gap inbetween, approximately like this:

--| ||| |--

Lets look at examples of these glyphs on f67r2. [3]

Fig. 1, the image-file JVScom49Fig1VMSf67r2.bmp , shows part of the lower half of f67r2, and I have added labels A,B,C to show:

A: an example of the double-T having 2 strokes in its gap
B: an example of opposing rows of each 7 strokes, and 3 dots between
C: an example of the box-cross, slightly stretched beyond square, and with hollow tabs

It appears to me, that if we accept these three as the elementary glyphs, the box-cross, the opposing strokes, and the double-T, then around the perimeter they sometimes merge, or overlap, or even nest, and it is not always clear what an analytic separation of them should be. The fading of the old ink presents additional problems in places, and it appears also that a thin fill-in paint of tan color plays some kind of role in the perimeter series.

However, let us proceed.

Does this perimeter series encode some specific information? That is, is it systematic, rather than a randomly executed artistic border-decoration fill-in? Just to have a definite answer to that question would be progress, not to mention some idea of what was encoded, if indeed it is a code of some sort.

Toward that, I'd like to bring to the attention of the Journal an early 14th c. Armenian manuscript I chanced across, that exhibits similar glyphs, and moreover, plausibly has some indications that indeed the glyphs convey a code, the Armenian ms examples appearing altogether, in the most liberal optimistic view of them, like a sort of non-chalantly executed partial Rosetta Stone for these glyphs.

Let us then have a look at a page from the Armenian manuscript: Madenataran 3722. [4]

In Fig. 2, image file JVScom49Fig2VMSf67r2.jpg , we see the M. 3722 leaf, and it looks to bear practice drawings by the artist, perhaps a young student - he is developing his skills and ideas for manuscript work. We see elaborately rendered Armenian capital letters, crosses and other symbols, animals, and a flute player. Of the objects drawn, we are interested in three, specifically we are interested in the numerical values of their capital letters, and we are also interested in their bases, which exhibit some patterns similar to the f67r2 perimeter patterns. [5]

I have prepared separate images of the bases:

Fig. 3, JVScom49Fig3VMSf67r2.bmp , a simple gallows, from which, looped, hangs a serpent that has a knot tied in its middle. It may be intended to be an Armenian capital letter, and there are a couple of different possibilities, but on account of the knot in the serpent, I would say it is the letter "T'o", that is "T", the 9th letter of the Armenian alphabet.

Fig. 4, JVScom49Fig4VMSf67r2.bmp , seen at lower left of Fig. 2, it is the most complex of the drawings, and depicts a capital of the 5th letter of the Armenian alphabet, incorporated with immediately to its left the entrance to a curtained altar.

Fig. 5, JVScom49Fig5VMSf67r2.bmp , in the middle of the page, the ornately rendered cross.

In Figs. 3 - 5 the use of the double-T glyph is easily seen. The base of the altar (Fig. 4) is too faded for further information, lacking direct examination of the manuscript. But Figs. 3 and 5 show enough details so as to arouse our interest in the possibility that a T-glyph series encodes information, that it is not just some decorative device. As we shall see.

In Fig. 3, I have labeled the T-glyph series 0 1 1 0 according to the gap contents, but an alternate system for the left-right symmetric series might write 2 3 3 2 . What is it in Fig. 3 that suggests that the series encodes information? Perhaps the most immediate suggestion comes from viewing the serpent reduced to its bare minimum geometric essentials: a terminal (0), an extension (1), and a terminal again (0): 0 1 0

But our serpent has its extension tied into a knot in the middle, and plausibly could be written:
0 1 1 0

Admittedly, this interpretation is thin, but it is nevertheless enough to keep alive the ponderability that the serpent drawing indicates a coding use for its T-glyph series.

In Fig. 5 the case for a T-glyph series being something beyond just decorations, becomes much stronger. The base of the cross consists of 6 progressively shorter tiers (going upwards). Left-right assymmetry in the base is apparent at first glance. The T-glyphs series in the second-from bottom tier reflects this assymmetry:
0 0 1

Directly above, in the 3rd tier, we see groups of slanted strokes that also reflect the assymmetry:
2 1 3 2 1 or perhaps 3 3 2 1

The 5th tier has a group of 10 slanted strokes, and curiously:

2 + 1 + 3 + 2 + 1 + 0 + 0 + 1 = 9 + 1 = 10

We also note the coincidence, that the three tiers involved in this 10 = 9 + 1 result are the tiers numbered 2, 3, 5, where 2 + 3 = 5

We might wonder if the T-glyph series in tier 2 has its key represented by the integer sequence of tier 3, and if a shift procedure of some kind is indicated. With 6 tiers, not to mention the cross supported above, there are many possibilities for possibly-intended symbolized number-relationships. Not only that, we are here assuming that the codings in Figs. 3, 4, and 5, are independent. In any case, I think it is fair to say that Fig. 5 provides some evidence, as in any amount of evidence is more interesting than no evidence, that a T-glyph series encodes information, and is not just a decoration, at least in some illustrations.

Let us then summarize our conjectural logic for developing the case that is the subject of this communication:

a.) Similars to the Voynich f67r2 perimeter glyphs are found in an ancient Armenian ms, where they suggest the ponderability that they are code vehicles.

b.) Therefore it is reasonable to investigate the f67r2 perimeter glyphs as possible code vehicles.

c.) For a start, the simplest glyph-to-code mapping is code = integer number .

Now, assuming that the f67r2 perimeter patterns are codes that are built from the combinations of their glyphs and their variations, let us then hypothesize a "data frame" in the perimeter: a glyphs combinations set that extends some ways along the perimeter, and can be decoded independently, at least to some extent, of other data frames. What looks plausible in this regard? What construct, found repeated in the perimeter, might serve as simple data-frame bracket indicators?

It appears to me that the simplest indication of data-frame brackets are the extended tan-colored swaths: between any two successive such swaths constitutes a data-frame. We can see an example in Fig. 1 right at "C" - there the data-frame looks to be, here written in make-do notation:

T.1.[box-cross with 4 hollow tabs].1.T

And from here one could further interpret it:

1.4.1 or perhaps 1.40.1

I spent just a little time attempting to "decode" data-frames around the perimeter to see if anything immediately striking jumped out, like Dr. Leonell Strong's famous sequence:


But nothing striking immediately appeared. In fact, I realized that the next stage in this pursuit would be to obtain an idea, a list even, of numbers and numbers sequences that have been analytically associated with f67r2 in previous independent work by other Voynich students. For example, I recall that Robert Teague has an astrological attack on f67r2 where the year 1583 is important. Possibly the number 1583 is plainly encoded somewhere there in the perimeter inside a data-frame, requiring only the right perspective to spot it. Since the number of variables to consider in going further is formidable, items like sorting out the difference in code values between hollow and filled/solid tabs in the box-cross, and the combination rules for mixed, merged, and nested code glyphs, it is, I thought, enough at this stage to present this conjecture on the f67r2 perimeter patterns as a start, and see what happens.

Certainly the idea is in line with my own thinking that the Nine Rosettes Manuscript reflects an encyclopedic spectrum of coding schemes across its illustrations, text, and even physical construction. That an ancient Armenian ms might have some clues in Voynich work I find here, at this stage, not especially alarming, since in my view anyone, anywhere, anytime, educated and intelligent enough to have constructed the Voynich manuscript would be familiar with cultural material far and wide, and also I believe the various scribal and illustrations schools around the world were especially aware of the peculiar devices used by their co-experts. And of course, we recall that a favorite suspect for having had something to do with the Voynich ms, or at least the Prague ms, Fr. Athanasius Kircher, S.J., corresponded in, among his many languages, Armenian.

It remains to be seen if these apparent similarities across illustrations in the two manuscripts, are significant on the road to solving the mystery of the Nine Rosettes Manuscript. But we all have all kinds of potentially interesting items in our Voynich attics, and it doesn't hurt to once in a while bring some of the more tantalizing ones out into the daylight and see if their exposure leads to anything further.

Berj / KI3U

[1] The Beinecke identifies the high-resolution color image of the f67r pair as 1006194.sid .
The right edge of the f67r2 parchment is curled back some, and consequently the circle's perimeter is partly obscured there.

[2] The box-cross appears in seemingly un-related places in the VMS illustrations, as if to remind of a grand unifying thread across the book; for example: in the nine rosettes foldout, yet also decorating a cylindrical object in the manuscript's herbal section. See for example:
J. VS Library, 1-1-2007-05-05, 2JVSlibKI3U.htm:
"VMs: The very Heart of the Voynich Manuscript", Friday, April 28, 2006.
"VMs: General mcP Hypothesis on the Voynich Manuscript", Sunday, May 21, 2006.

The cylindrical object on f99v bearing a repitition band of the box-cross, is one of a group of objects in the herbal section that are commonly assumed by many people to depict pharmaceutical jars. However, recently Richard SantaColoma has been analyzing some of these objects as possibly representing optical devices, specifically early microscopes:

I would entertain that the tabs of the box-cross suggesting a "cross" could just as well be suggesting "crosshairs", and thus add to the ponderability of optical-device theories.

[3] I've prepared images for this Journal communication, and our Librarian Greg Stachowski has installed them along with the supplementary meta-data text-file (Thanks Greg) as deposit
# 3-1-2007-06-22

found on-line here:

[4] Madenataran No. 3722
From Nakhichevan (Armenia), dated 1304; an example of Luysantskazarteri decorative paintings; artist: Simean; un-numbered leaf; capital letters, mythological, apocryphal, and wordly subjects from Bible and other religious books in the 13th c. style.

The Madenataran is the Mesrob Mashtots Research Institute of Ancient Manuscripts, in Yerevan.

Fig. 2 is my photograph of a reproduction of M. 3722, Plate 44 in the book:

Ancient Armenian Miniatures, compiled and edited by L.A. Turnovoy, P.N. Arakelian, R.K. Trampiani, M.S. Sarian, G.T. Diraduriani, Armenian S.S.R. State Publishing, Yerevan, 1952.

This is a very large (40.5 x 48 cm) and very expensively produced volume that appears to me to have been primarily intended for limited circulation among scholars, and likely the number of printed copies of this book is small, intended for specialized archives. The text is in Armenian and Russian.

[5] For a detailed discussion of Armenian alphabet numerology, especially as it relates to ancient Armenian astronomy and the decimal counting system, see: Armenians And Old Armenia, Archaeoastronomy, Linguistics, Oldest History, by Paris M. Herouni, Tigran Mets, Yerevan, 2004. Text is primarily English, but necessarily with much Armenian, and some Russian. The focus of the book is the stones circle observatory at Carahunge (unique in that its deduced instruments theoretically had a sky observing resolution of 30 arc-seconds) that also attracted the interest of the archeo-astronomer G.S. Hawkins.

From: Greg Stachowski

Subject: JVS: Library deposit # 1-5-2007-06-24

Date: Mon, 25 Jun 2007 18:45:28 +0200

Robert Teague has deposited the following documents relating to his VMS research in the JVS Library:

- Moon Occultation Date Summary
- Recipe Section Stars Table
- Researcher's Data Summary
- Teague Numbers
- Values for 17-Letter Alphabet
- Zodiac Section Nymph Overview

They are available at the URL:

Thank you to Robert for making these available to us all.

From: Berj N. Ensanian

Subject: J.VS: Nested shells perspective of VMS physical construction

Date: Thu, 28 Jun 2007 21:38:24 -0400

Dear All

As we know, the Voynich Manuscript's gathering of quires and ordering of folios, has long been a matter of debate. Physical evidence from the book can be interpreted to mean that the book has apparently been rebound at least once: for example, some pages in the book are in rather good condition, while others appear older, worn, and beat up. All analysis is complicated by the possibility that the book, as we have it, may have, over an extended period of time, been a work in progress, with substantial updates being done to its earlier material, and perhaps even by later authors.

Last December on the old vms-list in a discussion with Robert Teague, I outlined a particular perspective of the present ordering of folios in the manuscript.
Quoting from that, [1] :

" It has been suspected that the ms has been mis-gathered or mis-foliated, not to mention missing pages and forged paginations, and the pages may not be in the original intended order. However, when the book is analyzed in terms of its sections, visualizing it as a sphere that has been cut in two, a kind of core-plus-concentric-shells organization can be seen, which is even easier to see if one views the herbal / pharmaceutical section as a sub-section of a general botanical section: "

and also:

" At the very center of the book (in this core-plus-shells model) the balneological core is pierced by a single all-text code-page: f76r "

At the time that I described this to Robert, I had already sketched a minimal diagram of this nested / concentric shells perspective; I have now submitted an image of the diagram as
deposit # 4-1-2007-06-27 to the Journal's Library. [2]

Presently the diagram is intended as just something to note, and not a piece of evidence one way or the other in the general debate on the gathering and binding. Of course I continue to believe that the climax of the manuscript, the Nine Rosettes Manuscript (9RMS) as I like to say, is the nine rosettes fold-out. I do think the nesting diagram, or at least the concept of the nested shells organization of the manuscript (according to sections, regardless of the number of pages in particular sections), is reminiscent of those familiar wonderful Slavic folk art nested eggs and dolls, and the diagram gets you thinking about the book's symbolic organization in interesting ways.

For example, a text-only page is a very rare thing in the ms. And rare also are pages that could fit in a special class: "code pages" as I've called them, this meaning pages in the ms, like f57v and f69r, that, aside from their other conventional class membership, explicitly suggest cipher code material. [3]

The nesting diagram then shows something rather intriguing: at the core of the nesting is the balneological section, focused on the female, and like a womb impregnated by a seed, this balneological nest is pierced with a single text-only page, that happens also to be a code page: f76r, the code page with the nine codes. [4]

Berj / KI3U

[1] vms-list post: VMs: 3x3 matrix of f58r and the f68r3 moon-ring; Saturday, December 2, 2006 9:12 PM; J. VS Library, deposit # 1-1-2007-05-05, file 3JVSlibKI3U.htm

[2] J. VS Library deposit # 4-1-2007-06-27, VoynichFoliosAsConcentricShells.jpg
This should be installed in the Library and ready for access in a couple of days when our Librarian, Greg, returns from a conference.

[3] It is a bit difficult to make a fixed list for the classification "code pages", those that explicitly suggest cipher coding. Some Voynich pages are obvious in this vein, for example: f49v, f57v, f66r, f69r, and f76r with its nine! tantalizing codes on its left margin. Other pages, like f1r with its faded right margin data, and f58r with its intriguing 3x3 matrix (or tic-tac-toe grid if you like), are probably well to include in the class, but then there are pages that are difficult to assay, like f4r, f75v, and f28v, the latter with those odd symbols in the center of its flower, notably the Hildegarde-ian letter "L".

[4] From Cirlot, on the symbolism of the number nine: "For the Hebrews, it was the symbol of truth, ... " and "In medicinal rites, it is the symbolic number par excellence, ... ".
A Dictionary of Symbols, by J.E. Cirlot, 1962, translated from the Spanish by Jack Sage, 1971, Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd.; 2nd Ed. Barnes & Noble, 1995.
From: Greg Stachowski

Subject: J.VS: Re: Nested shells perspective of VMS physical construction

Date: Sat, 30 Jun 2007 15:46:03 +0200

The image illustrating J.VS communication #51 ("Nested shells perspective of VMS physical construction", by Berj) is now in the Library, at the URL:

From: Jan Hurych

Subject: J.VS: Re: Nested shells perspective of VMS physical construction

Date: Sat, 30 Jun 2007 11:43:36 -0700 (PDT)

Good job, Berj,

and thanks Greg for posting it. I am little behind with my plan, since I am preparingthe article about Krystof Harant na dhis book in the meantime - Berj, I promised to give you a report, but I decided to make it into a compact article and his book has two volumes and about 50 chapters, so pls be patient,

From: Berj N. Ensanian

Subject: J.VS: Re: Nested shells perspective of VMS physical construction

Date: Sat, 30 Jun 2007 16:25:29 -0400

Very good Jan - it will be well worth the wait to read your article on Krystof Harant.

As I said earlier in another thread, we all have these neat items stuffed away in our Voynich attics, and I'm all for periodic "antiques shows" :)

From: Berj N. Ensanian

Subject: J.VS: Crisogonus, the Nine Rosettes clockhands, & Hindu-Arabic Numerals in 1469

Date: Sun, 01 Jul 2007 22:20:03 -0400

Dear All

The 1469 document, Bridwell MS 5, penned by Crisogonus de Nassis, is interesting in Voynich studies for several different reasons, and in the past I've posted on it. I've now placed into the Journal's Library, deposit # 5-1-2007-07-01, comprised of two pictures and a detailed meta-data text-file that illustrate two points:

the similarities between a peculiar Crisogonus glyph and the "clockhands" of the Voynich nine rosettes foldout, and

the remarkably modern form of the Hindu-Arabic numerals written by Crisogonus.

Thank you Greg for installing the deposit [1], and of course the Journal's ongoing thanks to Mt. Suhora Observatory for hosting the Library's online presence.

Berj / KI3U


From: Greg Stachowski
To: "J.VS:"

Subject: J.VS: Library deposit #2-5-2007-07-08 - Zodiac reference images etc.

Date: Sun, 8 Jul 2007 15:57:32 +0200

Robert Teague has made the following images available in the J.VS Library:

- Modern Zodiac Reference Chart
- Number Evolution Chart
- VMs Zodiac Reference
- Zodiac Clothed Nymphs Distribution

The URL is:

From: Berj N. Ensanian

Subject: J.VS: Fr. Strickland, S.J.

Date: Tue, 10 Jul 2007 09:30:45 -0400

So then, following off-J discussions on this topic, tangential and otherwise, can it be conjectured that "Fr. Strickland, S.J." [1], as the seller of MS 408 to Wilfrid Voynich, is perhaps a Mr. Strickland, perhaps in England, and happened to have the same name as a Mondragone priest, perhaps because they were relatives?

That is to say that the Jesuits had nothing to do with the actual transfer of MS 408 to Wilfrid, at the time Wilfrid obtained the ms?

Berj / KI3U

From: Jan Hurych

Subject: J.VS: Re: Fr. Strickland, S.J.

Date: Tue, 10 Jul 2007 08:59:53 -0700 (PDT)


I guess the letters in Beinecke show V. really dealt with Mondragone, but I do not think there is also the bill of sale in Beinecke. Of one Fr. Strickland in England there is a quote in Catholic Encyclopedia:

" ...a letter sent on 8 Nov., 1808, by Father Kohlmann , who was then acting as the administrator of the diocese, to his friend Father Strickland, S.J., of London , England "

My comment: by the time of sale, he was most likely dead :-).

Then another father (or maybe the same?), from page:

"The Community rallied round during the first week in February, 1862, on Common Hill; a wooden cross erected and blessed on Sunday, 9th. of Feb., by Bishop Vaughan, while Fr. Strickland preached a sermon underneath the cross. "

My comment: This Father could have been living in the tthe time of sale. So the tradition of English Stricklands (some of them Jesuits) was rich even before the sale. While Guiseppe Strickland was a professor at Mondragone, four other Stricklands were students there. We need to know the first name of that Fr. Strickland, who "introduced Voynich to Mondragone padres". He was a Jesuit, see S.J., but it could also be one of those jesuits in England (in my example the first one was, the second quotation is from some diary, so S.J. could ahve been omitted).

What I meant in my letter to VM List, is that Voynich may have known either of those in England or he just simply knew the one in Mondragone. The way Rene put it (and he probably exactly quoted Voynich), we do not know which Fr. Strickland introduced Voynich to padres in Mondragone. After all, other Stricklands plus four students in Mondragone, originally from England, show that there was some Jesuit connection between England and Italy even before the sale.

By the way, Fr. in Latin is an abbreviation for Frater, i.e. Brother, suggesting the member of religious order (say monk) rather than the priest. Jesuits use instead abbreviation P., or R.P. for Reverend Pater. Why would Voynich use such confusing English abbreviation I do not know, he surely knew better than that.


JVS wrote: From: "Berj N. Ensanian" To: Subject: J.VS: Fr. Strickland, S.J. Date: Tue, 10 Jul 2007 09:30:45 -0400 So then, following off-J discussions on this topic, tangential and otherwise, can it be conjectured that "Fr. Strickland, S.J." as the seller of MS 408 to Wilfrid Voynich [1], is perhaps a Mr. Strickland, perhaps in England, and happened to have the same name as a Mondragone priest, perhaps because they were relatives? That is to say that the Jesuits had nothing to do with the actual transfer of MS 408 to Wilfrid, at the time Wilfrid obtained the ms? Berj / KI3U [1]
From: Greg Stachowski

Subject: J.VS: Re: Fr. Strickland, S.J.

Date: Tue 07/10/2007 12:23 PM

On 7/10/07, Jan Hurych wrote:

"By the way, Fr. in Latin is an abbreviation for Frater, i.e. Brother, suggesting the member of religious order (say monk) rather than the priest. Jesuits use instead abbreviation P., or R.P. for Reverend Pater. Why would Voynich use such confusing English abbreviation I do not know, he surely knew better than that."

There are two possibilities. One, the Jesuits do themselves use "Father", abbreviated to "Fr." in English -- the Jesuit webpage (!) and Wikipedia provide examples. Or, two, that he meant "Frater", the Jesuits also having brothers as well as priests like any other order.
From: Berj N. Ensanian

Subject: J.VS: Re: Fr. Strickland, S.J.

Date: Wed, 11 Jul 2007 20:28:14 -0400

Well folks, our off-J discussions around this subject are really making eye-opening! We have, to look forward to, some detailed J.VS posts in the future, I hope. In the meantime I'll post some of my burning curiosities:

1.) Was there a Mondragone-connected Strickland(s) conspiracy regarding transfer of a manuscript or manuscripts to Wilfrid Voynich? And if so, was it really just about discreetly getting some outside-source money?

2.) Is it conceivable that long before Wilfrid Voynich met any Strickland, there existed a "Strickland Manuscript" with something about it rather sensitive?

3.) Is Ricci's 1937 census MS 8 (apparently relied upon by Ruysschaert for his 1959 catalog entries that concern us) positively unambiguously identifyable as today's Yale Beinecke MS 408 ?

If yes, then how exactly, and on whose authority ? ? ?

4.) From Newbold (via his book edited by Roland Grubb Kent) the public learns no later than 1928, two years before Wilfrid Voynich's death, that Wilfrid Voynich found the mysterious manuscript in an Austrian Castle. Years later after Ethel Voynich dies, a new story emerges, a complicated one albeit with certain secular vs church history conveniences, and via the mediumship of our favorite mystery character, Miss Lone Ranger Mask Nill, that has Wilfrid discovering the manuscript in Mondragone. Wilfrid of course is long dead, and cannot comment on the new dramatic change in the story of how he discovered his famous manuscript.

Even if Wilfrid had no ethical problems with launching a public lie, would he not have been taking a business and/or social risk doing so? For example, presumably Wilfrid could not have known that Newbold would suddenly die untimely. Therefore was it not a great risk to tell Newbold about the Austrian castle, if it was completely untrue?

5.) Or, did Newbold, who incidentally actually discovered a new chemical process (ref. blue vitriol) from his VMS decipherment efforts, know the Austrian castle story was untrue, and he ran with it anyway?

6.) Why did H.P. Kraus say he owned the VMS for seven "happy" years? (before then donating it to Yale Beinecke) - years during which he failed to sell it and provide a nice cut for his then-employee Miss Nill, when otherwise from beginning to end in his interesting self-glorifying autobiography he makes it abundantly clear that, for him, the experience of not being able to sell a book he intended to sell, or sell it for what he wanted to sell it for, was a painful experience.

7.) Is it odd, that Austria-native Kraus's (autobiography) chapter on the world's most mysterious manuscript, is bracketed by Fr. J. Strickland in the beginning of the chapter, and at the end of the chapter with Kraus's 1963 visit to Ruysschaert with its strange twist outcome?

Berj / KI3U
From: Berj N. Ensanian
Sent : Monday, July 16, 2007 11:15 AM

Subject : J.VS: non-western-European influences in VMS origin: Czech Knight Krystof Harant

Dear All

Greg has just put online Library deposit # 3-4-2007-07-16 :

It is a speculative article for general reference for possible non-western European origins of Voynich manuscript material:

HOW THE VM GOT IN PRAGUE (The story of Krystof Harant de Polzic and Bezdruzic) by J. B. Hurych

Jan has been saying, off-J, that it is high time to start collecting some reference sources for possible eastern origins of the VMS, or even just portions of the VMS. I agree: I've always felt that there are Byzantine traces in the ms, notably the general look and feel of the f85/86 nine rosettes foldout.

Jan's article introduces the very interesting Czech Knight Krystof Harant (1564-1621); we had been discussing him off-J as I was struck by his Armenian-like name (Hrant) and of course his appearance from his picture that Jan provides in his article.

Jan is clear that he did not, in Harant's book on Harant's journey to the east, find any Voynich ms smoking guns:

" In Harant's book, I unfortunately did not find any hint he bought anywhere any manuscript, however he had with him enough money (he was robbed only shortly before his return) and he was educated enough and had the interest in old books. Also, knowing other languages, he might have been attracted to the strange, mysterious manuscript. Still, it would be premature to close this case now when we still do not know enough. For the meantime, it should be apparent that the VM could very well came from other place than just Western Europe and Harnt could ahve been the one who brought it. "

Nevertheless, Jan's article discusses Harant in Voynich context, and thereby stimulates considerably interesting possibilities. In particular, aside from whether or not Harant really had any connection with the Prague ms, his book and life are an excellent refererence, for example: one could check his trip to the Holy Land against the f85/86 nine rosettes foldout viewed as a map. There is obviously tremendous detail in Harant's travel descriptions.

One excellent Voynich-relevant thought in Jan's article is that if Harant, or someone like him, a "traitor", did have the ms, then there is indeed a very good motive for Baresch et al to be vague about the origin of the ms. This interesting thought had not occurred to me before: it provides a possible explanation for why Baresch is vague, assuming of course that Baresch's ms is indeed the Voynich ms, as standard Voynich history alleges atop very shaky foundations (see J.VS comm. # 60), but so far still has not been able to demonstrate at all conclusively.

So, in one shot, we now have some excellent eastern reference material in the Journal's Library. Thanks Jan.

Berj / KI3U
From: Berj N. Ensanian

Subject: J.VS: Philosophical math-text versus practical cipher-text

Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2007 13:20:48 -0400

Dear All

Greg Stachowski and I have been having an off-J discussion that seems to me to be of sufficient general interest to share in the Journal. So with Greg's consent I've lifted from our emails the main portions of our discussions and compacted them for easy reading below. I've done my best to present our sometimes interleaved and parallel comments into an accurately representative serial format.

As you will see, we are discussing the implications of a successful mastering of the scheme by which the Voynich text was generated. This touches upon broader issues behind the manuscript's origins, such as hoax versus serious message. The discussion follows below. I hope you find it interesting.

Berj / KI3U

DISCUSSION (JUL 2007) between Stachowski and Ensanian on philosophical math-text versus practical cipher-text in the context of the Voynich Manuscript:

Berj Ensanian says:

This is important: I am distinguishing as separate analytic problems the creation of the glyphs sequence (its equation), and any coherent message that hitches a ride on the sequence by some other mathematical procedure.

Greg Stachowski says:

But that won't mean the equation itself has any meaning relative to the VMS, unless there are other constraints to show that it does. Think compression: I take a text file (which is a set of numbers, e.g. ASCII) and run say Hoffmann compression on it. I get another, shorter set of numbers, which together with the Hoffmann algorithm is essentially an equation which can be used to reproduce the original. But the original doesn't need to have any meaning connected to the equation. See what I'm getting at?

The thing is , I can see how we can reproduce a way of generating the glyphs (although there is no way of knowing if it is the same way as the author) , but how do we get from that to the coherent message 'hitching a ride'? I don't see how one could do so unambiguously, given the number of variables ...

Berj says:

1.) Obtain a relatively simple general equation that generates, exactly, including inter-word spaces and line breaks, a sequence of vms text, with only a change in the constants/parameters of the general eqn. to make it work with any particular block of text.

Greg says:


Berj says:

2.) Make a decision: is this the end of it? In other words is the total goal of the vms author the exhibiting of passable natural appearing writing, that is in fact generated by just feeding n=1, 2, 3, ... into an equation.

Greg says:

One wonders what the criterion for making that call would be. I suppose if the equation is very simple then it would be more likely.

Berj says:

3.) If anyone was bright enough to successfully achieve 2.) it seems likely they would not stop there, but on creative curiosity alone would go further and find a mechanism for using the math generated text as a cipher, or in any case a carrier for natural coherent thought. In other words find a way, for plain-text, of any type in any language, to hitch a ride on pre-generated ready to use math-text. (This might well be part of a goal of developing a universal language).

Greg says:

Well, simply use the generated string of characters as a key in an ordinary substitution cipher; in this case with an infinite key length it would be nearly uncrackable unless the equation generating the text had some periodicity shorter than the text length.

On the other hand, if the generated text were used to encipher a plaintext (not necessarily in the way I suggested) then working backwards from the ciphertext to generate an equation would give the _wrong_ equation; not the one which generated the key. So not of much use, unless the two equations turned out to be related somehow.

Berj says:

4.) The hitching a ride mechanism could be very primitive: fix an integer sequence, like Dr. Strong's say, as the in-math-word glyph positions that determine insertion there of one glyph from the plain-text, and then substitute into the next math-word at that glyph position. If Strong says now use the ninth glyph in the current math-word, and the current math-word has less than nine glyphs, then just skip to the next math-word that has nine glyphs at least, or skip the 9 in Strong and take the next Strong-sequence-integer that will work, or count two math-words together to make one of at least 9 glyphs length, or some rule along those lines. And, recycle Strong's sequence as long as needed.

Greg says:

That is just too complicated for my brain to follow without more coffee :)

Again, though, this would seem to alter the equation generating the text.

Berj says:

The primitive hitch-hiking scheme is a highly verbose cipher of course: each math-word carries at most just one plain-text glyph. But that might be a so-what?! Because the original main goal was 2.), and 3.) was a just a continuation of the creative fun. And anyway, if you didn't know the system, nor the language of the plain-text, plus you've got a strange alphabet, well how easy would it be to crack it?

I think it would be pretty difficult. No?

Greg says:


As I said above, using the sequence to transmit a message in whatever way changes the nature of the sequence, thus any generating function we recover will not be the original, and this case will look the same as the case where there is no encrypted message and the text is just a string of numbers generated by a function.

Berj says:

If you knew the system and, in the primitive cipher example also knew the simple modifying sequence (example: Strong's sequence), I think you could read it alright because you would recognize the generating function's output as modified.

Greg says:

If you knew both, yes. But I maintain that working back from the ciphertext you are unlikely to recover the generating function without decrypting the text first anyway.

Berj says:

You'd need familiarity with the system of course. Also, we might think of the primitive verbose example as being essentially the output of the familiar generating equation slightly distorted by noise - the noise in this case being the distributed plain-text glyphs, and this noise density is so low that the familiar output of the generator equation is recognized.

Greg says:

So, let's assume for a minute that this procedure is possible, and that you do recover a equation (well, formula or algorithm perhaps, equation isn't really the word) which reproduces exactly or nearly so (transcription errors) any chunk of the VMS we choose. It reproduces those chunks which it was not derived from as well as those it was, which strengthens the hypothesis that it is the 'right' equation. So now we are left with interpretation.

It seems to me that there are several possibilities:

1.] The equation is very simple, but has no clear relevance or meaning beyond generating pseudotext. In this case we can, I think, conclude that the VMS is a clever hoax, and the equation was used to quickly generate realistic pseudotext for it. It remains to be determined by other means (the text now being effectively useless) who did so, when and why; this is constrained by the fact that the cleverness of this approach would eliminate all but a few individuals in any time period before the modern information age. In this case it is likely (though not necessarily true) that the images are also essentially meaningless.

Berj says:

Yes definitely, we could very probably narrow our search for potential authors.

But I disagree it would necessarily be a hoax for reasons mentioned earlier: the main intent may have been to explore the idea: that a purely mathematical procedure can generate realistic appearing natural language text - a worthy challenge. Such a challenge would, it seems to me, fit well into a philosophy focusing on the idea of the unity of the macroscopic and microscopic worlds, the unity of the animate and inanimate worlds, and so on, all unified via a common mathematical language employed by the cosmic creative force. (And the work perhaps motivated further by exploration of a universal language system.)

Greg says:

If so, this can be easily accomplished in a few pages, without going to the extent of generating 100-odd folios and the associated pictures. Wherefore then the VMS as a whole?

If the generation was continued to the extent of filling what is essentially a book, and the illustrations added, for the purpose of showing off the effectiveness of the new procedure to others, then it becomes arguably a hoax, even if a mild and harmless one.

Berj says:

I think that much of the Voynich research tendency to entertain "hoax" comes from a tendency to believe that there must have been a practical end to the effort that went into the ms text. But instead, it may have been more a philosophical exercise.

Greg says:

Even a philosophical exercise has a practical end; to explore whether something can be (done) or show that it can be (done).

But again. for oneself that can be shown sufficiently to satisfy the philosophical purpose within a few pages, if the pages are meaningless and the intent is to show that they can be generated. So to generate more implies having another purpose. Now, that purpose may have been to demonstrate to others that a whole book could be built this way, but then it is in a sense a hoax. Or the intent may have been analogous to creating a work of art or craft, something done to look like a strange manuscript but with no real meaning. Again, from the point of view of Voynichology, this is equivalent to a hoax, even if the intent was never to show it to anyone and it was created simply for the pleasure of doing so. It (in this example) has become a hoax through a long history of people supposing that it did have meaning.

Berj says:

I'm not convinced, that if it is a book-length philosophical exploration, that it is a hoax. It is a valid exercise / exploration, because it is interesting, and the very existence of ongoing longterm serious Voynich research adds to that. Now, if it is a hoax from the point of view of Voynichology, because of Voynichology's traditional views on what the text "should be" in order not to be a "hoax", then Voynichology is defining itself as a philosophical Simplicius, it seems to me. In other words what I am trying to say is that the Voynich ms author does not owe Voynichology, or more correctly some faction in Voynichology, an adherence to some standard of what is and is not a hoax. After a hundred years of going around in circles, it seems to me that any faction in Voynichology that flatly declares the ms a "hoax" is standing on extremely thin ice. I'd go so far as to say uninteresting ice. Granted, if the book is a philosophical exercise, it may well be, to someone, an uninteresting philosophy, but still not necessarily be a "hoax" I think.

Greg says:

2.] The equation is very simple, but is related in some way to natural mathematical phenomena: orbital motion, Fibonacci sequence; golden ratio; pi, etc. In this case we can conclude that the VMS was a demonstration of the power of mathematics, perhaps as some utopian-philosophical experiment consistent with the period 16th/17th C. Again, this should point us to who & when; and also suggests looking at the images (plants, astro) in the same philosophical context.

Berj says:

Yes, yes exactly!

Greg says:

3.] The equation is complicated, including features which are required to make it fit the text. There are some hints of underlying simplicity and pattern. In this case, I think we may have the case of an encrypted text ciphered using a simple equation, whose simplicity is being masked by the encryption. In this case the outcome of whether it can be decrypted or not depends on how complicated this process looks to be. It may well be impossible. Alternatively, it may be that the equation has nothing to do with the text or encryption, but by correctly describing it may point us to a language or (non-mathematical) encryption scheme. Sort of like Zipf's law might be used to determine the underlying language. It will be difficult to unambiguously demonstrate any of these though.

Berj says:

Now it's my turn to have coffee :)

Greg says:

4.] The equation is complicated, there are no obvious patterns or hints of simple structure. In this case we don't know what we have: simple but very good encryption, complex encryption, complex description, or a compression algorithm.

Berj says:

Well yes, as before: if the equation is too complex, and relies solely on a universal mathematical theorem, Fourier say, and is not further reducable into a simpler form via specific functions that reveal the author's design and intent, then we have merely a demonstration of the power of some kinds of powerful mathematical analysis, but we have not illuminated any design and intent of the 9RMS text author in the generating of his/her Voynich text.

Greg says:

Indeed. The hope would be to get no. 2], or perhaps no. 3.]

Berj says:

So it seems overall then that we have here a kind of uncertainty principle: even if the Voynich text author's main intent was to explore, via the mathematical generating of artificial text that has the appearance of natural text, and perhaps in an advanced version even has some of the precision characteristics of natural writing, as his (the author's) intended illustrated book-length exploration of a principle of cosmic unity/universality, we nevertheless cannot use universal mathematical theorems alone to conclude that that was the author's intention in creating the mysterious text.

From: Greg Stachowski
To: "J.VS:"

Subject: J.VS: Re: Philosophical math-text versus practical cipher-text

Date: Wed, 18 Jul 2007 12:45:08 +0200

Yes indeed, Berj. Your final conclusion is spot on.

Thank you for editing that discussion and putting it up. Hopefully others will find it as interesting as we both did. Perhaps it will stimulate some new thinking and ideas.

As you said in your introduction, we have touched, more or less overtly, on a broad range of topics. Aside from the mathematical idea itself, there are a few I think are worth mentioning:

First, I think the more general thoughts on the origin of the VMS as perhaps a philosophical experiment, a purely creative work or a demonstration of an idea are worthwhile in broadening the paradigm in which Voynich research is carried out, and showing that other ideas are possible.

Second, the discussion of what a particular line of analysis might mean if successful is useful as an example of the sort of questions which I think should be asked and answered in every branch of Voynich research. As a group, we need to question and analyse our own research more often.

Third, the hoax. I think this is a topic worth returning to, if nothing else because everybody has a slightly different idea of what they mean by 'hoax' and these may be worth exploring and clarifying.

Finally, I mentioned to you off J.VS that I very much like the idea of 'dialogue' . It is a device which has been used since classical times for this sort of discussion, and,whether it is two real people or two imagined people, it can often produce much more dynamic discussion than the single point -of-view essay form. I think it is a form we should use more often.

From: Berj N. Ensanian

Subject: J.VS: Re: Philosophical math-text versus practical cipher-text

Date: Wed, 18 Jul 2007 09:53:24 -0400


Very well indeed.

I want to add that in my view the optimistic, and at the same time exciting possibility, is explicitly pointed out by you in comm. #62 when you say " The hope would be to get no. 2], or perhaps no. 3.] ".

Here again from comm. #62 is the relevant portion of our dialogue:

* * * * *

Greg says:

2.] The equation is very simple, but is related in some way to natural mathematical phenomena: orbital motion, Fibonacci sequence; golden ratio; pi, etc. In this case we can conclude that the VMS was a demonstration of the power of mathematics, perhaps as some utopian-philosophical experiment consistent with the period 16th/17th C. Again, this should point us to who & when; and also suggests looking at the images (plants, astro) in the same philosophical context.

Berj says:

Yes, yes exactly!

* * * * *

Now, on account of the deep perplexity of the Voynich manuscript, we (some of us researchers over the past century) have had plenty of thinking space to evermore project evermore profound possibilities upon the solution to the mystery. But the above general characterization does seem to me to be a very realistic one, and especially very satisfying if that is what it was that kept everyone so mystified for so long.

From: Berj N. Ensanian

Subject: J.VS: Problems with text transcription: variations of a basic glyph

Date: Thu, 19 Jul 2007 21:12:44 -0400

Dear All

One of the well known and continuously relevant problems in Voynich text transcription is the variations of an apparently-same-type glyph. Is a particular example just a variation, perhaps due to hurried writing at the time, a different hand, or the need to squeeze the glyph into a small available space, or is it in fact a different, or meaningful-modification glyph? Is it an information-carrying glyph at all? This problem alone, aside from the missing pages problem, produces the large variation in the size of the assumed basic Voynich text alphabet: depending on one's view of the variations, the size of the alphabet, the number of its glyphs / letters, can vary by a factor of well more than 2. The problem can be further exacerbated if one entertains the idea that the text contains "incognito symbols". [1]

Approaches to resolving the problem are necessarily subjective of course, until perhaps some day precursor documents to the VMS are discovered that result in an unambiguous set of Voynich alphabet glyphs, or else a convincing decipherment of the VMS text makes the situation clear.

Back in May, 2006, I undertook a brief study of variations of the double-looped symmetric gallows letter ( a.k.a. GC-k or EVA-t ). I surveyed the Beinecke images of the pages of the manuscript and drew some variations, around three dozen, of the this hallmark Voynich text symbol on two notebook pages. During this exercise I used on-computer-screen page images set at about, or not too much larger, than the natural size of the physical pages. Within the context of paying general attention to scripts and hands in ancient exemplars for the purpose of finding script-style kinship with VMS gallows forms, I had been motivated to do the study after seeing a particular example of "A" in BL Harley MS 4431, the magnificent early 15th c. Christine de Pizan manuscript. [2, 3, 4]

I thought it would be useful for us to have in our Library the drawings from my study: at one glance they give an idea of the magnitude of the variations problem. So I have sent to our Librarian, Greg, deposit # 6-1-2007-07-19 containing an image of the two pages of drawings. The survey-study that the drawings exhibit was not exhaustive by any means, and as noted next to them on the paper, some of the drawings are sloppy. But the collection altogether does show one of the great problems faced when transcribing Voynich text: is this glyph a no-further-significance variation of basic type X, or is it a variation of basic type Y ?

Berj / KI3U

[1] Discussions of the hypothetical incognito symbols may be found by searching preserved posts to the old vms-list in:
J. VS Library deposit # 1-1-2007-05-05, file 2JVSlibKI3U.htm, and file 3JVSlibKI3U.htm

[2] vms-list thread: VMs: gallows letters in Christine de Pizan's work, Saturday, May 27, 2006 3:01 PM; preserved in J. VS Library deposit # 1-1-2007-05-05, file 2JVSlibKI3U.htm

[3] My drawing of the "A" also appears on my drawings pages: at top right of the left drawings-page. Several Voynich ms glyphs are quite similar to it.

[4] As an interesting tangent, arguable exemplars of the box-cross symbol discussed in J. VS comm. #49 can be seen in a miniature illustration of another Christine manuscript:
Coronation Book of Charles V of France, British Library Cotton MS Tiberius B. viii, f.55
The box-cross is seen in the pattern on the back-wall, and on the bedsheet.

From: Berj N. Ensanian

Subject: J.VS: Experimental minimal Alphabet for broad phoneme-spectrum transcription

Date: Fri, 20 Jul 2007 19:22:37 -0400

Dear All

As we know, it is sometimes assumed that the "basic" Voynich text alphabet size, operating in any given block of text, is essentially dominated by a set of 17 elements. This idea, or a variation on this idea, has a long history, going back to at least Tiltman. [1, 2]

One variation on the idea is this: the actual glyphs can change here and there, but the essential set remains 17 elements. Therefore, in order to get a handle on the Voynich text, the first task is to obtain an understanding of the relations between 17 essential elements, regardless of the particular glyphs that come in and out of the set of 17.

By analogy, we might think of a block of VMS text as the progression of a theatrical play with a total of 17 roles, but as the play is performed, the actors (glyphs) portraying a particular essential play role, can change: the stable of actors in the theater company is much larger than 17, and there is no restriction that the same actor must stay pinned to the same role(s) as the performance moves along. What does remain stable, is relationships: for example, the "aristocrat" and "pedestrian" roles (rare versus common glyphs in a given text block), and the "inseparable lovers" roles (digraphs) are recognized by their relationships, no matter the actors portraying them during any sequence in the play.

Actually I think that one could study the glyph frequencies in very large blocks of Voynich text and conclude that the essential number of the alphabet core is 16 instead of 17.

Anyway, whether or not this idea is really correct, after all there are many more than 17 glyphs in the VMS text and in Journal comm. #65 we further confront the glyphs variation problem, nevertheless it does motivate exploring written expression of thought, in this case in western languages that normally use some variation of the Roman Latin alphabet letters, scripted with only 16 or 17 letters. Is that practical?

The Rotokas language of Papua New Guinea is noted for its small number of phonemes, and therefore having in its written form only eleven or twelve letters (a subset of the Latin alphabet), the ones used being: A, E, G, I, K, O, P, R, S, T, U, V. But we must clearly distinguish between a small phonemes-inventory language that is efficiently mapped to a small alphabet, and a small alphabet that permits its mapping to large sets of phonemes. [3]

That is, whereas the Rotokas alphabet may be efficient for the Rotokas language, it is not necessarily efficient in general: a major speech by a Lakhota Chief would probably not be transcribed very well in the Rotokas alphabet. But, it is not simple to get any of this down quantitatively: the "goodness" of the transcription of a piece of speech in some language versus the number of letters, and particular letters, in a trial broad phoneme-spectrum transcription alphabet.

I often experiment along these lines in Voynich text analysis work, under the assumption of course that either directly, or under cipher, the text represents coherent writing with a message. My minimal-alphabet experiments have more or less settled on one alphabet system in particular, a minimal alphabet of 16 or 17 elements, that I'll briefly illustrate here. Perhaps you will find some interesting points of view on it that will make the case for the utility of this alphabet stronger, or weaker. I must say it is fun working with this alphabet, and comparing its results with writings of several hundred years ago. [4]

TABLE 1 : Experimental minimal Alphabet for broad phoneme-spectrum transcription

Note: the Hindu-Arabic numeral index numbers are optionally expressed by their corresponding letters. The Latin letters are meant to represent phonemes, and the Table is primarily a set of relationships between phonemes: therefore glyphs other than the Latin could be used. The basic alphabet consists of the "Letter written once" set, but optionally may be expanded by "Written twice" and "Written thrice". | = space or other scripting device.

Index: Letter written once; Written twice; Written thrice

0: |
1: A
2: B; P
3: C; S
4: D; T
5: E; I
6: F; V; W
7: G; K; Q
8: H
9: J; Y
10: L
11: M
12: N
13: O; U
14: R
15: X
16: Z

We see that the basic alphabet is 16 letters: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, J, L, M, N, O, R, X, Z

Lets see how it works with an example:

Journal of Voynich Studies welcomes Father Athanasius Kircher, S.J., as our newest member.


It's really not too bad as it is. We do see an ambiguity: CDODeeC, CDODiC, CDODeiC, or CDODieC

We might consider using an expansion if we think the reader (who does know the system) may have trouble getting the exact meaning with quick reading. For example, we might make the "V" in "Voynich" unambiguous, by writing "F" twice:


which the reader will read as: VOJNECH etc.

Expansion, twice or thrice, within words must be used sparingly because it could increase reading time. If instead of JOORNAL we write JOOORNAL then the decoding possibilities become JUORNAL and JOURNAL. It seems best just to leave it as it is.

Lets try the in-word Write-thrice expansion for "W" in "newest" : NEFFFECD

The decoding possibilities are: NEFVECD and NEVFECD and NEWECD

We could really get carried away and expand the word to this: nefffeccdd
where I've also done a glyphs change to remind that TABLE 1 is concerned with a set of phonemes, and not the exact glyphs representing them.

Generally, in my experiments I've been finding that the economical written-once transcription works pretty well, in English as well as in German, and expansions like the last one are interesting for studying certain particular Voynich words, like the famous word family daiin / 8am.

As simple as the above outlined scheme is, it is nevertheless a big project becoming familiar with it enough so as to judge its universal practicality. For example, under which circumstances is it ok to use a letter to stand for its Hindu-Arabic numeral index, so that there is no ambiguity? Lets try a phrase where the intention is to say "I took 54 with me" (perhaps meaning that I took 54 friends with me to somewhere) :


A straighforward decoding quickly results in:


and the sense is that that which is being taken along is one item, rather than 54. The simple first conclusion is that the problem of correct understanding could be removed by context, and it may well not be always necessary to write out the 54 :


In the Voynich text specifically, where the glyphs being used are not the Roman Latin letters, it could be that Teague numbers [5] disambiguate numerals vs letters problems in some efficient way: it would require quite a bit of further work to establish that.

Finally, lets take the entire second paragraph of this communication above, and write it using Table 1, in the Write-once set. For easier reading I'll use lower-case glyphs:

one fareadeon on dhe edea ec dhec | dhe agdoal gljbhc gan change here and dhere | bod dhe eccendeal ced remaenc cefendeen elemendc | dherefore | en order do ged a handle on dhe fojnech dexd | dhe fercd dacg ec do obdaen an ondercdandeng of dhe reladeonc bedfeen cefendeen eccendeal elemendc | regardlecc of dhe bardegolar gljbhs dhad kome en and oot of dhe ced of cefendeen |

It is clear that the text is in English. I conjecture that, especially with some practice, the preceding is quite readable and understandable, especially if one has heard a lot of dialects from speakers speaking in a tongue not native to them, and not their normal every-day tongue.

The Table 1 alphabet system is easily and quickly learned - you probably already have it memorized. It is about as simple a way as one might wish, to introduce repetitiveness into a script sequence: contract the alphabet set. With respect to the discussions begun in Journal comm. #62, we could well speculate that among the explorations one might undertake during the design of a universal script for a universal language, all governed by some mathematics, would be an efficient alphabet in the efficiency sense considered here.

E mucd caj agaen dhad come of dhece enfecdegadeonc are goede fonnj :)

Berj / KI3U

[1] see D'Imperio.

[2] Stallings in his 1998 paper on VMS text 2nd order entropies considers transcriptions with alphabet sets ranging between 21 and 34 characters / symbols / letters / glyphs. Note that 2 x 17 = 34.
Understanding the Second-Order Entropies of Voynich Text, by Dennis J. Stallings, May 11, 1998.

[3] Note how "efficiency" is here pegged to the quantity of letters in the alphabet under consideration: obtaining a passable written transcription of the widest possible spectrum of spoken speech with the lowest quantity of phoneme-representing glyphs. Linguists in their field have a far more demanding requirement than "passable", and for their purposes they have, among their systems, the International Phonetics Association's International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA):

[4] See for example the old English of Anthony Ascham that GC (Glen Claston) provides here:

[5] For the table of Teague Numbers see J.VS Library deposit # 1-5-2007-06-24

From: Greg Stachowski
To: "J.VS:"

Subject: J.VS: Re: Problems with text transcription: variations of a basic glyph

Date: Sat, 21 Jul 2007 10:34:43 +0200

The illustration referenced in J.VS communication #65:

" J.VS: Problems with text transcription: variations of a basic glyph "

is now in the library under the URL:

From: Jan Hurych

Subject: J.VS: announcing Library deposit # 4-4-2007-08-10

Date: Sun, 12 Aug 2007 12:39:28 -0700 (PDT)

Announcing Library deposit # 4-4-2007-08-10


From: Berj N. Ensanian


Date: Sun, 12 Aug 2007 22:32:36 -0400

Dear All

In J.VS communication #68 Jan announced the availability, in the Journal's Library, of his paper on the question of the Voynich manuscript's provenance [1]. Such a paper has, I think, been long overdue, and I am grateful to Jan for writing it and putting in our Library. What Jan presents, the cold hard facts, is mostly not comfortable reading for those who would believe that the popular standard history of the VMS provides a reliable account of the manuscript's provenance. Actually it isn't comfortable reading for anyone who is deeply interested in the Voynich manuscript, for it pointedly reminds us just how many items are shaky and suspicious in our conceptions of the manuscript's origin.

Toward that I'll here quickly amplify with a little more detail a point I've touched on before, namely Newbold and the Austrian castle. [2]

William Romaine Newbold's (1861-1926) post-mortem 1928 book was published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in Philadelphia:

The Cipher of Roger Bacon (ed. with Foreword and Notes by Roland Grubb Kent)

In the beginning of Chapter II (The Voynich Cipher Manuscript of Roger Bacon, Sketch of its History), on pg. 29, (where by footnote editor Kent informs us that the remainder of the chapter is a slightly rewritten and revised version of Voynich's address given at the College of Physicians in Philadelphia, as an introduction to Newbold's lecture on April 20, 1921.) Newbold says that Voynich said he found the VMS among a collection of precious illuminated manuscripts in a chest in an ancient castle in southern Europe.

In a footnote on pg. 30 Newbold says that Voynich hopes some day to aquire the remainder of the collection, and therefore refrains from giving details about the locality of the castle.

In the beginning of Chapter V (Following the Clues), pg. 72, Newbold says that in 1915 in Philadelphia Voynich showed Newbold the manuscript (apparently for the first time) and told him it had been found in Austria.

So it is unequivocal: according to Newbold, he was informed by Wilfrid Voynich that:

1.) Voynich found the VMS in an ancient castle in southern Europe
2.) The manuscript had been found in Austria.

Now, while it is possible with respect to 2.) that Voynich, when he was informing Newbold, may have been purposely disconnecting some events, namely that Voynich was told by his VMS supplier(s) that the VMS had been found (by someone, once upon a time) in Austria, and therefore it is for Wilfrid Voynich a matter of plausible denial that 1.) and 2.) are completely connected, nevertheless the sense one gets from Newbold is that Newbold believes that he has been informed by Voynich that the VMS was found by Voynich in an ancient Austrian Castle.

And then, as we know, in 1960, long after Newbold and Wilfrid Voynich are dead, and just after Ethel Voynich dies, Miss Nill, possibly while in the employ of H.P. Kraus, causes the story of the discovery of the manuscript to change completely, the new story sounding a lot like someone dusted off The Gadfly of Ethel Voynich's youth for some exciting Risorgimento ideas. Kraus, by the way, in his autobiography [3] is not much circumspect about his knowingly transporting a very rare antiquity, a globe, out of Italy, when common sense would dictate that Italian authorities would like to have known about such a transport. In that vein, if in 1915 Voynich needed a cover story for getting books out of Italy, could he in 1915 have known that "Austria" would be a good bet, the Austro-Hungarian empire dissolving at the end of the first world war?

Needless to say an ancient Austrian castle and a Rennaissance Italian villa are not the same thing at all.

It may well be prudent, rather than to ask which of the two stories is the truth, to just ask: what is the truth about how Voynich got hold of the manuscript?

Like it or not, we are stuck with a problem, because Newbold's book does give the above details, and Wilfrid Voynich was still alive when the book came out, and Newbold was Voynich's hope for validating the Roger Bacon theory. And this little problem, a "minor" one as Jan puts it :), is just one in Jan's VMS provenance problems catalog. By the time you are done reading the major problems in Jan's catalog, you are downright deflated about VMS history.

But, just suppose for a moment that the second story, the 1960 revisionist one that has Wilfrid discovering the manuscript at the Villa Mondragone, is really true, or at least partly true. That of course motivates looking into the Villa Mondragone. Curiously, there is some art there (I don't know how long it has been there) that reminds me an awful lot of the grand climax of the Voynich manuscript: the f85/86 nine rosettes foldout. The art I am referring to can be seen online here:

I can't read the Italian caption, but perhaps this artwork is a ceiling decoration. It has strikingly similar major geometry components to those in the nine rosettes foldout it seems to me! Digging further into the history of Villa Mondragone:

It turns out that the energetic Pope Gregory XIII (1502-1585) was from 1571 a longtime guest resident there, he a patron of Jesuits, and much concerned with Forbidden Books, concerned with the Baths of Diocletian, and famously the authorizer of the calendar reform that, via the German Jesuit mathematician / astronomer Christopher Clavius (1538-1612), and Kepler (1571-1630) and Aloysius Lilius (1510-1576), gave us the Gregorian calendar. And Gregory decreed his calendar as official, from the Villa Mondagrone, in 1582. And some think that Clavius' uncertain given name, Clau or Klau via the Latin "clavis" is possibly a cryptic form for "Schluessel", the German word for "key".

Well, there is this to ponder: there is in the nine rosettes foldout, diagonally off to the below-left of the southwest rosette, that curious object which is commonly known as "the clock". And at least one of its two "hands" has a definite symbolic resemblance to a key, easily seen in the .sid image of the foldout.

So, in my rather uninhibited imagination at the moment I muse on the possibility that the author of the Voynich manuscript knew well the Villa Mondragone, with its dragon emblem, the villa which was a successor on its site to a line of previous villas going back to a prominent Roman family. Do I really believe that the Villa Mondragone is intimately connected with the genesis of the VMS? Not really, at least not yet, but the above is rather curious I think, and Jan's paper gave me the opportunity to bring it up in the Journal.

One more thing: in Jan's paper, item 5.) first mentions the question of the physical connection between the "Marci" letter and the manuscript. Just for reference, although the information is rather minimal, in his autobiography in the chapter on "The Most Mysterious Manuscript", Kraus states:

" The manuscript's provenance is fascinating. It enters recorded history on August 19, 1666, when Joannes Marcus Marci sent the codex from Prague to Athanasius Kircher, S.J., in Rome, with a signed autograph letter which is loosely laid into the manuscript. "

Berj / KI3U

[1] J.VS Library deposit # 4-4-2007-08-10

[2] comm. #60, J.VS: Re: Fr. Strickland, S.J., Wed, 11 Jul 2007 20:28:14 -0400

[3] A Rare Book Saga, The Autobiography of H.P. Kraus, New York, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1978

From: Berj N. Ensanian
Date: Thu, 16 Aug 2007 14:18:50 -0400

Subject: J.VS: Progression of Secret Sisterhood Doctrinal Enlightenment in f81r Bathscene

Dear All

The idea that some of the Voynich balneological scenes symbolically depict doctrinal communion in a secret sisterhood has been considered before. [1]

With that in mind, in revisiting the balneological series just now I noticed that in f81r this idea may be especially well illustrated.

The f81r page has a tub at the top, and another at the bottom, with a fluid channel connection between them on the page's left margin, and also two fluid branches from the connection channel going off to the extreme left of the margin. Between the tubs is text, which starts with a direct ligature connection to the upper tub, presumably of symbolic significance. The upper tub has seven women all oriented to the left where the "doctrinal fluid" channel connects to the tub, and similarly the bottom tub has six bathing sisters.

Consider the bottom tub, and for identification convenience number the sisters 1 to 6 beginning at the right, so that sister #6 is at the left end of the tub by the fluid channel connection.

My impressions are of a depiction of a mental transformation progression in six stages, as follows:

Sister #1: the blissful airhead; she is furthest from the channel that enlightens, and doesn't even know she is clueless.
Sister #2: still clueless, but has begun to notice a disturbance of some kind in her thinking.
Sister #3: she takes the critical curiosity step: she has begun to tune into the thoughts-disturbance and has given herself some private thinking-space.
Sister #4: she is in the initial surprise or shock of awakening to the enlightenment signal - she is experiencing the realization that she has heretofore been asleep all her life.
Sister #5: she is the humble and careful student of the sisterhood's doctrine.
Sister #6: she has mastered the doctrine to the point where she is able to discuss it critically with others on her level; every cell of her body is devoted to the communion that the doctrine represents - she has become one of its priestesses and is ever tuned in to the sisterhood's communications.

The above impressions of course implicitly rank the artist-illustrator as quite advanced, but that has been debated before and I think it is safe to say that advanced students of the manuscript agree that when the Voynich illustrator(s) want(s) to, he / she / they can render remarkable artistry even with economy.

Berj / KI3U

[1] see for example vms-list post: VMs: General mcP Hypothesis on the Voynich Manuscript, May 21, 2006 11:41 PM. This and related are preserved in the J.VS Library, deposit # 1-1-2007-05-05, file 2JVSlibKI3U.htm

From: Berj N. Ensanian
Date: Sat, 18 Aug 2007 16:32:07 -0400

Subject: J.VS: The Hand(s) of the Voynich ms text

Dear All

As you know, off-J Jan Hurych has opened the topic of the Voynich text's graphology. Jan asked me for some comments. I thought I might as well post my comments to the Journal.

I have some brief comments on the script, from the perspective of my own hand.

My own hand varies a lot. It's not unusual for me after completing a sentence, to go over it and reinforce dots and bars and so on. My best hand is when I am writing a personal letter - I try to make it so that anyone could read it without difficulty. Probably my hand that would be most diffcult for others is a kind of dictated copy-down: when I copy radiotelegraph - it is essentially 100% ligatured, because by keeping the pencil always in contact with the paper, and moving, I get the highest possible copying-down speed. [1]

I note in my hand that when I am trying to make a word unmistakable, my script, at the word level, becomes a mix of ligatured and printed individual block-letters. I don't know if others could recognize me in my hand across all my styles and decades. But when I look at a signature from my childhood 50 years ago it is to my eyes unmistakably me, just not very bold (i.e. ego-projecting :) compared with later examples.

In the 9RMS I think the big problem with its text script is that here and there it suggests non-linear scripting. Here's an example to illustrate one kind of it:

Take this example sentence scripted linearly from left to right.

By analogy with cases in the VMS sometimes, it seems as if that sentence was put down in several passes (ignore the dots - they just ensure that this posting medium conveys correctly):

Take this.............................................................left to right.
Take this example...............scripted linearly.........left to right.
Take this example sentence scripted linearly from left to right.

Page f105r is a good exhibit of hints of some different types of non-linear scripting. If blocks of vms text were put down non-linearly, for crypto / cipher or any other reason, then that seems a much bigger problem than how many different scripters did it, whether or not it was dictated, and over what span of time it was done, although of course we want to know all that too.

Berj / KI3U

[1] Additionally, the language of telegraphy is extremely rich in complicated abbreviations. It is surprising that linguists have not paid more attention to it.
From: Berj N. Ensanian
Date: Thu, 23 Aug 2007 22:04:09 -0400

Subject: J.VS: Notes on Andreas Schinner's April 2007 VMS paper

Dear All

A couple of days or so ago in our off-J discussions there was a brief mention of the recent VMS paper by Andreas Schinner. Upon that, I got to thinking about some of my analytic prejudices in connection with the Voynich text, especially my seemingly ever-escalating view that the biggest hurdle with the text is transcription, and how this prejudice tends to color my attitude toward new text analysis, when that analysis does not at the beginning address the myriad transcription problems that I perceive, that must, in my view, be disposed of in some way, before analysis can begin.

Well of course I had to admit to myself that my prejudices had shelved Schinner's paper as quite interesting, but suffering from faith in other-people's-transcription. And I still think that it so suffers, and in places in his paper that jumps out, for example when he states that it is a well-known fact that an "exact property" of the VMS is that its word length distribution follows almost exactly a binomial distribution. That might be true with an old EVA transcript, but it most definitely is not true, by my countings, using Glen Claston's voyn_101.txt and voygroup.txt transcription efforts. And, GC's work is also often enough at variance with my own transcriptions. That's the problem: are we truly analyzing the Voynich text author's intentions, or just analyzing someone's transcription?

Nevertheless, Schinner's paper is interesting good work, and actually I hope some of his mathematical results remain intact if he ever applies them to GC's transcripts. For some reason, probably the ever-present influence of Gamow on my thinking, I have summarized Schinner's results in my own mind with:

The staggering drunkard remembers a bit where he had staggered along a while earlier. :)

So, I thought I'd better post to the Journal my notes, below as 1.) to 24.), on Schinner's paper. Following them I'll make a few more comments. I caution that I read Schinner's paper just once, and wrote the following notes during that read.

KI3U notes on "The Voynich Manuscript: Evidence of the Hoax Hypothesis", by Andreas Schinner, Cryptologia, 31:2, 95-107, April 2007.

1.) Schinner's paper is 14 pages long, and cites 15 references, including D'Imperio.

2.) In his description of the VMS Schinner does not mention the f85/86 nine-rosettes foldout. He tentatively accepts a date of around 1500 for the VMS's origin.

3.) Schinner says the VMS can be interpreted in 3 possible ways:

3-1.) Cipher text, and if so, probably of Latin or German.
3-2.) Unidentified language plain text written in the VMS alphabet, and if so, then Chinese is the most likely from the word length statistics. Alternatively, it is an invented artificial language and script.
3-3.) Hoax of some kind with no meaningful text.

4.) The three above classes are not entirely distinct, for example there could be steganography, that being difficult to determine, and against which the best arguement is psychological: the VMS is apparently a mystery book, thus being the worst place to hide secrets.

5.) Schinner describes some features of the text, and says cryptology in 1500 was in its early beginnings, and if the text were encrypted, then it should not be a difficult one. The text's features argue for hoax being an attractive possibility.

6.) Gordon Rugg showed that a "facsimile language" of the appearance and length of the VMS could be produced with a medieval table-and-grille method in 3 months, but this does not prove the hoax hypothesis, and so far the table-and-grille results do not explain all VMS statistics, and therefore all three hypotheses classes remain roughly equally relevant.

7.) Schinner states the essentials of his paper:

" In this article, statistical investigations of the VMS are presented that provide additional restrictions to possible solutions. Mapping the text to a random walk uncovers characteristic long-range correlations not present in normal human writings; they better fit to a stochastic process with memory effects than a sequence of tokens chosen according to linguistic rules. Furthermore, the distribution of gaps between two similar or selected tokens, respectively, also differs qualitatively from normal texts; its mathematical properties indicate the presence of very unusual "random effects". Possible implications of these results for the interpretation of the VMS are discussed in the conclusions section. "

8.) Characters and token are represented in EVA, for example the notorious and extremely frequent: daiin

9.) Table 1 lists the text sources for the analysis: all of the VMS text of 36,000 tokens and 7,000 words, 5% of Vulgate, 5% of Luther Bible, all of Alice in Wonderland, and Genesis of the Pin-yin Chinese Bible.

The source VMS text is the majority vote version of interlinear EVA transcription 1.6e6 from R. Zandbergen's

Because the VMS is without punctuation, the other texts are stripped of punctuation, and upper case letters are converted to lower case; the result is 30 symbols, a-z, the three German umlauts and the s-z symbol; empty spaces are ignored. This symbol set, covering the source texts, can then be encoded with 5 bits.

The non-VMS texts as prepared, are considered by Schinner "normal" texts.

10.) Schinner cites work (e.g. by Kokol) that long-range power law correlations are present in a wide variety of information encoding systems ranging from human writings to DNA sequences, and these correlations somewhat characterize the communications. A useful analytic procedure is to map character strings to stochastic processes (ref. Cox & Miller's 1965 book), and Schinner specifies a generalized random-walk with memory as his model for "random walk".

11.) The first analytic step is to encode the text characters to bit sequences which define the +/- 1 step random walk.

12.) Schinner summarizes the general theoretical result showing the relation between the variance of the mean displacement over infinite walks and a power law for steps: if the power/exponent does not equal 0.5, then long-range correlations are indicated (for natural language texts anyway). Discusses precautions for using this theory with finite walks (finite length text blocks).

13.) Schinner gives Graph Fig. 1 of his results with all the texts, for the Root mean square fluctuation of the random walk displacements. He notes that the non-VMS texts show behaviour consistent with Kokol et al, i.e. they don't have any great long-range correlation. The graph shows the VMS text exhibiting a crossover on the power = 0.5 line before 400 bits/steps, and then noticably departing from the other texts as the walk continues: exhibiting an asymptotic approach to power = 0.85, indicating "memory effects" in this "random walk".

14.) Schinner gives Table 2 showing results for shorter blocks of VMS text indicating that the effect in Fig. 1 is essentially preserved.

15.) The cross-over point indicates a character sequence of around 72 symbols which fits well with an average line length in Currier language A sections of the VMS text, while for language B the crossover occurs at around 3 times that for A.

16.) " It appears that in the VMS significant correlations between tokens with spacing of more than an average text line exist, while within a line the text behaves randomly (like ordinary human writings). "

To investigate this Schinner employs the step (or bit) auto-correlation function. His Fig. 2 auto-correlations graph shows the VMS correlations decaying beyond a thousand walk steps (they had been building up before 400 steps), and he notes:

" Such positive correlations are typical for a stochastic process in which the probability of a particular random event is increased by previous occurrences of this event. "

Schinner then amplifies on this with reference to Polya's urn scheme, where on drawing a ball of a particular color from an urn, a specific number of balls of the same color are put into the urn, thus increasing the probability of the same colored ball being drawn again: spurious contagion.

The Polya analysis on the VMS is inconclusive positively on account of insufficient data, but the available data do not contradict Polya process theory. Schinner further states that the unusual shape of the Fig. 1 curve has a major impact on possible VMS interpretations, and that in particular the Chinese hypothesis appears not to be compatible with it.

17.) Schinner next sets out to strengthen his result, that the VMS text step probability depends on long-term history, by investigating the repitition distances between similar words. He mentions Landini's 2000 work investigating the repitition distances of daiin, but says he will show that it is more instructive to investigate similar words rather than exact matches. Schinner will use the Levenshtein distance metric to gauge the number of elementary edit operations needed to make two similar tokens equal. That plotted against the number of tokens, n, between two similar tokens gives a "percentage of dissimilarity" graph. Upon the mathematical particulars Schinner defines two tokens as similar if their percentage of dissimilarity is less than or equal to 30%.

18.) In Fig. 3 he gives the percentage of dissimilarity graph for the VMS, Vulgate, and Chinese, and Schinner points out:

" The most striking feature is the almost "mathematically perfect" smooth shape of the VMS curve for n -> 0, while the other text sample data display the expected "irregular" behavior and tend to zero (or at least small values). As noted previously, this simply expresses the effect that writers normally try to avoid word repititions. It is especially noteworthy that even the Chinese text lies closer to the European languages than the VMS, although the higher tendency of common-word repitition sequences in Asian languages is a frequent argument in favor of the Chinese theory. "

19.) Schinner next derives an equation for the striking VMS curve in Fig. 3 from an infinite random text model and Zipf's first law, and gives the constants needed for the curve fit.

20.) Schinner notes again:

" The small-n behaviour of the VMS is the most remarkable effect: it appears to indicate the presence of some kind of "random selection process" during the text generation, as already noted in the previous section. "

" It should be emphasized again that the VMS text obviously is not a simple convolution of independent random strings; at least the underlying stochastic process must be fairly complex, involving history dependent variation of the step probabilities, building up correlations. "

To amplify this Schinner gives percentage of dissimilarity graph Fig. 4 comparing scrambled and unscrambled VMS and Vulgate, and writes:

" As can be seen in Fig. 4, token scrambling modifies the VMS result only quantitatively (which confirms an already present "degree of randomness" in the original text), whereas the Vulgate Bible curve is transformed in shape towards the VMS data;..... This effect appears compatible with the assumption of a "key stochastic process" with spurious contagion of, e.g., Polya type involved in the VMS text generation method. "

21.) Next Schinner considers the question: what is the probability for two tokens sharing a particular property, being separated by n ones that do not possess this property? The properties in question could be the occurrence of a particular letter within a token, or a special word structure. Schinner considers this a promising question in light of the VMS text's richness in characteristic structural details, citing as an example Stolfi's crust-mantle-core analysis.

He gives graph Fig. 5 of the repitition distance distribution of tokens beginning with EVA-q, (i.e. GC-4), compared with the token "und" in the German Luther Bible. Once again the VMS curve is distinguished by being smooth and well behaved. Schinner gives an equation, Eq. (13), consisting of a mix of two geometric distributions that can fit the VMS curve. He briefly discusses an example described by the general equation, like two dice with different "success" probabilities, but notes that the VMS text generation must be more complex, and points out that the equation is compatible with a varying step probability stochastic process, that being another link to spurious contagion processes.

22.) Schinner gives Table 3, showing that the general equation of the mixed geometric distributions fits a variety of other VMS token conditions, for example a token that ends with aiin. Schinner discusses and interprets some results concerning the relative conribution of the two geometrics in the equation's mix, for scrambled versus unscrambled text, and concludes they are consistent with his earlier analysis in the paper.

23.) Schinner's concluding comments include:

" Interpreting normal texts as bit sequences yields deviations of little significance from a true (uncorrelated) random walk. For the VMS, this only holds on a small scale of approximately the average line length: the presence/absence of a symbol appears to increase/decrease the tendency towards another occurrence. "

" Nevertheless, this result has important implications on the possible solutions of the VMS riddle. Encryption tends to destroy correlations in a text rather than building them up. The method, however, could be a more complex variant of a word game, ... "

" The result appears incompatible with the plain text hypothesis. "

" Thus the hoax hypothesis may provide the most convincing explanation base for the data. A variant of the "table-and-grille" method still is a promising candidate, if the table is filled with syllables selected under involvement of some "lottery algorithm" producing the observed statistical effects. "

" Of particular interest is the mixture of two geometric distributions Eq. (13) that almost perfectly describes the gap distribution of tokens with, for example, a particular prefix. Such "exact statistical properties" of complex systems are either trivial (as in the case of purely random aspects) or express an underlying principle. Since Eq. (13) contains a crossover between two terms it most probably is not trivial (pure randomness would have yielded a single geometric distribution). "

" Another "exact property" of the VMS is already well known: the word length distribution follows almost exactly a binomial distribution. This fact has been a strong argument in favor of the Chinese theory [13] since East Asian languages, in particular Chinese, also show this feature. "

" It must be emphasized that the present study is not a proof of the hoax hypothesis, nor can it definitely rule out either of the two other main theory classes. "

" From my viewpoint, the VMS is a cleverly set psychological trap still active after five centuries, reflecting the analyst's expectations and hopes like a mirror without containing meaningful information itself. It has been created using "algorithmic" methods, implicitly or explicitly involving some degree of randomness. "

24.) Schinner thanks M.A. Labi for stimulating discussions and proofreading. About himself he states he is a theoretical physicist at the Johannes Kepler University in Linz, and his main area of scientific interest is theoretical solid state physics, particularly particle beam interactions with matter.

Well of course comments on Schinner's work could very easily quickly run longer than his paper, and I already made a few comments at the beginning of this communication. I might add here what I've mentioned from time to time: the desirability of linguistic and mathematical analysis of the language of telegraphy, and for our present Voynich concern the desirability of telegraph copy, of long conversational exchanges between telegraphers, being included as a reference text alongside Latin and German and Chinese etc.

I mentioned in the beginning that I hope Schinner's essential results hold true for other transcripts, like GC's. The reason is not that I think the meaningless-hoax-and-clever-psychological-trap theory would be reinforced, even if it was, but rather because in my view Schinner's results, to the extent that the transcript they are based on is valid, add to the possibility that Greg and I developed in the J.VS communications on philosophical math-text versus practical cipher, where we struggled with the meaning of "hoax" in that context. [1]

Namely that the text is generated mathematically by a general equation (or algorithm) with the intent of having it appear like natural language text, and, optionally, that plain-text cipher hitches a ride on the generated text. One way that cipher could hitch a ride upon the math-generated text is via the parameters/constants - the parameters derive from the plain-text, and then they steer the general generating equation of the math-text from block to block. And, the generating equation might have been inspired by some especially fundamental principle in nature, like the Fibonacci series, or the distribution of prime numbers.

Or, to address Schinner's results particularly while arguing against "meaningless hoax": Schinner's results could just as well be reflecting a parameters-driven general math-text generating equation whose core principle seeks to express a fundamental principle in the Pythagorean vein of thought: that in a universe where the microscopic and macroscopic are unified, numbers are at the bottom of everything, so fundamentally so, that natural human language, and purely mathematically generated language, both cannot escape the inseparable order and randomness among the characteristics of the natural integer numbers. That is to say, if it is really true that in the cosmos there is a fundamental unity of the macroscopic and the microscopic, then necessarily a purely mathematically generated text and a "natural" human language text cannot be absolutely distinguished: a kind of uncertainty principle will remain.

Mathematics, differential and integral, discreet and continuous, is a language after all.

It just seems to me entirely possible that someone in the 17th century, who was very broadly and deeply learned and with an interest in the idea of universal language, someone who conceived the unique f85/86 nine-rosettes foldout with its mix of 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional drawings, could have set out to realize the challenge of actualizing the script demonstrating this principle, and today we are analyzing imperfect transcripts of it. That this VMS author was not in the least interested in setting a psychological trap, but rather was pioneering a philosophical cosmic vista. And we ought not be surprised if we discover this VMS author's experimentations with this principle even down in the shorter runs of text, like the glossa and labels.

Berj / KI3U

[1] J.VS communications series launched with #62: Philosophical math-text versus practical cipher-text, Tue, 17 Jul 2007.

From: Greg Stachowski
To: "J.VS:"
Date: Mon, 27 Aug 2007 15:44:06 +0200

Subject: J.VS: Voynich script fonts

(This is an updated version of my earlier post in the light of comments by Berj and information found thereafter. This version supersedes and replaces the previous one.)

Following off-list discussions, I did a little more checking, and the Voynich fonts situation looks like this:

1992/3, bitmap font, currently available as part of the archive from .
Attribution: Jacques Guy
Distribution licence: unknown (possibly public domain: the attached documentation has a humorous licensing section)

Notes: This font is part of the VOYEDIT program written by Jacques Guy under MS-DOS for displaying the Frogguy transcription in both Latin and Voynich-like characters. It contains both Latin and Voynich fonts. For more information see the DOC file inside and .

The overview of Frogguy at this latter website mentions a font file F3W00.FNT which includes all the symbols for the final, third, version of Frogguy. Analysis of the tables in the overview and the font map file provided in suggests that this is the same as VOYNICH.FNT.

2. V,ps
1993, postscript font, currently available from .
Attribution: "Copyright (c) 1993, by James A. Reeds"
Distribution licence: unknown.

3. VoySma.pfa (Voynich Small)
1995, postscript font, currently available from .
Attribution: "Copyright (c) 1995 Julie S. Porter and James A. Reeds. All rights reserved."
Distribution licence: unknown.

1996, TeX metafont, currently available from .
Attribution: "Developed by Bruce Grant (bgrant@xxxxxxxxxxx) Jan., 1996 and placed in the public domain."
Distribution licence: public domain.

5. Frogguy Hand A
1997, TrueType Font (TTF), variously available on the web, e.g.: .
Attribution: "Copyright (C) Gabriel Landini 1997 All rights reserved"
Distribution license: unknown.

Notes: presumably developed by Gabriel from Jacques' earlier Frogguy font.

6. Currier Hand A
1997, TrueType Font (TTF), variously available on the web, e.g.: .
Attribution: "Copyright (C) Gabriel Landini 1997 All rights reserved"
Distribution license: unknown.

7. EVA Hand 1
1998, TrueType and Postscript Type 1, available from:
Attribution: "Copyright (C) G. Landini 1998. All rights reserved."
Distribution licence:
"The fonts in this package are free, but not public domain. You may distribute this package freely and unmodified. You may not charge for it. You may not distribute it as part of any commercial package. If you use the fonts in any work, please acknowledge the author."

Note: from the above license it seems that distribution is only allowed for the complete and unmodified Zip file as originally distributed by Gabriel Landini, which includes both versions of the font and the copyright notice, and not for the individual .TTF font file.

8. VGBT2 (Voynich Glyph-Based Transcription) 2002, TrueType Font, unavailable?
Attribution: "Beta typeface courtesy Glen Claston"
Distribution licence: unknown

Note: from comments by Glen Claston on the vms-list, this has been superseded by Voynich.ttf, below.

9. Voynich.ttf
2005, TrueType Font, avaialble from: .
Atrribution: "Voynich Manuscript Font courtesy GC, 2005, distributed in the public domain"
Distribution licence: public domain

Thus there are in existence at least 9 fonts for representing VMS text, of which two are public domain and one is freely available and usable for all likely purposes. This includes the two most popular, EVA and GC's Voynich.ttf .

From: Berj N. Ensanian
Date: Mon, 27 Aug 2007 22:05:06 -0400

Subject: J.VS: The Miss Nill Lone Ranger Mask blinking pictures

Dear All

I've sent to our Librarian Greg, as deposit # 7-1-2007-08-27, the two original images used in "Blinking the Anne Nill photograph against itself with the eyeglasses removed." [1]

The filenames for the two images are:


with the latter image being the one from which I removed the eyeglasses. Blinking these - IrfanView is what I used back then - it is even easier to see that there is something really strange, what I dubbed the "Lone Ranger Mask of Miss Anne Nill", about the apparently doctored portrait photograph of her that appeared in the 1924 Christian Science Monitor article. [2]

As an aside, concerning the photographic oddities of early Voynich manuscript history, we recall that Wilfrid Voynich's 1921 photograph of f1r is at odds with the image of Beinecke MS 408 f1r as it appears today. [3]

Berj / KI3U

[1] old vms-list post:
RE: VMs: Re: The mysterious Miss Nill, Thursday, February 1, 2007 3:17 PM
This post is preserved in the J.VS Library, deposit # 1-1-2007-05-05, file 4vmsKI3Ulab.htm

[2] see J.VS communication #19 by Greg Stachowski: 1924 Christian Science Monitor article on Anne Nill, Thu, 22 Mar 2007.

[3] old vms-list thread:
Re: VMs: Tepenecz: three scenarios...?, see especially the post of Tuesday, January 30, 2007 3:04 PM.
J.VS Library deposit # 1-1-2007-05-05, file 4vmsKI3Ulab.htm

From: Greg Stachowski
To: "J.VS:"
Date: Tue, 28 Aug 2007 21:10:41 +0200

Subject: J.VS: Re: Voynich script fonts

As a follow-up to J.VS communication #73, which briefly presented the existing fonts for representing Voynich script, three fonts have been placed in the Library as subcollection # 0-1-2007-08-28. The fonts are:

- Bruce Grant's public domain LaTeX Metafont,

- Gabriel Landini's EVA Hand 1 font in Postscript and TrueType versions. The font is free but may not be modified or distributed commercially. Please read the documentation in the zip package,

- Glen Claston's public domain TrueType font, Voynich.ttf

The choice of fonts was restricted to those with clear licences which allow distribution through the Library.

The URL for the subcollection is:

From: Richard SantaColoma
Date: Fri, 31 Aug 2007 17:10:52 +0000

Subject: J.VS: read this, and think VMs:

Dear All:

Some of you may be familar with the following, or may surmise where it is from. But if you have a minute, read these excerpts, and think "VMs":

" We have also a number of artificial wells and fountains, made in imitation of the natural sources and baths; as tincted upon vitriol, sulphur, steel, brass, lead, nitre, and other minerals. And again we have little wells for infusions of many things, where the waters take the virtue quicker and better than in vessels or basins. And amongst them we have a water which we call Water of Paradise, being, by that we do to it, made very sovereign for health, and prolongation of life. "

" ...we make (by art) in the same orchards and gardens, trees and flowers to come earlier or later than their seasons; and to come up and bear more speedily than by their natural course they do. We make them also by art greater much than their nature; and their fruit greater and sweeter and of differing taste, smell, colour, and figure, from their nature. And many of them we so order, as they become of medicinal use. "

" We have dispensatories, or shops of medicines. Wherein you may easily think, if we have such variety of plants and living creatures more than you have in Europe, (for we know what you have,) the simples, drugs, and ingredients of medicines, must likewise be in so much the greater variety. "

" We have also helps for the sight, far above spectacles and glasses in use. We have also glasses and means to see small and minute bodies perfectly and distinctly; as the shapes and colours of small flies and worms, grains and flaws in gems, which cannot otherwise be seen; observations in urine and blood, not otherwise to be seen. "

Me again: So you may have read this, or realized from an earlier post of mine, that these are excerpts from Francis Bacon's New Atlantis. I had mentioned that Drebbel is suspected as an influence on this work, as many inventions of Drebbel's appear in the work... and also, that Bacon knew Drebbel. So here is the point... well part point, part question:

Drebbel knows Bacon, and Bacon writes a fantasy about Atlantis... it's a science based society. Innovations include baths, unidentifiable (non-European) plants, microscopes and telescopes. I only list some of the aspects of NA which are similar to aspects of VMs. What, if any, could the connections be? Could the VMs be more of a "fantasy artifact", made for, or in honor of, Bacon's NA? As a sort of fantasy notebook, made by Drebbel, Bacon, or other... which inspired, or was inspired by, Bacon's NA? And so, was inspired by the inventions of Drebbel, or included them... or included fantasy (Bacon-Atlantean) representations of them?

And while thinking of this, I was thinking of this statement from the 1666 Marci letter, "Dr. Raphael, tutor in the Bohemian language to Ferdinand III, then King of Bohemia, told me the said book had belonged to the Emperor Rudolph and that he presented the bearer who brought him the book 600 ducats. He believed the author was Roger Bacon, the Englishman." It made me wonder if Marci, or Dr.Raphael, fell prey to the old Bacon/Bacon bugaboo... perhaps someone along the way heard "Bacon", and assumed "Roger" due to the herbal nature of the VMs, and further, they were not familar with the New Atlantis, or just did not make that connection, and so did not assume "Francis". Of course NA was written in about 1622 (although Wikipedia states it was published in 1626, I read somewhere that it was written several years earlier), which would account for the inclusion of (Drebbel's?) a submarine, perhaps. But yes, the timing does not fit, at this point.

Anyway, I throw this out there for for digestion. What permutations of the above, or speculative scenarios, can be applied? Is there any precedent for any part of this scenario? Rich SantaColoma

From: Greg Stachowski
To: "J.VS:"
Date: Thu, 6 Sep 2007 15:33:50 +0200

Subject: J.VS: How many "hands" wrote the VM? -- A new article by Jan Hurych

I am pleased to announce that Jan's excellent tradition of illustrated, in-depth articles continues with a new addition to the J.VS Library:

(A preliminary study to enable the further psychological profile of the VM author)
by J. B. Hurych

The article provides graphological comparison of different "hands" as suggested by Capt. Currier, selects the proper criteria and investigates them in detail, for "hands" A and B. In the conclusion, there is no proof for more hands than one (at least for the purpose of the study of personal profile of the VM author).

The article is available at:

From: Berj N. Ensanian
Date: Thu, 06 Sep 2007 20:15:02 -0400

Subject: J.VS: Re: How many "hands" wrote the VM? -- A new article by Jan Hurych

As Greg summarized Jan's findings:

" ... there is no proof for more hands than one (at least for the purpose of the study of personal profile of the VM author). "

Good. This resolves for me a longtime irritation. I have to say that over the years when I've looked at a block of VMS text, and wondered: is it "hand A" or is it "hand B"?, I have always had to go and look up the old opinions on the matter - in other words take someone else's word for "what it is", when I've never been able to quite "get it". I accept Jan's work as liberating: it may still be possible that there is more than one handwriting across the Voynich ms text, but from now on such assertions will need precise graphological demonstrations, and lacking such I can safely classify them as just bare opinions.

From: Robert Teague
Date: Thu, 6 Sep 2007 20:21:23 -0400

Subject: J.VS: Re: How many "hands" wrote the VM? -- A new article by Jan Hurych

These findings agree with GC; he saw no more than one hand that changed as time passed.

From: Jan Hurych
Date: Fri, 7 Sep 2007 06:00:17 -0700 (PDT)

Subject: J.VS: Re: How many "hands" wrote the VM? -- A new article by Jan Hurych


I agree, the work is not finished - if there are more hands, we would have to go through all folios with the same detailed analysis. Rene does not even have his 5 hand's assignment finished on his page for each folio and I bet it was done only by look at it. I just took the two most different samples (A and B), used the same cut-outs from his page and did not find anything which would force me to assume more authors then one: it simply does not give me any different traits or personal profile.

From: Berj N. Ensanian
Date: Sat, 08 Sep 2007 17:10:29 -0400

Subject: J.VS: Discussion: Francis Bacon's New Atlantis, Cornelius Drebbel, & Voynich MS

Dear All

In the August 31, 2007 J.VS communication #76 " read this, and think VMs: " Rich SantaColoma introduced in some detail the topic of Francis Bacon's New Atlantis and Cornelius Drebbel's suspected influences on that work. The possibility of connections with the VMS was raised. Subsequently there was, off-J, some discussion on this. Below is my edited record of that off-J dialog from the period August 31 to September 7, 2007. The participants are in order: Richard SantaColoma, Berj N. Ensanian, Greg Stachowski. This interesting topic may well be discussed again in the future, so I thought it well to produce a record of these early thoughts.

Berj / KI3U

Rich says:

Anyway, I throw this out there for digestion. What permutations of the above, or speculative scenarios, can be applied?

Berj says:

This New Atlantis material of Francis Bacon fits in fairly well with some of my VMS sentiments, namely:

1.) Focusing on persons within a time-and-space-wide network-of-interest (NOI), like the Rosicrucians, that has among its nodes the Hartlib Circle and the Royal Society.
2.) A 17th century origin for the VMS, or at least its later parts, in contrast to the more popular conjecture of a 15th c. origin.
3.) Pythagorean and Platonic influences in a cosmological philosophy.
4.) The possibility that the central rosette in the nine rosettes foldout symbolizes a temple, be it Solomon's or another.
5.) The VMS plants are synthetics meant to symbolize concepts, including mathematical.
6.) The possibility that "Roger Bacon" is used as a code to mean "Francis Bacon scientific revolution", with the further possibility that Wilfrid Voynich recognized and perpetuated that. Also, as Rich points out, it is conceivable that the Roger Bacon rumor in "the last letter of Marci" may be a confusion on someone's part; or per the preceding, not quite getting (understanding) the code meaning.
7.) The apparently advanced mathematics and science exhibited in the VMS, like the math of the PM-curve, and the plausible color theory diagram in the f67v2 illustration.
8.) The VMS text being a mathematical product intended to demonstrate a principle of fundamental unity in communications, specifically between purely math-generated text and normal language text.

Concerning Roger vs Francis, this from NA (your 2nd link) seems to refer to Roger:
" your monk that was the inventor of ordnance and of gunpowder "

Rich says:

As for the gunpowder monk being Roger Bacon, I'm sure you are right... so what a funny circle. Two Bacons are often confused, then and now, and the latter even refers to the former in his NA.

Berj says:

What I've been getting at with Francis vs Roger Bacon is this: if we assume, hypothetically, that the Voynich manuscript's raison d'etre is intimately associated with the scientific revolution, which in some parts of Europe was going on in an extremely unsettled context - notably 17th c. England for example, then is it not conceivable that "Roger Bacon" was a code of sorts to denote this philosophical movement that had been championed by Francis Bacon? In addition, is it not conceivable that the movement may have had cooperating philosophers from different religious stripes: Jesuits like Athanasius Kircher in friendly debate with members of the circle eventually to become the Royal Society, and that a strong motive for the development of a mathematics-based universal language was so that they could communicate more free of their respective religious pressures?

Is what I'm trying to get at, if I'm not being too vague and rambling here.

Rich says:

As for "Roger Bacon" being used as a "code of sorts to denote this philosophical movement" for the scientific revolution, I don't know. It sounds like a vague concept to me... or perhaps I am missing something. Do you mean like using the term "Pavlovian" to cover all areas of behavior modification, or "Rubenesque" to denote curvacious women? As for "is it not conceivable that the movement may have had cooperating philosophers from different religious stripes [?]", yes I agree. We see that alot I think... and these philosophers from different religions were often working around the limits and constraints imposed by their religious authorities, in order to freely communicate. Which is one reason Rudolf's court became such a haven for free scientific thought and experiment. Again, if that is what you meant...

I wrote up a preliminary NA page:

Berj says:

That looks like it will become a real nice NA-Voynich page after you have it polished up.

By the way, on your list comment about magnifying glasses being around forever and didn't anybody ever hold two of them inline etc., I've always thought it strange that according to orthodox thinking the compound lens instruments were invented only relatively recently. As a kid the first time I ever experienced a magnifying lens my immediate thought was to wonder what happens when you try to magnify the image with a second lens. It's a natural thought. The only logical thing I can think of for the official relatively late invention of compound lens instruments is military secrecy: a telescope is obviously useful in military campaigns, so hush-hush!

Well I mean that it seems odd to me that anyone, Wilfrid, or someone in Rudolf's court, would think the VMS from the hand of Roger Bacon. But, if we see Roger Bacon = grandfather of scientific revolution, and Voynich ms = secret presentation of a unified cosmological philosophy with a scientific revolution core, the secrecy being necessary due to prevailing religious atmosphere concerns, then it can make some sense: Roger Bacon, a lived-long-ago respected Catholic monk symbolizes a full flowering of his ideas in Renaissance times.

Something like that.

Rich says:

I just re-read, very carefully, the entire New Atlantis. All the while I was sensing a strong Drebbel influence, beyond Bacon simply using his inventions in the story (already well documented by others). Then at the end, there is this line: "[one of the Father's of Solomon's house] ...said; "Godbless thee, my son; and God bless this relation, which I have made. I give thee leave to publish it for the good of other nations; for we here are in God's bosom, a land unknown." And so he left me; having assigned a value of about two thousand ducats, for a bounty to me and my fellows."

And it struck me... because Drebbel was given two thousand ducats as recompense for his incarceration by Mathias on being freed from Prague in about 1612. So then it occured to me... much of the story of New Atlantis is the story of Rudolf II's court... the collection of all books, knowledge, and artifacts, of all science and art; the practice of astronomy, the tolerance of religions, the experiments in marriage, the experiments in alchemy, in botany, and on and on. It is almost as if the New Atlantis is an alligorical representation of the scientific pursuits of the court of Rudolf II, as told by Drebbel to Francis Bacon, and morphed by Bacon with his own ideals in science, culture, art, and politics.

Greg says:

My thought was: if NA is allegorical representation of Rudolph's court, then are then characters or events in NA which could be matched to characters or events at Rudolph's court? Could there even be an allegorical-equivalent of the VMS mentioned in there? I confess to not having read NA for lack of time.

Berj says:

Are you conjecturing, by implication, that the Voynich ms is a similar book, an allegorical representation, with direct connections to New Atlantis?

Rich says:

I'm not really sure what to think yet. It's like two separate concepts, but oddly connected. A computer could be input with all the information I've digested, and say "it's crap you idiot". So I suppose it's too intuitive, and might be better saved for a return of the X Files. But something like this:

1) Drebbel's inventions did have some influence on New Atlantis, this is generally accepted.
2) Drebbel's representation of science as magic annoyed Bacon, and Bacon commented on the distinction between the two in NA... so 3), below:
3) So Drebbel's personality and outlook seems to have had a direct impact on NA.
4) Drebbel was in the court of Rudolf a brief time, when away from Eltham.
5) NA has similarities to the court of Rudolf as I outlined.
6) Perhaps Drebbel's personal experience with Rudolf's court, along with his inventions, directly influenced NA, when related to Bacon.
7) There are similarities between NA and VMs as I outlined.
8) There are comparisons between the VMs and Drebbel, as per my theory.
9) Could there be a tie between Drebbel, the VMs, NA, and Bacon?

So it's like a confounding list of speculation on speculation, which adds up to nothing really. But like I say, I do trust that you guys will understand the level at which I offer it up... as harmless, interesting speculation, which may be nothing.

Berj says:

Well, one thing that Voynich work most definitely needs is fresh ideas and perspectives, harmless or otherwise, and investigating Drebbel continues to produce. In my view, just one good effect of the Drebbel theory is that it focuses some VMS attention into the 17th century. Even if eventually that turns out to be wrong, it is at this stage harmlessly refreshing to have a broader time perspective for the VMS's origins than the traditional 15th c. or so focus, which has, quite frankly, produced more questions than hard answers.

Rich says:

..... on the possibility that Drebbel wrote the VMs, there is a way they would fit together. Drebbel goes off the the court of Rudolf, and has a wild ride for two plus years. During that time he soaks in the philosophy of the court, does many experiments, builds microscopes, meets Kepler, runs the furnaces and alchemy labs. He nearly dies on the gallows, and barely escapes... back to the court of James, and there he is, alongside Bacon. Well actually everything except the "building of microscopes" is actually true. But then: He is alongside Bacon, imparting this story, and Bacon is soaking it in. What did he tell him? What did Drebbel show him? Drebbel built his submarine in about 1620, and we know he built his microscopes by 1619, and these are in NA. So where would the VMs fit in? It was probably left behind in 1613, and it is 7 to 9 years later that Bacon is writing NA... if that is correct. Let's say for a bit that the VMs came back with Drebbel, though. Even if the "signature" of De Tepencz is accepted, this could be possible. If the VMs was shown to Bacon, it may have been influential to his concepts of NA. But we still do not know what the VMs is. Is it notes of some experiments? Then it would be a loose influence. But what if it were a story, a fantasy, based on the time Drebbel was in Prague? Based on his experiments? And so, offered to Bacon as such, as a fantasy, but based on reality, as a whole concept for Bacon to work from. Or, perhaps, an offering... like a gift or token, created by Drebbel, in honor of the concepts of NA that Bacon was working on.

Berj says:

One gets the impression of a cooperation between a theoretical scientist and an experimental scientist - Bacon and Drebbel. Or even theorists and experimentalists at Rudolf's court. This fits in with my continuing to think along the lines of the VMS being the result / reflection of an NOI, and possibly even a formal, though highly secret project involving contributors across Europe. The physical VMS may have been the work of the project's secretary, alhough I have some problems with that idea.

I was also intrigued a while back when Jan threw some focus on the Mondragone Stricklands because it connects some possibility links. I visualize interesting NOI possibilties that inlcude: Mondragone Jesuit Stricklands - English Stricklands - scientific revolution - Robert Hooke and the Royal Society and the earlier Hartlib Circle - Jesuit Athanasius Kircher - Hooke's connection to Drebbel via Drebbel's daughter - Drebbel - Kepler - Francis Bacon - Rudolf's Court and back to Roger Bacon. And everybody in that extended-time mix, notably the traditional "usual suspect" John Dee, was well aware of Franciscan monk Roger Bacon's ideas. New Atlantis seems, in its themes, to be resonant with this NOI everywhere in its space-time.

Rich says:

Anyway, there is another interesting thing in NA, which I want to quote. The Atlanteans (Bensalems, really) get a book in a mysterious way, and they describe it: "There was also in both these writings, as well the Book, as the Letter, wrought a great miracle, conform to that of the Apostles, in the original Gift of Tongues. For there being at that time in this land Hebrews, Persians, and Indians, besides the natives, every one read upon the Book, and Letter, as if they had been written in his own language."

Now what does that sound like? If one wanted to create a book which was so described, it could not actually be in any language. Of course, since such a book would not really work, it would be in no language, and not possible to read at all. Like a movie prop... it would have to reflect the sense or feeling of the story, while it may not be possible to actually duplicate the fantasy original.

Berj says:

There is I think one "language" it could be: the philosophical mathematics-based universal language that I've been harping on, and that Greg and I discussed at length a while back.

Rich says:

Could the VMs be a prop for NA, written by Drebbel, and presented to Bacon? I urge you all to read NA. It's really very interesting. Berj found the gunpowder, and R.Bacon reference... I found lasers, and motion pictures, and a flying machine. It is really an extraordinary piece of work. And read it with the rosette page in front of you. Look at the rosette as a map, and follow the story. Solomon's temple is the "eye of the island". The place they land is on the eastern side... they are taken to "the house of strangers". There is an incident off shore, with a column of water. And the narrator went to NA from Peru... look at the upper right corner of the rosettes page, and the small T/O map there. Also, compare the descriptions of the Heralds, and what they wore, and the color of dress, with the robed men of the VMs... it is quite interesting.

Berj says:

This is what I meant earlier - the vein of Drebbel is producing all sorts of fresh ideas, like his fountain :)

Rich says:

Greg: You raise the question, " ...are then characters or events in NA which could be matched to characters or events at Rudolph's court? Could there even be an allegorical-equivalent of the VMS mentioned in there? "

I'm going to think more about that. I was reading the Marshall book, "The Magic Circle", but put it down. Now it will be interesting to read it again, and keep NA in mind. As for an "allegorical-equivalent" of the VMS in there, the closest I came were the works presented to the Atlanteans, which I mentioned in my last post... they were written in "The Gift of Tongues", which meant they were not in any known language, but people of all languages could read and understand them. And I did not mention, or quote... but they were written on parchment.

Another area to look into is the other works of Bacon, as I pointed out before. I do wonder, since he wrote at the end of the unfinished NA, "The rest is not yet perfected"... did he have a draft? Notes?

From: Berj N. Ensanian
Date: Sun, 09 Sep 2007 20:59:36 -0400

Subject: J.VS: Timeline Resource for Voynich Studies

Dear All

Timelines, we know, are a great help for organizing the vast amount of data we have to deal with. I thought it would be good for us to build a common one, to be deposited in the Journal's Library, a timeline resource that is specifically addressed to Voynich Studies, which is a far more comprehensive field than just the goal of solving the VMS mystery.

I've drawn my inspiration for the start of this project from a Voynich timeline I saw on Jan's website some time ago. Below is the starting seed for it, and that is all it is, just a seed - there are many glaring omissions. But hopefully its data is accurate.

My proposal is that we build it by adding to it as we go along. I suggest that our Librarian, Greg, create an n-0 deposit for it in the Library, and develop some sort of protocol for orderly expansion, changes, and corrections. Until then I suggest that you send to me off-J your additions, improvements, and corrections.

You can see from the start below that the basic plan is to keep entries quite short. This makes it convenient to quickly scan along the timeline and comprehensively visualize the material. Possibly down the road Greg can develop a scheme where clicking on an entry can lead to much more detailed information on that entry; for example the below entry on Krystof Harant might be clicked to bring up Jan's paper on Harant that is already a Library deposit.

One power of a good timeline is that it makes you notice interesting coincidences, or near-coincidences. For example, in building the below, on the first read-through, I noticed a possibly interesting near-coincidence with Kircher's letter to Schall and Marci's "last" letter.

Berj / KI3U

Proposed prototype Timeline Resource for Voynich Studies

Dates Name (person or other); non-geographical particulars; geographical particulars.
All content subject to updates and corrections.

11th c. date for manuscript CUL Gg. 5.35 "Carmina Cantabrigiensia". Its folio 436v has an excellent similar to the Voynich text alphabet gallows glyph GC-k / EVA-t.

c.1070-1100 dated English Herbal, Oxford Bodleian Library Ps. Apuleius, St. Augustine's abbey, Canterbury - possibility this Herbal's illustrations were seen by VMS author, and sectionally used for synthesized "plants" illustrations in the VMS.

1098-1179 Hildegard von Bingen; Benedictine magistra; composer and polymath, Ignota Lingua; Rhineland.

1170-1250 Leonardo Pisano Fibonacci; mathematician, encourages Hindu-Arabic numeral system; Pisa.

1184 Pope Lucius III (1097-1185, r. 1181-1185) formally establishes Inquisition.

1230 Johannes de Sacrobosco ( ~ 1195-1236) publishes his astronomical treatise "Tractatus de Sphaera" - influential for the next four centuries; criticises Julian Calendar in his 1235 "De Anni Ratione". Oxford, Paris.

1214-1294 Roger Bacon, a.k.a. Doctor Mirabilis; Franciscan gunpowder monk, urges scientific method and secret communications; Oxford and Paris.

1291 Fall of Acre, last Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem.

1298 Marco Polo (?1254-1324), trader, explorer, writer, dictates his book "Il Milione"; Venice, China.

1314 Templar Grand Master Jacques de Molay burned at the stake in Paris.

~1340 Black Death / Plague reaches Europe from Asia - lasts into 18th century.

1405 The Book of the City of Ladies published by Christine de Pizan (1364-1430?) France's first Lady of Letters, she pens Song of Joan of Arc in 1430, her writings exhibit advanced anagram mathematics; Paris, Poissy.

c.1450 printing press of Johannes Gutenberg (?1400-1468); Mainz, Strasbourg.

1453 Fall of Constantinople and end of Byzantine Empire; end of medieval times and start of Renaissance by some writers.

1469 document of Crisogonus de Nassis, Bridwell MS 5, exhibits fully modern forms of Hindu-Arabic numerals.

1492 Columbus discovers America and its native sunflowers.

c.1499 Benedictine Abbot Johannes Trithemius's (1462-1516) "Steganographia" begins secret circulation (published in 1606 in Frankfurt and prohibited by Catholic Church in 1609). His "Polygraphia" of 1518 is the first printed book on cryptography. Trithemius's students included Agrippa and Paracelsus.

1517 Augustinian monk Martin Luther (1483-1546) starts Protestant Reformation with his 95 Theses; hides at Wartburg Castle in Eisenach and translates Bible.

1534 Henry VIII and Cromwell's Parliament formally separate English Church from Rome - English Reformation. Ignatius of Loyola founds the Societas Iesu (Society of Jesus) in Montmartre.

1536 Dissolution of the Monasteries begins in England. John Calvin (1509-1564) publishes "Institutes of the Christian Religion" in Geneva - rise of Protestant Puritanism.

1543 Copernicus's (1473-1543) "De revolutionibus orbium coelestium" is published upon the strong urging of the Austrian mathematician Rheticus (1514-1574).

1553 Queen Mary I (d. 1558) begins Catholic Restoration in England - reversed by Parliament in 1559.

1556 Great Comet of 1556; scares Pope and everyone; Holy Roman Emporer Charles V abdicates.

1564 John Dee (1527-1609) writes "Monas Hieroglyphica" concerning his mystical universal glyph.

1572 Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) observes his Supernova on November 11 from Herrevad Abbey. Earlier in Paris 14 August - 17 September the St.Bartholomew's Day Massacre of French Huguenots (Calvinist Protestants) by Catholics.

1573 Villa Mondragone construction begins; Popes and Jesuits, VMS; Frascati (Lazio) / Monte Porzio Catoni.

1582 Pope Gregory XIII decrees, from Villa Mondragone, the reformed (Gregorian) calendar.

1599 Peasant Cosmologist Domenico Scandella (Menocchio) (b. 1532) burned in Pordenone (Italy).

1600 Priest-Cosmologist Giordano Bruno burned in Rome.

1605 Rudolph II (1552-1612) completes and dedicates his scientific revolution Kunstkammer in Prague Castle.

1608 Czech Knight Krystof Harant publishes his travels to the middle east.

1609 Scientist-Engineer Cornelius Drebbel (1572-1633), patroned by James I of England (1566-1625) is given rooms in Eltham Palace to display his works. Drebbel becomes a friend of Francis Bacon.

1610 Drebbel becomes Chief Alchemist at Rudolph II's court.

1614 Rosicrucian "Fama Fraternitatis Rosae Crucis" published in Kassel.

1615 Lutheran Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) completes "Epitome astronomia Copernicanae" - published in three volumes 1617-1621.

1618 Beginning of complex and devastating Thirty Years War in continental Europe - ends in 1648 with a weakening of the Holy Roman Empire, and lingering consequences.

1620 Francis Bacon (1561-1626) publishes "Novum Organum". Publishes "The New Atlantis" in 1626. These and other works emphasize the "Baconian method" of philosophical inquiry, serving to propel the scientific revolution.

1628-1637 First botanical expedition to Virginia by John Tradescant the Younger (1608-1662).

1632 Galileo (1564-1642) publishes "Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo".

1639 Georgius Baresch, a friend of Marci, writes what he says is a second letter about a mysterious manuscript, to Athanasius Kircher, S.J.

1640 First known letter from Catholic Johannes Marcus Marci (1595-1667) to lifelong friend Athanasius Kircher, S.J. Marci's career is as a medical doctor, scientist, and high official of Charles University in Prague.

1642-1651 English Civil War: Parlamentarians vs Royalists.

1646 Alchemist-Physicist Robert Boyle (1627-1691) mentions the "Invisible College" - eventually crystallizes as the Royal Society.

1649 Charles I (b.1600) of England is publicly executed. Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) begins his rise to "Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland".

1650-1662 Elias Ashmole (1617-1692) a founder of the Royal Society, works with John Tradescant the Younger and acquires Tradescant's unique collection of natural specimens - eventually to become the seed for Ashmolean Museum.

1652 & 1653 Herbals published by herbalist, physician, astrologer Nicholas Culpeper (1616-1654); Cambridge.

1655 Samuel Hartlieb / Hartlib (c.1600-1662) writes "The Reformed Commonwealth of Bees". His trans-oceanic circle of contacts and correspondents, the "Hartlib Circle", which includes his London neighbor cipher-diarist Samuel Pepys (1633-1703), becomes a foundation for the eventual Royal Society.

1660 Royal Society founded in London with the motto "Nullius in Verba".

1660-1661 Restoration of the English monarchy with Charles II.

1664 Polymath Athanasius Kircher, S.J. (?1601-1680) in Rome writes to Astronomer and Missionary Adamus Schall, S.J. (1591-1666) in China; the letter (APUG 563 292r) possibly contains a word written in the Voynich text alphabet. Schall is the central figure in one of the most sensitive episodes in Chinese astronomy history.

1665/6 "last letter of Marci" to Kircher, the critical document for the popular version of VMS history.

1665 Royal Society resident experimental scientist Robert Hooke (1635-1703) publishes "Micrographia".

1673 Polymath phenom Gottfried Willhelm Leibniz (1646-1716), much interested in a universal language, becomes an external member of the Royal Society, where he debates with Hooke on Leibniz's calculating machine. Leibniz was in correspondence with Athanasius Kircher in 1670.

1692-1693 Salem Witch Trials; Massachusetts.

~1740-1780 "Medicina Pensylvania" penned by the French Huguenot physician George de Benneville. The handscript has some affinities with the VMS script.

1795 Beginning of the Oak Island (Nova Scotia) mystery; eventually grows to encompass theories involving: John Dee, Rosicrucians, Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618), Francis Bacon.

1815-1871 Italian Risorgimento reunification.

1897 Ethel Lilian Boole Voynich (1864-1960) publishes her Risorgimento novel "The Gadfly".

1912 Wilfrid Michael Voynich (1865-1930), revolutionary and antiquarian finds VMS in Austria or Italy (Villa Mondragone); Poland, Siberia, London, New York.

1895-? Anne Margaret Nill; specialist in old books, Voynich's assistant, later Kraus's; Buffalo, NY, New York City.

1924 Christian Science Monitor article interviewing Miss Nill.

1928 William Romaine Newbold's "The Cipher of Roger Bacon" posthumously published.

1944 Theodore C. Petersen, S.J., completes annotated hand copy of VMS. Famous cryptologist William Friedman (1891-1969) starts his VMS "First Study Group" (FSG). Botanist Fr. Hugh O'Neill identifies the VMS f93r plant as a sunflower, giving weight to VMS genesis after 1493.

1945 Yale Prof. Leonell C. Strong publishes paper "Anthony Askham, The Author of the Voynich Manuscript".

1961 VMS bought from Miss Nill by New York antiquarian H.P. Kraus.

1968 Kraus donates VMS to Yale Beinecke Library where it is cataloged as MS 408.

1975 John H. Tiltman reads a VMS paper to some of his colleagues - eventually leads to D'Imperio's book.

1998 (November 25) Takeshi Takahashi releases the first complete transcript of the entire VMS in EVA.

2004? Beinecke makes available online high-resolution .sid images of the VMS.

2006 voyn_101.txt transcription of entire VMS released online by Glen Claston (GC).

2007 original online vms-list terminates, successor list under new ownership starts.

- end version 1 -

From: Berj N. Ensanian
Date: Fri, 14 Sep 2007 20:58:26 -0400

Subject: J.VS: Pictures: possible Voynich-alphabet word in Kircher's letter to Schall

Dear All

I've sent to our Librarian Greg the deposit # 8-1-2007-09-14 consisting in addition to metadata of four images of the possible Voynich-alphabet word in Kircher's 1664 letter to Adamus Schall.

The details on this interesting mystery in Kircher's APUG 563 292r letter, written the year before the famous so-called last letter of Marci to Kircher, are first recorded in the thread to the old vms-list:

VMs: Possible Voynich text in a Kircher letter, Sunday, February 18, 2007 2:31 AM

That thread is preserved in the J.VS Library:

deposit # 1-1-2007-05-05, file 4vmsKI3Ulab.htm

Berj / KI3U
From: Greg Stachowski
To: "J.VS:"
Date: Sat, 15 Sep 2007 16:33:13 +0200

Subject: J.VS: More on the gallows groups in CUL MS Gg. 5.35 Carmina Cantabrigiensia

Dear all,

In 2006, Berj uncovered a gallows-lookalike in an image of f.436v of CUL (Cambridge University Library) MS Gg. 5.35, popularly known as "Carmina Cantabrigiensia" [1].

At this point, we have only one image of this, from the relevant Wikipedia page [2]. Even just looking at this image, however, there are interesting things there: apart from the gallows, both it and a similar pi-like letter to the right of O-P in the second column have a horizontal line which encompasses the text to the right, much like gallows sometimes do in the VMS.

By the way, here is a link to a 1926 transcription of the Carmina Cantabrigiensia by Brecker:

If your scroll down slightly over halfway to:

Carmen XVIII
(Abecedarius merovingus)

Audax es, vir iuvenis,
dum fervet caro mobilis;

you get the section in the image. The text to the right of the gallows recurs after each verse and is interpreted as an abbreviation for:

"Adtende homo, quia pulvis es et in pulverem reverteris."

(roughly: "Take care, Man, you who are dust and to dust you shall return.")

which appears in full after the first verse, then as just "Adtende", and then as just "Adt.". The gallows is not interpreted in the transcription listed above, and only occurs after "F" and "O" (I suspect that is the same symbol). There are also two square-like symbols in the right column, followed by text not mentioned in the transcription.


[1] see also vms-list thread: VMs: GC-k and intruding gallows in 11th c. ms, Wednesday, November 8, 2006 8:00 PM.
Preserved in J.VS Library deposit #1-1-2007-05-05, file 3JVSlibKI3U.htm


From: Berj N. Ensanian
Date: Sun, 16 Sep 2007 14:18:16 -0400

Subject: J.VS: Pictures of Jan Hurych's find: Marci-to-Kircher-letter arm-star diagram

Dear All

I have submitted to Greg our Librarian the deposit # 9-1-2007-09-16 consisting of metadata and 5 images.

The 1x130vAPUG557.jpg image is a crop from the Marci-to-Athanasius Kircher letter APUG 557 130v showing the highly interesting "arm-star diagram" on the letter's addressing side that Jan Hurych discovered, and asked my opinion on in early February 2007. I was immediately impressed by it as a possibly very important clue in Voynich research, and brought it to the attention of the old vms-list.

There followed a discussion thread among Jan Hurych, Greg Stachowski, Dana Scott, and myself, on the mysteriously gloved arm-star diagram, the Voynich f57v diagram, the VMS author, peculiarities in Marci's letters to Kircher, the true last letter of Marci to Kircher, the exact year of Marci's death, and the importance of astronomy in VMS research - the diagram and its letter impact a lot of Voynich studies questions! The other 4 images all relate to the discussion. [1]

Now, as we know, in this current period Richard SantaColoma has been bringing, via his nicely expanding work on possible Cornelius Drebbel influences in the VMS, attention to the question of compound-lens optics in the VMS. In the original arm-star discussion the idea that the diagram might depict telescopic imaging, possibly even with sufficient drawing accuracy to deduce some mathematical data, had been mentioned. It seems to me that it is not at all unreasonable to ponder the arm-star diagram as suggesting, in addition to whatever else, compound lenses in action.

As a new thought I'm wondering if the apparent integration of the arm-star diagram with the letter's sealing is not accidental, but intentional, and that the integral geometry is intended to suggest some sort of instrument and / or principles.

Berj / KI3U

[1] Private email exchange with Jan Hurych with Subject-line "Re: APUG 557 130r versus 9RMS f57v" dated Wed, 14 Feb 2007 19:38:59 -0500.

vms-list thread: VMs: The arm-star diagram on APUG 557 130v, Thursday, February 15, 2007 10:05 AM

The above are preserved in J.VS Library deposit # 1-1-2007-05-05, file 4vmsKI3Ulab.htm

From: Greg Stachowski
To: "J.VS:"
Date: Tue, 18 Sep 2007 16:26:26 +0200

Subject: J.VS: Herbert Hoover's correspondence: " Villalobar, Maquis de-Voynich, W.M., 1916-1920 "

Every once in a while, we come across yet another hint of how many pies WMV had his fingers in, and the contacts he maintained. Here's another one for the collection:

In the Presidential Library of Herbert Hoover [1], in the catalogue of the section for General Correspondence [2,3] before Hoover became Secretary of Commerce under President Harding in 1920, listed under box 16 is the following entry:

" Villalobar, Maquis de-Voynich, W.M., 1916-1920 "

Now at this time HH was operating, frequently from London, organising major humanitarian relief for war-torn Europe, particularly Belgium. The Marquis de Villalobar [4] was a Spanish diplomat and ambassador to Belgium who was also big in this; indeed, both of them have squares and streets named after them in Brussels. But what did our friend WMV have to do with it? A Spanish Marquis, a future US President, and an emigre bookdealer?

Anyone feel like taking a trip down to the Hoover Library in Iowa?


The catalogue entry is quoted above exactly as it appears, with "Marquis" misspelled as "Maquis".

From: Berj N. Ensanian
Date: Tue, 18 Sep 2007 19:43:11 -0400

Subject: J.VS: Re: Herbert Hoover's correspondence: " Villalobar, Maquis de-Voynich, W.M., 1916-1920 "

Greg wrote:

" But what did our friend WMV have to do with it? A Spanish Marquis, a future US President, and an emigre bookdealer? "

Lacking any data from the Iowa archive, as a pure guess then, perhaps Hoover's connection with Wilfrid and the Marquis de Villalobar involves Wilfrid supplying good books for the post- WW I rebuilding of Belgian University libraries, like the University of Louvain-Leuven. From general Herbert Hoover biographical data it appears that Hoover was involved with higher education relief efforts in Belgium in this timeframe.

I'm trying to recall if there are any critical points in the popular version of Voynich manuscript history that hinge on something Belgian. Am also wondering if the Spanish Marquis de Villalobar had any noteworthy visits to Austrian castles and / or the Villa Mondragone.

From: Berj N. Ensanian
Date: Fri, 21 Sep 2007 14:02:22 -0400

Subject: J.VS: VMS Ladies and earrings

Dear All

It seems remarkable that among the hundreds of female figures illustrated in the VMS there is such an absence of earrings. I can find only one instance in the entire Voynich manuscript that appears to depict a woman wearing an earring, albeit drawn subtly.

Actually, the illustrator seemed to avoid drawing ears, even when the hair was swept back enough so that by nature the ear would be exposed - we see many examples of this. For example, in f81v, in the bottom line of women, the third lady from left. Another example: in f81r, in the bottom line of women, the second lady from left. If one were to argue that with these two ladies their hair is covering the ear, then they would have very strangely constructed heads indeed. Rather, it is clear that the detail of their ears has not been drawn in. By contrast, the details of rosy red cheeks, and belly buttons, have been rendered by the artist.

In folio 82r there appears the only occurrence of what I perceive might be a clear earring, with another possible ear and / or earring on another figure on the same page. Lets have a look at the bottom illustration of f82r - it is rather complex, comprised of 11 women, in several scenes, that are unified by a green colored area with a softly serrated outline.

Along the bottom serrate, at right, is a scene with three women, the lower parts of their bodies obscured by the serrate. The two right women are looking at, or toward, the left woman, who is facing more or less in their direction. Underneath this left lady is the text label GC-8oeoe. This lady seems to have a simply drawn ear, an oval, and dangling from it appears to be a darker drawn earring, that is subtle in its outline because its outline is part of the lady's neck, as well as the serrate. However, the "earring" is made clear with much darker ink.

If this object is indeed an earring, then is it a symbol? Is the scene with the three women specific to this earring? It's shape is quite clear: an ovoid stretched toward pointedness at the vertical ends, and with a thick extension or hook issuing from the left perimeter of the earring's body. Presumably, an indentical earring worn on the other side of her head (her head's left side) would appear horizontally flipped. I have not yet been able to clearly match this object with some symbol. But, it motivates paying attention to earrings in portraits of women, certainly royals, from the VMS genesis era, and earlier.

On the same page, f82r, at its right side, the second lady from the top is shown reclined or laid out in some kind of coffin-like construction, underneath a tethered blue 7-rayed star. She may be exhibiting an ear and / or earring, although it is difficult to tell even from the high resolution image.

Berj / KI3U
From: Berj N. Ensanian
Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2007 00:25:57 -0400

Subject: J.VS: Generating Strong's 1-3-5-7-9-7-5-3-1-4-7-4 with Christine de Pizan's anagram mathematics

Dear All

I came across an old vms-list reply-post of mine to Jeff Haley from last year wherein I briefly mentioned to Jeff a private email conversation with Glen Claston [1]. I mentioned that in that conversation with GC I had told him that (Yale Professor) Leonell C. Strong's famous periodically repeating sequence:


falls out of some of Christine de Pizan's anagram mathematics. In other words, Christine's anagram machinery can be used to generate the Strong sequence quite simply, although here "simple" is in a relative sense: provided the rather technical basis of Christine's system, and its phenomenally broad possibilities, are understood, then it is indeed straighforward obtaining the Strong sequence, as a periodic sequence, from Christine. I had never gotten around to detailing the procedure, so I will tie up that loose end here now. [2]

In a 1947 paper concerned with one of his VMS discoveries [3], Strong stated that portions of the VMS were coded in a " double reverse system of arithmetic progressions of a multiple alphabet ". He did not give any further details in that paper. The actual sequence 1-3-5-7-9-7-5-3-1-4-7-4 that is almost certainly involved in his description, is found in Strong's Voynich manuscript worksheets. The material in these worksheets, including the number sequence, was, as best as I can recall, brought out into open discussion on the old vms-list around ten years ago, by Rayman Maleki, Dennis V. Mardle, and Glen Claston. Clear images of Strong's worksheets, including the one bearing the number sequence, have been made available online by GC for quite a long while. [4]

I do not know Strong's decipherment technique - it would obviously require extensive study of his worksheets to figure out what he was doing. As we all know, his worksheets are just that - worksheets - not anything like a step by step description of his decipherment method. And, his work does not have many followers. Nevertheless, I think his work remains some of the most interesting in Voynich studies history. What specifically peaked my interest in it was that in working with Christine's anagram mathematics I saw that 1-3-5-7-9-7-5-3-1-4-7-4 could be obained from her double-period anagram transform, the "e12" transform. (The complementary transform is the c6 which we will not need here.)

Curiously, a simple description of the e12 procedure would be quite reminiscent of Strong's " double reverse system of arithmetic progressions ". We will see that below.

So I think it is worth recording in detail how Strong's sequence and Christine de Pizan's anagram mathematics are related - here to follow next. In the following it is necessarily assumed that Christine's system is fully understood, along with its notation and nomenclature. [5]

Our objective is to develop a scheme, relying on the double-periodicity of e12, to generate integer sequences. The scheme will employ the double-periodicity to generate codes serially, that is, it will switch between different periods as the transform cycles proceed. ( This is potentially less complicated than a simultaneous double-periodicity scheme ). It is a simple scheme that suggests itself from a study of the e12 Table VII-1, the RL portion of it, plus familiarity / experience with RL e12 on a 16-field. To develop the scheme, we will need to re-observe some things, define some things, and finally specify the scheme.

The RL e12 sequence has its w = 12, but, as we have already seen, that 12 derives from its two sub-periods, swe = 3 and swo = 4 where:

swo = sub-period of odd field-positions columns
swe = sub-period of even field-positions columns and:

(swo)(swe) = w

specifically: (4)(3) = 12

Our experience leads us to load the group 123456789------- into a 16-field, and look at swo and swe, say in respective columns 1 and 4, through the 12 transformation cycles:

C0 RL Rn In Sn e12 +n w = 12

0: 123456789-------
1: 34567218------9-
2: 56721438----9---
3: 72143658--9-----
4: 143652789-------
5: 36527418------9-
6: 52741638----9---
7: 74163258--9-----
8: 163254789-------
9: 32547618------9-
10: 54761238----9---
11: 76123458--9-----
12: 123456789------- same as 0:

In odd column 1 we see: 1 3 5 7 1 3 5 7 1 3 5 7 swo = 4
In even column 4 we see: 4 6 2 4 6 2 4 6 2 4 6 2 swe = 3
The other columns show phase-shifted (cycle offset) versions of these.

The symbol 9 in column 9 undergoes a sawtooth oscillation through the 12 cycles sequence, and its period is of course 4, since it starts out in an odd column.

We now define an instruction:

when 8 in even column 8, is met by 9 in odd column 9, to make 89, change the direction of the transformations sequence. If it was FXR, then change to RXR, and vice versa. (Be sure not to confuse the FXR and RXR transformations sequence directions with the LR and RL transform directions).

The meeting-up of 89 in adjacent opposite-polarity columns, we will call:

the change transform-sequence direction instruction, or pointer.

We will denote this pointer: EP and now also assign numerical values to it: we will say that in cycles 0:, 4:, 8:, and 12: the EP = 17 and in all other cycles EP = 0

We are ready to specify the serial doubly-periodic sequence based on e12 :

a.) the w = 12 fundamental period must be maintained to keep synchronization; therefore no matter what, when 12 cycles have been completed, the next cycle is reset to be identical to the 1st of the previous sequence of 12 results.
b.) start the sequence direction with, say, FXR.
c.) start reading generated codes with, say, an odd column, say column 1.
d.) when a non-zero EP appears, but it is not simultaneous with an IXR, read as the generated code, the value of EP, i.e. read code = 17.
e.) If an IXR occurs simultaneous with a non-zero EP, the IXR over-rules reading code: EP is not read, the column still supplies the code. If an IXR occurs, take it as an instruction, starting with the next cycle, to switch to reading code from an opposite polarity column, say column 4.
f.) regardless of any indexing convention, say 0: vs 1:, the first / starting group is regarded as an IXR result insofar as reading code is concerned.

Now lets run the 12 cycles of the sequence, commenting as we go along. To reduce eye-strain, we will blank out the unused columns in field-positions 1-8; i.e. we will blank field positions 2, 3, 5, 6, and 7.

C0 RL Rn In Sn e12 +n w = 12

o e eo 'take 0: as the 1st / start result of the sequence
0: 1 4 89------- 'read code = 1; proceed FXR
1: 3 6 8------9- 'read code = 3
2: 5 2 8----9--- 'read code = 5
3: 7 4 8--9----- 'read code = 7
4: 1 6 89------- 'EP = 17 and there is no IXR, so read code = 17, and now switch to RXR

3: 7 4 8--9----- 'read code = 7
2: 5 2 8----9--- 'read code = 5
1: 3 6 8------9- 'read code = 3
0: 1 4 89------- 'an IXR has occurred, read code = 1, change to column 4 for reading codes. EP = 17, not zero, so therefore also now switch to FXR

1: 3 6 8------9- 'read code = 6
2: 5 2 8----9--- 'read code = 2
3: 7 4 8--9----- 'read code = 4; 12 cycles have been completed, a reset is done, and the sequence starts over with 0:

The 12 codes that were generated, and will be generated over and over, are:

1, 3, 5, 7, 17, 7, 5, 3, 1, 6, 2, 4

It is immediately clear that we can define the non-zero value of EP, i.e. when 9 meets 8, to be anything we want. Lets define EP = 9 and then the 12 generated codes are:

1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 7, 5, 3, 1, 6, 2, 4

It is also clear that this basic sequence of serial double-periodicity can be kept, but have it generate different code numbers, by simply changing the numbers that were loaded in the starting group. Lets change 6 to 4, and 2 to 7, in other words lets start with:

0: 173454789-------

And Christine de Pizan's anagram system will then generate, over and over:

1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 7, 5, 3, 1, 4, 7, 4

which is Dr. Strong's sequence.

As go the possibilities of the e12 transform, this is a simple scheme: there is no position shifting, and both the 1-8 and 9-16 field positions are transformed the same. It does demonstrate well the potential of Christine's system.

Berj / KI3U

[1] vms-list post: RE: VMs: If at first you don't succeed, Saturday, August 19, 2006 11:03 AM. This is preserved in J.VS Library deposit # 1-1-2007-05-05, file 3JVSlibKI3U.htm

[2] Strong's sequence does not appear to be at all common - see:

[3] A Verification of a Hitherto Unknown Prescription of the 16th Century, by L.C. Strong and E.L. McCawley, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Vol. XXI, No. 6, November-December, 1947.


[5] see the series of vms-list posts " CREINTIS, Voynich, prime numbers, ESCRINET, anagrams and Christine de Pizan ", July 2006. Preserved in the J.VS Library in deposit # 1-1-2007-05-05, file 3JVSlibKI3U.htm

From: Berj N. Ensanian
Date: Tue, 25 Sep 2007 11:44:09 -0400

Subject: J.VS: Beeckman's 1625 Compound Microscope sketch and VMS pharma section objects

Dear All

This online resource on van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723):

has an image of " Oldest known drawing of a compound microscope (From the diary Isaac Beeckman, Middelburg, The Netherlands anno 1625) ".

It is the image immediately underneath the photo of the ~1595 cylindrical Janssen microscope-tube. The Dutch physicist Isaac Beeckman (1588-1637) knew Descartes (1596-1650) well. Here is a short online biographical sketch of Beeckman from the Institute and Museum of History of Science in Florence in their "Horror Vacui?" section:

Now, the cylindrical mystery objects in the Voynich pharmaceutical section, the geometries of which range from plain tubes to rather complex constructions, along with a great range in their coloring and detailing, are traditionally deemed "jars", some of them Majolica / Maiolica. [1]

But there is also an alternative view: that some of these objects might be mechanical devices of some kind, even early scientific revolution devices, for example perhaps early microscopes. In this vein the Beeckman sketch is interesting, and I thought it worthwhile to bring to the Journal's attention, because it offers a comparison far more complex than simple cylindrical - in particular, the top portion of the 1625 Beeckman microscope is noteworthy.

Berj / KI3U

[1] D'Imperio in her book is cautious with the designation "jars" and seems to use it as a handy label that was already well established by the time she was writing.

From: Berj N. Ensanian
Date: Wed, 26 Sep 2007 19:21:28 -0400

Subject: J.VS: Pharmaceutical section objects: Atomizers?

Dear All

I've been wondering if some of the strange cylindrical objects depicted in the illustrations of the pharmaceutical section might be atomizers. I couldn't find any old Voynich discussions on this - does anyone have any recollection?

Three objects in particular strike me as being possible atomizers. On f89r1 we have at the left margin of the page three cylindrical objects. The middle one seems like it could well be an atomizer with its own stand and a red squeeze-bulb.

Moving over to f89r2 that page has four of the mystery objects on its left margin. The second from top one, and the bottom one seem like they could well pass for atomizers.

Then if so, one could fathom that the associated botanical material concerns manufacture and preparation of perfumes. All those VMS ladies elsewhere in the book might be interested :)

Berj / KI3U
From: Berj N. Ensanian
Date: Sat, 29 Sep 2007 01:39:59 -0400

Subject: J.VS: Incense Burners and Censers and the Voynich Pharmaceutical Section

Dear All

In J.VS communication #91 the idea was opened that perhaps some of the strange cylindrical objects illustrated in the Voynich pharmaceutical section depict atomizers, and that therefore some of the pharma material concerns itself with perfumes and perfumery.

Following up on that [1], I was not able to find much in the presently accessible old vms-list archival records. In a 2004 post describing pharma in the period 1450-1550 [2], GC writes:

" When medications were prescribed to "end-users" (doctor's patients or apothecary's clients), these herbs were already processed, in incense, tinctures, ..... "

And in a 2005 post [3], Wayne Durden used the idea (perhaps half-seriously), that the entire VMS is concerned with the Aster flower, everything about the flower including perfumery, as a vehicle for outlining a rather interesting theory of the Voynich text.

Researching perfumery immediately gets one into incense. And incense suggests itself right on the very first page of the Voynich manuscript, where at the left margin of f1r the third text paragraph begins with a red glyph that looks like an active incense burner shaped like an upside-down Greek letter pi.

So, those strange cylindrical objects depicted in the VMS pharma section illustrations: might some of them be incense burners and censers (censers without their chains) ?

I did some searching online, and my initial findings are quite interesting: here is a list of online web-pages with pictures of incense burners and censers:

1.) b&w c. 1886 photograph of Shanghai temple & bronze incense burner:
enlarged image:,D001620

2.) Buyeo National Museum Korean National Treasure No. 287 Baekje period gilt-bronze incense burner:

3.) Silver incense burner, Persian c. 1750-1900:

4.) Shaped as Tower of Heavenly Jerusalem, a 14th c. Penmaen Church bronze incense burner:

5.) A.D. 450 Teotihuacan mass-produced ceramic incense burner:

6.) The Incense Burner Virtual Museum - Le Musee Virtuel du BRULE PARFUM

7.) Recent painting of an ancient Egyptian incense burning scene with tripod-base incense burner:

From just these findings alone it seems to me a reasonable possibility, that some of the VMS pharma tube-like / cylindrical / tower-like constructions, are depictions of incense burners, censers, and other forms of fragrance generators / dispensers.

Berj / KI3U

[1] The detailed history of fragrances is a new topic for me, and I am still orienting myself. The first extensive material I found online was this helpful article with its senior author being Kathi Keville:
History of Fragrance (Excerpted from Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art Published by Crossing Press):

[2] vms-list post: Re: VMs: 1006184 & 1006185, Thu, 10 Jun 2004 19:36:40 -0600.

[3] vms-list post: re: a new and fanciful idea (Not involving Atlanteans, nor Isis), Fri, 25 Mar 2005 22:57:31 -0500.

From: Berj N. Ensanian
Date: Sun, 30 Sep 2007 11:27:02 -0400

Subject: J.VS: Re: Incense Burners and Censers and the Voynich Pharmaceutical Section

Here are two more interesting pictures of tiered-tower incense burners:

8.) British Museum Japanese Edo period Hirado ware incense burner:

9.) Three large bronze burners at Heavenly Gate and Forbidden City:

I've noticed that in general, a tripodal base seems to be common on container-type incense burners across cultures and eras, regardless of construction style - for example, little fat bowls with three knobby button pods, and also huge tiered-towers with three curved legs. We do see tripodal bases on some of the VMS pharma section objects.

The objects depicted in the VMS pharma section are still cryptic - they are not obviously this or that. So then, to conjecture:

IF some of these pharma illustrations are indeed depicting incense burners and censers,
AND the VMS originated in England,
AND the VMS dates after the English Reformation (1534),
THEN might their cryptic depiction relate to religious persecution reasons?

As for the highly cryptic general character of the pharma section specifically, if it concerns the manufacture and preparation of fragrances, we could be less surprised - because the fragrances industry has always revolved around secret formulas, and the economics have always been big. Apparently Marco Polo's travels had a perfumes economics aspect. Another name that came up in my readings on this subject is the Marquis de Frandipani, said to have travelled with Columbus to the New World, and to have brought back the Plumeria alba flower that became the source for a popular perfume back in Europe. Looking into the subject of fragrances we do seem to meet some long-familiar Voynich studies names, like Hildegard von Bingen.

Berj / KI3U
From: Greg Stachowski
To: "J.VS:"
Date: Mon, 1 Oct 2007 15:05:28 +0200

Subject: J.VS: Re: Timeline Resource for Voynich Studies

Back in J.VS comm. #82 a few weeks ago, Berj suggested creating a timeline for events surrounding and relevant to the Voynich manuscript. Since then, we have been working from Berj's preliminary, text listing of events to create an interactive, online timeline, using open-source software from MIT's SIMILE project. It now gives me great pleasure to announce that this timeline is officially 'open' and available as part of the J.VS Library, at:

or, equivalently,

The timeline remains a work in progress. Submissions and suggestions for further development are welcome and should be sent to the J.VS Librarian; currently that would be me.

Greg Stachowski
From: Berj N. Ensanian
Date: Mon, 01 Oct 2007 11:56:31 -0400

Subject: J.VS: Re: Timeline Resource for Voynich Studies

Reference communication #94:

Well done Greg.

Initial public reaction, gauging it as we have been measuring and discussing it off-J, is positive. Thus we can view the Journal's TL project as a kind of "public works" project for educating the public about the Voynich manuscript field, in addition to the TL's primary purpose of serving as a tool for dedicated Voynich research.

From: Berj N. Ensanian
Date: Wed, 03 Oct 2007 12:38:08 -0400

Subject: J.VS: Survey results: Voynich Astrological-section barrels / cans interpretations

Dear All

In Table 1 below [1] are the results of our quick off-J survey on the question:

What could the astrological-section barrels / cans represent?

As we know, as astrological diagrams go, the Voynich astro barrels are unusual. Our survey results are a mix of old ideas floated in Voynich studies literature for a long time, and perhaps some new ideas.

This being a quick spot survey, we might have left out some old ideas; in any case we can add to the list as convenient.

Berj / KI3U

[1] Table 1: Ideas, old and perhaps some new, on interpretations of the diverse barrels / cans in the Voynich ms astrological pages, folios f70r - 73v, gathered from a quick internal off-J survey, 2-3 OCT 2007. The astro illustrations have circular diagrams where:

a.) all the human figures have a can (they are within their can, or with it),
b.) diagrams with both canned and un-canned figures, and
c.) diagrams without any cans.

Table entries are in no particular order.

1.) baptismal tubs
2.) washing tubs
3.) perfumed bathing tubs
4.) grapes or other mashing vats
5.) wine, beer, or other beverage cask
6.) symbolic personal space - "cell"
7.) symbolic castle "tower" representing a principality
8.) mechanical tubes with an active principle or spirit (symbolized by resident human figure)
9.) tabernacle of being: containing the soul or spirit with the potential to ascend
10.) toilets of some kind - a serious possibility probably only for hoax hypotheses
11.) birthing tubs
12.) Egyptian internal organs embalmment urns - symbolic rebirth
13.) symbolic throne chair
14.) symbolic store-front for tradegoods, e.g. weaved cloths
15.) containers for medicinal/alchemical substances, with the figures representing life force/active spirit whatever as 8.) above.
16.) astrological channel between underground world and heavens above
17.) graphical devices for data (e.g. astrological, or steganographic)
18.) graphical devices for symbolizing water = life

(end of Table 1 / 3 OCT 2007)

From: Berj N. Ensanian
Date: Wed, 03 Oct 2007 14:24:21 -0400

Subject: J.VS: Underground and peripheral VMS art: preservation

Dear All

In the history of the pursuit of the Voynich mystery there have now and then, and here and there, come about some works of art that were in some way inspired by the VMS and / or the greater mystery. Some of them are not well known for one reason or another, typically because they were not directly a product of a solution attack. Even many longtime VMS students don't realize the existence and / or significance of some of these artworks, for example Stolfi's "reconstruction" of the missing f74r, Jan Hurych's "Miss Chapnill", and Jonathan Dilas's VMS "zodiac".

The issues pertaining to these artworks can be complicated, and consequently some of them remain "underground art". Of the three just mentioned, the first two are clearly meant for humor among advanced Voynich workers. Stolfi's, a favorite among those who know of it, may well have trademark issues with a long established and well-known-the-world-over business enterprise. Hurych's work probably is safe from legalities, and although somewhat funny to anyone seeing it, it can only be appreciated for its deep double-composite humor by advanced students of the field - it is really an extremely serious commentary on the Voynich mystery, delivered in humorous pictographic fashion. Dilas's creation is historically important for being at the center of a very heated argument (on vms-list last year) about interpretations of the imagery in the Voynich manuscript.

My comments here are just a small beginning intended to raise some awareness of this point: there is art being created as a by-product of the pursuit of the Voynich mystery, and some of the exemplars are significant, and future VMS historians and art historians will surely be interested in them. But first of course they have to know about them.

It may be possible for J.VS to devote a section of its Library to a collection of these kinds of art. Unfortunately it is not simply a matter of grabbing images where and when available and depositing them in the Library. Also, the art may not be restricted to images - there may be poetry and other types of creations. Legalities, and evaluation of significance are certainly no small task.

But, let us note this phenomenon of underground and peripheral VMS art - this is the first step in eventually seeing come about serious inquiry, conservation, and study of it.

Berj / KI3U
From: Greg Stachowski
To: "J.VS:"
Date: Thu, 4 Oct 2007 21:49:16 +0200

Subject: J.VS: Library search tool

Thanks to Jan Hurych, we now have a search form on the main Library page,

which allows Google searching of the Library resources.

From: Greg Stachowski
To: "J.VS:"
Date: Fri, 5 Oct 2007 11:26:17 +0200

Subject: J.VS: "Search for Hidden Numbers in the VM" by Jan Hurych

The article:

"Search for Hidden Numbers in the VM"

by Jan Hurych, which investigates the possible numbers masked by blue colour in the VM, is now in the Library as deposit # 6-4-2007-10-06 at the URL:

From: Berj N. Ensanian
Date: Sat, 06 Oct 2007 19:01:43 -0400

Subject: J.VS: King-in-a-can and Juan de la Cosa's Map of 1500

Dear All

In J.VS communication #96 was given the survey-results of conjectures on what the barrels / cans in the "astrological" section of the VMS might represent. Among the eighteen list items were:

7.) symbolic castle "tower" representing a principality
13.) symbolic throne chair

Online I've just found an image of the famous Juan de la Cosa map of 1500 that is just magnified enough to present tantalizing suggestions that it has graphics elements of special interest to us, including the figures-with-cans in the VMS astrology section, as per 7.) and 13.) above, if we can just get even better images of this map. [1,2]

I've cropped a small section from the map around its mid-line, and about 40% up from its bottom - this image submitted to our Librarian Greg as deposit # 10-1-2007-10-06. At upper left of this crop I've marked "A" next to what appears to be a king with a staff, situated in some sort of partly cylindrical thing, and being attended to by a person in front. The resolution is only just good enough to make it a tantalizing comparison with VMS astrology-section can scenes. At bottom right of the crop, marked "B", is another example: here the suggestion is of a ruler seated on a horizontal cylindrical pillow; we do have some horizontal cans in the VMS. From these two examples it would seem worthwhile to be on the lookout for the availability of better images of the de la Cosa map.

I think the possibility that the Voynich ms "astrology" section diagrams are not astrological [3], but instead cryptic navigational charts, may have been entertained on the old vms-list. In any case it is an interesting thought, and such a reality could dovetail well with the notion that the pharmaceutical section deals with New World high-value botanicals.

Berj / KI3U

[1] The de la Cosa map is Catalog No. 257 in the Naval Museum of Madrid:

The largest and best image of it online that I have found is at this url:

[2] A good discussion of this 96x183 cm Portolan World chart / Mappa Mundi, and its Basque maker Juan de la Cosa (1460-1510), who was the owner and master of the Santa Maria (Columbus) and a key figure in the discovery of the New World, is online here:
" This map is the oldest, now known, made since 1492, which shows the discoveries in the new world. "

Biographical on de la Cosa is also available online here:

[3] We still have no concrete demonstration that indeed they are astrological charts.

From: Berj N. Ensanian
Date: Mon, 08 Oct 2007 12:20:44 -0400

Subject: J.VS: Dialog: possible "masked" key on a Voynich f102v1 "incense burner"

Dear All

I've sifted through our off-J discussions over the past few days, 4 - 7 OCT 2007, and assembled the essential dialog, reproduced below [1], concerning some apparently "masked" text on one of the cylindrical objects / "jars" a.k.a. "incense burners" in the f102v1 pharma section of the VMS.

Briefly, the background to this is: On 2 AUG 2004 Jan Hurych published on his Voynich website a preliminary analysis of his search for hidden numbers in the pharma f102v2. In that article Jan developed an interesting, if not radical idea that "masking" of original Voynich text may have been done to the ms post-text.

Jan recently deposited this article in the J.VS Library as deposit # 6-4-2007-10-05, - see J.VS communication #99. This sparked renewed interest in Jan's idea of intentional masking in the Voynich manuscript, and over the following days another example on f102v1 was found - the off-J dialog recorded below shows the developments up to the present.

In sum, the situation at the moment is very tentative, but highly interesting, and considerably more work needs to be done to exploit any possibilities. Two images pertaining to the dialog discussion, 1xf102v1.jpg and 2xf102v1.jpg, have been sent to our Librarian Greg for deposit as # 11-1-2007-10-07.

Berj / KI3U

[1] Dialog 4-7 OCT 2007 of the off-J discussions concerning masked text in a Voynich f102v1 illustration object. The dialog participants are J.VS members Jan Hurych, Berj N. Ensanian, and Robert Teague. Editorial notes are enclosed in square brackets: [ed. notes].

Jan says:

Greg, I just posted another article ... [J.VS: SEARCH FOR HIDDEN NUMBERS IN THE VM]

Berj says:

Good, I'm glad that is coming along. I've been wondering Jan - did you ever talk about that article on the old vms-list? The reason is that I'm trying to figure out just when I [first] read it.

Jan says:

Yes, the article was on my site for long time [published 2 AUG 2004], the spots were found by Stolfi, ..... I talked about it on the VM ..... they had no idea what to do with the find. Neither do I :-). Then even Stolfi went silent.

It is generally agreed now that the coloring was done later and possibly by some other person. As for the reasons, mostly mine - it was done to mask something. If that is true, the steganography - or any other not so obvious method - was most likely used. Later they found some single "letters" inside some colored leafs, but no meaning was disovered either.

Berj says:

Well back in January we saw that Wilfrid's 1921 photo of f1r and today's Beinecke f1r have some radical glyphs differences, including an entire word (J.VS comm. #74 gives the ref.) - so since then I've assumed that at least some of the touch-up was done by Wilfrid & Company [text-ink touch-up should not be confused with painting in the ms]. And Wilfrid was originally studying chemistry I've read. I still have not found when it was that I read your f102v2 numbers article on your website (I think I came upon it around the time of the PM-curve work), but I'll let it go for now.

Jan et al: Have a look at attached pictures [1xf102v1.jpg and 2xf102v1.jpg] - the bottom cylindrical "incense burner" from f102v1.

Is this "masking" of some text as per Jan's article?

Looks like two, possibly three lines of text on the cylinder's brown-red portion. The top incense burner above it might also have some masked letters underneath its brown-red colored portions.

Not sure if this is anything new - I just noticed it and thought of the recent focus on "masking".

Robert says:

I think you're right. I recognize a couple of the Voynich letters already. You might be uncovering a whole new layer of the VMs.

Berj says:

Well the credit goes to Jan - I would not have noticed it if I hadn't read "masking" in his paper. I want him to look at this and tell us what he thinks.

Jan says:

That's a tough one, brown as you know contains red color as well, whatever I did just did not measure up [attempted image processing on the object being discussed], see samples. I cannot even say what's underneath: it is not numbers, maybe Voynichese, maybe even those sharp scribbles shown elsewhere in the VM. Will think about it.

Berj says:

The red image I made first (2xf102v1.jpg) still is the best so far. Now, I think I see something interesting. Lets say tentatively that running around that sub-cylinder there are three lines of glyphs or if you will, text, with the middle line the clearest, and the bottom line the most difficult to make out. I'll cut right to the interesting part: it looks to me like the top line is Latin letters, and underneath it the middle line is definitely Voynich letters, and I'm getting the impression that they are in correspondence, as if in an alphabet key. From the easiest to read letters, the last three in the top, and middle lines, it looks like:

"a" = GC-N
"q" = GC-8
"R" = GC-9

Of course this is highly, highly tentative. We need to look more closely, and get better image processing figured out.

[end of dialog to 7 OCT 2007]

From: Berj N. Ensanian
Date: Wed, 10 Oct 2007 16:58:47 -0400

Subject: J.VS: Image processing to VMS fingerprints (Was: Dialog: possible "masked" key on a Voynich f102v1 "incense burner")

Dear All

Continuing from J.VS comm. #101 the dialog, redacted below, is now seen to be merging with another long-running off-J dialog concerning the increasingly pressing problem of some kind of standard high-precision image processing procedure in Voynich image analysis. The dialog participants are Robert Teague, Berj N. Ensanian, Jan Hurych, Greg Stachowski, Dennis Fedak.

Dialog continuation from 8 OCT 2007 on:

Robert says:

The GIMP is a graphics program with a lot of capability. The learning curve is pretty steep, though.

Berj says:

Jan's idea of "intentional masking" in the vms is I think a ground-breaking one. We could use a catalog of colors in the VMS in the Library with sample thumbnail-crops pictures, (all sourced from the .sid images) like three shades of red, red a, red b, red c, two shades of green, green a, green b, etc. or green1, green2, etc.

Greg says:

I had a quick play with the Gimp; broadly speaking I adjusted the contrast in each channel with curves, extracted the yellow, magenta and red separations, and put them back together, with yellow and magenta merged and red overlayed on top with a 2x2 blur [f102v1-processed.jpg]. Yellow and magenta have the most information. However, this needs repeating sometime when I have more time to do a thorough job.

Anyway, make of it what you will. There seem to be more letters on the large cylinder, and perhaps also on the narrower ring at the top. Actually, scratch that about the top ring, those are just deorative circles, the interaction with the uneven overpaint made them look like letters after the processing, but looking back at the original it's clear they're not.

Berj says:

Well indeed on the top ring there is a little "+" type cross near the left edge - it shows well in your f102v1-processed.jpg and I now see it also clearly in the unprocessed image. In the main sub-cylinder I'm wondering if all three lines contain "8". Might the top line be Greek letters? But at one point with a randomly processed image I thought that most of the top line read in Latin letters: laaqR

Wonder how "laquer" was spelled in some language back then? Lacquer is an intriguing idea in the pharma section: the Chinese made fancy vessels out of laquer didn't they?

I think the most certain group of glyphs is at the end of the middle line: .... GC-iN8 and possibly GC-iN89 with the letters maybe drawn to project 3D perspective.

It looks to me now that in the top line at least some of the letters are rotated 90 deg. and near the left is a GC-k gallows that earlier had me fooled to think it was an "l" in laaqR.

See attached image 4xf102v1.jpg - it is 2xf102v1.jpg with this processing applied:

Convert to gray
Brightness = 89
contrast = 114
gamma = 0.72

rotate 90 deg. ccw

I'm vacillating on the top line: scratches (decorative maybe), Latin letters, Greek letters, or Voynich letters.

We need better image processing!!!

Greg says:

This ties into that discussion we had a few weeks back. I must admit that I'm now not entirely convinced that the top line is actually letters.

Jan says [commenting on a 2004 image processing experiment by Stolfi on f1r text]:

That separation is nice, except it does not give us any new info, that would not be seen on original anyway. As for the "corrections" most of them were simply retraced by author when he ran out of ink - the darker trace is not different ink, just more ink, contrary to red writing, which IS with different ink.

Berj says:

Good point Jan: touch-up much later versus touch-up at the time of writing with replenished ink.

Jan says:

we also have to recognize that overwriting was done with the lower layer already dry, so we do not get water "mixture" of colors but 2 separate layers, each only partly transparent. The transparency is effectively used in watercolor painting, however there we have white paper underneath so they are fully transparent. Here we have only partly transparent colors (say two) with not so white vellum underneath and what we see is the optical mixture which is different from electronic mixture. That's why it is so difficult to separate.

Berj says:

What I think we fundamentally need is the basic color physics of the .sid images - ..... then we can transform ..... in whatever way we want: Fourier filtered, moving averages, square, square-root, normalization, difference curves, etc., and get processed images that not only are precisely processed, but also at each stage of a series of transformations can be evaluated as to the best way to proceed.

Greg says:

There are two or three issues hiding here. One is the encoding of the SIDs; we need to convert them to something useable to do any kind of quantitative analysis. JPEG won't do, because it is inherently lossy, and distorts colour to achieve better compression. The SID encoding unfortunately is highly non-trivial and closed source, we need to find a tool which will extract the highest quality image from the SID and dump it to (say) a TIFF without losing colour information or resolution. The colour encoding in SIDs almost certainly [is] RGB since they are designed for screen use, and probably 8 bits per channel. Obviously this doesn't exactly represent all possible colours, but there's not much we can do about it now.

BTW, if you want to read how SIDs work (only an overview unfortunately) there is a PDF here:

We want to do 2D analysis. We want bitmaps. .... The important thing is to get the file in a useable format which other software will read.

Now, as to the colour itself. Assuming they are indeed 8-bit RGB, it may be that a different colour space (HSV, CMY(K) etc) will work better for our analysis. That remains to be seen, but the conversions are well known. There are a few issues, in that the colour spaces don't entirely overlap, but that is not likely to be relevant for this work.

Now, there remains the question of the veracity of the colour representation in the MrSIDs versus the original. That is largely irrelevant for the kind of colour deconvolution/separation work we're talking about in this thread, besides which, we have only the information which is in the file anyway. But it may be useful for, say, trying to determine the chemistry of the paints and inks. It would need colour calibration to reconstruct the spectral response of the camera and lighting, and is going to be difficult without a calibration source. One of the earlier colour images (pre-SID) has a Kodak colour chart in the frame. It may be possible to use that to calibrate that image, then use that to calibrate the SID image of the same folio. Since the original is a JPEG and JPEG distorts colour it remains to be seen how well this will work.

Berj says:

Agreed on using the f33v-f34r picture with its Kodak series-V reference card, although that card looks quite old and worn and I wonder if its colors had aged differentially when that picture was taken. But it's the only thing we've got, that I know of.

Greg says:

Yes. We have to make some assumptions, and that Kodak card is the best we've got. We can only assume it was good when the image was taken.

Ok, it seems LizardTech have one [a tool that extracts the highest quality image from the SID and converts it to a TIFF], called MrSIDdecode (how original is that?) :

Mind you, it just made a 70Mb tiff file from my 3Mb f1 SID, but it seems to work.

Berj says:

Ok, now making sense. All we need is vectors or whatever you want to call them into the TIFF file, and we have access to each matrix element (pixel's value) - we can transform each element and write it into a new TIFF file which differs from the source TIFF file only in the pixel data. If that's right, then that sure makes life easy. If we write the procedure as one, two, three do this do that in fool-proof fashion, then it shouldn't take long to get used to doing some innovative image processing.

Greg says:

..... That is indeed exactly how it works. For RGB for example the three numbers are one red, one green and one blue. These are called 'channels'. 24-bit colour is usually then 8-bits per channel (n=8 in your example), giving a range of 256 shades (0 - 255) in each channel, or 16 million total colours which can be represented. Obviously that cannot represent every colour, but for most things it is enough to fool the eye (hence this is also called 'True Color').

Really sensitive stuff is still done in B&W, where you can have the full 24-bit (say) range to represent shades, and if necessary separate images are taken in different coloured filters.

By the way, it looks like the MrSIDs use some lossy compression: the TIFFs show artifacts. This also fits with the SIDs documentation which says that above compression ratios of 2:1 it uses lossy compression, and 70Mb :3Mb is more than 2:1.

Berj says:

..... changing the sid to TIFF. Apparently you've concluded it shows that the sids have some noise - that of course is good to know.

Greg says:

Not so much noise, artefacts. Noise is random, artefacts aren't. These look like lossy compression errors. I've attached a little cropped image of a fragment of the TIFF [f1-artefacts.png]. Zoom in up on your screen (make sure any smoothing is turned off), and you can see these horizontal and vertical structures which are about 5x1 pixels which are all darker or lighter than the surroundings, often with a neighbouring block in the same line which is the opposite. These are non-random artefacts, probably due to lossy compression in the SID, but they may have been introduced during processing at an earlier stage. The smooth looking area at the top is more normal, random noise.

Berj says:

The caution area remains the primary source file. The artifacts vs noise example image you show [f1-artefacts.png] is good, but me lacking familiarity with converting .sid to TIFF details, I woudn't know how those artifacts got in there. They are similar to the type of thing you see in some obviously doctored pictures.

Greg says:

Yeah. This is tricky. To me, they look like they could be lossy-compression artefacts, similar to what you sometimes see in JPEGs, but without knowing the compression algorithm used in SIDs it's impossible to be certain. They could be camera/scanner digitization or pre-processing artefacts, but high-end kit doesn't usually do that (for obvious reasons) unless the operator is an idiot and has set things up very badly. Similarly, they could also be due to postprocessing (after photography but before conversion to SIDs), but it's hard to see how. In postprocessing one would usually expect one of three things: sharpening, blurring or contrast enhancement, none of which look like that. One would hope that they're not due to the conversion to TIFF, as that should be a straight 'extract pixel; write pixel' procedure, but we can check that by looking closely at the SIDs.

Berj says:

But I'm unclear on: what was the original format when the Beinecke pictures were taken - was it immediately sid's ?

Greg says:

Unknown, but it is very unlikely that it went straight to SIDs. SIDs are a presentation format, like JPEG, rather than a registration format. If they used a digital camera then most probably either RAW (a catch-all for a straight bitmap dump from the camera's image sensor) or TIFF; professional cameras don't save to JPEG because of the losses. If they used film and scanned it then probably TIFF. As I said, it's a standard format :)

They may mention how they made the images somewhere on the Beinecke pages.

Berj says:

Assuming they don't - this is a highly technical question, and presumably buried in some engineer's / technician's files somewhere. Can we find out somehow? Perhaps knowing nothing more than the camera/ scanner make & model will allow us to get the answer.

Greg says:

Well, I was actually thinking that Beinecke might have mentioned that they took the pictures with an 'AcmeCorp SupaImage 990' or whatever, and we could then go to the manuals and calibration sheets for it which are often available on the web from the manufacturer. I doubt Beinecke would give more details than that, unfortunately. I also doubt that we'd have any more information about any processing done beyond the actual image taking and conversion, as that would be specific to the particular job and buried in any operator's notes or whatever.

Berj says:

Once we have [vectors to] those [pixels] matrices [in the source TIFF], we should be able to get a routine down where we operate-transform pixels in the matrix, and then see what the result looks like as a processed image. Yes?

Greg says:


Berj says:

Greg, I'm wondering if a simple experiment can give you more info on the artifacts:

1) Take a .sid image, and using some paint program paint it all gray in max available 2^n color resolution.
2) As you did before, convert it to TIFF.
3) Blow it up and see if you get artifacts.

We really must have a pretty good idea on this procedure before we embark on processing masked little glyphs and reaching conclusions about what the processed images show.

Greg says:

Give me a paint program which can write SIDs :)

It may be that the decode tool will convert both ways, or I can find another tool on Lizard's site which does. In which case some kind of iterative procedure will show up if there are any errors being introduced. I'll look around.

Berj says:

When we've got it down to a one, two, three ..... procedure, ......... maybe something like this:

1) specify source TIFF
2) specify vectors to the matrix in the TIFF
3.) user specifies EXACTLY the mathematical operations on the matrix elements
4.) transformed pixels are saved into a new TIFF that is otherwise a copy of the source TIFF

Greg says:

Well, 1,2,4 are easy enough. 3 is tricky, and rather depends on what software people want to use. Simple stuff like colour separations, brightness, contrast, colour balance, various filters etc can be done in Gimp straight away (it reads TIFFs).

If we want to get really deep, though, then it's going to be writing own code, or working within ImageJ (possibly writing plugins like Gabriel's), or working with a dedicated mathematical analysis program like Matlab or IDL (or their free equivalents Octave and GDL). The last option is the most powerful, but obviously the least accessible. ImageJ and/or IDL is probably the route I will eventually go down, but I'm familiar with the stuff.

Berj says:

Of course! Math operations need not be intimidating - it could be nothing more complex than subtracting the source image from a constructed reference image: pixel's value subtracted from reference pixel's value, and result stored as the new pixel value.

The key to make this a standard image processing procedure is the one, two, three ... steps - so that anyone, even mathematically average people, can use it, or at least fully understand the essentials, and so that finally there is a standard in the Voynich image manipulations.

Greg says:

I think this [" The key to make this a standard image processing procedure is the one, two, three ... steps - so that anyone, even mathematically average people, can use it, "] is where the problem lies. Anything powerful enough to be really useful is going to involve some tricky learning. Even the GIMP can be difficult, and here we're talking heavy-duty, often text-based scientific software, not clicky image-editing programs. Certainly within the grasp of all the current J.VS members, and the likes of Stolfi, Jacques, Landini. But probably out of reach of many others without some technical aptitude and training. It's not that the maths may be complicated, it's that getting to the point where you can do the maths that you want in these programs is hard.

Which of course is no reason not to do it :) If I did this in IDL, say, and posted instructions to everyone how to go about it I'm sure all of us on J.VS could easily follow them.

[..... there is a standard in the Voynich image manipulations.] Yes, we need this.

Dennis [commenting on possible future imaging of the VMS] says:

What is the absolute best format and lighting conditions ( front and back ) to digitize the image(s) - can they also be taken with IR and UV?
How does one minimize "print-through" when photographing?
Politically, what would it take to get the pictures re-digitized?

Berj says:

Quite true Dennis - when we say RGB we still have not shown the spectral calibration curves. But to get right to the crux of your point (in my view): things like Jan's hypothesis-based-on-offered-evidence, that intentional masking of original information was applied in places in the manuscript - thus complicating the overall mystery, are an accumulation of progress that will gradually build into the political will to do another round of imaging of the VMS. Beinecke's SIDs revealed a whole lot of new stuff including Jan's observation. Lets see what we can do so that by the time of the next round of imaging, there will finally be in place a standard of Voynich image processing to everyone's advantage.

There is a great deal of unresolved material, for example the question of the smudges all over the folios - are some of them, like the ones on the right edge of f11r, fingerprints, and if yes, then are they ancient or recent, are they male or female, and how many different ancient fingerprints are there? And, are any of the ancient fingerprints similar to any possible ancient fingerprints on Fr. Kircher's letters?

We do need good standardized image processing procedures.

[end of redacted off-J dialog to mid-afternoon 10 OCT 2007]

Berj / KI3U

From: Berj N. Ensanian
Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2007 09:59:58 -0400

Subject: J.VS: Image Processing challenges: some hidden Voynich "faces"

Dear All

I've submitted to our Librarian Greg deposit # 12-1-2007-10-12 consisting of six image crops from the Voynich ms .sid images. I think the picture areas represented by these crops are good challenges toward developing image processing techniques and standards as we've been discussing (J.VS communication #102).

The challenge is: are these indeed faces that the VMS illustrator intended, or something else, perhaps accidental or manuscript aging artefacts, or even just subjective "seeing a face" in ambiguous image data?

The six images, along with some names I made up for them, are:

"Mr. Flower"

"The Ghostface Terror"

"Mr. Snooper"

"Sir Greenleaf"

"Miss Pharma"

"The King"

The filenames include the corresponding VMS folio number. If an "x" appears in the filename, it means there was some random image processing done, but in no case does it matter because the correspondence in the original .sid source images is readily apparent.

I think some of them were indeed consciously intended by the illustrator to suggest a face, for example: Mr. Snooper.

Most difficult to decide upon is "The King". I've tried many different random image processings, and many of them have me leaning toward the conclusion that there is a face there, a profile looking to the left, although it may have come about as an artefact. If it is indeed an intentional King, then which one? The complete f37v herbal illustration, of which The King is a crop from the "chest" of the plant's root, could suggest, symbolically, a beheading. So then, is the King the English monarch Charles I, who was publicly executed in 1649?

A good standardized image processing procedure would make it much easier to discuss this "The King" feature and dispose of it quickly if it were of no major direct relevance to the 9RMS mystery.

Berj / KI3U

From: Berj N. Ensanian
Date: Sat, 13 Oct 2007 21:02:29 -0400

Subject: J.VS: Leodog and The King (Was: Image Processing challenges: some hidden Voynich "faces")

Dear All

In communication #103 I admitted how the most difficult to decide upon (between intended hidden image vs something else) of the Voynich hidden faces, was The King in f37v. The King is on the chest of an anthropomorphic plant root in the f37v illustration. As we know, there are some duplications between the herbal and pharmaceutical sections, and indeed this anthropomorphic root also appears in the pharma: in f102r1.

I decided I had better go back to the f102r1 version of this root and have a much closer look than before. Sure enough, this time biased with knowledge of The King, I immediately saw a hidden drawing in the chest of the f102r1 root that had escaped me earlier.

It is the face of an animal: to me it appears either as a lion, or a dog, looking directly at us, possibly with a bone sticking out of the left side of its mouth, and for sure some sort of piece of cord or blade of grass coming out of its mouth rendered in black.

I've sent to our Librarian Greg two pictures of "Leodog", as I've named this apparation, as an addendum to the already existing J.VS Library deposit # 12-1-2007-10-12 (which contains the images of the other hidden faces discussed in comm. #103). The two Leodog images are:

2cf102r1.jpg which is simply a crop, from the .sid source image, of the chest area of the f102r1 root.

x2cf102r1.jpg is 2cf102r1.jpg processed in IrfanView as follows:

Brightness = -86
R = 57
G = 99
B = 60
Contrast = 105
Gamma = 1.03
Saturation = 0

These two pictures are suitable for blinking: it will be seen that the raw unprocessed image shows Leodog unambiguously, although very faintly.

Now, it could be that Leodog is not an intentional drawing, although to me it certainly appears more so than the still more mysterious King. If Leodog is real, then Leo being a common symbol for a male monarch, The King gains some in favor of being real himself, it seems to me, via the linking of the same root illustrated on the two different folios.

Another thought I had was that perhaps the drawings are real, but had little or nothing to do with the Voynich ms, and the parchment was simply cleaned and re-used for the VMS at some later time, but still bearing traces of the original drawings. But the excellent placement of Leodog and The King in the chest area seems to weaken this thought. I lean toward thinking they are planned components of the world's most mysterious manuscript.

Finally: when I was trying out different image processings, several times it seemed to me I could discern a second picture: simultaneously there appeared Leodog, and around the right side of his head also the profile of a human face looking to the left, just as The King. I decided that was complicating things at this stage, and it was better to first capture Leodog so as to give his apparition a chance at reality in open court.

Is Leodog real? I don't know - we need that standardized high power image processing procedure we've been discussing. These hidden faces, coming on the heels of masked glyphs, are as Robert suggested, an apparently whole new layer of the Voynich manuscript, one that none of us went looking for - this whole new layer just suddenly appeared! It is as if there is a message here from the VMS author(s): there is even more to this mystery than meets your already very mystified eye!

And this: if indeed, somewhat like modern video-map bit-planes, there is a hidden Voynich manuscript, or even several hidden Voynich mss, underneath the familiar one, then the notion: that the Voynich text is some non-message-bearing hoax, moves in the direction of unbelievable. Because, nobody with that much subtle creative intelligence would have wasted the text on meaninglessness.

Berj / KI3U

From: Berj N. Ensanian
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2007 14:14:18 -0400

Subject: J.VS: Discussion: Master miniature illumination artwork steganographically concealed in low-level art

Dear All

Following below [1] is the redacted off-J discussion that we carried on 14-15 OCT 2007 subsequent to J.VS communication #104. Hopefully I have produced an accurate edit record. The spectrum of the discussion ranges from minute details to global significance in Voynich studies. In the below record the discussion participants, in order of first appearance, are J.VS members: Berj N. Ensanian, Greg Stachowski, and Jan Hurych.

Briefly, here is a list of the background items to all this:

1.) Directly relevant precursor J.VS communications are #99, and #101-104.
2.) The essential theme is steganographic aspects of the Voynich manuscript, beginning with Jan Hurych's theory of intentionally masked text glyphs in the ms.
3.) Advanced precision standardized image processing procedures and protocols - currently an ongoing development by Greg Stachowski.
4.) Robert Teague's conjecture that a hidden VMS exists within the familiar overt VMS.
5.) Seven examples of variously steganographic "faces" within the VMS, named: Mr. Flower (f24r), The Ghostface Terror (f40r), Mr. Snooper (f75v), Sir Greenleaf (f87v), Miss Pharma (f102v1), The King (f37v), Leodog (f102r1). Additionally, there is a tentative noting of "eyes" in the "icecube" of f102v2. {Miss Pharma appears as if she is reacting to a shoe kicking her back, attached to a "leg" emananting from a prickly / spiked complex of herbal "roots" immediately to the left.}
6.) The King is potentially the most-far-reaching-significance object - if it is real, that is if it was intentionally rendered. It appears as a 3D left-facing profile portrait of a massively crowned and very distinguished-looking bearded man. If it is real, then it is a master's miniature artwork, and its mystery, and the mystery of the Voynich manuscript, is raised to a new higher level on account of The King being steganographic master miniature art embedded within low-level art.
7.) Leodog is a face of a lion or dog, or a synthesis of lion and dog faces.
8.) The King, being on an herbal illustration page, and Leodog, being on a pharmaceutical section page, are linked, and thus possibly mutually supporting as to their reality, on account of both appearing in the "chest" of an identical and dramatically rendered anthropomorphic plant root.

In sum, the main issues are: the possible existence of a hidden Voynich ms embedded within the familiar VMS, and including among its features an independent dramatic and spectacular discipline in its own right: master art, in particular master miniature illuminations, steganographically embedded within low-level art.

Berj / KI3U

[1] Discussion off-J over 14-15 OCT 2007 concerning Leodog and The King, and the general theme of steganographic master artworks.

Berj says:
It still remains to be seen what Leodog actually is: a real intentional drawing, an accidental artefact or whatever. And if real, was it meant to be part of a hidden VMS, or was it just from re-used parchment or something?

As for The King, it seems the only British monarch that could really look as distinguished as The King is: Alfred the Great.

Greg says:
I'm as yet undecided on the Leodog. I'm willing to accept that you're seeing something, but I haven't yet decided whether I can or whether what I can see is what you see.

Berj says:
I keep wondering, upon the assumption that the hidden faces do in fact point to a hidden vms, if somewhere in the hidden vms there is a detailed portrait of the vms author(s). That would be something!

Jan, the blue cube in pharma f102v2: I see now that it has a pair of eyes! Interesting. Do you suppose the cube could symbolize a book, specifically the vms, and the eyes mean to say something like: look closer!

Jan says:
As for cube it is a mystery to me as is the castle. ....... Now you mentioned that I am reminded of the book by professor of Mohawk college in Hamilton (I forgot his name) named "Subliminal Persuasion" (or something like that) where he claims that the ads for whiskey showing ice cubes are no photographs but actually painted and with a little observation we can see in them some mostly skulls - which is apparently the subliminal message of fear that makes people drink more :-).

Berj says:
Actually I had never thought of the cube being an icecube - hmm! Why not? Subliminal skulls on fake ice cubes to sell whiskey - it is remarkable the stuff that comes up in VMS research discussions!

Jan says:
The miniature: if we look at real size of the VM (9 by 12") shown by Beinecke as "Large", it is amazing how small some details in the picture are. Especially the hidden numbers at f102v2 are really extremely small. This may suggest the use of magnifying glass. How about that?

Berj says:
Oh yes definitely - I have been assuming that.

I want to point this out concerning Leodog: both his eye sockets are triangular (apex down) and about the same size. All in all Leodog - as I am seeing him, is a remarkably accurate image of a lion or dog, and if he is accidental, then that needs explanation. If he is real, then I think he was mainly sketched with the same brown paint as the fill over the chest which covers him, but Leodog was sketched with some sort of stylus.

Greg says:
There is another element to this discussion: how much of it is deliberate insertion of ideas, and how much is play. In some cases, the author is clearly drawing a face as a premeditated part of the image: the most obvious being the faces in the moons in the astro section. In others, such as several of the ones Berj has put forward, it seems to me he might be playing. Sometimes when, working something out on paper I make an idle squiggle which maybe suggests a profile, and which I then whimsically work into a face (sometimes I actually keep these, as they are amusing). Perhaps the author was doing that here? This could be the case with 'Mr Snooper' or 'Mr Flower'.

Berj says:
Yes very true. In the case of Mr. Snooper I definitely believe it is an intentional idea: he is after all at the end of a channel that connects to a bath gathering of ladies.

Greg says:
Ok. I've spent most of the evening playing with the Leodog, working from the TIFF. I can now see what you're looking at, and how it indeed resembles a lion. However, my feeling is that it is not deliberate, rather it is an accidental combination of the lines which outline the roots (forming the mouth/grass), fluctuations in the shading and the vellum surface. There does not seem to me to be any deliberate drawing beyond the lines which are required to draw the root itself. I suspect that 'the King' is also an artefact, but I haven't looked closely at it yet to make any judgement.

Berj says:
The King, if real, is a phenomenal piece of miniature artistic craftsmanship: the 3D aspect of it is amazing. The question is, can such a detailed 3D image arise accidentally in what would otherwise presumably be a random smearing of paint on the root's "chest"? Why are The King and Leodog relatively rare artefacts (if they are accidents) when there are loads of smeared paint fills throughout the VMS illustrations?

Greg says:
I have no idea what the statistics are on face-like images appearing accidentally in paint smears. I should imagine, though, that they _are_ quite rare.

[commenting on Leodog]: My judgment is just that, a judgment based on my experience. I can't _prove_ it's accidental. Comparing the tweaked image with the original, it seems to me that the lower parts are extensions of the pen-lines which outline the root's 'fingers' and the upper parts are just areas of increased density of the overlaying paint, consistent with brush strokes or flow.

Berj says:
That's what I meant when I said he was rendered with the same brown paint but a stylus for the purpose. He was rendered to be nearly invisible - to be noticed only by the most careful observer. Or he has faded / blended in over the centuries.

Greg says:
Just to make the point about the brain seeing faces, here's one [face2.jpg]. All I did was rotate it by a few degrees to get it level, crop it carefully, and very slightly adjust the contrast. In fact none of those were necessary, the 'face' is clearly visible in the original. As a matter of fact, it is a fragment of the clouds in the background of a picture of a WW2 P-38 fighter which I have as the backdrop on my laptop screen.

Berj says:
Greg it is really stretching it to call that cloud a face. Against that, The King, and Leodog, are unambiguous and bold. In my opinion.

Greg says:
What could be an eye [in Leodog] seems to be damage to the vellum surface.

Berj says:
But he has two eyes, both very, very similar, and placed perfectly for a face.

Greg says:
So does my cloud-face. ......... To paraphrase, two eyes don't necessarily make a face. So, I can't say it isn't definitively there. I cannot, however, definitively say that it _is_, unlike, say, 'Mr. Flower' or the moon-faces.

[commenting on The King]: As I said, I haven't looked at it carefully yet. It _looks_ amazing, but it could just be our brains 'seeing' a 3D image where none was intended. The human brain is conditioned to see faces.

Berj says:
True, but by itself that does not negate a "face" if it is a real face.

Greg says:
We haven't got a real face here, just an image which may or may not deliberately represent a face. Our brains are conditioned to see faces because that is useful biologically. Artists take advantage of that conditioning to convince us that we are seeing a real face where none exists, using just enough line, shadow or colour to trigger the conditioning. That this works also means that it can be fooled, by accidental arrangements of lines and shadows.

Besides, it doesn't fit: 'the King' exists only as a paint smear, there is no outline inking, and if it is real the sophistication outshines anything else in the MS by far, PM curve included. It would be master miniature painter material.

Berj says:
Right. I thought the same: the precision, if real, is astounding. The PM-curve was done with geometry / engineering instruments, which, once mastered, do not require artistic skill to produce high precision plots. But The King required an artistic genius even with excellent brushes or whatever was used for rendering instruments.

As Jan pointed out, likely a magnifying glass was used. However it is not at all unusual in the sense of a masterpiece of manuscript miniature illumination. It is just that it has been hidden that puts it on a higher level, if The King is real.

Greg says:
No, not unusual.

Berj [commenting on Greg's processed Leodog image] says:
Greg that image isn't bad at all. I've cropped out the essential area and put in labels to make sure we are all aligned on the geometry of the face [of Leodog].

Greg says:
Yes, we are. As I said, I agree that I can see something that looks like a lion; I just disagree that it is deliberate. Firstly, wherever the author has definitely drawn faces, they are outlined in ink.

Berj says:
So what? Those are the out-in-the-open faces. Here we are considering possible steganographic faces.

Greg says:
Granted. I would, however, argue that the farther the proposed steganographic image is from the style and quality of the rest of the manuscript, then the less likely it is to be real, without other evidence. We have to ask, would someone with the artistic skill to deliberately draw 'the King' refrain from placing any other image of similar quality anywhere else, steganographic or otherwise, or draw the existing images so badly? It is difficult to draw badly when you know how to draw well, because a good artist simply 'draws', it is not entirely a conscious process This is why I prefer the Leodog over the King.

However, without other evidence, this becomes one of those things which can never be decided until a solution is found to the whole manuscript. We have to agree to disagree.

Berj says:
Do you agree on - Currently and not set in concrete we've got concerning reality:
Leodog: Greg and Berj both vote: it is possible.
The King: Greg says it is an accident and not a real face. Berj says it is possibly real.

Greg says:

Secondly, the colour washes used throughout the VMS show variations of density and shading (normal for washes) which in all other cases appear random. In this case there is some variation which appears to form a face _after image processing_. The problem is, that image processing distorts the image, by definition, and always you have the question: is that really there, or is it an artefact of the processing? In this case it looks to me that the latter is the case.

Berj says:
Here we have a fundamental distinction in our attacks on the question. I have been thinking of the primary images - the SIDs and their TIFFs. The processed images have merely been an aid to help decide better one way or the other. If you do not see the faces right away in the unprocessed images, then of course you have to rule they are not real. But for me, all discussion about their reality refers to the original unprocessed images - as they were first noticed.

Greg says:
I couldn't see the Leodog in the original (or in your processed image), and it was only after a few hours of playing with processing the image that I saw it in the processed image and was then able to identify the corresponding features in the original. So this applies to me. And yes, I agree with [that] the processed images have merely been an aid to help decide better one way or the other.

It is not impossible that the author used a wash in his quill to draw the lion, waited for it to dry then washed over it again with the same colour, leaving only a faint imprint. As I said, I can't disprove that, but neither can I (or you) prove it, either. What I can say is that, given the evidence of the image itself, the evidence of other images in the VMS, and my experience in both image processing and drawing/painting, it seems to me unlikely that there is a real, deliberate image of a face there. If anything though, I would say the lion is more likely that the king, because the former is at least stylistically more similar to the rest of the images in the VMS.

Berj says:
Yes but if we went by that rule (stylistically similar) then similarly we'd have to dismiss at the outset the possibility that the f68r3 PM-curve is a precision plot of advanced mathematics (apparently concerned with astronomy) because, and to recall your own words: the PM-curve is anomalous. I am thinking exactly the same thing with The King: he is anomalous. Otherwise, the rule of stylistically similar just logically ends in dismissing the entire VMS as a garden variety late medieval quack herbal with the author's ultimately-unknowable personal idiosyncracies.

Greg says:
Which it still may well be.

The difference being, the PM-curve is plainly there, whereas 'the King' may or may not be there, in the sense of 'being' a deliberate depiction of a face in a patch of colour.

It comes down to the strength of the evidence and what one is prepared to believe. There is strong evidence that the VMS is not a garden-variety herbal. The unique text itself for one, the odd plants for another, which differentiate it form all other known herbals. There is weaker evidence that the PM curve is an anomaly, based on the fact that it fits suprisingly well to the actual apparent motion of the Moon on the sky, and appears to rather well represent that motion in a set of folios of otherwise undemonstrated (with all respect to Robert) astronomical accuracy. It could, though, still be no more than an idle pen-flourish. The evidence for the King being anything more than an odd patch of colour is weaker still, and rests solely on the fact that it looks somewhat like a profile of a distinguished face. There is no other supporting evidence at all.

Berj says:
Well on the PM-curve, as far as I know I have spent more time studying it than all others put together, and as you know a tremendous amount of my initial concerns with it were to determine if it was indeed a plotted curve, because analysis of it would require great time and effort, as it certainly did, and why get into all that hard work if the curve is not clearly showing signs of having been deliberately plotted. And it does show those signs - as I recall that was discussed on the old vms-list, in any case all that PM-curve material is in the J.VS Library anyway. I don't think, based on my study of it, that it is careful consideration to judge (which you don't) the curve as definitely an idle pen-flourish without spending as much effort studying it as I had in order to get some idea of why it appeared in the ms in the first place.

Greg says:
As you correctly point out, I'm with you in believing that the PM curve is more than an idle pen flourish. However, I am open to the possibility that one day the VMS will be translated and its folio fully explained without any meaning for the PM curve being found. I don't think that will be the case, but until I have more of the facts I have to, in all honesty, admit the possibility. When I have more time I hope to return to the PM curve and study it more fully, perhaps finding those facts and making certain.

Berj says:
At first I could not grasp what you meant, but on further thought yes, I agree that is a possibility. I think it is exceedingly remote though because I'm convinced that the PM-curve is the central feature of the f68r3 panel.

Greg says:
Me too.

Berj says:
We do in fact have in the manuscript an example of a mathematical curve rendered in the apparent manner of "idle pen-flourish" - there is that curve on the hello Descartes rectangular-coordinates-crosshairs on f87r that starts out as a sprouting of a Christianity-suggesting? cross from one of the plants's FOUR roots. And very interestingly, the f87r curve resembles the assymetric-cycle PM-curve: as if the drawer of f87r was thinking of a rotated PM-curve as a model, or at least wave-combinations curves as a model.

The f87r curve does not, that I can see, show signs that it was plotted, certainly its Cartesian reference frame looks like freehand. It could of course still be a transferred plotted curve - having been rendered with a template that itself was cut to a calculated or collected curve. But the point I'm trying to make here is that the f87r curve and the PM-curve are mutually supportive of the notion of reference-framed complex curves as a subject on the mind of the 9RMS author, and by analogy the f37v King on the anthropomorphic root, and Leodog in f102r1 on the same anthropomorphic root, are mutually supportive of steganographic art, and if that is true, then I think it most likely is art that is transmitting serious messages.

Greg says:
Yes, if we accept that both images exist, then there is some merit in this argument. I am not yet convinced of that, and if anything I lean against it.

Berj says:
It is after all interesting that Leodog appears like a combination of lion and dog: as if the symbolic message is: be loyal to your king!

Greg says:
Or, 'your king is a dog'? (in the derogatory sense) There may be more meanings than the obvious ones.

Berj says:
Well, yeah, I suppose. There is at least one ancient royal tomb somewhere in Europe incorporating the dog motif as I recall.

Greg says:
Dog, per se, or jackal? The jackal was the symbol of Anubis, god of the dead. Anyway, side issue.

Berj says:
Show an example that in its unprocessed version looks like a face, a face with similar precision in its details as have The King and Leodog, but a face which is demonstrably not a real intended face.

Greg says:
.....So what constitutes a face?

Berj says:
Ok I'd say here we are at a draw (pun intended :) - ultimately it is judgment, considered consensus judgment, whether or not The King of f37v is a portrait, an astonishing masterpiece at that. Because, even if we hand the decision task over to a computer that scans f37v and gives a yes or no, the computer program doing the analyzing still starts out with axioms.

Greg says:
Yes, it's a judgment call. The arbiter is, as ever in VMS studies, where does it lead us?

Berj says:
I think what I really want to get across here is this:

1.) What is known about the category of art that is defined by hidden / steganographic masterpieces embedded within apparently low-level art?

2.) What are the opinions toward the possibility that the Voynich manuscript, among its other remarkable attributes, exhibits 1.) ?

It seems to me that we might consider these questions as necessary context for understanding the true natures of Leodog and The King.

Greg says:
Yes. Very much so. I think it's [2.)] possible. If true, though, we've just upped the complexity of the problem by an order of magnitude.

Berj says:
Well, I think it is entirely possible to conceive, that it is in itself a valid artistic challenge: to render with unremarkable apparent-skill the bulk of a document, and release one's full artistic forces in steganographic insertions in the document. I contend that this is not at all a radical thought provided we allow the Voynich manuscript author(s) and / or artist(s) sufficient imagination, motivation, and cleverness. Don't you think?

Greg says:
Yes, this is possible. Also possible (perhaps more so) is the collaborative idea you mention a bit later, with a master artist using a work by a lesser artist as camouflage, with the knowledge or not of that lesser artist. In fact, following this line of thought further, it is possible that this could explain the otherwise apparently rather crudely applied overpaints. I have no opinion either way at this time, but it's a possible line of thought to file away.

Berj says:
Now that is interesting: the low-level artist unware that a master will be, or already is involved!

Greg says:
Well, it would seem to be the best way to keep it a secret. Any suspicion will naturally fall on the original author, the low-level artist, but if he doesn't know about the steganography, then he can't reveal it.

Berj says:
Well then, as you said, if these are indeed the realities then this raises complexities by an order of magnitude, so for that lets blame Jan for starting the ball rolling with his intentionally masked glyphs theory and Robert for raising the stakes to theorize the existence of a hidden VMS layer :)

Greg says:
Ok, I can do that :) All their fault! :)

[end of redacted off-J discussion to 15 OCT 2007 on the subject of steganographic master art in the VMS]

From: Berj N. Ensanian
Date: Sat, 20 Oct 2007 16:26:35 -0400

Subject: J.VS: Hypothesis: Voynich MS originates in the Court of Rudolf II

Dear All

In the standard popular history of the VMS the manuscript is associated with the court of Holy Roman Emporer Rudolf II, specifically it is postulated that some unknown person brought the ms to Rudolf's court some time before 1608, perhaps even to sell it to Rudolf for 600 ducats [1]. As we know, all sketched VMS history prior to around 1915 has serious problems with evidence, and following Jan Hurych it is prudent to distinguish between the Voynich ms and the Prague ms until they are clearly demonstrated to be one and the same. Nevertheless, it's probably safe to say that few would be sorry to see the standard history firmly proven in at least its general themes - it has much going for it, not the least of which is the manuscript's tight connection to Rudolf's fascinating court, where the infant scientific revolution and a general high patronage of the Renaissance arts brought a golden age into full flower around Prague before the disastrous Thirty Years War.

The recently emerging possibility of master work being steganographically embedded within the VMS's low-level art [2] has had me thinking that it may be useful to have handy a hypothesis that is essentially: the Voynich ms originates in Rudolf's court, possibly even as a result of a secret commissioning by him. Hypotheses are somewhat like reference frames in mathematics: a problem may be handled in different frames, but one frame may prove to be the best suited. I don't think it hurts us to have handy a "reference frame" which contemplates the VMS originating as a more or less secret project in Rudolf's court, variations being that Rudolf didn't or did know about it, and commissioned it. [3]

This hypothesis could explain the presence of a master artist in some of the VMS illustrations (assuming they become accepted as real as such) while also dovetailing nicely with the presumed VMS standard history.

For example: how did the VMS eventually get to the Villa Mondragone, not far from Rome? Well, perhaps after the Swedes looted Prague Castle as the Thirty Years War was ending the VMS was part of the booty and it got into Queen (actually King) Christina's (1626-1689) hands. Perhaps she even showed it to, and discussed it with Jesuit-educated Rene Descartes during 1649-1650 [4]. Then, as we know, during 1651-1656, Christina converted to Catholicism, abdicated the Swedish throne, and she relocated to Rome (and also France). Perhaps around this time she gave the VMS to the long-lived Jesuit mathematician and Collegio Romano professor Fr. Paolo Casati (1617-1707) who was a central figure in determining the sincerity of Christina's conversion. With the VMS in Paolo's hands the Villa Mondragone connection is easy to make.

Another example: when I read in a biography of Rudolf [5] this about his last days:

" Matthias gave him a pension and the possession of Hradschin castle in Prague. There Rudolf lived with his exotic animals. Soon his favourite lion and two of his eagles died. In the last months of his life Rudolf took to the bottle and in December he suffered from dropsy. On January 19, 1612, his condition deteriorated and the next morning he died. "

I was quickly reminded of Leodog, and also the apparently dead-drunk figure illustrated at the bottom of f66r.

But what about the master artist(s) possibly reflected in the VMS? This after all was the motivation for stating the Rudolphine VMS genesis hypothesis. From Rudolf's biographies we see that like his father before him, he patroned the Italian master painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1526-1593). Arcimboldo had a unique style of synthesizing portraits from objects like vegetables and books, and in that style he painted Rudolf as Vertumnus, the Roman god of the seasons, change and plant growth, and gardens and fruit trees - a famous painting looted by the Swedes. This Vertumnus painting, like others of its kind by Arcimboldo, is bizarre, and the Voynich illustrations are bizarre, and they share as vital elements: botanical objects.

In the hypothetical context we have plenty of latitude: we need not pin the apparently crude VMS illustrations to the hand of the master Arcimboldo himself. At this stage it is satisfactory to ask for contemplation: might the VMS illustrator have been directly influenced by Arcimboldo? Might such an influence have been directly fostered by Rudolf's court?

Needless to say, Rudolf's court had masters of various kinds coming and going in a what must have been a wonderful whirl of art, engineering, and science pursuits. Arcimboldo is just one possible influence, should it become established that the VMS does indeed contain master art, even miniature requiring magnifying lenses to produce, embedded steganographically within low-level art.

The purpose of the hypothesis is of course to motivate and guide research along lines that may produce interesting evidence. Thus, if the VMS originated in Rudolf's court, might we not see in the VMS an accumulation of Rudolphine influences?

Well I suppose the entire grand nine rosettes illustration of f85/86 could be contemplated as representing the Hradschin (Hradcany) being that it is after all the world's biggest castle. However, I'll give the Rudolphine VMS genesis hypothesis a much more modest and less difficult-to-compare initial endowment: a comparison between a beautifully crafted Rudolphine pineapple Pohar, the J. Marquart Ananasovy Pohar [6], and one of those VMS pharmaceutical section "jars", specifically the object that is the bottom one of the column of four of them on f89r2. I don't know what this Pohar was used for - perhaps a fancy cup for serving ice cream or some such dessert? We do see in the VMS at least one plausible suggestion of a pineapple - the plant of f11v - as VMS illustrations go I'm sure this one has been contemplated before as possibly a VMS-illustration-style pineapple. I have sent to our Librarian Greg a comparison image of the Pohar and f89r2 object, Vms&Rudolf2PoharComparison.jpg, for deposit # 13-1-2007-10-20.

As in the beginning implied, a hypothesis is a working tool. I do think we can use a Rudolphine VMS genesis hypothesis, or whatever it should be called, and I don't think it will hurt to have it handy, if for no other reason than as a sort of filing cabinet for observations and evidences that may have affinity with it.

Berj / KI3U

[1] In the category of shortest succinct standard VMS history, we have the Section 1.2 in D'Imperio. It is only necessary to fill in the name "Georg Baresch" as the unkown person in her sentence about Marci inheriting the VMS some time before 1665 or 1666, and D'Imperio's history outline remains essentially up to date.

[2] J.VS communication #105

[3] I vaguely recall that Jan Hurych may have stated this in the past.
Searching VMS writings preserved online I've found only one instance along these lines, specifically a suggestion of the idea that the Voynich manuscript was done by Rudolf II himself personally:

The Asterisk* The Night Sky Live Project Bulletin Board:

Post subject: Hail Emperor Rudolph II and his manuscript?, Posted: Sat Jan 22, 2005 7:34 pm, Emperor's Secret Agent writes:

" Perhaps not a ransacked Manuscript dating from the 15th century but perhaps a collection of his majesty Rudolph II's own hand spanning the most reclusive and insane, eccentric years of his life?? E.G., this manuscript was in his Library? Perhaps Rudolph's outlet for his fantasies of being the mighty scientist and discoverer he never was... exploiting a self-fabricated language to hide the lack of details in his thoughts and descriptions?? The diary of a mad, unmarried emperor? "

[4] Considering the Cartesian-framed cuve of f87v (see J.VS comm. #105) we might even conjecture that one of the reasons Christina invited Descartes to Sweden was specifically to discuss the VMS with him. If indeed Descartes was aware of the VMS, he did not have long to tell others about it, even if he was not bound to keep quiet about it, because he soon died at the Swedish court, from penumonia we are told.

[5] A biography of Rudolf II:


From: Berj N. Ensanian
Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2007 22:52:37 -0400

Subject: J.VS: The VMS f3v Deathmask, the f76r text-mosaic portrait, The King, Rudolf, and more

Dear All

Below following [1] is the redaction of our off-J discussions since 17 OCT 2007 and communications #105 and 106. This time, experimentally, I thought I'd try to edit the record not just along one thread (e.g. steganographic images in the Voynich), but present several (not all topics) of the simultaneously occurring off-J discussions and communications. This gives a better idea of our actual working communications atmosphere, although it is a less smoothly running record. Reading it over, I'd say either editing approach has its pros and cons, but for this particular point in time of highly interesting new possibilities, I'm satisfied with this particular edit, and I hope you are too.

Our Librarian Greg has installed for me deposit # 14-1-2007-10-22 which is the two blinking images for the f76r text-mosaic possible-steganographic-portrait. Greg and I still have to get together on re-organizing the initial deposit of hidden faces, # 12-1-2007-10-12 where The King and Leodog and others are currently stored. And as you know we have a bunch of other clerical issues to take care of.

Berj / KI3U

[1] Multi-topic off-J discussions from 17 OCT 2007. Discussion participants in order of first appearance are J.VS members Berj N. Ensanian / KI3U, Greg Stachowski, Jan Hurych, Dennis Fedak / N3ZCK, and Robert Teague:

Berj says:
I've been puzzled by the crown on The King. It is massive. The details continue to amaze me, considering that basically The King is just approximately on the order of 1 centimeter on the f37v parchment. Just now I started seeing that his crown seems to resemble a castle! Anyone else think it is possible?

Greg says:
Hmm. Could you do a labelled diagram of the King, for the benefit of the rest of us?

Berj says:
Yes. I'll do it on the TIFF of The King I sent you - then they can be blinked. ...... Greg, attached are labeled pics for both The King and Leodog, along with updated metadata file [for J.VS Library deposit # 12-1-2007-10-12]. By the way, the castle-like crown of The King does resemble the Karlstein Castle from the picture of Karlstein that Jan sent. At this point though I haven't the foggiest idea what that could mean.

Greg says:
The face I can see, although I still think it is accidental, but a castle-crown? I'd sooner say there was a second face, where you have marked the neck, a boy or a woman perhaps. Nose, cheeks, hair: all there; at least as well as the rest.

Berj says:
If you remember, with some processings I thought there was a faces-montage in Leodog. But I let it go for the time being because it was too conditional upon processing, whereas Leodog by himself I can see without difficulty in the raw. The King, I can see him and his crown clearly without any processing also. What you are calling a boy or a woman in The King's neck area looks more like a bearded biblical figure to me, but again, the montage possibility is a higher-order effect if it is real, and we are still in the stage of trying to determine if the first order effect is real or imaginary.

The King's massive crown was a puzzle until I realized that it best resembles a castle - take another look at Jan's Karlstein picture, especially the central castle tower, for a comparison - not that necessarily it is Karlstein, or even necessarily a castle at all.

Greg [bringing attention to image processing on the Mona Lisa] says:
Of general interest:

Jan says:
Hi Greg, todays's CBC - through their correspondent in London Harry Forrestel - presented pictures of Mona with eyebrows (which were so far hidden) and another one of Mona with cute mustachio (I still believe that was a joke - Leo could have easily told Mona to get a shave first (Oh, Figaro, Figaro! :-)

Since some other scientific team already discovered that the eye positions and upper skull dimensions of Gioconda are almost identical to those in famous autoportrait of him when he was old, it would not surprise me if they find out that Mona is actually young Leonardo.

It brings me to the VM. Come to think of it, another technology, ultraviolet observation of artifacts, was commonly known in Voynich time already - it was used for checking of the identity of artifacts. Apparently he did not do any of those tests before his famous "signature" discovery.
Or maybe he did not see there anything first time? Well, we see it now :-)

Berj says:
Attached are two TIFF's of a crop from f3v, one raw - hcVMSf3v.tif, the other the processed raw - 1xhcVMSf3v.tif, although the raw may be the better, and the processed serving merely as a different view check.

Do you see what I see?

Assuming you see something organized, do you think it is intentional, or accidental?
I have begun to suspect that every page of the VMS, at least the illustrated pages, has masked and / or hidden imagery.

Dennis says:
I'm not convinced, that I see anything actually hidden: hcVMSf3v_3.jpg.

Berj says:
Although not necessary, at least not for me, it is easier to see it if the picture is rotated c.c.w. 15 degrees.
Anyway, since no-one else seems to see it, I've attached [L1xhcVMSf3v.jpg] a labeled version of the processed image - can be blinked against the first two I sent. The object is a considerable part of the left and upper portions of the blue flower bulb, and to me it appears unambiguously as either a death mask, or a sleeping face.
That it is an accident, would to me be incredible.

Dennis says:
Ok now.
I had originally thought the mouth to be a drop of fluid which dripped onto the original, and discounted any further shading variations in the area.

Berj says:
Good. Each new face that gains consensus as to its reality reinforces the possibility that The King is real. The manuscript's illustrations are loaded with faces and even other hidden or subdued details - I find more of them every time I look. I think the reason I did not notice these before is because I had mentally operated under the long traditional bias that the Voynich is mainly crudely drawn herbal illustrations. Apparently this bias, inherited from the long established standard view of the ms, had blocked me from seeing the true nature of the illustrations. I have now put my mind into a state where I disregard the inherited-from-previous-traditions bias that we are viewing crude herbal illustrations.

My stock of found faces etc. is growing. Attached is another example, a processed image cropped from f24v [1xcVMSf24v.tif]. Again, the raw f24v shows it well and the processed pic is just to save time showing it to you. I call it: The 9 Schnazbrothers. If you don't see them immediately, look at the center bottom leaf first - the embedded face is looking out directly at us. All nine of the Schnazbrothers are projecting different expressions - as if the artist meant to illustrate a catalog of human emotions. The Schnazbrothers are crude compared with The King. However I have found a couple of more faces with the technique of The King. So far, The King is still the supreme achievement, and it may be that the artist was developing his technique in the manuscript's pages.

Greg says:
Hmm. It just suddenly occurred to me to try something: I blurred all your images and, lo and behold, it becomes much easier for me to see the faces you're seeing: the lion, the king, the castle and this mask thing. I think that's the answer to your previous question.
By the way, I've included an image [TheKingVMSf37v-blurred.jpg] of the king with the king, the boy and the castle-crown outlined roughly.

Robert says:
Years ago here in Atlanta there was a billboard with an ad for spaghetti, and people could see the face of Jesus in it. I could see it too, but found it no more real than other stuff people see.

Berj says:
Possibly it was intended for the local market by the ad agency that created the billboard. Similar to Jan's skulls in whiskey ice cubes. That is to say Jesus sells spaghetti and skulls sell whiskey. Something about that seems proverbial :)

Anyway more seriously, I have indeed been thinking that The King is The Shroud of Turin of the Voynich manuscript, and have been pondering if instead of a wordly king, that f37v image is actually intended to portray Jesus Christ. I lean toward it being a wordly king, especially since I believe The King is tied in with Leodog, but I've been convinced for a long time that behind the VMS there is a strongly Christian tendency.

Greg says:
I think saying we have 'consensus ' is going a bit far.
I am still of the opinion that you're reading more into this than is there. I can now 'see' the king and crown easily, but is that real or the power of suggestion? We should figure out some way of doing a blind test of this. Also, I would be more convinced by a number of supposed images of the same scale and style than each one being different, and even more convinced were they linked by some logical common thread.

I see where you're getting the 'death mask' from, but again I am sceptical. These new leaves I don't see at all. Perhaps I need to stare at them for longer.

Jan [commenting on Rudolphine VMS genesis hypothesis] says:
Hi Berj, I once checked connection of the VM with Rudolph's mad son Julius d'Austria, see:

While there is no real conclusion, there was surely several manuscripts originated in Rudolph's court alone. I was told about the above suspicion by one Czech, but he could not remember where or how he got it.

Berj says:
Yes I think that's it Jan - as I mentioned in the footnote I had a vague memory of hearing the basic idea from you back sometime. Actually it is surprising that the idea of the VMS being born in Rudolf's court, or the court's immediate aftermath, has not had any serious consideration. I could only find that brief post in the Night Sky Live Project forum.
After all, if the VMS is weird, there surely was plenty of weirdness at Rudolf's court. That story of his crazy son is a real sad one.
Btw, Egidius Sadeler engraved a portrait of Rudolf and he also did the one of Krystof Harant.

Jan says:
At time of Rudolph, the city of Prague was very weird but also very supporting for any research, even church representatives did not want to oppose him. After all, Prague became a scientific center of Europe, being the seat of Emperor and all. For instance: Hajek created the very first star observation center with Brahe and Kepler, many painters and sculptors grew there and also alchymists, physicians, kabbalists and so on. There is an old story about statue of Golem, created at that time by Rabbi Lowe, apparently the first "robot". Dee went to Prague to continue his studies and other business (say spying for Elizabeth). I am still puzzled with his flying bug, but apparently it was wittnessed already in England. Drebbel demonstrated there his "perpetuum mobile" and temperature controller. I guess this was also a very fertile atmosphere for other things, say for the birth of the VM.

The scientists there knew German, Latin, Czech and apparenly also Spanish. If somebody wanted to hide his new discovery against competition, and still wanted to write about it, then the strange script and encoding was definitely a must.

Berj says:
I lean more toward the idea that the VMS script was a development of some sort of scientific communication / language, like a "universal language", rather than merely a cryptographic mechanism. If it was the former, then it would automatically have cryptographic properties.

Robert says:
Since there was recent discussion about the cans and heraldry, here's a chart [ZodiacVMsNymphCanDistribution.GIF ] I just made that might be of interest.
Greg, would you please add it as a Library contribution? Thanks!

Berj says:
Now that is indeed an interesting new perspective Robert - a cumulative cans map of the zodiac section! It would appear that cans pile up around Aries - never realized that.

Jan says:
Yes, that is the question: what was first - the chicken or the egg? I mean what was the primary object: just to communicate by better, say "scientific" language or to communicate but in secrecy. Actually, I think "voynichese" can easily serve both purposes at the same time.

I am inclined to believe that you might be right [that the VMS text is a created artificial scientific language]: we know for instance that natural language is not the best communicator. Say the English language - it is actually the mixture of three languages, and however simple and quick it is for verbal communication - it takes kids 5 years to learn the spelling. Latin on the other hand is easy to write ( for Continental Europeans, that is :-) but kids may spend 5 years in learning the declination and various verbal tenses.
For our lingusts, it may sound like heresy.

Berj says:
Well, ....... the hypothesis that the VMS text is an obscure lost Asian dialect written in an invented alphabet - fine, but why then not go to the next step: as an experiment create / invent an "Asian dialect" that makes sense out of even just one short VMS paragraph - for the experiment it does not need to "decode" the paragraph at all, it merely needs to work with its text and make sense from beginning to end. I have not seen any attemts to do such an experiment - have you? It would seem to be the thing to do to add some weight to the Chinese or Asian natural language-dialect theory.

Jan says:
One needs to be expert in Chinese or any other close language. Otherwise it would be just another exercise in futility. But the language experts don't go for it. Every research must start with homework and I think it is the only way to shorten the enormous time otherwise necessary.

Robert says:
I currently think the Zodiac is for 29 Dec 1615, the same night as f68r3, as I found a possible date of 1615 in the middle ring of text of Aries and Taurus Light.
More on this as it becomes available...

Berj says:
Let us suppose you are right, and the zodiac pages, or some subset of them are specific to 29 DEC 1615. Then, what is the VMS author's purpose with that? A comet, a birth of a monarch, a major historical event? And does the message integrate with other messages throughout the manuscript?

Robert says:
Well, I don't know the purpose yet. But I can say that some of the star labels on f68r1,2, and 3 can be found in both the Almanac (Recipes) section, and in the Zodiac.

Berj says:
Anyway, I've been finding faces left and right, varying greatly in technique and refinement, and designs. Some of them are so faded that if they are real, I wonder if paint aging - hundreds of years - is involved. I think there was a lot of experimentation - in some places it looks like text letters were written and then overwashed with the same color and the underlying text was basically ruined. I often wonder if the parchment was re-used: that the faces were studies on the originally blank parchment, and then later the parchment sheets were used for the VMS material.

Question: if the VMS was being created around Rudolf's time, was there any other place in Europe besides his court where one would find so many diverse high voltage types interacting, so that it would be natural that someone got the idea of embedding master art in low-level art?

Jan says:
I think Voynichland is full of people dreaming about solving the VM. Once in a while one of them gets an idea, carry it on and then he/she hits a snag, the wall. It is called facing the reality. ..... Nobody really dares to see what lays behind that wall.
Why? I tell you why: subconsciously, we are afraid that we might find the solution, which we will not like.

Berj says:
This I agree with. I have had the same view a long time. Sometimes the concept of "denial" seems very appropriate. Back during the PM-curve controversy on the old vms-list I felt that some of the attackers were in denial about the curve being most likely a plotted curve. I then invented the metaphor of "The Ostrich Club" to refer to them :)

With the faces in the VMS we have a more complicated situation. As Greg pointed out, the PM-curve is clearly there, but the faces come down to subjective judgment. In my view some of these faces are definitely real and were intended by the VMS author(s) / illustrator (s).

I have been finding a broad spectrum of hidden imagery and these include some different techniques by the artist. I have finally got what to me is a reasonable hint for a longtime major puzzle - why there is in f67v2 that RGB color-theory diagram - at least I cannot see any other way to think of that thing. Here's my reasonable hint (to myself - not trying to argue for it yet): I am getting the impression that the VMS artist experimented with color-painted art viewed through different color filters. As if that thing at the top of the f42v plant is a suggestion of wearing goggles. I'm getting indications, and this may be very difficult to argue for, that the VMS artist was experimenting with the production of hidden 3D effects, that become noticable only when the page is viewed through a color filter.

Some of the images are so faint that I too have doubts they are real, and I'm concerned that I am just selectively seeing patterns in random image data. Others are quite definite, but quite subtle and seem to be experimentations in a kind of abstract art: for example, I have a candidate for what seems to me to be a kind of Arcimboldo synthesis-style taken to an abstract level.

I'm wondering if I should present a list of the hidden images I have found along with brief comments. Greg mentioned considering some kind of blind test, but I can't think of anything productive, other than to say here is a list of folios - do you see anything hidden, and if so, what do you see? That could take forever due to the nature of the problem as well as people's interests and motivations. In my case I have been studying the Voynich pages since 1999 and only now I am seeing this hidden VMS layer.

I think of the dozen and a half or so hidden images I've collected so far that the f3v Deathmask is the most clearly real and intentional face. As it appears to me, the Deathmask is the death of any notion that there are not hidden faces in the Voynich illustrations. It seems to have almost photographic qualities and I have been trying to figure out how it was done - was some kind of magic lantern projector used to project onto the parchment an image of the face of an Egyptian mummy, and the light-image then used as a guide to paint, or what? And it is a miniature! What did it look like hundreds of years ago when it was fresh and before wear and tear? How was it done?

It is because I am seeing traces, at least traces, of Arcimboldo's influence in some of these hidden drawings, that I've thought it is useful, if not necessary, to have available a Rudolphine VMS genesis hypothesis. Presently, on account of the PM-curve, my favorite suspect for VMS conceiver, if not actual rendering author, is still Robert Hooke, but I am forced now, whether or not I like it as you say, to look back a bit earlier, and at least ask myself how much was Hooke influenced by Prague's golden age, and how much did he know of Arcimboldo? Hooke is still the only guy who seems to fit the bill for the entire spectrum of advanced mysteries in the Voynich - he started out as an art student, and to keep the Chinese hypothesists happy, we can even add that during his work on a universal language he was also studying Chinese.

So, Hooke still looks good to me, but I have to look back earlier to Arcimboldo. In fact I admit that these recent developments have caused me to frame the genesis of the VMS with Arcimboldo on the early end of the timeline, and Hooke and Kircher on the later end.

In one sense these hidden art possibilities are much more difficult to deal with than the PM-curve was. If a trial equation for the PM-curve showed that it had to be forced with ever more decimal places to match the actual PM-curve, then it was clear that the thought behind the trial equation was flawed, and a new thought was needed to be cast as a trial equation. But with these art objects we don't have that mathematical certainty of gauging the approach to exact matching by counting decimal places of precision. Are we seeing a hidden real face, and if so, what is going on with it?

Greg [commenting on searching techniques within GC's voyn_101.txt transcription] says:
Has anyone rebuilt the old interlinear file to include GC's transcription? That would be a good thing to do.

Berj [initiating a near-blind test for hidden imagery in f76r] says:
Attached are two images: a rotated-40-degrees-cw crop from f76r, and its negative, for blinking:


Do you see anything organized?
If yes, what is it that you see?
Or, Berj you are hallucinating.
The apparent size is critically important for viewing this: at my normal distance from the screen of ~75 cm, an adjusted picture width of ~9 cm is pretty good.
I ask only that you allow the possibility that experimentation MAY have been going on in the composition of f76r.

Greg says:
Oh, I see it. A face. Possibly attached to a body. A prehistoric ASCII-art 1950's pinup, even. Again, it helps to blur it slightly.

[concerning hallucinating these hidden images]: Or the VMS is a great cosmic joke. :)

Creating something like this deliberately would be difficult, but not impossible. It would mean though that the text was likely gibberish. I won't commit myself at this time as to whether I think it is deliberate. Again, my instincts say no, but a pinup?!?

Berj says:
r. What I am seeing is a guy's head/face with long hair and possibly slightly open mouth with an expression somewhat melancholy - he looks VMS period. He is 3/4 profile facing to the right. He has a thick eye-brow ridge. The top of his head may be abbreviated but with a towering projection in the middle.

Now we know what the apparently non-linear scripting and selective text touch-ups are all about!

There are more of these, but f76r is the clearest I've yet found. If you can do the outlining with your paint program like you did with The King, I'd like to see it.

Concerning the text being maybe gibberish, well that I admit was my first thought. My second thought was: hold on, not so fast - why bother with a strange alphabet and different grammars? Why not just fill in plain text fluff, even harmless herbal gossip? Also I'm not sure yet if all text bocks have hidden steganographic pictures - some definitely appear to be just what they look like: clean but strange text, say f20r - unless we are supposed to "connect the dots" (gallows maybe) to get some sort of line drawing. So like you, presently I'm still quite open to the text being multi-purpose: steganographic text-mosaic, connect-the-dots, some variation of those, straightforward cipher cryptogram yet to be broken, or simultaneously some combination of the preceeding.

It occurs to me the artist must have studied and experimented with inks if the selective "touch-ups" were to be part of the steganographic text-and-gaps mosaic technique. Also, if we had the image processing procedures codified (yes I know this isn't at all easy and you need time) I've got a candidate for a text-block that appears to project a really eerie three-dimensional big figure eight in certain colors - if real, then I imagine the artist was working with stained glass filters installed in some kind of goggles. Still it is amazing how this could have been done back then.

Robert says:
Sorry, all I see is text.
You know those black and white car tags that say "FLY"? For the longest time, I couldn't see the word "fly". All I saw was a jumble of black blocks. Then one day, it snapped into view. Now I can see it or not, as I choose.

Berj says:
Well like I said I was looking at the VMS all these years and not seeing them and not even suspecting them.

They have snapped into view.

[end of off-J discussions from 17 OCT 2007 to late evening 22 OCT 2007.]

From: Berj N. Ensanian
Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2007 17:40:59 -0400

Subject: J.VS: Faces: a major theme in the Voynich Manuscript, and VMS history considerations

Dear All

Greg and I have organized and brought up-to-date Library deposit # 12-1-2007-10-12 now holding 18 images of altogether 10 possible hidden / steganographic faces or faces-groups we've been considering in the manuscript:

1: 1cf24r.jpg (Mr. Flower)
2: 1xcf40r.jpg (The Ghostface Terror)
3: 1xcf75v.jpg (Mr. Snooper)
4: 1cf87v.jpg (Sir Greenleaf)
5: 1xcf102v1.jpg (Miss Pharma)
6: 1cf37v.jpg (The King)
7: 2cf102r1.jpg (Leodog)
8: x2cf102r1.jpg (Leodog)
9: L2cf102r1.tif (Leodog)
10: TheKingVMSf37v.tif (The King)
11: LTheKingVMSf37v.tif (The King)
12: hcVMSf3v.tif (The f3v Egyptian mummy Deathmask)
13: 1xhcVMSf3v.tif (The f3v Egyptian mummy Deathmask)
14: L1xhcVMSf3v.jpg (The f3v Egyptian mummy Deathmask)
15: 1xcVMSf24v.tif (The 9 / Nine Schnazbrothers)
16: TheKingVMSf37v_blurred.jpg (The King; image version by Greg Stachowski)
17: cVMSf39r.tif (Rudolf's Court montage)
18: 1xcVMSf39r.tif (Rudolf's Court montage)

The last two images: one raw, and that raw randomly processed, are suitable for blinking, and I've dubbed the picture "Rudolf's Court montage". I'll introduce and discuss it here for the first time, below toward the end.

The two blinking images for the f76r steganographic text-mosaic portrait are in Library deposit # 14-1-2007-10-22. Although this too is a face, on account of it being formed from the text script and its gaps and therefore bearing greatly upon the critical question of just what is the Voynich text?, I thought it best to give it its own deposit, and then add other similar examples there. Down the road, once we have a much better survey of the kinds of steganographic pictures in the manuscript, we might re-organize the Library's collection of steganographic images. We'll see. [1]

Greg too had immediately seen the text-mosaic head-face in f76r, but thought it was a woman, an ancient pinup babe so to speak. I think the reason is because of the hair - which I described as VMS period - when men had long hair that bulbs out at the sides. Presently, off-J, we are experimenting with possible identifications of this f76r face, and thanks to a long running power of suggestion dynamic elsewhere from Robert, we have actually started tagging this face as "Copernicus", athough its jaw doesn't seem square enough, and I know of no solid clue to point to it being Copernicus. We'll see how it goes. In any case it is a phenomenal piece of clever, and obviously painstaking work, and it radically alters the traditional notions of the mysterious, seemingly un-crackable Voynich "text".

Of all the examples we have so far been considering, the f3v Egyptian mummy? Deathmask is the one that has me the most puzzled as to how it was done. By way of comparison, the masterpiece of The King, per our discussions, we can visualize coming about via a combination of artistic genius, great experience and technical skill and excellent eyesight, a good magnifying glass and special brush-tools, thorough familiarity with the behaviour of the employed brown paints and washes, and finally the choice of parchment rather than paper, to result in The King as we now see him hundreds of years (presumably) after he was rendered.

But the f3v Deathmask appears to me as something different. It is almost a miniature feature, about 2.5 cm compared with the approximately one centimeter of The King. The blue flower bulb that contains this face, and the stem that forms the mummy's royal-style beard appear to be ordinarily painted, but my impression of the face itself is that it is at least partly a transfer onto the flower bulb. What to me is most striking about it is its photographic quality - I remarked on this earlier, as recorded in comm. #107. How was it done?

Is it even remotely conceivable that back then, and one really has to wonder just when "back then" was, especially if this face's model really is an Egyptian mummy familiar to educated Europeans, that someone developed an imaging technique akin to photography? That perhaps someone discovered that a particular blue paint - the paint of the flower bulb the Deathmask is in, reacts to light, and they achieved image recordings, on parchment? Perhaps the paint reacted to direct infrared radiation and the Deathmask is a kind of direct infrared thermo-photograph from some sort of camera obscura? Much research into this would be required to see if any of this is plausible. Presently I am genuinely puzzled by this, and I readily admit the foregoing is fully subjective, except of course that the "Deathmask" face is unequivocal and intentional.

To me it is another disturbing instance in the ms that seems to completely go against all standard notions of VMS history, goes against even an origin in the later 17th c., and like the apparent f67v2 color-theory diagram, points to the late 18th and early 19th centuries, when photography was being developed (!) and Napoleon had Fourier handling the science in his (Napoleon's) expedition to Egypt, and Fourier was opening Champollion's eyes to possibilities that would eventually get the youngster cracking on the Rosetta Stone. The notion that the VMS was made in the 19th c. is fringe, usually considered in theories that has Wilfrid Voynich and his artisans preparing the ms as a hoax, but around the time of J.VS comm. threads #57 and #69 Jan and I did briefly consider a hoax and / or non-hoax 19th c. VMS origin: by the English Strickland family of Jesuits associated with the Villa Mondragone - they might have produced the book without any intention of hoaxing, the book became lost during the Risorgimento upheavals, and was later found by someone who might either have forged Marci's "last" letter to create a provenance, or happened to also have the Marci letter and stuck it into the VMS thinking that the two must go together legitimately. Speculations.

While I was trying to figure out the Deathmask, it naturally occurred to me to see if I could discern clues on the other side of the parchment, folio 3r. Looking there on f3r at the upper left of the page, the Deathmask is visible on account of the thin parchment and / or bleedthrough. Otherwise the situation is confusing - I had a sobering encounter with phantom effects - in the x8 image I thought I could see another face, full front view staring out directly at us, and with its mouth perfectly aligned with the Deathmask's profile mouth on the other side. On account of this face looking like it had big circles framing its eyes I thought of it as "f3r Goggle-man". Going to the high-resolution SID image of f3r, Goggleman disappeared, except to appear vaguely in only certain magnifications. Going to the best - the TIFF image, Goggleman is pretty much lost, except that I see possible indications of tiny parchment pressings or gougings, that in the most extreme liberal view of the matter would conceive that Goggleman was an attempt to ever-so-faintly "engrave" a face on parchment.

In sum, Goggleman changes dramatically depending on image processing and magnification, ranging from vanished, through ambiguous patterns, through a human face to a bizzare alien face. All this underscores the difficulty of investigating these hidden-VMS-layer pictures, and using the best available high-resolution images, while trying to assess what level of magnification the artist might have been using. Ultimately it will be necessary to examine the actual physical parchment of Beinecke MS 408 in good filtered light and with several different magnifying glasses and eyeloops.

We have been discussing the problem of subjectivity and the difficulty of good blind tests. For one thing, merely stating openly the possibility of steganographic pictures in the VMS, automatically unavoidably starts the power of suggestion. As I mentioned in comm. #107, I do definitely believe there was long operating in Voynich research a kind of negative power of suggestion that prevented these hidden images from being noticed: the VMS illustrations were deemed crude herbal variety drawings. Not to mention the well entrenched from-day-one myopic research focus on deciphering, or reading, the text.

But The King is unequivocally a strange feature in the manuscript, and therefore, regardless of whether or not he is real in the sense of being an intended artistic depiction of a face, his question is definitely real: just what is this remarkable feature? And it seems that the wide opened mouthed "Little Greenface" just above The King [2] is reinforcing the impression: Oh yes definitely, The King is real! Long live The King!

Thus, at this point, I can already entertain that one of the major objectives of the Voynich manuscript was to present an entire spectrum of faces. We certainly have hundreds of them with the overt plump naked ladies, and in communication #70 I considered in detail the aspects of six VMS sisters in f81r, and much of my analysis was based on their facial expressions. For what it's worth:

A major theme in the Voynich manuscript is the realistic, as well as the caricatured presentation of the spectrum of faces, primarily human, but also including animal, and chimerical.

Do we know of an artist "back then" who was peculiarly concerned with faces and expressions? When you consider the rather limited spectrum of facial expressions seen in some of the multi-person scenes painted by the Renaissance masters, the economically rendered spectrum of faces of the six VMS sisters of f81r is impressive, in my opinion.

Finally, let me introduce the "Rudolf's Court montage" of f39r. It is a montage of faces rendered by the same technique as was The King, but it is embedded within blue paint, and from my studies so far, the blue paint may have been more of a challenge for this kind of art than the brown paint of The King. Just before I randomly chose f39r to explore for stego pictures, I happened to be browsing portraits of Rudolf II, and when I found this f39r montage, its central portrait face immediately reminded me of a mannerist caricature style, massively joweled sour-puss expression Rudolf with a Tycho Brahe mustache, and so "Rudolf's Court montage" popped into my mind as a label for this example. Perhaps unfortunate power of suggestion - it may not have anything at all to do with Rudolf II, and if it is good enough in details to help zero in on a historic figure, this label might hinder us in that, but such are the quirks of investigating the world's most mysterious manuscript, now since recently stretching even that appellation as barely sufficient.

The f39r herbal illustration culminates at top in a blue-bodied flower. The blue portion of the flower is roughly 2.25 cm in length. Within this span I see, placed vertically, a chain montage of at least six faces. By far the largest face, "Rudolf", occupies at least a third of the span, and is situated a bit off-center, up, and to the right. Rudolf is 3/4 profile, facing to our left. He is caricatured to resemble a pig-face. Curiously, the top-most face, looking directly out at us, also gives an even stronger pig-face impression with its pig-snout nose (although it might be a dogface). If this montage represents a royal court, then we must ask: was one of Europe's courts especially labeled as a court of pigs? A kind of early precedent to Orwell's Animal Farm?

Between the top pigdog-face and Rudolf there may be two faces, but for sure at least one, that somewhat resembles an ancient hair-haloed Santa Claus of sorts, or better, a Lon Chaney Jr. Wolfman, facing us directly. To the right of Wolfman is something resembling Schliemann's mask of Aggamemnon, profile of its left side, and tilted upward. Beneath the massive jaw of Rudolf is a face aligned horizontally, a profile facing upward - to me it resembles an ancient Greek drama mask - the unhappy version. Near the bottom and at the left edge, is a profile face, its right side, tilted and gazing downward about 45 degrees from the normal vertical. To me this face looks like it could have been copied from an ancient Greek vase - it just looks like an ancient Greek, and it is one of the more pleasant faces from among all we've been considering - he appears philosophically contemplative.

Rudolf and the Greek are by far the easiest to see, in the raw TIFF - there is no question whatsoever in my mind they are intentional artworks. And because the technique is similar, Rudolf reinforces for me the reality of The King. The others in Rudolf's court are faint, and when we consider the tiny sizes of these faces, we have serious problems judging their reality - for example, the pigdog at the top is on the order of 2 millimeters! By itself that is not at all unusual for a master in miniatures, as we've already said with The King. But this is a steganographic embed of such a small dimension, and with presumably ancient technological aids. So we can't really be sure one way or the other before having our rigorous mathematical image processing procedures in place, and without directly examining the physical VMS folio.

I am not sure, but among the faces I have been studying, I often get the impression that profile and frontal presentations are combined. In this f39r example Rudolf looks to me like he is a juxtaposition of profile and frontal, but delineated horizontally mid-face - a rather complex juxtapositioning. Another theme seems to be faces that are intended to project a man-animal or animal-man chimeras. I'll present more examples I've found, once I've had a chance to study them more closely and am able to describe them well enough for consideration.

Berj / KI3U

[1] The online portal to the J.VS Library is here:

[2] TheKingVMSf37v.tif or TheKingVMSf37vKI3U.jpg

From: Berj N. Ensanian
Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2007 17:09:16 -0400

Subject: J.VS: New blink pics: hypothetical steganographic handscript mosaic text-art portrait in Vms f76r

Dear All

Concerning Voynich ms f76r I've sent to our Librarian Greg, as an addedum to deposit # 14-1-2007-10-22, three new images for analysis of the hypothetical steganographic text picture in its upper half [1,2]:


These images are TIFF's suitable for blinking: blink1 is the raw Beinecke-source TIFF but rotated 40 degrees clockwise (to make the stego face assume a normal orientation), and blink3 is blink1 negatived.

The blink2 is a hand drawing by me, showing the bare minimum outlines of what I am perceiving in f76r, aligned with the other two images, as best as I could do it. I must emphasize that in f76r, both in its raw and the negative of it, I am seeing the head / face not as just an outline, but rather as a fairly three-dimensional object. Again, the solid angle of the stego face to your eye makes quite a bit of difference to the ease of seeing the effect, and for me what works well is to adjust these blink pictures to a full width of about 9-11 cm and then view them from a distance of 50-75 cm.

The outline drawing can also serve to reference what might be within the text block. Assuming you see something organized in f76r, roughly similar but not quite the same as the blink2 outline, then the blink2 outline can serve as an initial reference drawing, like a coordinate system almost, and be modified. Of course the text-word locations can also serve for location referencing of the face's details.

The drawing shows the voluminous hair of the person. I've thought that it also resembles those wigs that are worn in English courts. It seems also that the stego head is wearing a cap on top. There may be a second face juxtaposed with the main face - both sharing the prominent pupiled eye, which is the left eye of the other face, a frontal, appearing to me as a much older man than the main face, and much of his beard is the main face's big pile of hair.

So, is it real? To me it is, without question. I can see it plainly in the raw TIFF, and that has me wondering why it took so long to notice it - undoubtedly one reason is the approximately 40-degree upward tilt with respect to the text horizontal. It is a script-text version of text art - my own familiarity with that type of art is primarily from radio-teletype where some absolutely amazing 3D-illusion masterpieces were already circulating in the networks before World War II. Of course much later in the early computer days it was a popular art form again with the early plain-text printers.

But this handscript text-art, especially since it appears to be intentionally steganographic, can take full advantage of the flexibilities of hand scripting: everything can be variable to achieve the desired effect (by the experienced master): letter variation-shapes, gaps, freedom from ruled lines, selective touch-ups and perhaps even with different inks, non-linear composition, and so on. I'm sure there are more puzzles to be solved in this f76r stego picture: even though I can see it well in the raw, it becomes much, much better and impressive in the negative, and this makes me suspect that filter (stained glass) goggles were to be worn when reading the Voynich manuscript, that possibly the f67v2 color-theory diagram (as I call it) was even supposed to be some kind of calibration for that, and that the inks and paints were keyed to filtered light. All speculation at this stage, but rather natural speculation following from what I'm seeing in f76r, and so crudely trying to point out with the blink2 drawing. But I'd be genuinely very interested in considered explanations for: why nothing intentionally organized as a steganographic text-mosaic feature is present in f76r.

I happened to be thinking of old Trithemius, carrying on an imaginary conversation with him in my mind and asking him what he thought of all this, when I imagined that he replied reminding me to revisit J.VS communication #51.

Berj / KI3U

[1] The online portal to the J.VS Library is here:

[2] J.VS communications #107 and #108.

From: Jan Hurych
To: J.VS
Date: Sun, 28 Oct 2007 22:23:59 -0400


Hi Greg,

I just finished new article, this is the info:


28 OCT 2007
Meta-data for J. VS Library deposit: # 7-4-2007-10-28

This deposit contains an article investigatings the handwritings of persons connected with the VM history.


The article provides the comparisons based on factors used by forensic handwriting analysis. The conclusion is that none of the analyzed persons (Kircher, Marci, Baresch and Horczicky) could be proven to be author by handwriting only. Added is also the first hand comparison of Mnischowsky's handwriting and its similarity to the handwriting of the Horczicky's name in the VM is suggested. Further research is recommended.

In the form of one htm file: jbh5.htm


The article and pictures are zipped in one file and can be downloaded from:



From: Berj Ensanian
Date: Mon, 29 Oct 2007 21:50:01 -0400 (EDT)

Subject: J.VS: off-J discussions 23-29 OCT 2007: various topics

Dear All

Below [1] is the redaction of much of our off-J discussions from 23 OCT 2007 following comm. #107, and to this evening.

Berj / KI3U

[1] Redacted off-J discussions 23-29 OCT 2007. In order of first appearance are J.VS members: Berj N. Ensanian, Robert Teague, Greg Stachowski, Jan Hurych.

Berj says:
Greg had immediately seen the text-mosaic head-face in f76r, but thought it was a woman. I think the reason is because of the hair - which I described as VMS period - when men had long hair that bulbs out at the sides.

Now, Robert has long put forward that the upper portrait (a crude one) in f68r1 represents Copernicus. I've attached two images of Copernicus - a crop from the Polish banknote [cCopernicusMoney.jpg], and that same picture horizontally flipped and negatived [nrcCopernicusMoney.jpg]. The latter is approximately the type of portrait that I see in f76r - you can see the hairstyle I was talking about. The f76r portrait has a more rounded jaw than the square jaw of the banknote depiction of Copernicus, but the approximation serves to point out what I see in f76r. In addition, the horizontal flipping gives me the idea that f76r was created with some kind of technique, perhaps optical, that inherently resulted in a left-right polarity reversal.

What say?

Robert says:
Here is the pic of Copernicus I found [Copernicus.jpg], and the VMs image [CopernicusVMs.bmp] for comparison.

Berj says:
r. That f68r1 upper portrait reminds me of something I've been meaning to mention to you. Look at the man's (Copernicus maybe) left eye - which is on the right in the drawing. That eye is actually a Voynich alphabet letter: GC-e or EVA-l. So I'm wondering if the group at eye-level at right of the face, GC-9h9, should have the eye-letter added to it: GC-e9h9 and if that would give you a better approach to demonstrating "Copernicus" and / or 29 DEC 1615.

Aside, Greg and I are organizing the faces depository, and I'll have some more to show soon.

Greg [commenting on updating hidden-faces Library deposit # 12-1-2007-10-12] says:
I had a bit of fun hunting all the images down, but they're all in now. New meta is good also.

Berj says:
r tnx. I had an encounter with the effect of phantoms resulting from x8 res. images - which I'll comment on in the #108 communication. It underscores using the best available images in investigating these strange features.

Greg says:

On the subject of portraits of Copernicus, some of you may not be aware that his grave was discovered and his face reconstructed by forensic experts a couple of years ago:

Of course that has no bearing on Robert's hypothesis.

Berj says:
Hmm. Interesting, if it is to be believed. Guess we are not the only ones chasing lost faces :)

Greg says:
:) Indeed.
This is from the website of the national police forensics unit which did the work:

It's in Polish, but the pictures are obviously clear enough. Apparently they worked only from the skull and suitable anthropological/biological data, not using any of the known portraits; the only thing 'added' is the period clothing. As it turns out, it's not far off some of the painted portraits:

Interestingly they (the forensics unit) seem to have done some analyses of paintings as well as more typical police forensics work.

Jan says:
Amazing - I think the reconstruction matches very well the painted portrait of him.

Berj [commenting on J.VS communication #108] says:
With "Rudolf's Court montage" [cVMSf39r.tif and 1xcVMSf39r.tif ] we can see, assuming it is accepted as real, that faces-density can be high. So we might find some little area of paint somewhere in the ms where a whole bunch of stuff is going on. But I wonder mostly: is the pig-faced "Rudolf" depicting an identifyable person, and if yes, who?

It is difficult balancing discussing potential / possible new breakthroughs with subdued-enthusiasm in the tone of the discussion. Voynichology is full of assumed-as-facts that are not facts in the mathematical/scientific sense. I think we ( J.VS) have been pretty good so far in walking the line between potential facts and demonstrable facts and demonstrable maybe-facts. Certainly and of course we can and must improve, remain ever conservative.

But what my sentiment comes down to is that this new stuff deserves to be put before the Voynich world. If it proves to be a dead-end then it is merely one more dead-end in the mountain of Voynich dead-ends. There is no way to make some progress on the VMS without daring to go into some new territory. And consider this: if everything so far from Mr. Flower to Rudolf's Court montage proves to be phantom, then the path to realizing that is in itself an important and valuable VMS research topic - we are not wasting time here - if ultimately we see they are mistakes, then that knowledge is valuable - don't you agree?

Greg says:
I agree entirely. My only concern is to put the matter forward in a way which will draw attention, yes, but also maintain that scientific detachment which goes hand in hand with credibility.

[commenting on investigating-technique with f76r]: I find the blurs slightly better than blinking in this case.

Berj says:
Greg, Attached for addendum deposit [# 14-1-2007-10-22] is a .bmp panorama of the three f76r blink pics [VMSf76rHStegoFace.bmp], resized to 46%, and in the order from left to right: blink1, blink3, blink2

[addressing Robert who has just checked the from-online downloading integrity of VMSf76rHStegoFace.bmp]: That was fast! Thanks Robert - appreciate it.

By the way I am seeing possible text-art patterns of the f76r type in f58r and f58v. The f58r looks to me like a full page picture of either a kitty, or a little dog - not sure yet which, but pretty sure it is one or the other, if it is in fact a real stego picture. If a kitty, it would be interesting to speculate that the VMS author was a cat person :) or in any case someone who thought enough to include his / her pet in the manuscript.

The f58v again is full page, and looks like part of a right arm, with the hand making some kind of hand signal that prominently features the thumb. But I could be completely wrong here.

[addressing all]: So, I wonder if the f76r portrait, assuming it is real, is a self-portrait of the VMS author, especially I wonder this because of 76r being the very center of the VMS from the nested-shells / Slavic dolls model point of view (comm. #51). I've anyway always believed that the author must have left his / her sine in the ms somewhere. If that's him, he does not look at all Asian to me - he is clearly a western type Caucasian, and therefore likely a European as most of us have believed all along. That of course doesn't rule out Chinese authorship, any more than text-art rules out the text being simultaneously meaningful in some other way. It just makes everything more complicated, and makes me think the VMS author was actually out to create "the world's most mysterious manuscript". And as we know, succeeded.

I'm not sure that the text-art throughout the pages was variously successful - f76r is the easiest for me to perceive. The VMS could have been an experimental notebook, rather than the collection of the author's best works. On the other hand, the f76r may simply be intentionally easier to perceive, while the others are demonstrations of much more advanced and subtle 3D techniques.

In any case, the next easiest-to-perceive hypothetical stego text-art that I see is what I am calling "The Owl" in the manuscript's last normal page, f116r. To me it appears like a 3/4 page-height perched bird with big round eyes looking out at us, and I thought immediately it is an owl, before realizing I was viewing the last page, and the symbolic aspects of the author's ending note: Be wise!

I hope you'll forgive the unavoidable power-of-suggestion. It would be merely redundant at this stage for me to just say: see anything stego in f116r? because by now it is clearly and obviously reasonable to assume that that question applies in general throughout the ms, and discussion of any particular example has to begin with some kind of description of it, and it is always possible someone will come up with a persuasive refutation that an intentional steganographic text-art is present.

Greg says:
Here's something to ponder. When you first asked about the f76r face, I replied that yes, I could see one, although I remained (and remain) unconvinced that it was deliberate. Now, you have posted your drawing, and it turns out that the face I saw was rather different, and much smaller. So we have another issue to contend with, which to me suggests again that these are illusions.
Though, then if we disagree on individual examples, the idea is interesting.

Berj says:
I had surmised that we were seeing different things in f76r. Also, since then I see the additional second, juxtaposed face. From what you see, can you rule out the idea (for yourself) that the artist might have been doing what artists often try to achieve: create an illusion?

Greg says:
No, I can't rule it out. There is also no test I can think of at the moment to handle this.

Berj says:
And that brings up what I think is a crucial point, in light of the admitted subjective nature of the problem:

With these hypothetical steganographic pictures in the VMS, is it necessary to any degree that an observer giving an opinion have any depth of Voynich manuscript knowledge?

I don't think so. You put a Voynich page in front of someone, and either they see stego pictures or they don't, and if they do, they might or might not see something similar to what someone else sees. That is to say, the "expertise" here is the person's inclination to perceive, or not, an intentional or accidental pattern in the page being viewed. I can show a work of 3D radio-teletype art to someone and whether or not they see it is completely independent of their knowledge of the technology and circumstances.

In other words, whether or not a person sees or doesn't see a steganographic picture in a Voynich page is independent of their Voynich manuscript knowledge. Anyone's (with normal healthy eyesight) sincere opinion on the reality or non-reality of a hypothetical hand-script text-art face in f76r is equally valid. Expertise in the VMS per se is irrelevant. Not so?

Btw, did I mention that there is now online a 16 billion pixles image of Leonardo's Last Supper:

Greg [addressing Berj's question] says:
Kind of.
There are three questions being considered:

1. Is there an apparent image?
2. Given 1, is that apparent image 'real'? (In the sense of being a deliberate creation of the artist, rather than an accidental effect.)
3. Given 2, how does the image fit into the VMS?

With 1, all that is needed is eyesight and imagination. However, to judge 2, one also needs some experience with art, images, psychology (in a very loose sense). To answer 3, obviously some knowledge of the VMS is necessary.
It is easy to conflate 1 and 2, when they are not the same. Is the question being asked here:

" Anyone's sincere opinion on the reality or non-reality of a hypothetical hand-script text-art face in f76r is equally valid. "

no. 1 or no. 2? What do we mean by the 'reality' of the image? Further, are these questions really independent? Let's say we find what looks like a deliberate image of something only known in the late 20th century. Say a nuclear hazard warning symbol. What then? Do we try to fit that into our knowledge of the VMS, or do we use our knowledge of the VMS to dismiss the image as false, despite already having decided that it is deliberate (for whatever reason).

The example is perhaps a little contrived. My point is that it's even harder than is usually the case with VMS stuff to find some baseline and procedures in exploring this new idea. Perhaps it is the case that no VMS experience is necessary. But where do we go from there?

Berj says:
Jan, your article [THE HANDWRITING ANALYSIS OF SOME POSSIBLE AUTHORS OF THE VM; J.VS comm. #110] is what I call real production! The Mnishovsky angle I have to think a lot more about before I can comment well on it. First of all, is there somewhere some unquestionably solid evidence that (from Marci's last letter):

" Dr. Raphael, tutor in the Bohemian language to Ferdinand III, then King of Boehmia, told me .... "

is identical to: Dr. Raphael Mnissovsky (spelling). In other words:

"Dr. Raphael" = "Dr. Raphael Mnissovsky" ??

Or is this one of my dumb questions?

Greg, I agree with your points. However, I think the first thing with the possible steganographic images in the VMS is to get past your point no. 1 - it implicitly suggests consensus on what the stego picture is, say a long-haired head-face taking up most of a block of text etc., for example.

Here is what I am getting at (contrived scenario): 20,000 [scientists and learned scholars] look at f76r and conclude it is just a block of strange hand-script text showing no particular pattern, even accidental, and certainly nothing in the way of an intentional stego picture. 450,000 "man in the street" look at it, and 389,000 of them all say there is a portrait, a fairly 3D one, of a man facing right and tilted up, and with long hair that bulbs out at the sides, and they all sketch roughly similar copies of what they see. So you've got altogether 389,000 face-seers against 81,000 nothing-special-seers. What is the "scientific" conclusion here?

What I think we will see, now that some of these pictures of possible stego faces are online, like the jpg version of the panorama of f76r [VMSf76rHStegoFace.jpg] on wikipedia, that over time there will be here and there online commentary on them, in all sorts of diverse forums. And we will have a sort of laboratory in action by keeping our eye on these comments, and seeing if there is any sort of consensus emerging. Needless to say we can't possibly practically sample anywhere near a half a million reactions, but there will be accumulating data. And much of it will be valid data - sure there may be phony efforts, for one reason or another, rather than genuine efforts, to sway opinion one way or the other. But valid data will accumulate.

This points out the advantage of the steganographics question over the PM-curve question. For the PM-curve question you need for decision-makers a specialized group, mathematical scientists and preferably astronomers, PLUS they must have at least a little familiarity with the VMS. But the reality of the stego pictures, your point no. 1, can be decided by the man in the street.

In his just published paper that you just installed in the Library [deposit # 7-4-2007-10-28] Jan notes about the text:

" .... I suspect it was not only written, but literally "painted", i.e.more carefully drawn by pen. "

That is consistent with hand-script text-art, isn't it?

Jan [replying to Berj's question on Mnischowsky] says:
Yes, it is commonly accepted that Marci's Dr. Raphael is Mnischowsky, actually Rene has the name corrected already. True, Marci calles him only Dr. Raphael, but Mnischowsky was a lawyer representing the state in the case against Wallenstein, he was Czech and tutor of Emperor's children (my sample is actually from his texbook in Uppsala, apparently stolen by Swedes in 1648 in Prague) - so it must be him and Voynich already discovered that.

Also, as Imperial physician, Marci was able to know him personally from Court. We do not know if Marci's info in his letter was directly from Mnischowsky or through Baresch (Raphael died 1644 so Marci would have had to ask him before that :-).

As for the whole theory of him faking the VM, I do not know who came [up] with it , it seems rather fresh idea by somebody from Czech Wikipedie (no typo, that's the title): some points there are dubious or even wrong, but to my surprise, there are elements in his handwriting that fit the handwriting of the "signature" in the VM. So he could have been the owner before Baresch and that is only mine, but first ever observation and it may be crucial for future provenance.

There is a hint that Raphael Mnishowsky was born in Poland. What about this:

Also, at:

is stated he helped another Polish gentleman, Bartolomej Paprocký z Glogol a Paprocké Vule translate his book Diadochos into Czech language and more. Mnishowsky's original name was Sobiehrd. The page is in Czech language - if you cannot understand something, pls let me know, I can translate .

Greg says:
I googled and at least the Sobiehrd name has been known for a while, he's even listed in Wikipedia:

The Polish connection is interesting, though. I shall look into it. Paprocki was a fairly famous chronicler, genealogist and herald (as in expert on heraldry): (in Polish)

Jan [commenting on Mnishowsky] says:
His original name was Sobiehrd, and he was Catholic while the other branch was Protestant. He changed his name to Mnishowsky, probably just to duistinguish it from them. René has clearly in his page Horsuv Tyn as his birthplace (near Pilsen) , however I have read somewhere the rumor about him being born in Poland. Another rumor is that he studied in Krakow. Now if he translated Paprocky's book from Polish language, he had to learn Polish somewhere. How could he learn it in Prague, Paris or Rome?

I wrote my friend-cryptograph in Prague, apparently the book in Uppsala is more about cryptography than about Czech language. Actually it is the one of the recommended readings for cryptography students in Slovakia, however is is nowhere to be bought (was printed 1992 by GRADA). He may give me the expertise on the book, I hope they have it at university library, at least. Will write to you as soon as I know more.

[end of 23-29 OCT 2007 off-J discussions record]

From: Berj Ensanian
Date: Fri, 02 Nov 2007 13:32:41 -0400 (EDT)


Comments on the manipulation of public perceptions of Voynich ms research and progress:

It seems to me that the Voynich page in the popular online wikipedia [1] is evolving into a very interesting database for those interested in studying the psychology of various personas variously visible in the Voynich world. You can quickly and easily get yourself a wikipedia account, and then log in and explore the history of edits of the Voynich page, a wonderful permanent record that is quite readily navigated. Well done wikipedia!

Attempts at controlling the wikipedia-public projection of the highly competitive Voynich scene is complex and diverse of course, but here in particular I wish to say that ancillary to all this, I hold that it takes, in addition to hard work and luck, a measure of courage to open or pioneer possible new inroads into the Voynich mystery, whether they eventually prove to be fruitful or not, essentially correct or misguided. The Voynich world has after all its long entrenched views and interests and socializing aspects that could easily be jarred, sending ostrich feathers flying all over the place so to speak, if some surprising new potential research developments threatened the status quo, and in particular threatened the Voynich public's perception of the real worth of some of its "expert" personas, especially the type that focus on producing, not original ideas and work, but rather focus on producing the projection of being a Voynich expert.

In contrast, I hold that it takes no courage at all, but merely the mind of a reacting automaton to attempt suppression of the discussion of new ideas that threaten the status quo.

At the end of the evening of 31 OCT 2007 there was in the Voynich wikipedia a modest presence of material associated with the Journal of Voynich Studies, material that had taken several days of learning enough wiki editing to integrate properly and conservatively:

In the "Steganography" section, there was a small crop image from f37v, about 86 kilobytes altogether, with the filename "TheKingVMSf37vKI3U.jpg". There was a quite short paragraph describing possible steganographic master artwork embedded in low-level art, a new possibility in Voynich considerations. There was an image showing a study of the f76r text-page from the point of view of it possibly being hand-script text-art, another new possibility, that if true, certainly profoundly impacts all considerations of the Voynich text; moreover its question is one of the few in Voynich work which can be decided by equal-weight input from the proverbial man in the street, who otherwise has no particular familiarity with the Voynich manuscript, nor any special interest in it.

In the "Illustrations" section, under "Astronomical", there was a picture "VmsPMCurvePano.jpg" with the rather conservative caption:

" In the f68r3 astronomy panel a curve linking the moon and Pleiades may have been deliberately plotted - its shape carefully controlled. Upon that hypothesis one analysis concludes that the mathematical equation of the "PM-curve" derives from an ellipse - the implications altogether suggesting a composition better placed in the 17th century than the 15th. Above: panel detail, and magnified curve on reference crosshairs. "

Altogether, with respect to these comments here, there were in the Voynich wikipedia a little paragraph, three pictures with captions, the references for the pictures, and two lines in the External links at bottom, one with the J.VS url, and the other with the Voynich Timeline url, a J.VS project for the general interested public. On the morning of 1 NOV 2007 all but the two lines in the External links section had been edited out, leaving the old long-entrenched impression of what is politically correct in the Voynich world.

Interestingly, the wiki edit history shows the budding Inquisitor to be a nominal "expert", with some admirers, on the new (and old) vms-list. Even more interesting is the reason this persona has recorded for editing out the plain vanilla straightforward little 86 kilobytes crop from the Beinecke MS 408 source, fTheKingVMSf37vKI3U.jpg. One can easily get the impression of a VMS "expert" gone mad with fear, fear of the unexpected in the world's most mysterious manuscript.

To each his own. Were it not for the interesting psychological aspects, it would be a waste of time bringing this up. The psychologists and historians eventually studying these matters will have much interesting material in the permanent record, including that of the history of wikipedia edits, to comb over and analyze - I look forward to that as a Voynich field in its own right. But for me, I have to continue to believe that true progress in chipping away at the Voynich mystery requires the maxim:


Berj / KI3U


From: Berj Ensanian
Date: Mon, 05 Nov 2007 12:45:25 -0500 (EST)

Subject: J.VS: Discussion: standard image processing protocols; some technical considerations

Dear All

Following below [1] is the redacted discussion we had off-J yesterday, 4 NOV 2007, on our continuing considerations for a standard procedure for precision, and completely determinate image processing. This consideration has been on one of our front burners since communication #102. I think we are gradually converging toward what will eventually become good simple protocols, while at the same time in warranted circumstances we can continue to accept as useful some more or less "randomly processed" trial-and-error type research images, when they are not critical for establishing some precision conclusion or other.

Berj / KI3U

[1] 4 NOV 2007 off-J discussion of technical details toward an image processing procedure standard.
Discussion participants in order of first appearance are: Berj N. Ensanian, Jan Hurych, Greg Stachowski.

Berj says:
I have an opinion on GIMP.
I've been working on producing an improved processed blink image for the f76r text "portrait". I have ideas on what I want to try, but of course the problem stopping me is lack of suitable image manipulation tools. As I mentioned before, to me the simplest and most flexible route is to have a standard specified vector or matrix format for the pixels in an image, TIFF we've agreed is the highest priority; and then I can specify mathematical operations on the matrix elements (pixels). And these math operations can be as simple as subtracting the 2^n -1 value of a pixel from the 2^n -1 value of a corresponding pixel in a reference image. To me this is completely straightforward, and conveniently leaves aside all discussions of "hue" and "transparency" and "color theory" and so on, as optional for when they become relevant.

Robert mentioned as a very powerful freeware image processing program GIMP, and he also said it had a high learning curve - I downloaded it and began using it last night, and it is indeed wonderfully powerful, but indeed its learning curve is quite steep. I find myself irritated with having to learn things like "alpha channel" and "Layer attributes" and on and on. All I want to do for a first experiment is subtract one f76r image from a slightly processed version of that same image. But it is first necessary to climb the GIMP learning curve. In the end, all that GIMP terminology will be superfluous to my route of exploring f76r.

Thus, my opinion on GIMP is that it is a fantastically powerful free gift, but I would like to see J.VS's image processing standard specified as per above in the minimum necessary mathematical physics manner. And that would in no way prevent those who want to discuss the conventional optical physiological physics of the images in terms of "hue" etc., from doing so.

At bottom, the images are a set of numbers. I want to stay as close to the set as possible, leaving physiological interpretations for when they are appropriate.

Jan says:
I would like to say more about the picture processing but little do I know, all my attempts are try and fail. What we may need is the person who is involved in graphics - sure, we can achieve a lot just by ourselves but the progress will be slow. What is also a drag for small pictures is the fact that there is a maximum resolution and above that is the serious distortion. So filters seem to be the answer.

Berj says:
r Jan. Here is a simple way to illustrate what I am thinking with the image processing protocols. Lets pretend we have a simple gray-scale "TIFF" image, a square one, and it is composed of a total of 16 pixels. And further, lets pretend that the digitization of the pixel gray-values is 3-bit, that is n=3, so that we have 2^3 = 8 and therefore the 8 shades of gray run 0-7. And we might have the convention where 0 = white, and 7 = black. Take this example "image":


We can tell from these pixel gray-values that we've got here a picture of a black cross on a very light gray background, and the cross sits to the right of the picture's vertical center-line, and finally for some reason, there is a pure white spot at upper left - noise perhaps. Lets call this image-file: cross.tiv

Let us pretend that we have a simple standard that gives us the coordinates (or vectors) for each and every pixel in cross.tiv. In other words I can use even ancient GWBASIC to open cross.tiv and pluck out and change its pixels, and save the result.

Let us now say that I use GWBASIC to open cross.tiv and perform a transform operation: I do the same exact thing to each and every pixel, and save the transformation result as 1xcross.tiv.

Lets say that the value of a particular pixel is "v". And lets say my transform calculates "u", being the new/transformed gray-value of a pixel, from this equation:

Eq. 1:

u = 1 + (-1)^v

The saved 1xcross.tiv will now have this:


In other words, I have removed the noise spot at upper left, paying the price of the cross now being white instead of black. Getting the cross black again can also be done in a variety of ways of course, depending on what is considered procedurally acceptable. For example, if it is considered procedurally unacceptable to do editing, or even clipping or thresholding operations, which affect pixels differently, and it is insisted that as before each and every pixel is subjected to the exact same transform, then we might do to 1xcross.tiv this transform:

Eq. 2:

u = [7-v] - [3/2][v^(v/2)]

and the result (saved as say 2xcross.tiv) would be:


and we got what we wanted, a new perspective (i.e. the noise removed), and not with arbitrary editing, but a transform that treated every pixel the same. We need no explanations involving "editing", or even arguements to justify threshold operations. And every step along the way is clearly understandable, and do-able with simple tools like GWBASIC even. Moving on up to actual complicated images, say RGB with three pixel matrices, one for each color, proceeding as per above, keeps the image processing down at the level of: operations upon sets of numbers. If color physics and perception physiology like "hue" and "contrast" and so on are of interest, then they can be properly defined with their own transforms. And, it becomes the burden of image processing programs to explain what transformations are accomplished by special terminology like "alpha channel", and "transparency" and "layer" etc.

Greg says:
What you're describing is pretty standard in image processing of any sort. That is essentially exactly how it is done. It more or less works like that in Gimp, with the proviso that values 255 are clipped. Here's an explanation:

Of course, because the RGB values are processed separately, how addition/subtraction works depends on the colour space: the result using RGB may not be the same as that in say HSV. (Actually quite what 'addition' etc really means for 'colours' is an interesting discussion in itself.) Anyway, we can also do the kind of thing you want in ImageJ, and I've also been looking at this:

and I think it would provide the mathematical approach you're looking for. I don't have time to test it at the moment, perhaps you could. By the way, 'alpha' is essentially transparency, and layers are, well, literally layers, which can be blended with the layers below (through things like the 'subtract' mentioned above).

Berj says:
What I'm trying to say is that all we absolutely need for the foundation of a standard is the vectors specification for the TIFF's. So that any old program, say BASIC out of DOS, can open that TIFF matrix and operate on it. The result file can be viewed with anything: Irfanview, GIMP, or whatever.

The example I gave earlier [cross.tiv] can be thought of as "filtering" or "selective masking" or "editing" or whatever by any particular image handling program, but at bottom it was a transformation, or actually two transformations, a second after the first, upon the numbers composing the image. The transformation specifies what is actually done, and there is no reference to any particular program's own terminology.

Suppose you need an operation that requires math beyond your skill. Well, just get the sophisticated transform equation from a member who has the skill, and then just program it.

Also, suppose you had done a critical image processing with a particular image program, using its, say, "adjust gamma" routine, and then it comes out that that gamma routine in that version of the image program has a bug in it. Now what?

I looked at that [] and it is excellent, and in a way makes my point: the terms "foreground color" etc. are superfluous. Terms like that seem to be part of the graphic artist lingo that image processing programs like GIMP employ. When I'm processing images for research, I'm not thinking about foreground color, layer, alpha channel blah blah blah - I'm thinking that the source image is a set of related numbers, and I am going to do a mathematical operation on those numbers, taking / mapping them into a new space so to speak, according to an idea I'm currently testing.

So again, I'm saying I think all we absolutely need for the foundation of a standard is the vectors specification for the TIFF's.

I tried painting some guidelines into the f76r blink3 - the result, 76rVMSblink4.tif is crude, but definitely much better than my blink2 sketch. I've attached it for addendum deposit into [J.VS Library deposit] # 14-1-2007-10-22. I'll send the updated meta shortly.

I've found that blinking this blink4 against either the blink1 or blink3 works best in this way: stay with blink1 or blink3 for longer durations, and switch only for a split second to blink4. And repeat that.

Greg says:
Well, just looking quickly at the tiff I converted from the SID of f1, it looks like it is roughly 45kb of header data followed by 3-bytes per pixel (RGB) data in little-endian format. How the bitmap is organized I don't know, given the overall simplicity of these particular tiffs (no compression, not multipage) it is likely to be a simple array, but it doesn't need to be. Reverse engineering it exactly would mean poking about in one of these for a couple of hours to see which way round the pixels are etc., referring to (say) this as you go:

The question is, what's the point? It's the 21st century, nobody writes code from scratch to read standard files anymore. Link against libtiff:

and it will read any tiff you like into whatever array you like in memory for you, without you having to worry about the details of the file format. Then operate on that array all you like. Alternatively convert the tiff to a raw bitmap using some conversion software, and read the bitmap.

[commenting on: The transformation specifies what is actually done, and there is no reference to any particular program's own terminology.]: The link I gave you to to the description of what Gimp does for subtraction included the equations which are applied to the rgb pixel values. That's good enough for me to implement my own version should I wish to.

[commenting on: So again, I'm saying I think all we absolutely need for the foundation of a standard is the vectors specification for the TIFF's.]: The TIFF specification (links above, the full spec is linked from the libtiff site) documents tiffs in general, the details of these particular ones would need to be reverse engineered as I said above.

I do agree that we have to be able to specify exactly what the applied _transformation_ was, and is is therefore good to be able to program that transformation ourselves (although GImp for example is well documented). However, at some point you have to start trusting the basic, standard tools like libtiff as well, otherwise you end up rewriting everything from scratch: compiler, I/O libraries, operating system. Where do you stop? If anything, I would trust libtiff to get reading a potentially complex file format like tiff right better than my own code, as it has been developed and debugged over a much longer period of time by a lot of people.

Berj says:
I didn't know about libtiff (will look into it), but if it is a well-documented method of specifying vector access to the pixels in a tiff then we're all set. I'd think a test would be to create a tiff from scratch - say a black long-stemmed cross on gray background, like the 16-pixels example [cross.tiv] from earlier. Then see if the created tiff actually shows that with an image program.

Anyway I think we are converging here on protocols for image processing. At some point I'd think the J.VS Library would have a general deposit for various sophisticated [image processing] transforms.

Greg [commenting on: ....... Terms like that seem to be part of the graphic artist lingo that image processing programs like GIMP employ.] says:
Well, this is a disadvantage of using the Gimp for this work. It is designed for graphic artists. The functionality is mostly there and documented well, but hidden under 'artist' terminology. Which is why I think something like VIPS or ImageJ or coding from scratch is more suited to what we want to do. I'd still counsel against writing everything from scratch though: use the libraries like libtiff, use the frameworks like ImageJ, let them handle reading the file, and concentrate on coding the interesting things which are the actual transformations.

[commenting on creating a test tiff from scratch]: The problem with tiff is that is is a very flexible format, which means there are a lot of things which are called 'tiff' but which are read and written quite differently with the relevant information given in the header (at the very least they can be big-endian or little-endian).

So I think that while if would be easy enough to create a 'tiff' from scratch there is no guarantee that the same code will read any _other_ tiff you might come across (say written by Gimp), unless you write it in accordance with the full spec -- which essentially means rewriting the whole of libtiff. Which is why it is better to use the library in the first place. That said, my gut feeling is that the tiffs produced by converting from the sids using Lizard's tools are probably fairly simple. They certainly don't have any compression, but they might have some odd pixel ordering (for example tiffs can be written in square blocks rather than entire full-width raster lines, which is faster if you don't need to read the whole image). Without looking carefully at the header it is difficult to say.

Berj says:
Alright then, it seems that exploring libtiff is the next step.

[end of redaction of 4 NOV 2007 off-J discussion of technical details toward an image processing procedure standard.]

From: Berj Ensanian
Date: Tue, 06 Nov 2007 22:12:25 -0500 (EST)

Subject: J.VS: Preliminary 1st outline for protocols for precision Voynich image processing

Note: see J.VS communication #113 for previous discussion leading to here.

Berj says:
Here at Adobe's developer resources page:

they have the TIFF 6.0 Specification as a 385kb PDF document - well written. They also have a couple of Supplements docs I haven't yet looked at.

Anyway, based on our discussions so far here's a very preliminary outline I conceive for to-become-protocols for precision Voynich image processing. Some of the points, like 3.) are not yet known-as-fact, but hoped to be so. And also it needs references in several places, like where to get the MrSIDViewer.

1.) The Beinecke Library provides images of MS 408 (Voynich Manuscript) online, with the best quality images in the Lizardtech SID format.

2.) As one of its functions the Lizardtech's MrSIDViewer extracts / converts the SID into the maximum-available image-information TIFF format.

3.) All the converted-from-Beinecke-SID's TIFF images have the same TIFF format, for example: Little-endian and so on.

4.) A stable, well-documented, and easy-to-use array handling program (essentially a spreadsheet program) - will take the TIFF and:

4a.) report the TIFF's organization: width & height in pixels, number of pixel matrices ( e.g. just one if it is gray-scale), digitization resolution n for 2^n, etc.

4b.) load the numerical values of the pixels (say values between 0x00 and 0xFF) into a simple array that permits viewing and operating upon the pixel bytes-values in Arabic numerals form (e.g. 0-255).

4c.) permit operations upon the array, and save the new array as a TIFF in the same format as 3.)

5.) Image processing is then handled by this array / spreadsheet program, for example let:

X = array (image) #1
Y = array (image) #2
Z = X - Y (a new image #3 that was created via pixel-by-pixel subtraction of Y from X)

Needless to say if Z has some negative numbers, you can then have the spreadsheet program clip them at zero.

Therefore the complete image processing procedure would be specified by the formula, or steps-taken with the spreadsheet program:

Z = floor-clip{X - Y}

As long as it was crystal clear what precisely was done, the processing steps could even be expressed in plain English, instead of giving the Z = formula.

I think the above strategy answers our main concerns with image processing protocols: precise specification of the image transformation, plus simple enough for practical use even by non-advanced-mathematical Voynich workers. We can also build up a J.VS Library deposit holding specs for standard Z = formulas for, say contrast adjust, negatived, converted-to-gray-scale, and so on.

It seems then that the hurdle is getting the TIFF into a good spreadsheet. If a spreadsheet (I have almost no familiarity with post-1985 spreadsheets) can't do it on its own, then an additional program, maybe something from libtiff, is needed. Also, if the spreadsheet cannot on its own handle a particular sophisticated math operation in the array, then as long as it is able to exchange arrays intact with a mathematics program all goes well.

Greg says:
Good mail, Berj. The VIPS package which I linked to a few mails back bills itself as a 'spreadsheet' for image processing. I haven't had time to test it but it may be what you want. If not it should not be a problem to use a maths program like Octave/Matlab, although the learning curve will be a bit steeper. Conventional spreadsheets like Excel aren't really up to this job I'm afraid.

Berj says:
I'll go have a look at the VIPS program as soon as I get a chance. I was thinking of Jan's comment about filtering. Here's an example of how simple and straightforward that could be within the protocol:

Lets again use the 4x4 pixels example, and say that it is already a gray-scale image, say of an area where we are hunting for a hidden / masked / erased / acid-treated "signature":


Lets say we suspect there is a letter in there, and we want to filter it out if we can. We can specify a filter by telling the array handling spreadsheet to "let through" just one shade of gray, namely the gray-level = 4, and make all other pixels either pure white, 0, or pure black, 7, say for now pure white. The spreadsheet will produce this:


and after saving it to TIFF and viewing it with say IrfanView, we will see an "M" appear. That is a simple filter operation, anyone who can work with the spreadsheet can do it, and it was beautifully precise. As to whether or not it is an acceptable filtering transform for concluding that there is an "M" in there, well that is of course a different matter. But certainly we can conceive of putting a physical filter of some kind in front of the original picture, a physical filter tuned to allow only that one shade of gray to get through. And of course we could have a filter that allowed a selection of gray shades, i.e. more than one, to get through.

So my point is that these protocols are converging toward addressing our two main concerns: that the image processing is a precise transformation independent of the actual tools, however simple or advanced, used to accomplish the processing, plus it is all simple enough so that any Voynich worker can do it. If you can work with a spreadsheet, then you can do this, and the protocols ensure that there is not the slightest ambiguity about what you did to the source image.

[ end of J.VS comm. #114. Berj / KI3U ]

From: Berj Ensanian
Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2007 13:54:53 -0500 (EST)

Subject: J.VS: Image processing protocols; Mnishowsky; steganography; Aldebaran; Alphabet Tables; ENGLAND

[Note: below is the redacted off-J discussions following 7 NOV 2007 and J.VS communication #114, to ~ noon EST 12 NOV 2007.]

Jan [to Berj about image processing] says:
What I meant by "filtering" or whatever name they give it, say deconvolution and else, I meant it in general sense, i.e. any processing of the picture (ie. there is a deconvolution filter, meaning deconvolution is a kind of filtering). And filters are just tools for filtering.

As for processing, there are several graphic editors that offer user the manual setup to the processing matrix by themselves, or as they call it mathematical processing (say logic OR, EXCLUSIVE OR, nonlinear, etc.). I am afraid however that we may never know exactly what they do and of course it is applicable to some formats only. Another problem is how accurate is their process to be able to consider the results true.

I guess since you went so far in your definitons, you may as well set up your own program, the program where you know what is exactly happening. Of course, you can then create your own, better filters for certain purposes, that would be reusable and further improved, if necessary.

Greg says:
Any image/mathematical processing worth its salt will document exactly what the processing is and any restrictions on the format (once the image has been read into memory, file format will of course be irrelevant from the point of view of processing, but other things like RGB may not be). I wouldn't recommend using any program which is not properly documented for the work we're discussing, even if for 'ordinary' image processing it would be fine.

Jan says:

Greg says:
Gimp is well documented, for example, and of course professional-grade mathematical processing software like Matlab or Octave are too. This includes documenting accuracy, such as double/single precision etc.

Berj says:
Good point Jan. I think in some cases it could be practical to find out what was done by a particular graphics program by trying known protocol transformations on the same source image, and then taking the difference image with the unknown-transformed image: if the result is a uniformly blank image, then the known protocols procedure are the equivalent of what was done.

Greg says:
There may be minor rounding errors which are in fact insignificant but will show up, but yes, this is a good method. I would only do this as a final test though, and rely primarily on the documentation. Some of the more complex transformations can be pretty hairy.

Berj says:
This [image processing according to protocols] will all take some time to show as practical, and is meant for critical image analysis situations: where important conclusions on what the VMS is showing are involved, for example the hidden numbers that you [Jan] tried to zero in on in f102v2 (Search for hidden numbers in the VM, comm. #99).

Jan says:
I am preparing the article about Mnishowsky. It seems he knew more about VM than we thought (and as some think - he may have been more involved, too).

Berj says:
I am quite curious about what you have found out about Mnishowsky. As I mentioned some time ago I have had it in my head for a long time that whoever did the VMS, the letter "M" was important to them.

[commenting on McCracken's 1948 paper in ISIS on Kircher]: Incidentally, he [McCracken] gives an English translation (on ISIS article pages 225-226) that Kircher did in his 1663 Polygraphy book that I find curiously interesting.

Jan says:
What a coincidence - you must read minds! I am just studying Trithemius's Polygraphia so I will have a good way to compare them. There are all three parts of his Steganographia on Net (fortunately) , but nothing about Polygraphia, that's too bad. So I have only several descriptions, but maybe enough to find out how much Kircher advanced it.

Steganography was long time suggested for the VM but never taken too seriously. But your pictures, the numbers discovered and if I may, suggest, take a look at 1006246, 7 and 8 [f99r, f99v, f100r]. The roots there are weird, but each has distinct number of sub-roots, clearly countable. Why would herbal show different roots so neatly lined-up?

Berj says:
Yes any doubt about roots being elements expressing coded information ought to be laid to rest by the root in f52r.

Greg says:
While I was writing the previous mail I downloaded the nips zipfile [for the VIPS graphics program] to make sure I wasn't writing rubbish, and it works fine out of the box, as it were. Just uncompress and run. Documentation Wiki, links to PDF manual etc):



You need both nips and vips: nips is the graphical interface and vips is the library which does the heavy lifting. For Windows download the latest nips .zip file, it includes the vips library which is why the file is so big [21 Mb]. The nips executable is in bin.

Berj says:
Would it install itself in windows XP?

Greg says:
It seems to work fine on XP. It doesn't install though, you just unzip it, and run the nips executable which is in the bin directory. The link to the original is:

Berj says:
Greg, I got it from the official site ok. Apparently, as you said, one just fires up nips.exe - I loaded f5r into it - it came in as a little thumbnail. I got a histogram on it also. Anyway, browsing all the options it does look like this VIPS is quite powerful from the point of view of the proposed image processing protocols - I saw options in there for retrieving the matrix, format reporting, and so on. This V IPS deserves some exploration and I hope the rest of the gang will have a look at it also.

Robert [to Greg, on possibly deciphering "Aldebaran" in several of the astro pages] says:
I use GC's transcription for research, but I use EVA to talk about it, since I've got it pretty much memorized, and GC's is a pain. If that's what you mean.

Greg says:
My point was that as far as I know there is not a 1-1 mapping between EVA and Voy101 (correct me if I'm wrong) and therefore the results might come out slightly differently. Say some of the required substitutions might go away. Similarly for other transcriptions like Currier. So it would be worth repeating the analysis of the Aldebaran labels with different transcriptions to check the result.

Robert says:
No, there is no exact one-to-one correspondence. As you saw in the chart, "a" and "o" can mean either "b" or "l". I've got the two stars in the upper right pie slice of f68r3 translated too, using the letters I have. is Algol, abbreviated and written "LGLO". is Mirfak, using the earlier name Algenib. "LGBON" or "LGNOB". Apparently "o" is not an acceptable word ending, so the last couple of letters is switched. "LGLO" should be "LGOL", of course. Using "o" (L) as a contraction of "AL" is common.

Berj says:
This lets me bring something up I've been meaning to: having another look at Mary D'Imperio's transcription alphabet (Table Fig. 19 in her book). I think she later abandoned it in favor of Currier's.

Jan [to Berj about f37v The King] says:
I have only one comment to your "head of king": at that time, most of manuscripts were dedicated to some royalty or benefactor. The VM of course could not have it so obvious, but maybe the head is some sort of similar dedication?

Berj says:
Interesting thought Jan. I think that is not at all a bad explanation. The King after all, if real, is a magnificent master work. But which King?

Jan says:
Well, there should be any similiarity with portraits, but I doubt it. Even if it was drawn accurately, we do not have all portraits available.

Berj says:
I do have another hidden king with a crown that I've found, but he is younger, and the artwork making him up is definitely nowhere near the level of The King. I'll get around to him soon.

Your idea that The King [of f37v] is a dedication portrait is truly imagination-firing! He definitely does not resemble Rudolf II I'd say.

I've learned more playing with VIPS. So far I do like VIPS, and hope that all will give it a whirl. I found more hidden/masked text in some leaves of f53r with it.

Robert says:
I have a short file titled: "Experimental Minimal Alphabet for Broad Phoneme-Spectrum Transcription". But who wrote it isn't in the file. Does anyone know, or is willing to own up to it? : )

Berj says:
That was me Robert - it is J.VS comm. #66. I'll attach the complete communication so you have it intact again.

Robert says:
Thanks, Berj -- I just grabbed and made a text file of what I felt to be the important part. When I came across it the other day, I noticed some correspondences with the letter values I've recovered in the VMs. You have "A" and "N" as "written once" with no additions. EVA d and y have those same values, and (apparently) no others. However, in my work, "B" and "L" are related, as are "D" and "O".

Berj says:
Interesting coincidene - I didn't realize it as I usually work with GC and don't have EVA memorized. Also as mentioned, I'm now taking another look at D'Imperio's alphabet. Also I've been pondering a slight change in the TABLE 1 of comm. #66, in 3: swapping the C and S. Here's the latest version of the table:

TABLE 1 : Experimental minimal Alphabet for broad phoneme-spectrum transcription

Note: the Hindu-Arabic numeral index numbers are optionally expressed by their corresponding letters. The Latin letters are meant to represent phonemes, and the Table is primarily a set of relationships between phonemes: therefore glyphs other than the Latin could be used. The basic alphabet consists of the "Letter written once" set, but optionally may be expanded by "Written twice" and "Written thrice". | = space or other scripting device.

Index: Letter written once; Written twice; Written thrice

0: |
1: A
2: B; P
3: S; C
4: D; T
5: E; I
6: F; V; W
7: G; K; Q
8: H
9: J; Y
10: L
11: M
12: N
13: O; U
14: R
15: X
16: Z

Robert says:
Another thing your alphabet reminds me of -- On the right(?) side of f1r there is a faded alphabet chart, with two, possibly three columns side by side. There are Voynich letters written beside them, and I spent some time trying to see them clearly (this was before we had the SIDs). Hmm... maybe it's worth another look, now that I think about it.

Berj says:
Yeah that f1r margin alphabet table is another reason for having a good image processing protocol in place. I'm back to looking for a very simple access to an image's matrix elements since that is they key for any image processing protocols; I will have to get down to business and read the TIFF specification with concentration. I want to re-emphasize that I think the masked / hidden layer of the VMS is extremely interesting, and new fertile ground that must be explored, but we have to have a standard image processing protocol if we are to believe our own images. Not so?

I took a sneak peek at Jan's new article on Mnishowsky [shortly to be deposited into the J.VS Library]. One thing I'm getting from it, if I have it right, is that back then translated books might have had another purpose from the apparent one: to covertly introduce new cryptography ideas. Hmm. Btw Jan, I had also done what you did with Mnishowsky's picture - negative and horizontal flip - I was looking for any sign of gallows letters, maybe around his owl-like eyes, but I didn't see anything in that little picture.

Jan says:
The positive-negative picture of Mniskowsky was just to show his other side - like with the Moon, we never saw it. Of course, it is just a negative, not his back :-).

Robert says:
I just took a quick look at the SID file [of f1r]. Some more data might be teased out of it, but one thing is clear on the chart: a = EVA "d", which is what I've got from my recent alphabet work. Attached is an updated file [Letter Values Table.doc], which includes some experimental work.

Berj says:
r. If your alphabets table substitutions produce some words other than "Aldebaran" anywhere in the VMS, even in X,Y system anagram form, it would be very interesting. Of course I realize that is a lot of work to investigate, and slow going.

Robert says:
One of my long-standing projects is working on the words directly below the moons on f67r2. I thought they might be month names, or astrological sign names, but neither fit.

With the success(?) of my Aldebaran work, I tried using the letter values on those words. Here is my one success to date:

The word at the 5 o'clock position, EVA .

y t ch o d l y

Unscramble the anagram: ENGLAND

Berj says:
Pretty cool Robert! I like it! If it holds up that will be something. What do you make of the B and O ?

[end of J.VS communication #115. Berj / KI3U]

From: Berj Ensanian
Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2007 15:15:27 -0500 (EST)

Subject: J.VS: The Mysterious Dr. Raphael

Greg has installed J.VS Library deposit # 8-4-2007-11-10 here:

10 NOV 2007

Meta-data for J. VS Library deposit:

This deposit contains the article investigating the new facts about Dr. Mnishowsky

by Jan. B. Hurych

The article provides the new observations about the life of Raphael Mnishowsky, the hypothesis that he wrote Horczicky's name into the VM and discovery that his book is actually more about crypotography than about teaching Czech language. Further research is recommended.

In the form of one htm file:
and associated images.

From: Berj Ensanian
Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2007 21:27:03 -0500 (EST)

Subject: J.VS: Explanation for inclusion of X in: Experimental minimal Alphabet for broad phoneme-spectrum transcription, and more.

Dear All




I've mentioned that it is a lot of fun working with the minimal alphabet - it tends to stimulate thinking about various aspects of putting language down into script. Incidentally, as for the objection that it permits of ambiguity, a more sophisticated scheme could overcome that by defining different written-once / twice / thrice sets of the basic alphabet, and using some device to indicate which set is operative.

For example, suppose Table 1 from J.VS comm. #66 is defined as set #1, and the slightly changed version in comm. #115, where the S and C are swapped, is defined as set #2. Needless to say there is then a tremendous number of possible minimal alphabet sets.

Consider an unambiguous writing of "Cecilia sings":


The visual impact evokes ideas, like defining a single glyph, like GC-1, to optionally take the place of CC when set #1 is operative. Or, define an intruding gallows glyph for EELEE.

Just about the simplest device that I can think of for switching from one alphabet set to another, would be switching from the nth alphabet set to the (n+1)th set, in a cyclic manner, by forcing a twice or thrice when the current alphabet has no provision for it, and there is no ambiguity with the spelling of the word which employs this switching device. Lets try a switch from set #1 to set #2 with "Cecilia sings":


Next up, one could imagine the rule that a forced twice indicates cycling forward, and a forced thrice indicates cycling backward, that is from the nth to the (n-1)th alphabet set. And a forced multiplication followed immediately by another forced multiplication, might indicate a jump to an alphabet set, skipping over some sets. A jump might even encode its own offset by decoding the index Arabic numerals corresponding to the letters that forced the jump, and the offset number would be applied as per clock arithmetic (modular arithmetic). A large ensemble of sets might even have identical sets sprinkled across its main sequence.

Rules like these are rather simple, but it might quickly become complicated for someone unfamiliar with the system to figure out what is going on - inriguingly, there is the possibility of coherent text, like "ALDEBARAN" and "ENGLAND" (see Robert's work in comm. #115; this communication was inspired by it) appearing in short pieces amid frustrating incoherent nonsense. Yet apparently, as long as a decipherer knows the system, and can get a foothold by decoding some coherent sequential text, the remainder can be translated.

The alphabet sets are reminiscent of color palettes - perhaps (hypothetically) that is how the idea came to the VMS author to employ the Voynich text glyphs as mosaic tiles to create a hand-script text-art (today a common relative being ASCII text-art) and made the amazing portrait (yes hypothetical) of f76r.

One of the main reasons this otherwise rather crude system of writing with a minimal alphabet is interesting to me in connection with Voynich work, is because I can imagine that the VMS author might have created his system not by setting out with ultra-serious and intense labor, but rather because he was having fun experimenting with a minimal alphabet that light-heartedly naturally propelled him / her toward powerful ideas.

Berj / KI3U

From: Berj Ensanian
Date: Fri, 16 Nov 2007 14:38:40 -0500 (EST)

Subject: J.VS: Colossus and MD- transcriptions

Dear All

I mentioned earlier this interesting BBC article:

which ties together some history, the latest on the WW II Colossus code-cracking computer, modern computers, and even amateur radio. Also as you know I've been re-visiting Mary D'Imperio's transcription alphabet (Table Fig. 19 in her book). So I thought I'd have some fun:

Just for fun, we can make some substitutions of Latin letters / abbreviations for Voynich letters, say these (here using Mary D'Imperio's transcription alphabet):

Latin -> MD subs:

"c" -> B
"o" -> D
"l" -> I
"ss" -> K
"us" -> N

and thus translate "colossus" -> MD-BDIDKN ( or equivalently EVA-cholody ). And then we can "decipher" colossus at least 4 times in the VMS; for example it occurs on lines
f29v.8, 39v.14, 96r.6, and 100r.9

And interestingly, in f96r.6 and f100r.9 colossus is preceded by the same group:


And we can translate BDI.BDIDKN -> col colossus and then muse that a colossal apothecary's coliander is being discussed in this mysterious old text that seems so full of herbal suggestions.

And this all proves absolutely beyond the slightest shadow of a doubt, nothing much, except that for some of us the BDIDKN of the Voynich mystery is for no lod in providing interesting coincidences :)

Berj / KI3U

From: Greg Stachowski
To: "J.VS:"
Date: Tue, 27 Nov 2007 01:51:16 +0100

Subject: J.VS: "The Research of the Voynich Manuscript" by Jan Hurych now in the Library

A new article by Jan Hurych, titled

" THE RESEARCH OF THE VOYNICH MANUSCRIPT: The Strategies and the Results. "

is now available as deposit # 9-4-2007-11-22 in the Library. The link is:

To quote Jan's abstract:

" The article provides the summary of the "Multiple working hypotheses" and of the "Strong induction" as well as the results when looking for similarities only. Instead, the author proposes to look for exceptions or disagreements and draw inference from those cases. When working on hypothesis, the first efforts should be therefore to attempt to disprove it first rather than to prove it. It is generally also more productive and more dependable method. "


From: Berj Ensanian
Date: Tue, 27 Nov 2007 11:28:35 -0500 (EST)

Subject: J.VS: Multiple topics off-J discussions since 12 NOV 2007

Dear All

Below [1] is the redaction of our off-J discussions since 12 NOV 2007. As usual, I hope I did an acceptable job editing the multiple threads into a coherent flow. I thought it best to package this particular edit now, as it is already long enough, and possibly new material may be sprouting up soon that will increase threads-complexity.

Berj / KI3U

[1] Redaction of off-J discussions from 12 NOV to mid-day 27 NOV 2007. Discussion participants in order of first appearance are J.VS members Robert Teague, Berj N. Ensanian, Jan Hurych, Dennis M. Fedak, Greg Stachowski.

Robert [commenting on Berj's query about the B and O - see end of comm. #115] says:
Nothing; they are alternate readings of those letters. In the file I sent today is the "Vertical Letter Sequence Table". By the allowed substitutions, some letters can have two values, the gallows four (probably all consonants), and EVA "q" seven. The maximum number of letter values here should be nineteen..

I intuit that 'q' doesn't have a value itself; just takes what's assigned to it. That's why the "qo" table at the bottom. I'm encouraged that one possible value is "AL".

The Platform Gallows Table is just an experiment. I suspect the other value of "ch" is a vowel as well. I found a program called "WordFind" that can unscramble anagrams. In the "f67r2 Words Below the Moons" file it confirms "England", and also gives me "global" and "albedo".

Berj says:
Well England would become even more interesting if other words underneath the other moons yielded country names. At some point when you think you've got a pretty good collection of data, you ought to write up the system in a simple to understand format - recall last week I think it was that I tried an outline of your system, but of course I don't know it well enough.

I did a quick experiment with the f76r test picture [VMSf76rHStegoFace.bmp] that the self-appointed from-vms-list Inquisitor had knocked its jpeg version off the wikipedia Voynich page [J.VS comm. #112]. I covered up its rightmost panel showing my outline drawing, and had Mom look at the other two panels - the normal (although rotated 40 degrees c.w.) and its negative, asking her if she saw anything peculiar. She did not see anything in particular. Then I uncovered the outline drawing, and she immediately said she saw a face in the negative panel, and then could see it in the normal also.

Jan says:
Interesting point, I remember Turin shroud did not look like anything too much , but the negative revealed a lot. They even constructed the 3d model later from it.

Berj says:
Speaking of Shroud of Turing Jan, I wonder if the VMS author knew of the Shroud of Turin.

As Greg and Dennis correctly pointed out early on, it is nuts to re-invent the wheel with much of the TIFF business for our image processing protocols. But it is necessary that at least those of us directly involved in writing the J.VS image processing protocols understand what we are talking about. So then, when a precision image transformation is to be done, it is necessary only to specify how the TIFF's structure was read (e.g. tiffdump). Then one can simply write the formula that provides the access to the (x,y,z) of the pixels without further explanation. Anyone who wants to check how that formula was obtained, can do it (by torchering themselves through the TIFF 6.0 spec document and hexdumps etc. :)

Sound ok?

Dennis's last few emails have been very handy for me in getting familiarity with this stuff. Here below (I hope this email reproduces it ok) is how I am proceeding, using Dennis's constructed 1-pixel tif file:

-0 -1 -2 -3 -4 -5 -6 -7 -8 -9 -A -B -C -D -E -F

00000000- 49 49 2A 00 0A 00 00 00 FF 00 0F 00 00 01 03 00 [II*.............]
00000001- 01 00 00 00 01 00 00 00 01 01 03 00 01 00 00 00 [................]
00000002- 01 00 00 00 02 01 03 00 01 00 00 00 01 00 00 00 [................]
00000003- 03 01 03 00 01 00 00 00 01 00 00 00 06 01 03 00 [................]
00000004- 01 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 11 01 04 00 01 00 00 00 [................]
00000005- 08 00 00 00 12 01 03 00 01 00 00 00 01 00 00 00 [................]
00000006- 15 01 03 00 01 00 00 00 01 00 00 00 16 01 03 00 [................]
00000007- 01 00 00 00 00 20 00 00 17 01 04 00 01 00 00 00 [..... ..........]
00000008- 01 00 00 00 1A 01 05 00 01 00 00 00 C4 00 00 00 [................]
00000009- 1B 01 05 00 01 00 00 00 CC 00 00 00 1C 01 03 00 [................]
0000000A- 01 00 00 00 01 00 00 00 28 01 03 00 01 00 00 00 [........(.......]
0000000B- 02 00 00 00 31 01 02 00 0A 00 00 00 D4 00 00 00 [....1...........]
0000000C- 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 01 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 [................]
0000000D- 01 00 00 00 49 72 66 61 6E 56 69 65 77 00 [....IrfanView. ]

Header (says: little-endian, and 1st (& here the only) IFD starts at offset h0000000A):

00000000- 49 49 2A 00 0A 00 00 00

Unused bytes?:

00000000- xx xx xx xx xx xx xx xx FF 00

Start of IFD (2 bytes telling number of 12-bytes IFD entries, here = h000F = d15 entries):

00000000- xx xx xx xx xx xx xx xx xx xx 0F 00

First IFD entry:

00000000- xx xx xx xx xx xx xx xx xx xx xx xx 00 01 03 00 [II*.............]
00000001- 01 00 00 00 01 00 00 00

Tag-number = h0100 = 256 = "ImageWidth", i.e. number of columns in the image, i.e. number of pixels per scan-line. Because tif-tags are listed in the IFD's in ascending order, we know that the next tag-field must have a tag-number > 256.

This tag-type, ImageWidth, can specify values of either short (16-bit unsigned) or long (32-bit unsigned) data. In our case here we know it is short, because we see the code for short (3) indicated in the 3rd and 4th bytes of this IFD entry: h0003
Therefore we now expect a short-expressed value for ImageWidth.

However, we are next first given the Count, meaning the total of number of short-expressed values that this tag-field provides: h00000001 in other words just one value.

Finally, we are given either the value, or an offset to where the value is stored. Because this is a short, it fits into the provided last 4 bytes of the 12-bytes field, and the value is given directly: h00000001 = d1 i.e. altogether ImageWidth = 1 pixel / scanline

And so on and so forth - I hope I'm sorting all this complicated business out correctly.

Dennis says:
I found, already compiled, the Windows version of tiffinfo.exe. I started downloading the references, but these are already compiled and ready to run, without a lot of undo time and effort on my part. Anyhow attached is both utilities compiled for windows, acquired from the below link:

Berj says:
Jan - tnx for cygwin dll url - no longer needed as Dennis sent me the whole necessary shebang as which unzips to: tiffdump.exe and tiffinfo.exe, both now working fine.

One area I think we need some more data on is artefacts arising from SID-to-TIFF inversion, especially with respect to which program is doing the inversion. Greg is the most knowledgable about all this and hopefully he can get to some checks.

Here is what I mean, as I currently conceive the situation:

1.) The photographic equipment produces TIFF original image files.
2.) Lizardtech's proprietary SID compression technique transforms the TIFF's to SID's. Typically a 77 Mb TIFF is shrunk to ~ 4 Mb (wow!).
3.) A SID viewer, be it MrSIDViewer.exe or Irfanview or whatever, must be able to invert the SID compression transform to produce a displayed image on the screen.
4.) Somewhere along the way in steps 2.) to 3.) artefacts arise that distort some pixles here and there across the displayed image - compared with the original "clean" TIFF's from step 1.).

The question I ask is: Do all viewers, (and I suppose all screen displays) show exactly the same artefacts? I hope this is not a dumb question. Presumably, if every viewer, like IrfanView, used the same inversion transform (say provided by Lizardtech as a block of code) then the inverted images would all show the same exact artefacts?

Robert says:
Well, the only way I can think of to test that is to find an artifact, and look to see if it appears the same in all available viewers.

Berj says:
Yes, in at least a couple of popular viewers. I think Greg, whose professional job routinely involves gauging pixel integrity, is the ideal man to let us know the story in this particular vein.

Jan says:
Any compression usually creates problems and the only reason I see Beinecke scans were converted from TIFF to SID was the saving of downloading space and time for themselves as well as for users. On top of that conversion, SID readers may screw it up even more. So you may never know what you see.

Neiher it may help to convert SIDs back to TIFFs, the spots will reconvert back so we never get "clean" originals. I guess asking Beinecke for original TIFF's is out of question so we would have to compromise.

Greg says:
Beinecke may have outsourced the imaging to an external company. In which case they may have paid only for the end product, the SIDs, and they may not have the intermediate images from the camera (be they TIFFs or whatever); indeed these may not exist. Still, it doesn't hurt to ask.

Jan says:
That is, if the area you study shows some artefacts, you may ether ignore them or find the program that would clean them out - but again, it may clean too much and all that work to write such program would be rather cumbersome. On the other hand, the scans give so great details that, comparing with original size of vellum and the size of the quill tip, the artefacts are quite small and should have negligible effect, except in critical areas.

Berj says:
r Jan. I've too have been wondering if it is possible to obtain the original TIFF's from the Beinecke. Ideally, the book would be re-photographed, with color reference cards, and all pages perfectly flat and in perfect focus uniformly across the page. With the images as they are available now, I could see possibly some interpretation problems with real hair-splitting cases - say when debating about the pressure of the quill onto the parchment.

Greg says:
From the available LizardTech docs the SID technology for version 2 of the SIDs (which these are) it is impossible to achieve the level of compression which they have done without using lossy compression. Hence the artifacts, which would occur at stage 2.) in Berj's list. As Jan put it, for the most part they are so small compared to the bulk of the features that they can be mostly ignored, except in critical cases. Still, any kind of colour analysis or edge enhancement has to be aware of their existence. (By the way, assuming the image viewers are reading the file correctly, the artifacts should always be the same.)

Dennis says:
Where did SID images come into this?

Greg says:
Hypothesising, I suspect that the reason SIDs were chosen is because they (combined with the original viewer from Lizard) enable only sending as much information as is needed at the requested resolution or image size, thus improving online performance. Noble in intent, but between the compression artefacts and the proprietary nature of the SID software, a little flawed in implementation.

Dennis says:
Artifacts on a color screen, with its various pixel sizes vs the compression algorythm itself is an interesting point. ( or why X-Ray images are still photographed in B&W ). I'm thinking that the only true representative display device, is the RGB 3 projector system, where each CRT ( R,G,B ) is ONLY for 1 color, and therefore there is NO pixel size, and pixel spacing issue.

Greg says:
There is still a question of the colour space, which is usually not fully able to represent all possible visible colours. Also, the pixel size and resolution problem is more critical in the camera, rather than in the display device, since the former is fixed while the latter can be used to zoom in.

The highest resolution cameras are still those for chemical film. The other thing is that to achieve really high digital resolution, one uses B&W imaging chips with gel or glass single colour filters (say RGB), rather than a colour imaging chip which trades resolution for single-shot colour (the pixels have tiny colour filters built in).

Dennis says:
It would be interesting to compare B&W aliasing images ( striped ) on multiple CRT/LCD/projection devices to actually see the interference.

Greg says:
Hmm. Interesting. Could you expand?

Jan says:
I just finished the new article for J.VS: THE RESEARCH OF THE VOYNICH MANUSCRIPT: The Strategies and the Results.

Berj says:
I just read it Jan. My thoughts go to the idea that arose with f76r: the possibility that the text is either totally just graphic mosaic elements, or variously a combination of mosaic tiles and cipher. Now, that idea is certainly a counter to the notion that the text is cipher in the traditional sense. If the readers of your paper embraced your suggestions enthusiastically, then one would think that the proposition that f76r holds a text-mosaic portrait would be welcomed as an alternative to cipher attacks.

Robert says:
I've made some more progress in translating labels, and adding to my collection of letter values. The files are attached [f68r3 Star Label Letter Values.doc; Letter Values Table.doc; Voynich Manuscript Aldebaran Variations.doc ]. It seems labels are produced by either leaving out letters, anagramming the word, or both.

Greg, would you mind looking at the PM-Curve word a little closer? Since we know what the curve means, can you think of a word using those letters that would fit? Or any word at all, for that matter.

I found a program called WordFind v3.3 that has been very helpful. In the words below the moons on f67r2 I've found "England" and "Holland" using it. It didn't help with the PM-Curve word, though.

You can also create additional lexicon files for it, and I've done so for the astrological fixed stars and signs.

Berj says:
In other words [as I interpret Robert's letters tables], "ALGOL" can also be found written "LGL". Well, maybe. It would need some convincing though, like the contexts of ALGOL and LGL pointing to it being the same word. And it is a long-running controversy in Voynichville whether or not the text, assumed as plain text in some language but a strange alphabet, is ok to translate as vowel-less - one of the most famous/controversial vowel-less translations of the VMS is the vowel-less Ukrainian of John Stojko from the 1970's. He concludes the VMS is a series of letters written to the eye of "Baby God", or something like that - I forget now. His work is imaginative and interesting, but doesn't have many followers.

Dennis [commenting to Robert and Jan about the Sukhotin vowels-detecting algorithm] says: I have found, many references to using the algorhythm but I have NOT found the procedure itself. Here are some interesting links you may already have ( sent in plain text ).

Voynich MS - References and Web Sites, Sukhotin algorithm is NOT yet included in the Voynich Analysis methods at the URL below:

NOTE from above URL: "Vowel/consonant detection, Included here will be at least:
Application of Sukhotin algorithm by Jacques Guy, One or two pronouncible examples by Jacques, On-line example of Mike Roe "

Current published analysis methods at URL:

Other published, (membership required) texts at URL:
" The application of Sukhotin's algorithm to certain non-English languages " by: George T. Sassoon
Published by: United States Military Academy, West Point, New York USA

Archive references at URLs:

Jan says:
Well, I was looking for the algorithm Jacques [Guy] used in his article which I do not have. I have this from VML:

1) reduce all double, triple, etc. letters to single letters.
2) assume the most frequent letter is a vowel.
3) assume the letter which occurs most often in positions NOT adjacent to a vowel is also a vowel.
4) repeat step 3 until every letter which has not been identified as a vowel always occurs next to a vowel.

As Robert Firth pointed out, even the word "algorithm" defies Suckhotin rules. Of course angrams do, too. Besides, Sukhotin is nothing but geometrical statistics, it's a long way to real grammar.

Greg [on the Sukhotin algorithm] says:
I just found the origin of this by accident; it's Gabriel's [Landini]. See:

The original site no longer exists, though.

Robert says:
The label was "LGLO", de-anagrammed to "LGOL". The Author would think "L" was close enough to "AL", so phonetically it would be "aLGOL". Since the inital A was left off "Algeneb", it has the same effect. That label comes out "LGBON", converted to "LGNOB" (phonetically "aLGeNOB") I found variant spellings using E and I in Allen's. (In any case, it was pretty obvious "Mirfak" wouldn't work.)

This might be where only certain letters are permitted to end words comes in, and EVA , "E", isn't one of them, so he used "O" instead. Or he misspelled. Or grabbed the wrong letter from the chart.

Over on f67r2 I might have found "Poland" to go along with "England" and "Holland", but if so, it's spelled "Pollan".

Greg [answering Robert's request to look at the PM-curve word a little closer] says:
Do we indeed _know_ what it means? We guess, but do we know?

Robert says:
It was YOUR picture (Pleiades.pdf) showing it to be the Moon's apparent path, that proved it to me.

Greg says:
Anyway, nothing springs to mind at first glance, but I shall stare at it for a bit.

Robert says:
Thanks. I thought you might know more terms for what it shows than I do. Just in case it might make it easier: The top line is the value most used with the letter. The bottom line is the alternate value.

o a l ch c o l

Greg says:
Since I posted that I've had a thought about what this could, but I won't reveal it yet until I check a few things. Thanks for the other mail about the letters. Are there any other possible alternatives? Particularly the two "?" you marked?

Berj [commenting on the PM-curve word / label] says:
Well then Robert, how about the obvious question: which letters do you have available as possible matches for the Voynich letters in the PM-curve word? We can play with those letters and maybe come up with an idea, like: BORELLO

I just plugged into google: borello astro

There was a Borelli / Borellius (1608-1679 ?) involved with the invention of the telescope. I gotta look into this Petrus Borellius.

Robert [answering Greg] says:
Not yet. I've been looking hard for other letter values, but nothing's come to me yet. I've been working with the three columns of letters (files attached). [F76r Letter Table.doc; F49v Letter Table.doc; F66r Letter Table.doc]

Jan says:
Now about something completely different, to quote Monty Python. One thing bothers me: the story about Mnishowsky as it was put in the Wikipedia does not have author or any quotations and it is not a common knowledge. On the other hand, it does not seem like a drug induced speculation: after all, we now know that Mnishowsky was a skilled cryptographer and his book is no textbook of Czech language (I have more info from leading cryptographer from Slovakia), apparently I have to write another article about that. And what's more, Horczicky's name really looks like it was written by Mnishowsky (it only looks, but it's close enough). If he ever owned the VM, he was not telling Marci the whole truth. I do not see him as an author, however the script of the VM is disconnected like his ( no other handwriting of all I checked is that much disconnected, practically every character).

Too bad we know so little about that fellow. No wonder he wrote his own epitaph, nobody knew him so well :-).

[end of J.VS comm. #120]

From: Berj Ensanian
Date: Tue, 04 Dec 2007 00:33:32 -0500 (EST)

Subject: J.VS: Fr. Theodorus Moretus

Dear All

Standard Voynich manuscript history relies heavily on a letter, APUG 557 353r&v [1], dated 27 April 1639, Prague, written to Athanasius Kircher by one Georgius Baresch, a friend of doctor-scientist and Kircher-friend Joannes Marcus Marci. In his letter Baresch names Fr. Moretus as knowing of the mysterious script that Baresch is trying to interest Kircher in, and as acting as a courier for Baresch in the matter. [2]

It is assumed that Fr. Moretus is the famous Jesuit mathematician / astronomer Theodorus Moretus / Moreti, 1602-1667. There is a body of Fr. Moretus' papers, and literature about him, but as far as I know nothing has yet been discovered in them that sheds any light on his being mentioned in Baresch's letter. [3]

I have located six letters from Fr. Moretus to Kircher in the APUG archive [4]. There are image quality, transcription, and translation issues, but from initial glances I don't see any smoking guns vis-a-vis Baresch etc. Careful reading may however enable us to deduce something useful from them.

I think of Moretus as one of the "M-guys" in the Voynich Manuscript Mystery, along with Marci and Mnischowsky. The mystery seems to like M's, from merlins to Mondragone. Lately I've been wondering more and more about some of Jan's on and off-J conjectures along the lines that maybe Kircher himself, for good reasons, faked the last letter of Marci found with the VMS, and even that Marci was heavily involved in creating the VMS. In addition to the obvious medical aspects, Marci was for a while the world's expert in certain areas of color optics, and I've often mentioned my belief that the lower left diagram portion of f67v2 is a RGB color theory diagram. I do also still entertain very much that the VMS may have been a cooperative project, perhaps involving all the M-guys and Kircher in some way or other.

I add initial comments from Jan Hurych below [5]. I am wondering Jan, if, as you have hinted a number of times in the past, "Baresch" was a means to Marci to get Kircher's attention. Maybe once Marci got Kircher's attention, they started cooperating on a project, possibly leading to the VMS, during some tumultuous times. Moretus could have supplied the astronomy, Mnishowsky the script, Marci the physiology and optics (I keep thinking of the arm-star diagram now and again), and so on.

I's like to see some portraits of Marci in his younger days - compare them to the f76r hand-script text-art portrait that I clearly see.

Jan, have a look at Baresch's sine (manu-propria) and let me know off-J what you think about what is going on with it at its lower right.

Well, it keeps on getting more interesting, doesn't it?

Berj / KI3U


[2] see J.VS comm. #10, Letters to Kircher by Baresch and Marci, 1 MAR 2007

[3] see Jan Hurych's vms-list post: Re: Re: Re: VMs: Moretus, Fri, 11 Jun 2004 19:55:59 -0500

[4: 1 to 6] Letters to Kircher from Theodorus Moretus in the online APUG Kircher archive, with a few notes:

[4-1] 25 DEC 1638 ltr fm Theodorus Moretus; Magnetismos; Archimede; Praga; verso address to AK:

[4-2] 8 JAN 1639 ltr fm Theodorus Moretus; Praga; verso adr to AK in Rome:

[4-3] 22 FEB 1642 ltr fm Theodorus Moretus; Arabica; Persica; Mathematicis; D. Doctor Marcus; Mercury; verso adr to AK mailed fm Boemia:

[4-4] 30 JUL 1642 ltr fm Theodorus Moretus; eclipsi Praga; P. Conradus; R.P. Guilielmo duCoroy; verso adr to AK and an apparent post-script:

[4-6] 9 OCT 1642 ltr fm Theodorus Moretus; eclipsis; Praga; Doctor Marcus; verso adr mailed by P. Moretus fm Praga:

[4-5] 10 or 16 MAY 1642 Moretus letter pages: 126-127rv url's are out of sequence:

127v = start of ltr; D. Joannes Marcus Marci MD.; D. Nicclaus Tranchimontanus; instrumentum; Tycho; Rudolpho Imperatore; points to Primum next:

126r = start of Primum; astronomical observations ~ Luna, Spica Virginis etc.:

126v = continuation, has a sun-moon eclipse diagram:

127r = continuation fm 126rv & ending of ltr; D. Doctor Marcus; 10 or 16 MAY 1642 fm Theodorus Moretus in Praga:

[5] 3 DEC 2007 off-J initial comments on the above by Jan Hurych:

In Czech page:

about Jesuit mathematics in Prague, is this paqragraph:

" a v letech 1630-1667 významný matematik belgického puvodu Theodorus Moretus (1602-1667), který je autorem prvních matematických disertací obhajovaných v Praze a jeho? príchod do Prahy znamenal zvý?ení úrovne matematických studií v Klementinu. Moretovy vedecké deníky obsahující odborné poznámky a koncepty i jeho korespondenci s predními evropskými ucenci té doby (Kircher. Conrad, Riccioli aj.... "

loosely translated as:

" years 1630-1667 the famous mathematician of Belgian descent Theodorus Moretus (1602-1667) was the author of first mathematical dissertations attested in Prague and whose arrival in Prague meant the increase of quality of mathematical studies in Clementinum. His scientific diaries containing his expert notes, concepts and his correspondence with top European scientists of his time ( Kircher, Conrad, Rissio;li etc.)... "


According to other source, he was born in Antwerp , entered SJ in 1608, in 1620 - 1627 he studied at Louvain University (which is connected to Dee, too) , in 1621 was a teacher of mathematics in Munster. When his teacher Gregorius left for Prague and fell sick, Moretus left for Prague too and was helping him there in 1630-1631. He than stayed in Bohemia till his death, In Prague in years (1634-1639, 1641, 1649-1652) in Olomouc 1632-1634 and in Vratislav (1659-1662, 1633-1667 where he died).

His field was physics, astronomy, mathematics and geometry. One Moon crater is named after him (so is one after Marci), He wrote about 10 works, some are in manuscript form.


My (Jan) comment: Taking in account that Marci was also a physicist and wrote a book about the quadrature of the circle, they must have known each other very well and surely discussed mathematical problems. Baresch, on the other side, was alchemist and esoterical scientist.

It is quite possible that Moretus brought the letter of Baresch and samples of the VM to Kircher on the direct advice by Marci. But it was surely in sealed envelope, so he might not know the details of its content. This is of course only a speculation: Baresch might have approached Moretus already before to help him crack the VM, who knows?

And what about Kinner who asked Kircher about he VM on marci's behalf ( I vaguely remeber it was 3 months before Marci's death)? Well, apaprently not only Marci, but Moretus was curious too. Moretus's letter is full of mathematical subjects and references. In that case, Prague Jesuits might have known about the VM, too, some mathematicians might even take a shot at cracking it :-).

[end of J.VS comm. #121]

From: Berj Ensanian
Date: Wed, 05 Dec 2007 00:12:31 -0500 (EST)

Subject: J.VS: Fr. Moretus's 22 FEB 1642 letter to Kircher, and more

Dear All

Below [1] is the redaction of our off-J discussions 27 NOV - 4 DEC 2007. To Greg and Dennis: have a safe trip back home, from vastly different and great distances.

Berj / KI3U

[1] Redaction of off-J discussions 27 NOV - 4 DEC 2007. Participants in order of first appearance are J.VS members Berj N. Ensanian, Dennis M. Fedak, Greg Stachowski, Jan Hurych.

Berj says:
I got from Tim Raymond a 67-pages paper: The Invention of the Telescope, by Albert Van Helden, American Philosophical Society, 1977. This paper may well come in very handy with VMS work in general. Roger Bacon is referred to again and again, and we also get plenty of Della Porta, Dee, and Harriot. I want at least Greg's opinion on this paper.

Van Helden is a good theorist - does some calculations to make his arguements about when two lenses could have become real telescopes. But he dismisses the idea that a real telescope could have been discovered accidentally because the required 24 inches separation between known available lenses in ~1600 exceeded arms length. In other words, an experimenter would not think of putting one of the lenses on the end of a stick, say. Well I don't buy that.

What it appears to me happened is that the principle of the real telescope was known for a long time before Van Helden et al believe, kept more or less secret or discussed in the open only in terms of obfuscating "magic". But then around 1600 high quality lenses became commonly available in some European trade fair, and the time for the thing to take off had suddenly arrived. And you have the controversy over who "invented" it: Metius vs Lipperhey vs Jannsen etc.

Van Helden casually mentions that among the earliest astronomical observations with telescopes was the noticing of more stars in constellations, like the Pleiades. Of course. Well, we've got f68r3 focused on the Pleiades. And as I made a big deal about back during the PM-curve work, I believe the two circular panels to the left of f68r3 represent the view through a telescope. So, altogether this reinforces my belief that the VMS is a post-astronomical-telescope document.

There is still Robert's question: what could the PM-curve word/label be. Robert and Greg lean toward the meaning of the curve describing the moon's sky-path, but they have not provided an equation that matches the curve to such, their idea is still qualitative. I have provided a precise equation demonstrating the curve likely encodes an elliptic orbit, possibly even of two interacting objects - comets? Suppose, that the PM-curve label, being seven letters long, simply says: 360
In other words: one cycle.

In Van Helden's paper he mentions the Comet controversy of 1618 - that seems to have escaped my studies of the comets situation back then. I must look into that.

Dennis [answering Greg's request to elaborate on testing for artifacts via aliasing, see comm. #120] says:
Note: the below, test application, requires java.

My idea, was to use something similiar to the test program, but have an uncompressed version on the left and a compression of choice version of it on the right, in order to determine losses, and Moire banding, courtesy of compression/decompression and LCD vs 3CRT displays.

The Moire occurs between the:

a) dot printing of the original image and the striped sampling of the scanner
b) between the sampled image of the scanner and the striping of the LCD screen
c) compression algorythms may add to the striping problem, depending on the nature of compression sampling and the accuracy of the decompression.

I am not familiar enough with the schemes of compression and their anticipated error rates, to know if there they can contribute to apparent banding in the image, this would require much more research, but a relatively simple test could be performed. ( Sure wish I had time to set it up). What appears to the eye as darkened bands in an image and potential hidden intelligence may not be seen by your TIF analyzer program.

Greg says:
Berj, if you can get the [Van Helden] paper I'll certainly have a look at it.

Jan says:
The "layer depth analysis" of the VM could be very informative: while the coloring was certainly done after the text was written and pictures drawn, it may confirm the idea that coloring surely served the masking purpose. After all, those colors are only few like those from one dollar kit, sold in children store, and mostly do not follow the real colors of the plants or objects anyway .

And if there was something to mask, it was certainly important enough to be masked and could be actually the real secret of the VM. Now we cannot do layer depth analysis on existing scans only or can we? Color deconvolution does only the surface trick, I am afraid, and it cannot separate two layers of colors that partially dissolved one into another and might even have reacted chemically. Provided the upper layer was painted by some watercolor, we cannot now properly separate them electronically, based on color tint only.

The layer analysis on the other hand may (for instance) also reveal the extent odd damage Voynich caused to the folio bearing the erased "signature". It may even reveal the traces of the original erasure underneath. Right now, I could not distinguish what is a former erasure (if any) and what is the damage.

Imagine this scenario: there was a need for some identification of the VM for provenance purposes but Voynich foolishly promised not to reveal the seller. Marci's letter does not give any details to prove it talks about the attached VM either.

So what about writing Horczicky's name there, that would identify it enough. But Marci nor Baresch saw any name there, so we better erase it and "rediscover" it a later day? And so the mystery of the "erased signature" was born, after all one has to explain nobody saw it before. Fine, but the signature and its "old erasure" should be tracable. Not too much, since neither Baresch nor Marci and not even Voynich spotted the erasure either. Also, in old times, they had only limited means for erasure - mind you, there was no Javex or Clorox Bleach Pen :-). They only had water, some strong chemicals and pen knife. Certainly there would be too many problems and experts might find out the truth. So somebody got an idea: why don't we do the accidental spill that covers the whole area and nobody could trace anything any more except the crudely visible "signature"?

The chemical or spectroscopical analysis can put these doubts about the veracity of the erasure in rest: no visible scratches are seen now and all that remains for us is to find the traces of ink dissolved in water or some other chemical, which was different from the "modern" one used by Voynich. If they are found, fine, if not, then the "erasure" is just another mystification like the the Austrian castle told originally by Voynich to Newbold two years before his death. After all, while everybody talked by the accidental spill, Voynich revealed that "accidental" was just the original underexposure and he provided no explanation how he made Horczicky's name permanently visible - as it is now - and created at the same time the mess around it. That mess is definitely NOT there after original erasure: even half blind Marci could have spotted it and refer about it to Kircher :-).

Funny, now when I mentioned that: did Voynich ever specify what chemical stuff he used? We may find that via chemical analysis too - after all, there are not too many chemicals that we know can reveal the erased writing . . . :-)

Berj says:
Well Jan there is no doubt that if we had the opportunity to apply hi-tech imaging to the VMS we'd have plenty of ideas! I've been wondering this: Dennis suggested Moire patterns as a means for investigating artifacts in the available images. I was unable to use that url he gave on account of not having the applet or whatever; however, I think it is an intriguing idea and would like to see him and Greg discuss it some more. Which brings me to: could a Moire analysis attack tell us something new about the f1r "signature"?

Elsewise, I'm thinking we might plug a few more items into the Timeline. In particular I'd like you (Jan) to suggest something for Mnishowsky. Also we need I think some more astronomical events, like the Great Comet of 1618, the year the Thirty Years War began - King James wrote a poem about this comet:

which includes these lines:

" And misinterpret not, with vaine Conceit
The Caracter you see on Heaven gate.
Which though it bring the world some news from fate
The letters such as no man can translate "

Robert Hooke had identified it with the Comet of 1664, but I think it is now accepted as Halley's Comet. Question: did anything significant involving the Pleiades occur in 1519 ?

Jan [commenting on the Timeline-entry being composed for Mnishowsky] says:
Bohemian is more related to country, (we have 2 Bohemia and Moravia, joined under one name, Czachs, related more to tribe and language. Czechs also live in Moravia, having the same nationality and language.

Berj says:
Ok Jan, very good - the ball is then in Greg's court to install the Mnishowsky entry into the Timeline:

1628 - Dr. Raphael Sobiehrd-Mnishowsky (1580-1644) completes writing his "Construction sive strues Trithemiana", the first Czech (Bohemian) book about cryptography. Mnishowsky is mentioned in Marci's last letter to Kircher in connection with the mysterious ms that Marci is sending to Kircher.

I've been reviewing some of your Prague manuscript material, and wondering about something:

Why does Marci, in "his last letter to Kircher" mention Dr. Raphael (with a reference that identifies him as Dr. Mnishowsky), but does not do the obvious of identifying who he (Marci) got the book from?

The whole point seems to be to let the reader of the letter know that Mnishowsky was familiar with the book. The bulky details of it even Marci: "suspend judgment". The most important meta-message is: Mnishowsky is familiar with this book.

Perhaps you are right Jan - perhaps there is too much concentration on Horzcicky and Baresch, and not enough on the mysterious Mnishowsky.


" A book bound in the skin of an executed Jesuit priest was to be auctioned in England. The macabre, 17th-century book tells the story of the 1605 Gunpowder Plot and is covered in the hide of Father Henry Garnet. "

Full article here:

I wonder if this is in any way relevant to the (presumably) re-bound Voynich manuscript. Catholic Encyclopedia article on Father Garnet is here:

Jan says:
Berj, imagine the VM cover is made of Baresch's skin - a we were looking all around for him :-)

Berj says:
Well believe it or not Jan, that was the first macabre thought I had too :)

Nothing would surprise me anymore with the VMS. But the VMS-author I believe was cosmological-philosophy oriented, with a strong mathematical perspective. True, that wouldn't necessarily rule out some sort of magical procedure along the lines of body parts or fluids, say mixing blood in the paints and / or inks, but I just don't get much of such an impression from the manuscript overall. Perhaps the ms does contain somewhere on one of its folios a brief experiment - I can remember in my youth after accidentally cutting one of my fingers and having a little blood available before bandaging, getting a toothpick or something and writing some words on paper - just out of curiosity to see what would happen. Probably this was shortly after having read some pirates novel where something is sealed in blood ;) Interestingly, there was that Japanese? writer who wrote a lengthy work in prison entirely with his own blood, if I am remembering that story correctly.

Incidentally, there are some pictures available at Wilkinsons Auctioneers website of the Garnet book, which is Lot 181 for the Dec. 2 auction:

I think this Garnet thing is quite interesting, but probably not directly VMS-relevant, except that it did provoke the idea of a possible "blood experiment" in the VMS.

Jan says:
Baresch wrote to Kircher twice and K. certainly did not answer the first letter (Baresch makes hint in his second letter that the first one DID NOT get lost, so apparently K. was afraid somebody is playing him for fool again. Then in one letter, I believe it was after the second letter, Marci is in his letter to K. vouching for Baresch, apparently either Kircher asked him or impatient Baresch was pushing Marci to convince K. I wonder also as you do why Marci did not mention Baresch, apparently Kircher knew who he was talking about (well he should if he read his 2 letters :-). There is a gap in their correspondence: either some Marci letters are still missing and no K's letters to Marci were found in Prague. In his book, Marci names Baresch as his friend, now why he did not mention that to K.? Hint: he did not want to convince K. in any way. Another hint is his statement that previous owner spent (futile? j.h.) years trying to solve the VM. The strongest hint is that K. should make his opinion himself, so Marci is 3 times distancing himself from the fable.

Same way, Marci only says "Dr. Raphael", not bothering with "Mnishowsky", but he adds "the tutor of Emperors children" but would that be helpful identification for somebody who lives in Italy? No, he was hinting that Raphael knew court well. Conclusion: Kircher knew abour Raphael, but how? Apparently Marci mentioned him before, even may have asked him for advice at the time when K. and Marci were saving the secret letter of Swedish general Banner. Why? he knew Raphael was good in cryptography? But nowhere is the assurance that Marci trusted Raphael ....

One thing is now for sure: Mnishowsky knew a lot about the VM - but did he tell it all to Marci? Hardly, he would put it also in his letter to Kircher. And did Raphael know Baresch had the VM (he certainly had it before Raphael died. And how come Marci gives K. 20 years old information?

Berj says:
Well, here then is a question: did Kircher and Mnischowsky correspond?

I have not been able to find anything along those lines. Mnishowsky (1580-1644) lived about the same time as the Parisian mathematician Fr. Marin Mersenne (1588-1648), and Mersenne and Kircher apparently did correspond.

Another of the mysterious M-guys is: Fr. Moretus/um. Baresch in his letter to Kircher mentions Moretus as a bearer of the mysterious script and so we know that Moretus is one of the people who, theoretically, knew about it (J.VS comms. #10-13).

So then, is it not reasonable to assume that somewhere along the way Kircher and Moretus corresponded? A quick check: I just saw that the old handwritten Kircher-correspondence catalogs list about a half a dozen letters involving a Fr. Theodori Moretis / Moreti written over the period 1638-1642. I'll see if I can locate these letters................

I now have found six letters from Fr. Theodorus Moretus to Kircher, written between 25 DEC 1638 and 9 OCT 1642. From initial examination I have not found any indication that Fr. Moretus ever heard of Baresch and his strange script. But there is a lot to go through, and the script and imaging are far from easy to deal with.

On the immediate good side, the letters are well placed in time, since Baresch supposedly was trying to tell Kircher about the mysterious script from 1637 on. It is quite clear from the letters that Fr. Moretus knows "D. Doctor Joannes Marcus Marci MD.", and Moretus mailed some of his letters from Prague.

Here then is the data: [see J.VS comm. #121, 3 DEC 2007]. ANY new scrap of information will be worthwhile, even if we deduce that Baresch is fiction.

Jan says:
Berj, congratulations, I guess Moretus knew something about the VM and surely about Baresch, since B mentioned him in his letter.

Berj says:
Thanks Jan. I hope we can get some translations and deduce something from these six letters. In the meantime take a look at Barschius's sine / manu-propria: what is that at its lower right? I am curious about Baresch's strange sine - it appears as if at the bottom-right of it he has actually written some symbols.

Jan says:
Baresch's signature: the transcript says "M. Georgius Baresch" but Marci always calls him Barschius and the end of the signature is unclear. We had discussion about that in the VML once, but no conclusion. AS FOR the "something" underneath, I can't figure what is there without guessing and my guess is we need good filter :-)

Berj says:
Can you point me to some portraits of Marci? I've seen the medal, and a picture of the stone sculpture.

Jan says:
Marci's portraits are here: older picture, collage new, artistic, on stamp,

2 pictures, the first original plaque on his house, done from some unknown picture, maybe too stylistic, second is from his book De proportione motibus, but I got the book and got you the better cutout of his face - it looks good, is attached, probably the closest to his real appearance.

Berj says:
Thanks Jan - very interesting! What is striking is that in the picture you sent, Marci's lips, especially the upper, are VERY similar to the lips of the face I see in f76r. Also the hair bulbs out on both sides, but that would have been common. The face in f76r is of a younger man - I'd estimate in his 30's, and is clean shaven.

I hope that if there is any clue in those letters, however slight a clue, that we find it. Robert might have a close look at Moretus's eclipse diagram with the face-bearing sun in APUG 567 126v and maybe see something of interest. The slightest offhand remark by Moretus could open up something new. My Latin is simply inadequate, but Dennis and Greg are great at it, but both are currently far away from home on business. I am getting the gnawing feeling that there may be something important in two of the Moretus letters: [4-2] 8 JAN 1639, and the [4-3] 22 FEB 1642.

"manuscriptum libellum" which I take to mean "a little book" appears on lines 7-8 of the 22 FEB 1642 letter. Near left bottom are "obscure...Elixir". This letter seems to have lots of words having to do with languages and libraries, and there are a number of people mentioned including of course Marci, and Padre Santinus. I think we should concentrate on this letter - what is Moretus saying ???

Dennis [from on the road] says:
libellus : little book
manus : hand, band, handwriting
scriptor : writer, author, scribe

English speakers might translate "pamphlet of (my) notes" as libellus manuscriptarum. "us" being the Nominative subject, arum being the genetive case, of or pertaining to. However the "um" suffix, makes both the object of a verb possibly, an implied verb, or the de-facto "to be", "I am", "you are", "it is" .

I would go with: (It is) (a) hand written pamphlet.

My Casales is at home, so I'm using Wikipedia and trying to remember.

Berj says:
What is the handwritten pamphlet about ? Do you get the sense that Moretus is talking about an ESOTERIC or mysterious or unusual pamphlet?

Jan says:
All I could gather is this:
He mentions several places in Rome, would he be describing his stay there?
He talks about Arabic and Persian Language in the Bible, which apparently is not in Rome but Venice. He also mentions his professor Gregorius (de?) Vincentio whom he consulted (? ] He also mentions Marci in last sentence above his signature (Resalutat - meaning "also greetings from Marci" (?)) He mentions Santinus and in last paragraph, the planet Mercury. Correction, it looks like the Mercury was a chemical term, not the planet, and "obscure explicuent Elixir en the(sis)" means something like "obscure display of Elixir in the(sis)"?

Unfortunately, the spot is too large to cover some of it...

It does not seem to be answering some questions from Kircher, it is more like a chat, but I will look deeper. First I have to do transcript, fortunately his handwriting is better then that of Baresch.

Berj says:
Jan, I think the following may help with the seal spots: Take the verso page, horizontal flip it. Then do some processing like convert to gray-scale, negative, push the brightness, contrast, gamma etc.

Yes I do think Moretus may be discussing something unusual, that is something not normally in his profession of mathematics and astronomy in the 22 FEB 1642 letter.

[end of J.VS comm. #122, redaction of off-J discussions 27 NOV - 4 DEC 2007]

From: Berj Ensanian
Date: Fri, 07 Dec 2007 20:15:30 -0500 (EST)

Subject: J.VS: Toward a Version 1 transcription of Fr. Moretus's 22 FEB 1642 letter to Kircher

Dear All

Below [1] is the current state of the work-in-progress [ref. J.VS comms. #122, #123] transcribing the 22 FEB 1642 letter of Theodorus Moretus to Athanasius Kircher, the image of which, APUG 567 055r, is online at:

Our strategy has been to do transcribing and translating simultaneously, so as to improve the chances of getting both as correct as possible. It is quite exciting as Fr. Moretus's communication to Kircher "develops" in a manner reminiscent of a photographic print in a developing tray in a darkroom.

The below is an interesting snapshot of the off-J work-in-progress because it shows approximately the first 40 percent, that is the first fourteen lines, of the total original raw transcript, having received a first going-over with the simultaneous process just mentioned, and resulting in some corrections. The remaining lines are virgin raw, no more. Once all the lines have had a first going-over, we will call the result the Version 1 transcription.

It is already apparent that this letter is well worth reading.

Berj / KI3U

[1] Preliminary version 1 transcription of 22 FEB 1642 letter of Moretus to Kircher, produced by Berj / KI3U and Jan Hurych. Note that despite some physical co-linearity with the main text, the block of lines that appear to be a post-script to the main body text, beginning at lower left with "P. Santinus", have been numbered separately - they begin with "P. Santinus" assigned to line 27, and end with line 34 at the bottom of the letter.

1: R. in Chro Pater

2: pax eiusdem

3: Accepi R.V. litteras Conye gratissimas, libertissime ys legi

4: qua de Sollicitudine circa Apollonium annotabat. Scio tamen Roma

5: fuisse integrum Apollonium lingus Arabica aut Persica in Bibli-

6: otheca non Vaticatia, sed Florentina. et istud mihi peculi-

7: are narratum fuisse memini, Bibliothecarium illius

8: thesauri promisisse aliquando cui dam Patri nostro Romano

9: illius libri desum sed[]idem ille Pater nescio quem ma-

10: nuScriptum libellum []eadem Bibliotheca acceptum

11: enalgasset, Bibliothecarium indignatum recusasse punigere

12: id quid promiSerat[]antum memini, Professor meus

13: in Mathematicis P. []sius a J. Vincentio, quem

14: hodie Super eadem re consiliuum par litteras.

15: De Bettinio mayni facio indicium R.V.a sed rendivus licuit

16: nec ipso nec R.V.a opero fuci. Si R.V.a Secundad impressione

17: cural sui maynchy, qua so elians currs Secundus ad dat et assetarium.

18: Moleitus pane mitui et Supremus regni Burgranius [VI ?] inter

19: duos magnetes ferrum [medium ?] Suspendam sine filo Ictinente.

20: Ego Vero illud indinifibile VL a me athnyatur desperare

21: me palain dixi, putaremys citius quadraturam circuli me [attingere ?]

22: pusse, quam aut illud in eodem [madio ?], aut [motum ?] perpetuum.

23: Salutem pro opportunitate P. Gulielmo du [leRoy ?]. Resulutat

24: D. Doctor Marcus. Pragai 22. Febr. 1642.

25: R.V. Servus [in Christo ?]

26: Theodorus Moretus.

27: P. Santinus peramanter Salutat R.V.a

28: sed irate tamen, Vt aiti es quod R.V. nimis

29: obscure [explicuetit ?] Elixir ex Thena[]?Soribit enim

30: quid de dualus illis aquis faviendum?[]iaca extractisy

31: deinde quod vacent modum Argent9?[]lluin conficiendi ope Mercuryj

32: Sum qued colci modum [enclius ?] Hindi []tsis ex qualitet re.

33: [Derciyis optarit ?] iam nunc [vivere ?] pro []eruyli? n mia. [hbrid ?] r nim R.V. ipre penuliut ^ D. Masconci9?-

34: tum. spero mi tue dei nDc Christi ei as[]am [4itch ?] jnon. adeu ani de omnibus Kriker.

From: Berj Ensanian

Date: Tue, 11 Dec 2007 11:15:00 -0500 (EST)

Subject: J.VS: Theodorus Moretus's 22 FEB 1642 letter to Athanasius Kircher: Version 1 Transcription

Dear All,

Below [1] is the Version-1 transcript of Moretus's 22 FEB 1642 letter. It is presently the best reference, although of course before all is said and done, the transcription of this very interesting letter can evolve to Version-n where n is any higher number. See also J.VS communications #10, 13, 121, 122, and 123.

Version-1 exhibits also our evolving transcription format. The transcript is referenced to line 0: at the top of the document, reserved for a top-of-document glyph or symbol, for example "+". In this particular letter it appears that Moretus placed at mid-line 0: a sine or manu propria that is obscured by a large red seal spot there.

Square brackets [ ] enclose general document-specific descriptors, in the present case notably the seal spots that obscure several portions of the text. Curved brackets ( ) enclose transcribed glyphs with notes or comments, which can be as brief as a question mark to indicate uncertainty on the transcription there. Comparing, for example, the transcription of line 29 with the image of Moretus's letter, shows the transcription format in some generality.

We continue to work on this, and also Moretus's 8 JAN 1639 letter. To this point almost all of the translating work in the simultaneous transcription-translation-transliteration efforts (T&T&T) has been done by Jan Hurych.

Berj / KI3U

[1] Complete (Lines 0: to 34:) Version-1 transcript of 22 FEB 1642 letter of Theodorus Moretus to Athanasius Kircher, from online image APUG 567 055r, last accessed 11 DEC 2007 at url:

0: [(sine?) ]
1: in Chro Pater
2: pax eiusdem.
3: Accepi R.V. litteras Conye gratissimas, libertissime ys legi
4: qua de Sollicitudine circa Apollonium annotabat. Scio tamen Roma
5: fuisse integrum Apollonium lingua Arabica aut Persica in Bibli-
6: otheca non Vaticata, sed Florentina . et istud mihi peculi-
7: are narratum fuisse memini, Bibliothecarium illius
8: thesauri promisisse aliquando cui dam Patri (notro ?) Romano
9: illius libri (?)sum sed[]idem ille Pater nescio quem ma-
10: nuScriptum libellum [ ?)]eadem Bibliotheca acceptum
11:(eu alias/ilias set or: eu ili asset ?), Bibliothecarium indignatum recusasse (pounigere ?)
12: id quid promiSerat[]antum memini, Professor maior
13: in Mathematicis P. []rius a J. Vincentio, quem
14: hodie Super eadem re censulam per litteras.
15: De Bettinio magni facio indicium R.V.a sed nondum licuit
16: nec ipso nec R.V.a opero fuci. Si R.V.a Secundad impressione
17: curat sui magnetis, qua so etiam currs Secundus addat et auctarium.
18: Molestus pa' ne mi tui (est ?) Supremus regni Burgravius [VL ?] inter
19: duos magnetes ferrum [mediun ?] Suspendam sine filo detinente.
20: Ego Vero illud indinifibile VL a me attingatur desperare
21: me palam dixi, (putiremys ?) citius quadraturam circuli me attingere
22: (posse ?), quam aut illud in eodem (madi'o ?), aut motum perpetuum.
23: Salutem pro opportunitate P. Guilielmo du (CoRoy ?) . Resulutat
24: D. Doctor Marcus. Praga 22. Febr. 1642.
25: R.V. Servus in (X ?)
26: Theodorus Moretus.
27: P. Santinus peramanter Salutat R.V.a
28: sed irate tamen, (VL aiti ?) eo quid R.V. nimis
29: obscure (explicaetit ?) Elixir ex Then[(a ?) (S ?)]cribit enim
30: quid de (dualus ?) illis aquis faviend[(um ?)]iaca extractisi
31: deinde quod (tacent ?) modum Argen[(t ?)]lluin (conficitudi ?) (opc ?) Mercuryj
32: Sum qud (colct ?) modum (extra ?) hindi []tras ex qualitet re.
33: (Derciyis optarae ?) iam nunc (vivere ?) pro [](eruyli ?) n mia. (hbrw ?) enim R.V. ipse (persuluit ?) ^ D. Marco (?)-
34: tum. s pero mi tue dei nDc Christi ei as[ (cd ?)]am (4tct ?) jnon. adeo ani de omnibus (Xriker ?).

From: Berj Ensanian
Date: Tue, 11 Dec 2007 17:09:04 -0500 (EST)

Subject: J.VS: Moretus Letters off-J discussions 5 DEC - 10 DEC 2007

Moretus-to-Kircher Letters off-J discussions 5 DEC - 10 DEC 2007:

Berj Ensanian says:
Here are some useful web-links (note: apparently back in Kircher's day there were Plantin-Moretus and Balthasar Moretus Publishing Houses in Antwerp, so we should not confuse them with Fr. Moretus):

Jesuit Math in the Clementium, this is great:

Illustrated Chronology (see "Johannes Moretus" in 1602 entries; also gives nice-to-know name of General of Jesuit Order: "1645, Feb. 9: The Jesuit general Mutius Vitelleschi dies at Rome."):

Info on Jesuit geometers (Moretus etc.):

Kircher & astronomy (Moretus is in this paper), gives names of APUG archivists in 1970, might have to get this paper sometime:

Book on scientific revolution: Newbold, Marci, Moretus, Kircher, Copernicus etc: =web&ots=i8CxMqIOHm&sig=f48EtukMOofAVJNy17nBiTdY3kU

Jan Hurych says:
We cannot eliminate the other possiblities, that is the missionaries. One of them, famous mathematician: Stansel. Two interesting links to Stansel are here: web&ots=J-DJbzP4nN&sig=UgKlE4iFtGAb6DMse2govHF3TVE#PPA232,M1

According to second one (the book on line), Stansel wrote very often to Kircher, too. He is also mentions on the page you quoted: Jesuit Math in the Clementium, this is great:

Berj says:
It looks like Stansel entered S.J. in 1637 - the same year Baresch first tried contacting Kircher.

Jan says:
Moretus must have known Stansel since he was born in Bohemia and studied in Clementinum. Stansel wrote to Kircher over two years between 1656 and 1676. Stansel observed supernova in 1659, he departed for Brasil 1663 and what's more, he was an astronomer.

If the VM is not the Prague manuscript, then he could have written later - since there is no date nowhere, send it to Kircher and it was discovered as the VM. Again, one strong point against this theory: the manuscript in Baresch's letter is too close to the VM and that would mean Stansel's manuscript came too late to be the VM. Besides, I do not think the VM was written by mathematician, it just looks too disorganized.

Berj says:
One thing very intriguing I just came across: Brumbaugh had a paper in the Warburg Journal saying the VMS is clearly concerned with the Elixir of Life!'BCM%3E2.0.CO%3B2-A

And Moretus's letter has that "elixir" in it. I think we will find something out from Moretus, even if it is circumstantial as I said.

Jan says:
Right, Baresch of course could have thought there was a recipe for making gold or Aqua Sinapia (which is even better, since it made Horczicky rich while Kelley's gold got him at the end only to prison :-).

Berj says:
Question: Does the "La Sapienza" university (I know nothing about it) have records that a Georg Baresch was a student there, as Baresch claims in his letter?

Jan says:
I do not know but it is a very important question. Not that we doubt his words, but he studied in Italy in about the same time as Mnishowsky ( no place mentioned) and could have met him there. Also, there is a note somewhere that Baresch met Kircher later in Italy ( who has that, Rene? I forgot). If it is true, it seems it was rather later, more likely - after those 2 letters with no answer Baresch might have got impatient :-).

Berj says:
I have most of Capelli downloaded by the way. If we proceed like this - a simultaneous combination of transcription and translation, then I think we have a better chance of getting both correct. I hope to have a complete transcription by tonight, and will immediately email it.

Jan says:
"Arabic and Persian" sounds like Baresch was talking about the VM. My observation: M. might be talking about Baresch in first part of the letter, apparently answering some K's query. Also "Hindu, Arabic and Persian" sounds like Baresch's idea. Apparently when Moretus was in Rome, Kircher already queried him about Baresch when he brougth the letter and samples and maybe about the VM as well - in that case Moretus apparently saw it. So Baresch knew Kircher did not answer deliberately, but in his second letter tried to excuse Kircher and tried to gain his favour.

Who was M. making ridicule of (see the text) I do not know, apparently it was one of those other names.

Berj says:
I found a document (attached):

" Correspondence and Manuscripts of Athanasius Kircher not included in APUG 555-568 A preliminary checklist Compiled by Michael John Gorman and Nick Wilding Updated: August 25 2000 "

at this url:

It provides useful info on three letters of Kircher to Moretus:

Prague, National Library at the Clementinum

1. Kircher, Athanasius. Letter to Moretus, Theodorus, 12 March 1634, Prague, National Library at the Clementinum. Call Number: VI B 12b f. 73rv
2. ------. Letter to Moretus, Theodorus, 1 February 1642, Prague, National Library at the Clementinum. Call Number: VI B 12b f. 144rv
3. ------. Letter to Moretus, Theodorus, 19 February 1642, Prague, National Library at the Clementinum. Call Number: VI B 12b f. 219rv

Have these letters been looked at in previous Voynich research? Is it conceivable that Kircher's 19 FEB 1642 letter reached Moretus in three days, and Moretus's 22 FEB 1642 letter to Kircher is an answer?

We need a detailed timeline around the available evidence, with citations. Below is a rough start (needs to be double-checked) - the reference numbers [no.] can be anything convenient as we add to the timeline, and then later all rectified to sequence, if desired. Immediately needed entries: date & place Marci & Kircher first met; date & place Baresch met Kircher (assuming he did).

Evidence Timeline:

* 27 APR 1605: date Baresch says (in his 1639 letter to AK) that he started studying at La Sapienza in Rome. [2]

* 12 MAR 1634: AK writes to Moretus [1]

* late in year 1637: Baresch writes his first letter (courier = Moretus) to Kircher [2]

* 25 DEC 1638: Moretus (Prague) writes to AK (Rome) [3]
* 8 JAN 1639: Moretus (Prague) writes to AK (Rome) [3]

* 27 APR 1639: Baresch writes his 2nd letter (courier = Moretus) to Kircher [4]

* 3 AUG 1640: First known letter from Marci to AK [5]
* 12 SEP 1640: Marci writes to AK [5]
* 12 JAN 1641: Marci writes to AK [5]
* 2 MAR 1641: Marci writes to AK [5]
* 5 OCT 1641: Marci writes to AK [5]
* 25 JAN 1642: Marci writes to AK [5]

* 1 FEB 1642: AK writes to Moretus [6]
* 19 FEB 1642: AK writes to Moretus [7]

* 22 FEB 1642: Moretus writes to AK [3]

* 15 MAR 1642: Marci writes to AK [5]
* 10 MAY 1642: Marci writes to AK [5]

* 10 or 16 MAY 1642: Moretus writes to AK [3]
* 30 JUL 1642: Moretus writes to AK [3]
* 9 OCT 1642: Moretus writes to AK [3]

* 6 DEC 1642: Marci writes to AK [5]

* .... Marci's last letter .... Kinner letter ....


[1] Kircher, Athanasius. Letter to Moretus, Theodorus, 12 March 1634, Prague, National Library at the Clementinum. Call Number: VI B 12b f. 73rv
[2] Zandbergen translation; see also [4] below
[3] see [4] in J.VS comm. #121
[4] see J.VS comm. #10
[5] see J.VS comm. #4
[6] Kircher, Athanasius. Letter to Moretus, Theodorus, 1 February 1642, Prague, National Library at the Clementinum. Call Number: VI B 12b f. 144rv
[7] Kircher, Athanasius. Letter to Moretus, Theodorus, 19 February 1642, Prague, National Library at the Clementinum. Call Number: VI B 12b f. 219rv

Is it remotely possible that the punished librarian Moretus was talking about could be Baresch? If Baresch was a librarian somewhere in the 1630's then that might be a clue to how he got the Prague ms.

Jan says:
Very interesting idea: according to Rene, Baresch "received his bachelor's degree on 9 May 1602 and his doctorate on 14 May 1603, both in "liberal arts and philosophy. On 27 April 1605 he started studies in Rome, at the Sapienza". Sapienza being the lay university, it is rather strange - what title he got there? He probably did not finish it, returned and worked in Clementinum. It was my impression Marci met him during his studies and I originally thought he was a chemist training medical students in medication and ointment making ( just a hunch, no proof) or was somehow connected with university Carolinum. It did not occur to me he could have been with University of Clementinum, maybe as a druggist or apothecary.

He signed himself with title M, meaning apparently Master or Magister, most likely the other title. Come to think of it, when I was young, they still called the chemists in drugstore "magisters" that not being the title but more like a profession. He of course might have been the librarian, too.

It could be his experiments were laughed at - but Marci was impressed by them, as he claims in his book. And I remember now, Marci claims Baresch did metal transmutations.

Berj says:
I've tried a transliteration of Jan's translation: ...... I get the impression that it is indeed quite possible that something in this letter relates to Baresch and / or the Prague ms. But we must check our wishful thinking. Nevertheless, to speculate without restraint: could there be a secret Apollonium society and language (is VMS f67v1 a symbol of it?), the secrets of which were promised to a Pope, but now are missing from some library because of a bungling librarian? Is that librarian Baresch? That there exists a handwritten little book related to this Apollonium - this seems to be the most dramatic thing in the letter from the VMS point of view, not so? That mathematicians who were Moretus's teachers had a go at the Apollonium language. That there is some kind of ethic of Burgranius that ties together magnetism and grinding bread? That Fr. Santinus is involved with some alchemical elixir.

It seems pretty obvious that Moretus and Kircher discussed alchemy, which was of course was on Baresch's mind.

Does anyone know if the three Clementinum letters from AK to Moretus have been discussed, say on vms-list. Are these letters online? If not, can Jan's friends in Prague get us copies?

I guess we might ask ourselves: what is the single most critical thing in Moretus's letter? Is it perhaps the question of: whether or not the little handwritten book is a sensitive library item? This paper may have some relevance:

Jan says:
As for most important part, I would say it is the unnamed (or is it somebody named?) person, which takes the critical hit by Moreus. As I say, is it the reference he was giving Kircher about somebody? It looks like it was Kircher who asked for it and the dating close after the second letter suggests the person is Baresch and his letter. And yes, it seems he was well known to M, and most likley was in employ of jesiuts and was considered by them (especially by mathematicians) as being slightly cookoo. This way M. might have killed Kircher's interest in the VM completely.

Can we find anything in Florence that is similar to the VM (see hint in the letter).

Berj says:
The problem I see here is that this 1642 letter is almost three years after Baresch's 2nd letter - it would seem that if Baresch was still a fresh topic of discussion, then the letter would offer more obvious clues. From that paper on the vacuum controversy from the late 1630's on between Aristotle-defending Jesuits and experimental scientists I earlier emailed the link to, it appears that the Jesuits, Kircher et al, were very busy with that controversy, and Rome and Prague were hotspots. It seems possible that the identity of the mystery person in the Moretus letter is in the vacuum controversy paper, and is not Baresch. On the other hand, if it this mystery person cannot be a vaccum controversy person, then the case for him being Baresch is strengthened.

I mentioned that the Moretus letter might, if nothing else, provide some circumstantial clue. In that vein perhaps Moretus killed Kircher's interest in Baresch as you suggest, so to prevent Kircher from being distracted and not concentrating on defending Jesuit control of Catholic education during the protracted vacuum controversy (which was Aristotelean at the time).

Marci remains the wild card I think: he was a scientist, but also a friend of major players, both vaccum controversy and VMS, and a kind of semi-Jesuit. By the way, it appears that the three Clementinum letters of AK to Moretus are NOT online.

Jan says:
Apparently there were always fights between Jesuits of Clementinum University and professors of Charles' University like Marci, Jesuits being always Aristotelians. However, the situation changed and by the end of 17th century, even Jesuits revolted and proclaimed Galilean system. In Bohemia, there was always fertile field for new ideas, for instance ... "During the negotiations to publish the (Galileo's) Discorsi outside Italy, an attempt had been made in 1636 to have the work published in Moravia (part of Bohemia, j.h.), under the patronage of Cardinal Dietrichstein, who died before this could be carried out. . (perhaps the manuscript that Pieroni had brought to Bohemia).

In the 1659 edition, Jesuit Arriaga (the enemy of Marci) included a preface which suggested a reason for his deviance, claiming that he (Galileo?) had been permitted to publish his anti-Aristotelian opinions "in part because they are completely accepted here at the university of Prague".

Interesting point: Ferdinand III had himself been taught by Arriaga as a child (as he was by Mnishowsky), but after the death of Ferdinand II (who was virtually blackmailed by Jesuits) they lost their hold on Emperor. There was also the controversy between Prague archbishop and Jesuits, but that was mainly political.

On the other hand, Moretus is unknowingly (or knowingly?) mocking Marci (he laughs at quadrature of the circle, while Marci may have been already working on that problem, see his book "Labyrinthus, in quo via ad circuli quadraturam pluribus modis exhibetur" (Prague, 1654). As for his laugh at perpetuum mobile, Moretus eventually designed a perpetual fountain synchronized with the "motion of the sun " :-). Prague Jesuits, being mainly mathematicians, probably laughed at Baresch and hoped that Kircher, also mathematician, would join them.

The article you mention says: Jakob Dobrzensky de Nigro Ponte (student of Marci and his succesor as a rector of Charles University) in 1657 included various refutations of the possibility of the vacuum by Jesuits and close supporters of the intellectual programme of the order, including Joannes Marcus Marci and Godefridius Aloysius Kinner. Well, if Marci supported it (and I don't know he did), it was certainly not because he liked Jesuits :-).

Dobrzensky's work however also contained numerous hydraulic machines and clocks designed by Prague-based Jesuits including Theodore Moretus and Valentin Stansel and other Jesuit exponents of the hydraulic arts (like machines of Kircher).

R.V. is definitely "Reverentia Vestra" (Your Reverence, apparently the inside title of SJ members)

I found: Goteboldus"[24]. Burggraf von Würzburg as in Thuringia nobility. Goteboldus is a Christian name and about burggraf Wiki says: A burgrave is a count of a castle or fortified town. The English form is derived through the French from the German Burggraf and Dutch (including Flemish dialects) burg- or burch-graeve (Mediaeval Latin language burcgravius or burgicomes).

All in all, it could be some inside joke.

Berj says:
Jan I just looked at 55r and agree that line 18 must be "Burgravius" and not "Burgranius". Well done - you've chipped away a little more at the wall between us and Moretus's thoughts in his letter.

Greg Stachowski says:
At first glance that translation needs some polishing, interesting stuff though. I'm at Bangkok Airport right now, transferring flights, so no Latin books until I get back. I should go away more often, you guys really get cracking when I'm not around ;)

Berj says:
Greg have a SAFE trip home!

Jan says:
As for letters located in Prague - no, they do not have all documents scanned. Clementinum library used to be part of state owned National Library under communists, now some documents were probably returned back to Jesuits and still some documents may be part of National Library. Some statments by them could not be checked or verified [by Jan and a fellow researcher].

You want to tackle the other letter? I would appreciate if you do the same as with the last one, I can then translate it.

VL might be a highly situated official of that time, say Lobkovitz - not Caramuel, who was a monk and missionary in America, he was of Spanish-Czech descent, but Vilhelm of Lobkovitz (in the statute of burgrave, I presume) one of the members of rebelling Directorium, he was not executed but sentenced to life, partly he was considered a halfwit idiot, but mainly because his nephew Zdenek Lobkowitz was the top chancellor of Bohemia, advisor to Emperor Ferdiannd II. Vilhelm died in 1626 on old age. Apparently his idiocy was pretended and he was a big joke of his time.

Interestingly enough, Marci had important protectors such as the family of Zdenek Lobkovic,as per Rene.

Berj says:
Too bad we don't have a way to get a look at those AK-to-Moretus letters in the Clementinum archive! There must be a way. Caramuel Lobkovitz as VL? There are many Lobkovitz letters in the APUG - I'll look at some of them to see if any particularly interesting words stand out.

Yes I will begin transcription of the other Moretus letter later this evening. ................ This one was harder than I thought it would be - seems like Moretus was in a hurry writing. Seems to me the letter opens with Moretus telling AK that 4 days? ago he did some correcting on a paper of AK concerning palms and architecture measurements in Rome ???

I'm interested in the message around line 18: .... hallucinationes ....

23rAPUG567: 8 JAN 1639 letter of Moretus to Kircher

Initial raw transcription:

0: sine
1: R. de in Chro Pater
2: pax eiusdem
3: Quatord ecim dies sunt, quando R.V. scribebim, rogabamyz
4: Veram mensurum palmi et pedis Veteris Romani. iam autem
5: ab octiduo M. Etliny C cum quo mi tui de eo meo desiderio ali=
6: quindo fermo inciderat J mi tui exhibuit Vtramque manu
7: R.V. positer meam fsem et exspectationem citius descrip-
8: tam. Palmi^ achitecturici mensura a R.V. annotata omnino ea en
9: quam antea accepionm. Sed pedis Romani mensura cum nulla
10: meanim conue nit, Vide magit maneo perplexus; si tamen R.V.
11: eam accepit au fide digno monumento, Vtar ea Quamguam Veriore.
12: In murmore illo Capitolina expressam legi mensuram canna'
13: decem palmaris, et pcois Gra'ci. de pede Romino ist hic expresso
14: nihil Inguam legi, nec Villalpandus id memorat. quod Sinthic
15: fide publica pes Romanus exstat, quid Ultra dubitamus ?
16: certe R.V.a beneficium mitui et multis magnam fecit ri id
17: eruderavit. parcet Spero R.V. si confidentias quam Vere-
18: cundius mea s propono hallucinationes in re tenui, magni
19: tamen Sequelia . Vicissim mea religrosa obsequin R...X...
20: lubcri impendam.
21: Brisacuin nondam Se dedit. Lamboius eit in Swartswalte
22: aliquem etiam commeatum hosti abegit, sed nondum tamen
23: isrbi prvuisum. fama fart Ser.ind Leopoldum exiturum ad
24: Castra, aliy etiam Cavarem, quando duplex en hortis. Pannicuis
25: certe Galussium tenet, et recentissime itemm alipu De afflinit,
26: Vt Vie hyberna timeantur in Bohemia, nam et hyeme pugnatur.
27: Commendo mc R.V. SS. Sacrificys. Salutem optimur a M. Etliny.
28: Praga 8. Jan. 1639. RV. Servus in X.
29: Theodorus Moretus.

Jan says:
Oh no, I meant Vilem Lobkowitz, his initials are VL. Of course 1640 is too late after his death 1626 for him to be still remembered. He actually was no such idiot, he held some important posts in Direktorium and he must have put some show to pretend being imbecile. As for Caramuel, he is probably the one who wrote those letters. He was a very interesting person indeed.

Berj says:
I went through several Caramuel letters. One of them, 26 JUL 1644, in an easy-to-read hand, seems to mention Marci:

I assume you received the raw transcript of Moretus's 8 JAN 1639 letter that I emailed earlier. Now to something new and possibly interesting. In APUG I found a 2-page list: "Catalogus Linguas .... " :

It lists an enormous number of languages and dialects, and perhaps scripts, including "Paracelsi mystica normbula?", and several "Incognitas". I thought possibly there is in this list some indication of the Voynich script. We'd have to comb through it carefully.

The list has this on APUG 563 142r at left about 60% down just under "Incognita alia.":

vocabula nova et fictitia

google comes up empty on it.

Please take a look and tell me what you think this means - unrefined pottery symbols?, or new and fictitious vocabulary? The last one would be exciting.

Dennis Fedak [on 8JAN 1639 Moretus letter] says:
This is a very rough start ( and his occasional flourishes, on some of the letters doesn't make it any easier:

It has been forty days since RV wrote asking if(that)(re) the bronze medal and damascan crook is already in Rome, but, exclusively taken ( from ) M Etling. ( with (some) small assistance from him to go, I mocked the other incident connected with this )(to be ) shown.

I'll work on this a little more, after my eyes rest. Nice work by everyone.

Berj says:
Good start Dennis. Everything so far reinforces my belief that after we have these two Moretus letters translated, and are nicely warmed up in this business, that we ought to do the last letter of Marci, and the Baresch letter: so as to obtain an independent evaluation of what they really say.

Jan says:
Berj, I agree, the thought occured to me too. And the Kinners letter as well, we may be in for some surprise.

[end J.VS comm. #125]

From: Berj Ensanian
Date: Mon, 17 Dec 2007 22:58:03 -0500 (EST)

Subject: J.VS: Moretus to Kircher Letters of 8 JAN 1639 and 22 FEB 1642, T&T&T Library files

Dear All

I have sent to our Librarian Greg two text-files, MtoK8JAN1639.txt and MtoK22FEB1642.txt, along with a meta-data text-file, for deposit into the J.VS Library. These two files hold the transcriptions and translations for letters of Moretus to Kircher, as I currently have them. I have not included yet any transLITERATIONs even though we have had some.

My thought is that these Library deposits can be updated directly with new versions, and transliterations, as they become ready.

Greg, I suggest a 0- deposit identification for this, and once you have it installed you can inform us with a reply communication to this one.

Here are the INDEX listings from the two files:

MtoK8JAN1639.txt :


[1] Berj / KI3U 9 DEC 2007 Version-1 Transcript (referred to as "Initial raw transcription" in J.VS communication #125) of Moretus 8 JAN 1639 letter to Kircher.

[2] Jan Hurych's 12 DEC 2007 TransLATION-Version-1 of Moretus's 8 JAN 1639 letter to Kircher.

MtoK22FEB1642.txt :


[1] Complete (Lines 0: to 34:) Version-1 Transcript of 22 FEB 1642 letter of Theodorus Moretus to Athanasius Kircher (ref. J.VS communication #124), from online image APUG 567 055r, last accessed 11 DEC 2007 at url:

[2] Version-2 Transcript of 22 FEB 1642 letter of Theodorus Moretus to Athanasius Kircher, APUG 567 055r. Changes from Version-1 in lines 8, 12, and 23, are per suggestion of Jan Hurych and seconded by Greg Stachowski (off-J DEC 2007).

[3] Version-3 Transcript of 22 FEB 1642 letter of Theodorus Moretus to Athanasius Kircher, APUG 567 055r. Changes from Version-2 in lines 6, 17, 18, 20, 34, , are per suggestion of Greg Stachowski (off-J 14 DEC 2007).

[4] Jan Hurych's TransLATION-Version-1 of Moretus's 22 FEB 1642 letter to Kircher from Jan's off-J email: Re: off-J: Last Call for Version-1 transcript for 22FEB1642, Sent Date 12-11-2007 9:45:28 AM

Pertinent background information is in J.VS communications #10, 13, 121, 122, 123, 124, and 125.

Berj / KI3U

From: Greg Stachowski
Date: Wed, 19 Dec 2007 16:37:37 +0100

Subject: J.VS: Re: Moretus to Kircher Letters of 8 JAN 1639 and 22 FEB 1642, T&T&T Library files

Referring to JVS communication #126, the transcriptions and translations of the letters by Moretus are now in the Library, as deposit # 0-5-2007-12-18. The address is:

This will be updated with any changes and improvements as they become available. They will be documented in the metafile as usual.


From: Berj Ensanian
Date: Thu, 20 Dec 2007 23:31:02 -0500 (EST)

Subject: J.VS: Moretus-to-Kircher Letters off-J discussions 11 DEC - 20 DEC 2007

Moretus-to-Kircher Letters off-J discussions 11 DEC - 20 DEC 2007:

Berj Ensanian says:
Is it possible that the mysterious "VL" in Moretus's 22 FEB 1642 letter is the "Villalpandus" mentioned in the 8 JAN 1639 letter? I looked into Villalpandus (1552-1608):

and also his associates, but he seems too early to be "VL" in the 22 FEB 1642 letter, and was not a Burgravius. It is possible though to see some similarities between the nine rosettes foldout and Villalpandus's famous map of Jerusalem, like the pentagon in the northeast rosette, and the crossed-plot in the southeast:

That is to say, one could conjecture that the 9RMS foldout artist had seen Villalpandus's illustration.

Jan Hurych says:
I think he IS our Villapandus (it is not common name and he WAS a Jesuit!). Your link says about Villapandus:

Born at Cordova, Spain, in 1552; entered the Society of Jesus in 1575; died on 22 May, 1608

So he died very close and before the letter, but what M's letter is actually referring to? While:


(LEE, Samuel) Orbis Miraculum, or The Temple of Solomon, pourtrayed by Scripture-Light: wherein all its famous buildings, the pompous worship of the Jewes

ESTC identifies 11 variant imprints in 1659, of this one ESTC R223256, 5 copies in the UK & 2 in North America. During the 17th century the Temple of Solomon captivated the imagination of writers both in England and abroad, who all theorised on the possible design of the edifice. On the continent, a Spanish Jesuit, Villapandus, was pre-eminent, and his visionary design was later incorporated by Bishop Walton in his polyglot Bible published in 1657. It was partly in opposition to this description that the puritan divine Samuel Lee published his Orbis Miraculum, in 1659. In contrast to Villapandus's extremely elaborate design, Lee proposed a very English interpretation of the problem, setting out his own practicable plan based on rational lines and based on the model of an English church.


CELEBRATED PROBLEMS OF GEOMETRY. Sur les Problemes célebres de la ...folium in the method of Villapandus, and the conchoid of. Nicomedes?quartics; the hyperbola mesolabica of Viviani,. the circular unicursals in the solutions ...

so he was an architect! Amazing!


Editions Jacques Gabay - TEIXEIRA : Traité des courbes spéciales ...- [ Translate this page ]Méthode de Villapandus et Gruenbergerius. - Méthodes de Descartes et de Fermat. Could be Moretus meant Gruenbergerius?

... the capital of which took its origin, says Villapandus, from an order in Solomon's Temple, the leaves whereof were those ...

Was V. member of ST order within SJ? Apparently there are references to him in Masonic books, after all, they were supposed to build Solomon's temple, right?

Still, they K&M apparently spoke about architecture in that letter. or: could it be they spoke about THE VM? IS THERE ANY PICTURE IN THE VM REPRESENTING SOLOMON'S TEMPLE?

Berj says:
Moretus's 8 JAN 1639 letter does seem to discuss architecture. I have not concentrated on that letter yet, so if it has anything VMS-significant, other than perhaps the Jerusalem and Solomon's Temple angle by way of Villalpandus (there have been suggestions posted to the vms-list from time to time, including by me, that the central rosette represents Solomon's Temple) I don't know.

I'm now going to work on sorting out the transcriptions and translations.

Greg Stachowski says:
Having finally had a few minutes to look at this [22 FEB 1642 Moretus letter]: I agree with some of Jan's changes to the posted transcription:

line 8: nostro
line 12: meus
line 23: LeRoy

and possibly some others -- I haven't checked the two versions against each other thoroughly enough. I believe that it is clearly "mihi" not "mi tui" in lines 18 and 34, "cum" not "currs" in 17. "Vaticana" in 6 (with a little flourish before the 'n') and probably "indivisbile" in 20 (that certainly looks like a long 'S' rather than 'f' to me, compare "Super" in line 14). There are also some other readings which I think I have better, but I shall hold back with those until I have had a look at the translation (I don't fully agree with Jan's in a number of places).

Good work guys. I may have quibbles but they are only possible because you've done the bulk of the work for me :)

Berj says:
Greg, one of the first things I'd like you to do is open a Library deposit for Moretus T&T&T - I'll send material as soon as I get a chance. [J.VS Library deposit # 0-5-2007-12-18; see J.VS comm. #127]

I had mentioned to Robert that scattered among Kircher's papers there are some which exhibit cipher and related material that possibly might be of interest, if for no other reason than perhaps to spark an idea on Voynich text attacks. I've put together a list of references to the Kircher papers I was able to find in my files - see below. Likely there is more similar material in Kircher's papers to find. We ought sometime to put together a list of Kircher sources - APUG may have the lion's share, but there are others out there. The Herzog August letters / materials from which some of the below refs. come, has much interesting material I have not had much of a chance to comb through, but I suspect Jan might well be interested in some items there, and the letters have already been transcribed and translated, at least into German.

Jan says:
Interesting point from recent VML [vms-list]: Kinner was involved in steganography! Seems to me that almost anybody in Prague SJ was somehow acquainted with VM :-).

Berj says:
Yes, good to know from Rafal's digging that Kinner was involved in steganography. But hardly surprising - steganography comes up all over the place in Kircher's life and correspondence, which included Kinner. Just about every thinker back then seems to have paid some attention to steganography after Trithemius's notes were openly published.

I'm still wondering if there was an "Archimedes / Apollonium society" and that Moretus was directly involved with it, and that in his 22 FEB 1642 letter to Kircher it is talked about.

[J.VS comm. #126, 17 DEC 2007, concerning current Moretus letters T&T&T is posted]

Greg says:
Hi Berj. I take it we will be updating the transcriptions and translations as we go. I'm not convinced that we're at the best version yet. By the way, I think I have missed something - where does transliteration differ from transcription?

Berj says:
Well I don't know either :) but the words are different, so there must be some difference between transcription and transliteration. I would think we may encounter the realties of the difference sometime in a Kircher letter when a sudden change of alphabet occurs - Kircher correspondence shows remarkably fluid use of of languages and alphabets, even within a word. The stuff in APUG, I know that you can come across instances of even a single word where the alphabet it is written in changes, say from Latin to Greek letters. The Kircher correspondence overall is quite inspiring to comb through - those were interesting thinkers talking about interesting subjects, inbetween all the customary praisings.

Greg says:
'Apollonius': I think they are talking about Apollonius of Perga and his treatise on Conics. I think the word we have been transcribing thus far as 'Conye" is actually 'Conica' or thereabouts. Books V to VII of the original are known only from an Arabic translation ( c.f. 'Arabica aut Persica' ; btw. 'aut' is 'or', not 'and'), and the first translation of these into Latin -- in 1661 -- was based on a Florentine manuscript (!! -- c.f. 'bibliotheca ... Florentina'). This also accords with the later references to Mathematics professors.

Berj says:
I can accept "Conije" and therefore "Coniie" as a transcription, if that helps this Apollonius of Perga interpretation.

Greg says:
Referring to this,

#13: in Mathematicis P. []sius a J. Vincentio, quem
[13] of mathematics pater Jxxsius (but his techer was p. Georgius, j.h.) and J. Vincetius, Moretus' professor was Gregory St. Vincent:

(in Czech ;)

who was into ... conics :) It's all falling into place.

I suspect the '[r|s]ius a J.' is a Jesuit appellation ('...something of Jesus' -- Gregory St. V. was a Jesuit, of course), but I haven't identified it yet.

Berj says:
But every mathematician is into conics at some point in their career. You saying he specialized in conics?

Greg says:
Conics were a relatively new field, then, as was analytical geometry in general. G. St. V. developed some new methods for handling them, according to his bio.

Berj says:
I would think you mean conics were a re-newed field, considering Apollonius's classical treatment. Anyway, I think that until we master this letter, as best as it can be considering its condition etc., that we cannot really tell if there is or is not some circumstantial evidence in it that bears upon the VMS.

Greg says:
Anyway, at the time (that is, mid-17th C) analytical geometry in the modern sense was just being rediscovered & developed further by the likes of G. St. V, Descartes etc., and Apollonius' previous work in the field was very much of interest to them. As noted in G. St. V's bio, conics were of particular interest to him.

I agree we should polish the translation of Moretus' letters. There is obviously a wealth of detail about the interests and interpersonal connections of the time there, and those may lead us to something even if there is no direct reference to the VMS.

Berj says:
Yes this is the circumstantial evidence I am thinking of. In particular, I think I recall Jan mentioning, that in his book Marci always uses the name "Barschius". Now, Barschi -> Barschius seems ok to me, but Baresch -> Barschius seems problematic. We ought to be on the look-out for names like Barzy, Barschi, even Bare', etc.

Greg says:
I have polished the sentence running across lines 4-6 [of the 22 FEB 1642 Moretus letter]:

4: ... Scio tamen Roma
5: fuisse integrum Apollonium lingua Arabica aut Persica in Bibli-
6: otheca non Vaticata, sed Florentina . ...

Footnotes in braces { }.

[4] ... However, from Rome{1} I know
[5] there to have been{2} a complete Apollonius{3} in the Arabic or Persian language in
[6] the Florentine, not{4} Vatican, Library. ...

{1} ablative of Roma; so, TM has information from a prior visit to Rome or contacts in Rome.
{2} fuisse = perfect infinitive of esse, to be.
{3} i.e., a complete edition of, copy of.
{4{ or perhaps "rather than the"

It sounds like he's saying that the copy they have been studying so far is flawed -- I have glimpses of this meaning from the previous sentence, but I haven't polished that one yet.

Berj says:
r. Have a look at line 3, which starts something like:

Received your Conye letter gratefully, ....


Received your favor of the Conye letter, ....

The "Conye" remains uncertain, does it not?

Greg says:
Unfortunately , yes.

Berj says:
Attached is a jpg [Line5ofPg2of353vAPUG557.jpg] of line 5 on page 2 of Baresch's letter. The third word in, is simliar to the Moretus "Conye". Zandbergen's translation of the Baresch letter has this word as "conjecture":

Greg says:
Or rather, as "I conjecture". He seems to be reading it as "conicio", which is indeed "I conjecture", although I am puzzled by the spelling in the letter -- it seems to me to be deliberately written "conijcio", which is odd, the 'i' being short. Still it makes sense in context and there is no obvious alternative. I would perhaps take minor issue with "other things which appear like chemical secrets", but overall this translation looks reasonable.

The noun for "conjecture" would be "coniectura" or perhaps "coniectio" (my dictionary is ambiguous, but seems to prefer the former). Perhaps Moretus is abbreviating, but at the moment I wouldn't put my money on it. This may be an example of one of the differences between classical Latin and Neo-Latin (which Moretus is using). .......... Ok, solved. According to Lewis & Short "coniicio" is a known variant spelling:

Doesn't help us much, though.

Berj says:
Any possibility that no matter the translation, the Baresch "conijcio" and the Moretus "Conye" are related?

Greg says:
Possibly, but I think it unlikely. Moretus is consistent about differentiating his 'c' and 'C'. The only other place he uses an uppercase/large 'C' is in 'Chr[ist]o', elsewhere the lowercase 'c' is clear. So that suggests that 'Conye' is a name or title. Also at the moment I can't find any variant of conicio & related words which could fit. By the way, the 'o' in 'Conye' is suspect, it may be an 'e'.

Berj says:
Yes it could be Cenye, but I lean more toward Conye.

Greg says:
I do to, just noting the possibility, since the word is still unidentified.

Berj says:
Are we agreed that "Conye" is a term that is descriptive of "litteras", which I take to mean a letter to Moretus from Kircher. In other words Moretus received from Kircher a "Conye letter".

Greg says:
Yes, that's what it looks like to me. Letters, 'litteras' is accusative plural.

Berj says:
I suppose Kircher might have been in some town named Conye and mailed the letter from there?

Greg says:
I thought this too, but I haven't yet been able to find any town which might fit.

Berj says:
This needs to be resolved because it could change the significance of the letter greatly. Likely it is nothing special, but suppose for example that Conye means "crypto".

Greg says:

Berj says:
Another item on line 3: suppose it is libentissime instead of libertissime ? Any progress then?

Greg says:
That would be something like 'very willingly' or 'very pleasingly/pleasurably'; which perhaps makes a bit more sense in context but doesn't change the fundamental meaning, which hinges on 'litteras Conye' and 'Sollicitudine' &c.

But those K-to-M letters from Feb 1642 should give a hint of the situation, 'Conye', Apollonius et al. If only we could get at them. If 'Conye' was a place Kircher would have signed it with the date, just as Moretus signs 'Praga'. Similarly if it refers to the subject-matter.

Berj says:
It is hard to imagine "pleasingly" and "anxiety" in the same sentence a couple of words apart!

Greg says:
Trying to see whether the 22 Feb letter could be a reply to Kircher's 19 Feb letter, I did some back-of-an-envelope numbers. Rome is 1300 km from Prague by modern roads, I suspect that these more or less follow the roads of Kircher's time -- many of the roads in Europe still follow Roman roads. The average speed of express horse-based postal systems has been found to be remarkably consistent over a couple of thousand years, about 15 km/h, with the horse being run for some 20-25 km before changing at a relay station.

So, in a maximum of 3 days, our letter could travel 1000-1100 km. If we allow for 3.5 days (Kircher posts a.m. on 19 Feb, Moretus receives late p.m. on 22 Feb) and up the speed to 16 km/h, we can just get away with 1300 km. So it is just about doable. However, this is top-speed expensive relay post riding 24 hrs a day - pony express or government courier stuff. I didn't check if such a network existed between Rome and Prague, or if Kircher could or would have used it. It also leaves Moretus very little time to reply. Even though Kircher was formally in Rome from 1638, I think it would be prudent to look for a place which might be 'Conye' closer to Prague, which he might have visited and written from. I tried looking for Latin names but came up empty, perhaps someone will have better luck.

Berj says:
Fascinating! Great work Greg. I'd say that makes it very unlikely the two letters were chained, if the ends of the chain were Prague and Rome.

[end of J.VS comm. #128]

From: Greg Stachowski
Date: Fri, 21 Dec 2007 23:55:19 +0100

Subject: J.VS: New article by Jan Hurych: More about Dr. Raphael Mnishowsky

Jan has favoured us with another article, now in the Library as # 10-4-2007-12-20. From Jan's abstract:


The article brings in two recent discoveries:

1) the book by Mnishowsky, "Construction sive strues Trithemiana", is not a Czech textbook but a book on cryptography and
2) the handwriting of the "signature" in the VM is very close to the handwriting of Mnishowsky in his manuscript. There is a possiblity that Mnishowsky once owned the VM but never told about it Marci.

The URL is:


From: Berj Ensanian

Date: Sun, 23 Dec 2007 22:51:11 -0500 (EST)

Subject: J.VS: Analysis of Baresch's manu propria

Dear All

The 27 APR 1639 letter of Georgius Baresch to Athanasius Kircher [1] offers possibilities for analysis besides its translation. For example, it seems that some attention ought to be paid to the many diacritical marks in the letter - some of them quite well match Voynich alphabet letters, such as MD-I and MD-F.

In J.VS communication #121 I urged some attention to Baresch's sine (manu propria) in his letter. I have sent to our Librarian Greg for deposit # 15-1-2007-12-24 two images:

1BareschSine.jpg being a crop of Baresch's signature and sine from the online APUG image.

The other image, AnalysisBareschSine.jpg, is a digital photo of four cropped and pasted gray-scale print-outs of 1BareschSine.jpg where I have, with a black-ink felt-tip pen, over-drawn the traces of Baresch's sine in an attempt to analyze how he actually rendered it.

The source APUG image is a jpg and inadequate for reaching firm conclusions. However, it appears to me that Baresch's sine was rendered as a composition of three major graphical components, and so I have numbered them in AnalysisBareschSine.jpg. The sine begins at top-left with an "M" starting the component #1, and ends at bottom-right with component #3, which seems to spell a word that ends with the letter "8".

I believe that components #1 and #2 were written in one continuous trace. Component #3 I am not sure about: the pen may have been lifted off the paper at the end of #2 before resuming with #3. Deciphering the (presumed) word of component #3 is of interest of course.

The most interesting item is that the beginning part of #3, where it overlaps the later parts of #1, results in the appearance of a symmetric double-looped gallows letter, MD-A, "hidden" in the main body of the sine, shown as #4. The peculiarity of this effect is further amplified because the APUG jpg hints, ever so slightly, that the upper-right bend of the left loop of the gallows, was possibly reinforced by Baresch with a separate tracing - the critical bend is marked in #4 with a Greek letter beta (veta).

Needless to say, given the current knowledge of Baresch and his Prague manuscript (hypothetically the same as Beinecke MS 408), it is entirely possible that this MD-A gallows glyph is a mere accident that Baresch was not even aware of when he scripted his sine. But, I would like to suggest to any Voynich student reading this: if by chance you have the opportunity to personally examine the actual Baresch letter, with at least a good magnifying glass, then the most important question which begs for an answer is:

Did Baresch reinforce the beta bend?

Merry Christmas

Berj / KI3U

[1] APUG 557, 353r&v

From: Greg Stachowski
Date: Sat, 29 Dec 2007 02:00:46 +0100

Subject: J.VS: Re: Analysis of Baresch's manu propria

The images which accompany J.VS. communication #130, illustrating Berj's analysis of Baresch's manu propria, are now in the library as deposit # 15-1-2007-12-24. The address is:


From: Berj Ensanian
Date: Sat, 29 Dec 2007 23:48:48 -0500 (EST)

Subject: J.VS: The Nine Schnazbrothers of Voynich f24v

Dear All

I have sent to our Librarian Greg an addendum to J.VS Library deposit # 12-1-2007-10-12, the image file:


This image was made from an image, 1xcVMSf24v.tif, already in # 12-1-2007-10-12, by converting to gray-scale, printing a paper copy of it, re-inforcing by hand with a black-ink pen some lines and paint brushings, and then photographing the paper with a digital camera, resulting finally in rg1xcVMSf24v.jpg.

I invite all who are interested in the proposition that some Voynich manuscript illustrations carry hidden / steganographic images, in this case intentional faces, to compare this rg1xcVMSf24v.jpg image with the original high-resolution SID image of f24v available from the Yale Beinecke Library. [1,2]

As before (J.VS comm. # 107) I suggest that the nine leaves of the f24v plant illustration present faces: nine different ones projecting a catalog of human expressions / personalities, including depression, and mean-spiritedness.

Now, briefly, the background to this is that in early October Jan Hurych published his latest investigations into hidden numbers in the VMS - announced in J.VS comm. #99. This led to the discovery of what Robert Teague in comm. #101 dubbed "a whole new layer of the VMs", meaning the hypothesis or observation that the long familiar general visual layer of the Voynich ms steganographically conceals at least one other layer of rich material. The need for precision standard image processing protocols, an ongoing J.VS project that presently focuses on Dennis Fedak's idea of using Moire patterns for noise / artifacts analysis, was recognized as a by-product of this development. In J.VS comm. #103 the Library deposit # 12-1-2007-10-12 was first announced, containing initially six hidden faces of the VMS's steganographic layer, including one of the most remarkable so far discovered: The King of f37v.

In comm. #107 was first introduced the proposition that the all-text page f76r, already a unique VMS page by one earlier analysis [3], is actually a steganographic hand-script text-art (akin to today's ASCII art) portrait of a man, a three-dimensional portrait, possibly even showing the prime author (Marci?) of the Voynich manuscript. If true, and in any case, the possibility that the long inscrutable Voynich text is a graphical device, rather than, or at least in addition to, being a text, or numerical, or musical, notation vehicle, then profoundly affects general analytic considerations of the world's most mysterious manuscript. Considerations of the inescapable problem of the power of suggestion entering analytics of this nature, was also introduced in #107, by Greg Stachowski.

In communication #108 I amplified the proposition that: A major theme in the Voynich manuscript is the realistic, as well as the caricatured presentation of the spectrum of faces, primarily human, but also including animal, and chimerical. I discussed other personal hypothetical notions, some radical, including that some sort of photographic process may have been involved in the steganographic face in the illustration of f3v. I continued hypothetical color theory optics considerations of f76r in comm. #109, in tune with one of my older general hypotheses that the Voynich manuscript may be a cryptic scientific revolution record. (Note: it continues to be implicit in my Voynich considerations that the authorship involved advanced mathematical abilities with a high degree of focus on prime numbers relations.)

Communication #111 records, among other J.VS work, extensive off-J discussion among us of the reality of the steganographic faces and the problem of objective consensus on same. Accordingly, during that time (late October, 2007) an attempt was made to expose this controversial material to a wider audience. That resulted in a reaction that I detailed in J.VS communication #112. [4]

The Voynich manuscript is a problem that, in my view, on account of its immense complexity and difficulty, can use some humor now and then on the part of serious researchers - this I've expressed a number of times before. And so yes there is some humor intended in the naming of these proposed-as-real-and-intentional faces in f24v: the 9 Schnazbrothers, a naming, the humor of which will be obvious to the observer who sees these faces. More seriously, in resonance with my belief that the VMS author was an expert on the psychology of intellectuals, I think it possible that the nine Schnazbrothers are a little message from the VMS author and / or illustrator: the nine faces symbolize nine types of personalities and reactions to the confrontation with the nine rosettes manuscript. And perhaps the Schnazbrother at the middle-bottom indicates the one, the only, type that eventually penetrates, in suspicious amazement, the full genius of the author(s) of the 9RMS.

And the Schnazbrother at the top reminds me of the would-be Voynich student who fails, to first before everything, THOROUGHLY study D'Imperio. [5]

Berj / KI3U

[1] The online access to the Library of The Journal of Voynich Studies is here:

[2] Recently Beinecke has adopted for MS 408 (Voynich ms) the policy: "This manuscript is not available for consultation without advance permission from the curator." Beinecke's images of MS 408 are online here:

[3] see J.VS comm. #51

[4] An essentially identical copy of J.VS communication #112 was posted to the new vms-list.

[5] The Voynich Manuscript - An Elegant Enigma, by M.E. D'Imperio, Aegean Park Press, c. 1976-80, ISBN 0-89412-038-7

From: Berj Ensanian
Date: Sun, 30 Dec 2007 20:40:50 -0500 (EST)

Subject: J.VS: Moretus-Kircher letters, Baresch, Wilfrid, Miss Nill, Horczicky's title & signature, f24v, & more off-J discussions

Redaction of off-J discussions 20-30 DEC 2007:

Greg Stachowski [on M22FEB1642] says:
On a whim, I fired up Luna Insight and found the verso of the Moretus letter (JPG attached). It is addressed to Kircher in Rome and has what looks to me like a postmaster's franking note from Mantua. I think it is therefore increasingly unlikely that Moretus was answering Kircher's 19th Feb letter, but that the two letters passed each other. To put a final nail into this idea, APUG 561 f087 is a draft of a letter from Kircher to Jacques Viva (or Fiva) dated 18 Feb 1642 at Rome. So we have confirmation of AK's whereabouts.

Berj Ensanian says:
r Greg, your pony-post calculations [J.VS comm. #128] had me already convinced. In the meantime, while trying to determine if "Conye" is just a form of cone, as in ice cream cone, perhaps some name for some conics notes of Kircher's, I found plenty of "Apollonius" in an APUG document by P. Dehny / Dehnig, that appears to be a commentary on ancient Greek scriptures. It has plenty of mixed Latin and Greek letters. No date, but another Dehnig document in APUG is 1662. Not sure if this doc will help us with the Moretus letter:

APUG 563, 168r-169v

Greg says:
Plenty of Greek text, in fact -- presumably quoted. According to Luna Insight, this is Reinhold Dehnig (a.k.a. Dehn) S.J. (of course). No date. Anyway, at least on 168v from line 7 on he is referring to Apollonius of Rhodes and his 'Argonautica':

Interestingly enough, he mentions a translation into Latin. For completeness, he mentions that this is by [Valentin] Rotmar in Latin verse, which would make it the 1570 translation, perhaps as published in the Basle 1572 edition:

He [Dehnig] refers to at least Plutarch, Pliny and I think Aristotle on 168r, and on 168v also I think to the god Apollo: 'Apollinis', with mention of the Oracle. Aristophanes on 169v. Probably others, I didn't look too closely.

Berj says:
It would seem that unless there is something specifically of interest to mathematicians in the Argonautica, that the Moretus letter "Apollonium" is more likely referring to Apollonius of Perga.

Greg says:

Berj says:
The Oxford English Dictionary under "cone" has an entry with "coni umbrae":

2. Optics. a. .......
b. Cone of shade (in Astr.): the conical shadow projected into space by a planet on the side turned from the sun. [cf. L. coni umbrae (Lucr.)]. .......

If "Lucr." is Lucretius, then apparently Lucretius used "coni umbrae", and presumably the term appears in the only known Lucretius work, De Rerum Natura. There is perhaps some general illumination available in the book "Bilingualism and the Latin Language" By James Noel Adams:

Now, if "coni" is affiliated with the "Conye" in line 3 of M22FEB1642, then I am puzzled as to why Moretus, a Jesuit, writing to fellow Jesuit Kircher, would use a grecism originating with an Epicurean (Lucretius). Scanadalous! No? I suppose it need not necessarily be astronomically shady :) since possibly Moretus or Kircher could have invented their own wording to suit their purpose. Hmm. I just realized something obvious: Epicurus is an ancient prototype for Roger Bacon and later the scientific revolution.

Greg says:
Of course! [cones] Well done. Anyway, the OED only quotes Lucretius as an example. It is in De Rerum Natura, I checked -- actually he mentions cones a number of times, once with shadows. Likely he borrowed from Ptolemy or one of the other Greek astronomers. Lewis & Short has 'conus' as derived from the Greek 'konos'. In any case it was Latinised for long enough to be a normal 2nd decl. noun

After much work I have lines 1-6 in a form I am happy with. (Actually I am now down to line 8, but I'll hold those back until I have that whole sentence complete.I've changed the footnote numbering format slightly, to make it easier to find footnotes and insert new ones. (I add the footnotes both to make my logic clear and as notes to myself, translations like this being very open to particular interpretation.)

1. Reverend Father in Christ
2. His peace also [with you]{2.1}
3. I have received{3.1} Your Reverence's very pleasing{3.2} letter on Cones, very readily{3.3} I read [in] it
4. your remarks about the uneasiness{ 4.1,4.2} with regard to Apollonius. However, from Rome{4.3} I know
5. there to have been{5.1} a complete Apollonius{5.2} in the Arabic or Persian language in
6. the Florentine, rather than the{6.1} Vatican, Library.

{2.1} "euisdem" genitive of idem; I render this as "His" i.e. Christ's, God's.
{3.1} "Accepi": perfect tense of accipio.
{3.2} "gratissimas": superlative fem. acc. plural of "gratus"; thus here clearly an adj. of "litteras". Could also translate as "very dear".
{3.3} "libentissime": adverbial superlative of "libet" or "libens". In addition to the usual meaning ("it is pleasing", as in "quod libet mihi"), Lewis & Short give the less common "willingly, with readiness" for libens, which I think makes more sense here. TM read AK's comments readily, that is, with great interest.
{4.1} ablative singular of solicitudo.
{4.2} lit. "what was noted concerning the uneasiness"; annoto in later usage also means remark, comment on.
{4.3} ablative of Roma; so, TM has information from a prior visit to Rome or contacts in Rome. (Note: for "in Rome" one would use the locative, "Romae".)
{5.1} "fuisse" perfect infinitive of esse, to be.
{5.2} i.e., a complete edition of, copy of.
{6.1} lit. "not".

It sounds like AK made some comments (possibly repeating someone else's rather than giving his own) regarding a poor copy of Apollonius, and TM is saying that he knows of a better one.

Moretus, Kircher et al. did not reject earlier knowledge just because it was written down by pagans. They are always referring to Greek and Roman authors -- look at that letter by Dehnig. Jan has demonstrated that it was known usage.

So we have 'coni'. So far that is our best bet, I think, even if TM adds an extra 'e' or so. By the way, I was wrong when I said 'letters'; 'litterae' (plural of 'littera') is used for 'letter' (also 'paper', in the scientific sense). So it would be one letter.

Jan Hurych says:
Look at this:

JSTOR: De Atmosphaera Lunari, Dissertatio Astronomica. Auctore Dno ...- [ Translate this page ] Unde instituto cal- culo eruitur axis coni umbrae lunaris uno saltem terrae diametro major distantia lunae a terra, quae tunc mi- nima erat, ... - Similar pages

1] Gerick. lib. 6. cap. 6. Solis celerrima gyratio [ 2] etiam ... Jam quaeritur axis coni umbrae seu linea bd. ubi dices: uti sinus. [63]. ang. d. 13', 42'' ad sinum complementi id est ang. 90 grad. minus 13', 42'' ... - 64k - Cached - Similar pages

They both talk astronomy, of course "coni" could also mean sundial.

Berj says:
What about Jan's finding sundial for "coni"?

Greg says:
According to Lewis & Short this is a very rare usage, from Vitruvius, where he is describing a particular type of sundial. The usual word for sundial is 'solarium'.

Berj says:
What I am most concerned with is this: is Moretus using an unusual form for cone or sundial? I mean, in their Latin, how would they write a straightforward expression to say: I gratefully received your letter on cones.

Greg says:
Accepi vestras litteras conorum grate, or thereabouts with regard to word order. 'coni' if one cone, which is what we seem to have here (although I rendered it as 'Cones' in my translation).

Berj says:
What I am getting at is this: the possibility that there was some secret society at the dawn of the scientific revolution that employed unusual forms or variants for certain words in their normal Latin, for the purpose of communicating a second message in letters, more or less secretly. If this is a possibility, we ought to look out for it. Jan is already wondering about an ST society within S.J. back then.

Greg says:
Unless we find a consistent misuse or misspelling used by more than one person it will be difficult to see, and even then could be natural (like Shakespeare spelling his name three different ways). I'm sceptical of all this.

Berj says:
They (the intelligentsia back then) of course had all sorts of devices, and some not all that hidden, for communicating; I just looked at a portrait engraving of Robert Fludd / Fluctibus (1574-1637) and he is quite plainly giving a sign with his right hand. Incidentally, his coat of arms seems to have at its top a cigar-smoking dog, unless my eyes deceive me.

Greg says:
That's its tongue.

Berj says:
But anyway, my central question here remains: are the unusual spelling variants we are encountering, a suggestion of secret or semi-secret messages riding atop normal Latin?

Greg says:
Personally I doubt it. We're not really seeing that many spelling variations. Look how variable English spelling was at the time. (Not to mention the sometimes atrocious spelling and grammar used by some supposedly native speakers today.) Compared to that the Latin is pretty consistent. The only real variation we have encountered so far (apart from the mysterious 'Conye') is a doubling of i and replacing j for i in some cases, particularly where doubled. Which is a common enough variation from the dark and middle ages (when Latin was bastardised wholesale) and persisted later. Even today with the easy spread of textbooks there is still some variation in the way Latin spelling and pronounciation is taught across Europe, and the Latin usually taught in school is that of a very short period in history, around the time of Ceasar, Cicero and Augustus. In short, I think we're just seeing minor differences in the way these people were taught. Besides, we have too few potentia! l variants so far to convey any meaningful information. So if they are sending secret messages they are a lot better hidden.

I'm not 100 % sold on Conye being coni or similar, but it's by far the best fit we have and I'm going to move on with it. If we ever get Kircher's letters we will be able to confirm it.

Berj says:
Anyway, if Apollonius's conics is being discussed, is it unusual that Moretus writes "Conye" ?

Greg says:
I would have expected something along the lines of 'conica', but it depends on what Kircher wrote, since that is what Moretus is referring to. Kircher might have written about cones, and mentioned Apollonius in passing. Or he might have written about something else and we are misreading 'Conye', although I think the identification of Apollonius is firm.

Berj says:
What about an Epicurean connection? Apparently the Franciscan astronomer Gassendi (1592-1655), connected with Fr. Mersenne and Descartes, and maybe also directly with Fludd, was reviving Epicurean thought in the 1640's. He also wrote biographies of Copernicus and Brahe, and so on.

Greg says:
What about it? Lots of things were being revived or reexamined. I don't think that there was necessarily anything subversive going on. These were not the dangerous times of a hundred years earlier, the likes of Kircher, Mersenne, Gassendi, Descartes etc had many interests, and were not above revisiting the works of ancient philosophers.

Berj says:
Alright then, no cigar on Epicurean connections, nor on secret meanings via forms and variations. But we are still uncertain about Conye, it continues coining conjectures, and its meaning still possesses the power to greatly affect the significance of M22FEB1642 - that about right?

Dennis Fedak says:
From the "Cassell's New Latin Dictionary"conus -i, m. a cone Cic., Lucr. Transf., the apex of a helmet: Verg. -- perhaps pertaining to one's pointed head? :)

Berj says:
Wait a minute: suppose Dennis has stumbled onto something: what if Moretus and Kircher are referring to Baresch as a "cone-head" :)

Greg says [23 DEC 2007]:
We are still uncertain about Conye, but at this point I don't think we can be certain about it without additional data, specifically, Kircher's original letter. In the meantime, the power of Conye to affect the significance of the letter diminishes as we pin down the rest of the translation in detail. For example, the identification of Apollonius of Perga is based not just on that word, but on the references to Arabic, Florence, and Gregory St. Vincent. Of course that particular detail may change as we finalise the translation, but you see my point. If Conye were to be something else then that something would also have to fit the other data, particularly have some relation to an Arabic manuscript by an Apollonius (not necessarily the one from Perga) in a Florentine library.

What may happen is that it turns out that Conye is of sufficient interest to warrant hunting down the Kircher letter to confirm it. In the meantime, I shall leave it as 'Cone' unless I hit a conflict later in the translation.

Berj says:
Yes that sounds good. Of course we'd like to see Kircher's Conye letter no matter what. By the way, if Fludd -> Fluctibus is par for the course, then I suppose Baresch -> Barschius is almost a yawner.

Thinking forward to circumstantial evidence from this M22FEB1642 letter, if in the final analysis it exhibits not the slightest hint of Baresch and his ms, then those seem a totally dead topic between Moretus and Kircher just thirteen months after Marci mentions Baresch to Kircher in the Marci-to-Kircher letter of 12 JAN 1641. In the meantime, Mnishowsky still has a couple of years or so to live. Then there is the question: why don't we know of Moretus-Kircher correspondence beyond the 1640's when Moretus died much later in 1667? I'm getting altogether an impression that the 1640's, when Mnischowsky dies, and the 1660's when, apparently, Marci-Kircher correspondence vanishes, are pivotal VMS decades.

Jan says:
Berj and Greg, I am afraid that your word "Conye" is actually the word "longe" meaning simply a long letter. As for "g" there, it is similar to one two lines lower, in the word "integrum" - except the upper arch is not finished properly. Same applies for letter "l", see in the same line "littera..."

Berj says:
That certainly looks very good Jan, a "far" letter. The other open-looped "L" is with the last word of line 15, which we have been taking as "licuit". If it became "cicuit" then it is similar to "cicuta" (hemlock).

Greg says:
It would have to be "longas" to match the case of "litteras". I considered an 'l' but rejected it as Moretus always closes his loops in 'l's. Except for that in "licuit". Still it's indeed a better fit.

Berj says:
It doesn't fit well, but for what it's worth, in 1613 died one Robertus Conye, a Rector, at Eastwrotham / Norfolk. There were other Conyes in 17th c. England.

Attached as a preview are the two pics [1BareschSine.jpg and AnalysisBareschSine.jpg] from Lib. deposit # 15-1-2007-12-24

Btw, in the wild ideas department: I wonder about variations of "Mnischowsky". Baresch's sine almost gives me the impression that he may be acknowledging Mnischowsky. Might Baresch have studied with Mnishowsky - didn't you [Jan] hint at something like that?

Jan says:
They might have been in Italy at the same time, Baresch at Sapienza, but I do not know where was Mnishowsky, only that he studied in Italy and France as well, I will try to find out. If they knew each other as classmates, then it would explain the theoretical hypothesis M. gave him the VM. But as a hoax he could choose better expert - Baresch was not aparently such a great cipher-solver or manuscript expert and it would be too much for Mnischowsky to fabricate such time consuming and complicated hoax. On the other hand, if it was the original and Mnishowsky did not solve it, he surely would not part with it. So again, dead end.

In which way confirms Baresch's letter Mnishowsky?

Berj says:
Well I think not necessarily a dead end because I hold open the possibility that the VMS was a work in progress that was not completed until later in the 17th c. In other words, Baresch and / or Mnishowsky might have had the seed for it, and the document evolved, including with input from others.

Well it would be very, very interesting to find definite connections between Baresch and Mnischowsky. What I was wondering was if from my analysis of Baresch's sine, AnalysisBareschSine.jpg, you can see even the slightest possible influence, either Baresch -> Mnischowsky or Mnischowsky -> Baresch.

I continue to ponder this question: if Baresch indeed possessed the Voynich manuscript for all those years, as standard Voynich ms history alleges, then should we not expect to find at least some scribbles of annotation in his hand, a mere word or two if nothing else, in the VMS somewhere? It just seems to me that if you own a highly interesting book that you are actively working on / with, then even inadvertently some marks from your own hand will get into the book. I suppose the strange writing on f116v is a logical thing to look at for this. Does it resemble anything that might have come from either Baresch's or Mnischowsky's hand?

Jan says:
You are right, we should investigate all scribbles in the VM and compare them with other handwritings. So far nothing reminds me of Mnishowsky but he has to be checked more thoroughly (of course if he created the fraud, he would not add his handrwiting as a dead giveway :-). Still, if we find there the handwriting of somebody else, it may clear that person from being the author (unless he was devilishly clever).

I was wondering about those zigzags in Barschius's signature. Apparently it was a common habit, see also enclosed [baresch.jpg; horcz.jpg; wallenstein.jpg] signature of Horczicky a nd general Wallenstein ( the caption says they are from years 1628, 1629, and last two 1634, shortly before he was murdered and they show he was already ill). What bothers me is that some part of Baresch's signature is crossed-out.

Berj says:
Well those zig-zags (sine components #1 and #2 in my nomenclature) are just how the sine was scripted. So the question is: is Baresch intentionally hiding something in his sine's zig-zags? Is he hiding not just part of a word that ends with the letter "8", but also hiding a gallows letter? If we had the actual Baresch letter, I'll bet with a good magnifying glass we could tell something about the beta bend. If indeed Baresch traced it in reinforcement, then one can start to believe that he was intentionally signalling a gallows glyph to Kircher.

Jan says:
Something bothers me: how much of the signature there is sine and what are those scratch lines hiding the part of sine? Baresch was asking for favour and knowing the letter might impress Kircher why would he create such a mess (it does seem to be in the same ink and pen)? Kircher was by all measures very organized and careful person, his writing being almost like printed one.

By the way, the letter shows carelessness and quite a disarray - somebody should do the graphological analysis (i.e. character study) of it. Certain psychological symptoms are visible, certainly not related to high age or mental problems. It is apparently just the way he was, all the time.

Now there is one more important point in Marci's letter: he said he was sending Baresch's attempts with the manuscript and the letter (see Rene's English translation of the letter, as I mentioned in my last article). Voynich certainly does not mention having them, neither they are stored in the box at Beinecke. They would provide quite a rich source of information. Or did Voynich know about them, took them and never revealed the fact, hoping it would help him to solve the riddle? Of course, the most probable case is that Kircher destroyed them as well as those in the first letter, but would he really? After all, he finally knew the VM is the real thing and besides, he collected all letters and even more . . . Come to think of it, what if the first letter was sold to Voynich as well, again with all the samples, but since the sale was secret, we may never know.

Another point: I do not believe Marci sent such valuable manuscript by post, but most likely was using the opportunity of the trip by one of Prague Jesuits to Rome ( he was apparently afraid that mail might lose it and was rather waiting four years or so (as per Rene) for opportunity - and it would explain his contradictory claim in his letter that he "sent the book soon after he inherited it). The candidfate for the messenger is of course again Moretus or rather Kinner and we should find something in their letters about it - hopefully . . .

Berj says:
I think the "scratch lines" are just Baresch's way of scripting the #2 component of his sine. In fact Marci himself in his 10 or 16 MAY 1642 letter, where he has added his sine, has scripted his sine in a messy way, I'd say.

But I agree with you that Barech's sine is odd for such a begging letter: it is egotistically big and complicated. Why? Well, suppose Baresch at the time that he wrote the letter, knew that Kircher had in fact seen the mysterious script already from Baresch's previous attempts, using also Moretus, to get Kircher interested in it. Baresch may have needed, in his letter, a way to discreetly signal the strange script alphabet. And so he used some of the diacritical marks, and then hid a clear MD-A gallows in his sine - his sine would then need to be big enough, and complex enough to serve as an effective hiding place for the gallows. That's a possible explanation it seems to me.

Oh yes definitely, the graphology should be done on Baresch's letter - that letter has many more secrets that are still fresh for analysis. Jan I'd be willing to bet that Voynich had VMS papers that we don't know about. After all, we do know that he knew about Baresch but said nothing. Question is: where could those papers be? I think maybe we are right back to Miss Nill, and we don't even know where she is buried! [J.VS comm #33, #36, #38]

Jan says:
Either way, it [sine / manu propria] cannot be seriously taken as a proof the letter was written by the author, both sine as well as signature can be easily forged, that much they must have known at that time already. Maybe there was some hidden sign only author and the recipient knew about? And yes, Miss Nill is probably the answer to several mysteries. As an assistent to Voynich, she must have been aware of most of his secrets - she might have waited for Ethel's permission but hardly for the revelation, she knew it all and more.

I am suprised that nobody asked about Baresch's scribblings even after Voynich released Marci's letter with that info. Did he release it together with manuscript or later? He certainly overlooked it himself, which may prove he did not make a fraudulent manuscript after all ( still, he might have kept something away and yes, he might have forged in desperation the "hidden" name in the manuscript). Of course, I might look contradictory, now when I feel the handwriting of the "signature" could have beeen that of Mnishowsky. But I was just commenting on it, not that I am really convinced. Beside, the letters in the signature are so simple that almost anybody could have written it. So we are moving on some spiral, but hopefuly in the direction that goes toward the center, not the other way around, haha.

Berj says:
I have thought that also - that some sines had hidden signs in them that only the sender and recipient know. The presence or absence of the sine following the signature could itself be a sign - basically that was the reason for J.VS comm. #4 with Marci's letters. Well yes, there must be some very good reason why Voynich remained silent concerning Baresch.

Jan says:
There could be of course plenty of explanation of the dilemma (like the VM could have been made "according" to Baresch letter and that the VM is in reality NOT the original Prague manuscript which was lost, and so on). The hoax theory is only avoiding the problem, never solving it. There are still many unexplainable points in Kelley's life: he was spreading plenty gold as gifts, but where could he get all that gold? He must have had a source, maybe even secret gold mine somewhere in Bohemia.

Interesting point is that the Brittish Royal society actually sent their delegation to Prague to see Marci since he was reported to them to be skilled in metallurgy processes (which he claims he learned from Baresch). Could they have been prompted by the rumour about Kelly's gifts? And what about his transmutations, seen by many and doubted by so few? He seemed to be also truly believing in his red powder. Why?

Horczicky was arrested in 1618 and sent to exile in 1620. As for the letter from Baresch, I do not think Voynich ever saw it - else he would have used it in his provenance as the proof that the VM is indeed Prague manuscript (thus building the strong link for the missing link in the chain Rudolph - Horczicky - Baresch - Marci. For that reason, he always claimed the name was written in the VM by Rudolph himself, another make-belief :-).

Berj says:
Here are some handy references to Baresch etc. from the old vms-list; on the whole they show a rapid exploitation of a lead developed by Rafal T. Prinke:

15 APR 2002: Rafal T. Prinke discovers Servit's 1989 book on Marci which gives info on Baresch plus a lead to more Baresch-Marci info in a 1662 book by Marci titled "Philosophia vetus restituta" (thus dating Baresch's death before 1662). Rafal quotes from Servit's book: "It is only known that a year before his death he sent to Athanasius Kircher one of the most valuable manuscripts from this collection, the so called _Cabalistic manuscript of Roger Bacon_. As it appears from the letter by G. A. Kinner to Athanasius Kircher of 5 January 1667 (Carteggio Kircher,Roma, VIII, fol. 150), it was probably in 1666." :

16 APR 2002: Rene Zandbergen comments on Rafal's comments, says that Kinner's 5 JAN 1667 letter to Kircher has a real gem, and concludes that Marci's last letter should be dated 1666 and not 1665, and that the possibility of fraud is now more remote:

16 APR 2002: Rafal T. Prinke quotes Rene Zandbergen saying the 1667 Kinner letter (link to it gotten from Gabriel Landini) has a real gem (P. Prouincialem etc.), and Rafal comments it should be easy to discover who P. Prouincialem is:

17 APR 2002: Rene Zandbergen locates a copy of "Philosophia vetus restituta" and will check it. Rene tells info from Fletcher's 1972 paper (~ Marci writes to Kircher):

18 APR 2002: Rene Zandbergen gives the Latin text about Baresch from Marci's Philosophia Vetus Restituta and summarizes it in English: Marci knew Baresch already 40 yrs and Baresh died at age ~ 70 etc.:

19 APR 2002: Rafal T. Prinke gives further details about Marci from Servit's book including that Dionisio Misseroni was Marci's brother-in-law :

20 APR 2002: Rene Zandbergen comments on developments flowing from Rafal's find (Servit's book) and concludes: "Voynich had seen (or been told about) the passage in Marci's "Philosphia Vetus Restituta" which Rafael found in Servit and I transcribed a few days ago, and that Voynich had probably _not_ seen the Kircher Carteggio, contrary to what I had been assuming for a while now. "

20 APR 2002: Rene Zandbergen recounts passages in Brumbaugh's book where Brumbaugh tells of finding at Beinecke, correspondence between Wilfrid & Prague about Baresch. Zandbergen recounts how VML member Claudio Antonini located the notes at Beinecke:

21-23 APR 2002: Rafal T. Prinke & Rene Zandbergen posts: commenting on "Barachias", on Zandbergen assuming a mistake by Fletcher (that Baresch visited Rome). On a sword. On Zandbergen info about Fletcher from an "M.J. Gorman", and Zandbergen's limit date of 1571 for Baresch's birth:

22 APR 2002: Gabriel Landini asks if Raphael could be the connection between Baresch and Jacobus:

7 MAY 2002: Rene Zandbergen quoting Jorge Stolfi and Luis Velez about Caramuel Lobkowitz, says: " The main source is the article by Cenyal which is quoted above, but didn't the people in Madrid, who had us confused about Barchius / Bachusen, also study Caramuel? What little I know about him comes form several articles of John Fletcher. ...... " :

29 DEC 2002: Gabriel Landini comments on info in Fletcher's 1972 paper saying he thinks Fletcher has a minor dating error, saying he is puzzled why Fletcher did not connect Baresch and the VMS, and that Fletcher wrote that Baresch "had already visited Kircher in Rome..." :

May as well concentrate some info here on John Edward Fletcher (1940-1992, d. of cancer) who authored, among other important Kircher material, the paper: Johann Marcus Marci writes to Athanasius Kircher. Janus. 1972; 59: 95-118.:

John Edward Fletcher pictures, and eulogies with biographical data:

A short John Fletcher Bibliography:

Kircher correspondence project referring to Fletcher's works:

Jan says:
Short summation: the first signature of Horczizky was found in the archive of Melnik castle by Karel Slajsna [a colleague of Jan Hurych] on 9th February, 2004 - our letter was from 12th November, 2003 but we received the authenticated copy in February next year, so you may find either date in the literature). The signature was based on my suggestion to above Mr. Slajsna and my prompting him to look there. The signature was certified by the official archiver (Horczicky was the heytman of the castle and the county, at that time ( 1617). I presented the signature on my [web] page and informed the VML.

Then Rene went to Prague and found the second signature in one of the books owned by Horczicky (the details are on his page). It was once the property of Clementinum, see:
It does not however contain the word "Tepenec" as does the one in the VM, as well as the other two signatures. Instead, it quotes the old name "Sinapi". Also it is in quite different handwriting and the claim it is in his handwriting is not certified, only the copy is provided. Zandbergen also claimed that it is the same handwriting as the "signature" in the VM.

Signature No.3.: Quite recently, in January 2007, Petr Kazil copied another signature in the book in National Library of Prague, on recommendation by Rafal Prinke (it was known in 2000 by Rafal that the book was there, but it was somehow overlooked until 2007 and was not searched for signature. The photographs by Mr. Kazil are at:
This signature is a true exlibris, and is by all means in the very same handwriting as the first one, as I proved in my article in J.VS "The new signature by Horczicky" (which is of course a reprint of older article from my site). Based on this, I also proved the "signature" in the VM is not in Horczicky's hand, and I am quoted by Wikipedia.

Berj says:
R Jan, excellent short summary! Below are some additional VML references from 2004:

18 FEB 2004: Manfred Staudinger, saying he is a specialist for natural history drawings and pictures in early modern times and also about the court of Rudolph II, questions some of Rene Zandbergen's profile material on Horczicky:

19 FEB 2004: Staudinger answers Dana Scott's question on Horczicky receiving the title 'de Tepenec':

19 FEB 2004: Rene Zandbergen comments on the information ~ the title 'de Tepenec' tracing to a 1921 letter to Wilfrid Voynich from D. Lad. Klicman in Prague [Beinecke papers]; says that Rafal T. Prinke has a lead on another document with Tepenec signature:

19 FEB 2004: Staudinger comments on reliability of documentation concerning the de Tepenec title, and also the possible styles in signing the VMS:

20 FEB 2004: Rafal T. Prinke provides data on the signature "Jakuba z Tepence" in a Czech ms:

21 FEB 2004: Rene Zandbergen replies in detail ~ Horczicky, but first acknowledges corresponding with Jan Hurych and having learned about Jan's discovery of the Horczicky signature. Zandbergen mentions being in Prague with Jorge Stolfi and browsing Schmidl at the Clementinum, and learning from Hurych ~ reference to a 'trade of prisoners', where Jacobus was 'swapped' for Jan Jessenius (the physician). Sources "Otto" and "Evans" and "Bauer" and "Haupt" mentioned. Staudinger queried on possibility of Rudolph II spending hundreds of ducats for a book:

22 FEB 2004: Staudinger replies to Zandbergen in detail with Rudolph II financial data and concludes that Jacoben Horschizki / Horzizkhi / "Horczicky was certainly not in favour of the emperor." About Rudolph, Staudinger says: "If he ever had bought the VMs the cover would show his coat of arms normaly together with a new binding. " :

Jan says:
As for Manfred, he was well informed and located in Vienna archives!
We were told by Prague Jesuits their records are apparently there (Vienna), too, moved there by Joseph II.

I share his [Manfred Staudinger] doubt about Horczicky's nobilitatio document. In Czech documentation, it is said he got it for lending money to Rudolph. Rudolph needed money and frequently sold titles for them (he justified it of course other way :-). It is also possible for Horczicky to buy his job as a chemist as well (my guess, since he did not need it for making the living - his monthly salary was peanuts comparing to his riches). He was filthy rich thanks to sales of his Aqua Sinapia, most likely made by the recipe of Schaffner, his teacher in Krumlov ( started to sell it as soon as he came to Prague, having his stall behind the doors of the Clementinum). He was then taking care of Jesuit gardens. Apparently soon he also quit his studies, taking care of their properties and finances, apparently very skillfully. Then he left for female Cloister of St. Anna situated close to Royal castle and from there to Rudolph service. Nothing is known about his alchemical work t! here or other medical skills. He than moved to Melnik castle and got involved in politics. He was not sent to jail by Mathias but after his death, by the new Directorium that opposed Ferdinand II ( Horczicky was jailing Protestants in Melnik).

Berj says:
Hmm. We could use a clarification of Jacobus's names - something like this, but with all spelling variations:

1. Born as Jacobus Horczicky
2. Believed (or definitely known) to sign / print his name as "Synapy" from year-X on
3. Began using nobility title "de Tepenece" from year-X on

Anybody want to take a shot at what that word in Baresch's sine, i.e. sine component #3 might be?

[J.VS comm. #132, The Nine Schnazbrothers of Voynich f24v, is posted]

Jan says:
Interesting irony: back to the original folio [f24v], one can see, that the shape of leaves is unnatural, disfunctional. As with the text, it was INTENTIONALLY made not to be recognized. But why? We do not know yet.

One thing can be however deduced: the VM is not the record of some ancient wisdom as Baresch believed - or rather what he WANTED KIRCHER TO BELIEVE. From his letter and his sending the samples only it seems obvious that Baresch did not want Kircher to find the real secret. Baresch suspected another secret ( like making of gold or Aqua Sinapia). Of course, for Kircher he had to have more noble purpose :-). Therefore I do not believe that the VM was written in any natural language, i.e. nonencoded.

I do not think there was ever doubt about Horczicky's nobility, just about the reason why he got it. As for Manfred, he is right, Horczicky's was the lowest level, was applicable only in Bohemia (according to Manfred, and H. would be pleased we call him now Tepenec all over the world and - I believe - it was not transferable to his children.

Berj says:
Jan, taking the available evidence at face value, that seems a reasonable interpretation to me: Baresch was interested in a money-making magic potion and he hoped that the mysterious manuscript's strange script would sufficiently motivate Kircher to help him (Baresch) get the magic formula. But it is not entirely satisfactory - for one thing, would Moretus really get involved, twice, in such an affair? Of course you've conjectured that Moretus motivated Kircher to ignore Baresch. But then we still have Marci in his book and letters defending Baresch as a good guy. Either way, the older thought that Baresch was a tool to make contact with Kircher still seems very attractive. Possibly Kircher et al were introduced to the Prague ms via Baresch, and then quickly dismissed Baresch as just an economics-driven conehead :), while nevertheless taking his ms seriously.

[end of redaction of off-J discussions 20-30 DEC 2007]


J.VS Archive continued in Vol. II, 2008