A correspondent has asked me to summarize the evidence I’ve found in the Voynich Manuscript suggesting bifolio reordering. As long-term Cipher Mysteries readers will know, I laid much of this out in my 2006 book The Curse of the Voynich: but a lot has also emerged in the years since.

A practical starting point here is my long-standing page on the Voynich Manuscript’s codicology. This points to evidence for a whole sequence of fairly direct codicological conclusions:-
(1) The Folio Numbers Are Not Necessarily Correct
(2) The Bifolios Are Not Necessarily The Right Way Up
(3) The Quire Numbers Are Not Necessarily Correct
(4) The Bindings Are Not Necessarily Correct
(5) The Quires Are Not Necessarily In The Correct Order
(6) The Quire Contents Are Not Necessarily Correct
(7) The Paints And Colours Used Are Not Necessarily Original

To this, I’d add some other evidence:-

(8) The quire numbers and the folio numbers are not (quite) consistent.

As John Grove pointed out back in 2002, the Voynich Manuscript’s Q9 (“Quire 9”) was rebound along a different fold after the quire numbers were added but before the folio numbers were added, leaving the Q9 quire number in the wrong place (i.e. not on the back page of its quire). And, as Glen Claston later pointed out, broadly the same thing happened for Q14 (the nine-rosette page): once Q14’s first binding fold collapsed or was damaged, the large multi-folio page was then restitched along a different, less obviously damaged fold, again leaving the Q14 quire number in the wrong place.

Of course, given that most of the (15th century) quire numbers look roughly a century older than the (16th century) folio numbers, a bit of rebinding between the two phases is perhaps to be expected. But all the same, this inconsistency should alert us to the fact that the bifolios were actively being worked on between the quiration and foliation.

(9) Some of the quire numbers’ downstrokes continue within the wrong quires.

I found two clear examples of this (Curse p.18): (a) the downstroke of the ‘9’ in “29” (i.e. ‘secund-us’) continues at the bottom of a page in Q6; and (b) the downstroke of the ‘5’ in “5t9” (i.e. ‘quin-t-us’) continues at the bottom of a page in Q3. In both cases (and particularly in the first of the two), it seems likely that at the time the quire numbers were added, the herbal bifolios were in quite a substantially order from the order we are presented with several centuries later.

(10) Vellum tears with parallel orientation may indicate that those bifolios came from the same tanned skin.

The examples I found (Curse pp.54-56) were on the f16-f9 bifolio and the f10-f15 bifolio, as well as on the f38-f35 bifolio and f36-f37 bifolio. The fact that the bifolios were still immediately adjacent in both cases loosely implies that the basic idea of codicological continuity during construction (i.e. that adjacent bifolios individual sections were probably folded and cut down from larger sheets of vellum) may well be sound. It also suggests that the f28-f29 bifolio (which has a stitched vellum tear) may be out of sequence.

(11) Currier “Herbal A” and Currier “Herbal B” bifolios seem jumbled up.

Back in 1976 or so, US Army cryptanalyst Prescott Currier noted two apparently distinct “dialects” of the ‘Voynichese’ language: he called these “A” and “B”, and pointed out a whole set of curious properties that helps you distinguish them from each other. Moreover, any given bifolio has only “A” or “B” writing on it: this broadly supports the idea that these correspond to two broadly separate writing phases, rather than two separate writers writing in parallel.

(12) The three sunflower-like drawings look to have been separated.

f33v, f40v and f50r all contain pictures of similar sunflower-like plants, and are all “Herbal B” pages: this reinforces the idea that the Herbal B pages should be looked at as a quite distinct content collection from the Herbal A pages. I’d add that the Herbal B “plants” seem far more artificial to me than Herbal A “plants”, some (but not all) of which actually resemble real plants (e.g. water lily, pansies, etc).

(13) Q13 and Q20 may have originally each been two smaller quires that were later merged.

There is a whole heap of content analysis that supports the idea that what we now call “Q13” was originally a ‘Q13a’ and a ‘Q13b’ (as proposed by Glen Claston in 2009) and that what we call “Q20” was originally a ‘Q20a’ and a ‘Q20b’ (as proposed by me in 2010).

This is not so very far from the observation [(3) above] that, given that the jars in the pharma section seem to progress from the end of Q19 to the start of Q17, Q19 originally preceded Q17. In short, we can’t be at all sure that the quire arrangement we see now matches the original quire arrangement or order – quires may well have been formed of smaller original quires that were merged (for whatever reason) before the quire numbers were added.

(14) The two pages with “chicken scratch” marginalia may well have originally been adjacent.

I suggested this in my 2012 Voynich Centenary Conference presentation “Between Vellum and Prague”, which tried to reconstruct how the Voynich Manuscript’s quires had moved around between its original ‘alpha’ state and the final (foliated) state. I think it would therefore be interesting to find out whether f66v (in Q8) and f86v3 (in Q14) were from the same vellum skin.

(15) Some bifolios that were (probably) central to a quire are now not.

f84v-f78r should clearly have been the centre of a Q13 quire (the pictures join across the bifolio’s central fold): but I should add that Rene Zandbergen also pointed out in 2010 that f18v-f23r may well have been the centrefold page-pair of a quire; and that I also suggested much the same of f33v and f40r in 2006 (Curse, p.70), though for a different reason.

49 thoughts on “Evidence of bifolio reordering in the Voynich Manuscript…

  1. Diane on May 30, 2013 at 2:51 am said:

    Nick
    May I ask whose proposed plant identifications you are adopting here?

  2. Diane on May 30, 2013 at 3:03 am said:

    Also – small point, but in some cases it may be necessary to distinguish between ‘different’ and ‘wrong’. The owner/s were under no obligation to keep the thing in any particular order – it looks more like a notebook than a single continuous text, so I should think a person at liberty to re-arrange parts to suit themselves. Different from having folios upside down, I suppose.

    D

  3. Diane on May 30, 2013 at 4:19 am said:

    All in all, it seems to me that you are accepting the possibility of a Christopher-Columbus-or-later view of the manuscript. It would be interesting to know your reasons for that position.

    No point in my saying any more.

  4. Diane: (1) the plant ids were just as per the interlinear transcription (circa 1990) – I’ve yet to be convinced that any of the recent batch of claimed identifications are botanically sound, let alone historically sound.

    (2) Because the two halves of bifolios are physically attached together, the ability of authors to shuffle bifolios to achieve some presumed better arrangement is severely limited. In general, I believe that the (widely-held) suggestion that the current order was what the original author intended is unsupported by the physical evidence.

    (3) Ooops, I accidentally omitted scare-quotes around the word ‘sunflower’. I don’t think any of them are sunflowers. The Voynich Manuscript is not a post-Columbus artefact.

  5. Diane on May 30, 2013 at 10:30 am said:

    Thank gd. If you have become one of the sunflower brigade – seriously, I’d have quit.

    I keep trying to imagine the sequence of events between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries, with the ‘events’ here in sequence, but perhaps one of these days you might feel like doing that? I shouldn’t like to pre-empt.

    I have a serious issue with this manuscript’s codicology, but it’s not about ordering; about methods of manufacture. Especially if persisting over as much as a century, there are real problems with the environment generally posited: mainland, Latin-educated, European.

    Wish I were in Europe. Some of the summer university courses in book-things there are mouth-watering.

  6. Diane on May 30, 2013 at 10:33 am said:

    one more question.

    Trying to correlate palaeographic hands with Currier hands. Any recommendations about that?

  7. Diane: if it’s any help, the Voynich’s pages are generally well-made and feel nice & thin, with only one bifolio in the Herbal section noticeably thicker than the others, i.e. more like chunky monastic vellum (guess which bifolio I suspect might be a palimpsest?). In general, it feels “towny” rather than courtly or parochial, if that’s not too imprecise for you.

  8. Hi Nick! I’m with you on everything in your post.
    Cheers, Dennis

  9. Dennis: thanks, much appreciated! I tried to be reasonably comprehensive, is there anything else I’ve perhaps missed?

  10. Diane on May 30, 2013 at 1:56 pm said:

    Nick, its the lack of marking up and the inclusion of hoizontal ‘paragraph’ spaces that are the problem for me. I was ready to assume the first due to trimming, which often removes pricking, but Rene says some (many, most, all?) are untrimmed. That in itself is problematic. Normally in Europe quires of finer vellum would be provided already trimmed, and the mark-up removed when re-trimmed for re-binding. Untrimmed edged and no marking up… problematic.

    Paragraph spaces still more so for a European Christian ms of the early 15thC.

    I’ve actually adverised on the mailing list hoping to find at least one other manuscript with these same features. No luck so far.

  11. Diane on May 30, 2013 at 2:02 pm said:

    *finer vellum or parchment*

  12. Diane: one page (f55r) still has the (unfinished) red lead sketch-lines, so that’s probably how all the drawings were done – a master making a (pencil) sketch and then a scribe tracing & finishing them, before rubbing off the red lead.

    My guess is that the marking up for the text was similarly done in red lead, which was similarly then removed by the scribe. I don’t know if there’s any literature on red lead markings, though: that might be a scribal practice local to certain areas. Something to think about, anyway.

    AFA the trimming goes, I’m really not sure there is half as much as Rene thinks. The quire numbers are typically right at the bottom, and where downward strokes go off the bottom, they usually reappear on a different folio – so there doesn’t seem to have been any trimming post-quiration. Not sure if this answers your question, though. =:-o

    I’d also repeat that the vellum has (in my opinion) a “towny” quality: it’s not fine (courtly) presentation vellum / parchment, but it’s not thick monastic stuff either.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “paragraph spaces” – do you mean spaces left at the start of a page or paragraph for an ornate initial / capital?

  13. Diane on May 30, 2013 at 2:41 pm said:

    I think when the air clears, I might post about this rather than filling your comments page. The red lead works in some ways, true. But what we normally find is that the lines on which text is to sit are prepared – by light scoring or by marking the borders with pricking or marks. The conception of ‘text’ remains the same in Europe till well after our period: text forms a block. One or two columns. All set up and ruled. The guide-lines are left if impressed, but removed from down the side if pricked (possibly also if pounced?). And as a rule these seem to be gone only if a ms was subsequently re-bound and trimmed again then.

    Paragraph marks like the one I’ve just added. Quite different from the occasional blank horizontal space left between one chapter or one defined section and the next.

    Paragraph gaps below the line, across the whole width, are believed introduced first with printed books. (Kircher and his correspondents never use them in letters even as late as the 17thC. I think they were considered ‘common’. 🙂

    So to find them in a hand written ms dated to before 1438 is really quite unusual. There are similar spaces left in some types of Jewish manuscript, where they are called Parashah. But this is a question I’ve never considered before, and which seems to leave even some professionals scratching their heads. Quite unusual and perhaps unparalleled for a supposedly mainstream 15thC European work.

    No – notebooks and zibadone dont present exceptions.

    Another lovely Voynich paradox.

  14. Diane: ah, that *is* an interesting observation, one I don’t believe I’ve heard before. I’ll have to read up on paragraph spaces…

    PS: don’t get me started on the 1404-1438 date range, I’m pretty sure that the radiocarbon sample from Q9 was taken from a well-thumbed edge, i.e. a badly contaminated area.

  15. Diane on May 30, 2013 at 4:25 pm said:

    About the C-14 sample.

    Nick, sampling is a highly developed sub-section in most relevant sciences. I can’t believe that the Uni would not adhere to the Standard methods.

  16. bdid1dr on May 30, 2013 at 5:11 pm said:

    Nick & Diane,

    I’d like to draw your attention to two folios which Brig. Tiltman was unable to solve:

    Folio 33v (Scabiosa caucasica): Some very interesting paragraph formations (no preliminary pricking/red-lining) which first “paragraph” ends between the stems of the flower. Fourth line of script begins with an apparent reversal of phoneme “tl” but really was (in context) meant to be “ll”: thus first word of line 4 is translated to the latin el-o-tlas, “to wash”, “to clean”. That word also combines with the last syllable of this first paragraph (ceas-geus) to complete the discussion.

    The scribe (only one) conformed the second paragraph around the stems, even if it meant creating a diagonal right margin. The scribe ended the second paragraph with the classic scribal symbol for “end of discussion”.

  17. Hi Nick, thanks for the summary! Deeply appreciated!
    All the best!

  18. SirHubert on May 30, 2013 at 5:24 pm said:

    Of course, the real reason the bifolii had to be reordered can be found here:

    http://www.neatorama.com/2013/02/22/Medieval-Manuscript-Peed-on-by-a-Cat/

    (apologies for lowering the tone…)

  19. Diane: it’s not the statistical sampling I think they got wrong, it’s the physical sampling. Basically, to get one of the radiocarbon dating samples, they cut Q9 on its outermost edge, which I’m pretty sure is one of the most discoloured places in the whole manuscript (thanks to several centuries of accumulated thumbprints from handling).

    So, it’s a perfectly good quire to choose (aren’t they all?), but in my opinion they chose probably the worst possible place on the bifolio to take their physical sample from.

    It’s all very well saying “yes, but our testing methodology removes all the contamination”, when the best methodology is surely to choose those places that aren’t clearly contaminated in the first place.

  20. bdid1dr on May 30, 2013 at 5:44 pm said:

    To continue with another puzzle which the “Brig” was unable decode: Vms folio 49v (Turban ranunculus):

    As far as the scribe was concerned, this may have been one of the most difficult for him to write. After his prefatory statement, he began by numbering the first five following lines. All subsequent lines had the initial character separated from the rest of the text. This was so he could retain his train of thought and intended dialogue if he were to be interrupted anywhere in the writing process.

  21. Diane on May 30, 2013 at 7:18 pm said:

    Nick,
    I’ve never run a C-14, but the stuff we have to send for dating is rarely nice and clean. Results come back anyway and are reliable within the reported range.

    I have run tests myself to determine loads in really filthy water – oil can be taken out separately from vegetable matter and tests run on each. One advantage of the destructive techniques, I suppose. I tend to trust the Standard method/s. They’ve been fairly road-tested.

  22. Diane on May 30, 2013 at 7:35 pm said:

    Nick,
    Did you talk to Greg a the Conference? If so ~ what did he say about noise? If not, perhaps you could email with the general question. Probably not specifically though – if UAri rules are like ours, talking about past results for commissioned tests is not on.

  23. Diane on May 30, 2013 at 7:56 pm said:

    bdid – you get that in the papyrus-ms-print traditions. It can be tracked in herbals across the nth African coast, whence into Sicily. Herbals of the pseudo-Apuleius type very clearly.

    To some extent also in herbals written in Arabic, but less fluent there.

  24. bdid1dr on May 30, 2013 at 8:37 pm said:

    Heh! Carbon 14 dating: You might like to visit Shroud.com for some discussion of the earliest C-14 tests done on that piece of fabric. Bernie Schwartz, host of that webpage, apparently was one of the scientists involved in the testing. If you do go onto Bernie’s site, you probably will recognize my contributions to the discussion. 🙂

  25. thomas spande on May 30, 2013 at 8:42 pm said:

    Dear all, Vellum or parchment is protein (chiefly collagen) whereas contamination is likely to be human skin oils (lipids and fatty acids) and easily removed by common solvents. I assume this was done? Original animal skin oils, e.g. lanolin would have been removed during the vellum preparation.

    A DNA analysis of the vellum could give us some idea of the source, whether goat, sheep or veal? This might in turn, indicate a likely origin of the vellum as some animals were used in preference to others by certain cultures. If sheep, or goat then a particular species might reveal itself, such as the fat-tailed sheep (found on Chios as well as elsewhere).

  26. bdid1dr on May 30, 2013 at 9:29 pm said:

    One folio in particular which as given me a lot to “1-dr” about is folio 56r. There appears to have been very little left margin at all. What also grabbed my attention were the first two words which have had the el symbol (Nick called it “brackets” in another post) stretched between them. Perhaps this was done so that the scribe could pre-determine how to place his lines of dialogue so that the sentence endings would not wrap and end up in the left margin “ditch”. It doesn’t seem to have worked anyway. To my eyes, anyway, there appears to be at least one syllable missing at the beginning of each line of text.

    So, could it be that f56r is one of the “shuffled” folios?
    BTW, folio 56r is about Dianthus (carnation/sweet william/pink).

  27. Diane on May 30, 2013 at 9:38 pm said:

    Bd
    I was replying to your earlier message –

    “All subsequent lines had the initial character separated from the rest of the text. This was so he could retain his train of thought and intended dialogue if he were to be interrupted anywhere in the writing process” with remark about herbals.

  28. Tom: I understand the process well, but I still think they made an unnecessarily poor choice of sampling site for that particular sample.

  29. bdid1dr on May 31, 2013 at 1:20 am said:

    Nick, ThomS:

    There you have it — the poor choices made for the sampling/testing of just about any relic.
    “Shoulda-coulda-woulda” is probably the most common plaint heard, whether it be the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Copper Scroll, or the Shroud (which is still fading).

    The biggest “shoulda-coulda” communicating/records management bugaboos are developing at the speed of our satellite communications systems which we rely on for internet, google, encyclopedias, blogs, weather, military communications………Hard copies of just about anything “historical” may soon no longer be available either on the WWWeb or in University libraries and archives. Whatta we do next?

  30. bdid1dr: criticizing a single sample (given that the other three have more consistent dating and seem basically to have been handled ok) is hardly a wholesale revisionist history, more a minor difference of opinion among friends. 🙂

  31. bdid1dr on May 31, 2013 at 3:39 pm said:

    “Wayback” in the 1980’s I worked for the City of San Jose. My duties as Senior Records Clerk included the annual microfilming of the official records of the city. Copies of the reels went into a safe storage bunker in the Sierra mountains, and other reels were distributed to UC Berkeley. The California Room of the City’s Main Library also got copies. The Historical Museum also got copies.

    While supervising the last session of microfilming, I had a “wait-a-minnit” moment: Microfilm viewers; where are they?
    I never did get an answer.

    So, I encouraged my boss to look into the developing “laser disk” technology as a way of storing records information until the “desk-top” computer technology could catch up and evolve. I also advised the City’s Attorney’s Office (and its staff) on bringing their records management section up to date.
    So, today I wonder if the Jim Reed of your acquaintance is the guy who is/was handling the photographic history at the Historical Museum. 🙂

  32. bdid1dr on May 31, 2013 at 3:57 pm said:

    Addendum: While working on contract with the City Attorney’s Office, I was the first person, ever, to bring a computer to work: An Apple IIC, with a liquid-crystal display screen. My cubicle was a former broom closet. I lined it with mirrors and potted plants, and a “grow-light”. My door was always open. Double-takes a-plenty!

  33. thomas spande on May 31, 2013 at 6:02 pm said:

    Dear all, A new wrinkle has been added to the Raman spectroscopy technique reviewed by Robin Clark (Univ. Coll., London) and that was one developed by Pablo Londer and Marco Leona of the Met in NYC (see Chem and Engineering News, 5-27-13 page 11. Raman is used but with silver nanoparticles that enhance the amplitude of radiation from molecules that are vaporized by laser. Only a “pinpoint” of material” is required by this technique called surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) that was used to identify a dye made from madder on a 3000 yr old Egyptian chariot harness. BTW Clark wrote that while he had worked with McCrone on the vinland map, he had not worked on the Voynich.

  34. bdid1dr on June 3, 2013 at 6:51 pm said:

    madder: madder root paste makes a beautiful dye, paint, or ink, which is somewhat fade resistant even if exposed to bright light (sunlight). Tell us more, ThomS, if some of the latest methods of analysis are turning up new clues to the age of either the manuscript material or the paints. Will the new technology MAYBE come up with some “underlying” aspects of the Vms which have not been apparent via any of all the various tests which have already been performed? Fascinating!

  35. bdid1dr on June 3, 2013 at 6:56 pm said:

    I meant to say that madder root yields beautiful shades of pink, rose, red, only if the mordant that is used is alum.

  36. bdid1dr on June 3, 2013 at 7:53 pm said:

    Back to Nick’s posit in re evidence of bifolio reordering:

    Perhaps some of the latest text-testing may reveal even more displacements/re-organizing pending (maybe) the entire manuscript being sent off to one of the villages which were commercial manuscriptoriums (rather than religious orders).

    Even before Gutenberg, the craftspeople who prepared the manuscripts for “publication” had a series of symbols to indicate pagination order, and bi/tri fold sequences, and finally, in what order they were to be stacked inside the laid-open book covers. One symbol, in particular caught my eye: it looks something like the front-on view silhouette of a bird just beginning take flight . I don’t have the keyboard characters for drawing a picture. There were several other symbols in that group which i interpreted as indicating the the binding order of various multi-folded folios within individual quires.

    So, Nick, many of your observations and evidence you’ve provided for the “shuffle” before or after final binding, may be correlated to those mystery symbols I’ve just described.

  37. bdid1dr on June 5, 2013 at 3:12 pm said:

    ThomS, your reference to the silver “nano-particles” for enhancing the Raman spectroscopy, put me in mind of a letter addressed to Kircher. The letter is in Philip Neal’s archive of Kircher correspondence.

    That letter, written in latin, is a recipe for making colloidal silver. What I found most interesting was Kircher’s somewhat shaky non-response, which appears in the form of random alphabetical characters throughout the document: A -L-C-H-E-M-Y

    So, over many centuries, we’ve gone from pulverized silver molecules in solution to silver nano-particles in spectrometry! F A S C I N A T I N G

    😉

  38. thomas spande on June 5, 2013 at 9:14 pm said:

    Dear all, I think there is a dot of gesso on one of the botanical pages and might have been used to cover a little imperfection in the vellum. It has a Greek delta on it. Anyway I asked Robin Clark whether he had ever looked at medieval gesso with scanning Raman and he said “no”. Gesso was often made with added organic material including honey and could be a way of confirming the C-14 dating of the vellum? Honey would have been a component from a living system (bee nutrient) and amenable to C-14 dating IF all or part of that little dab could be sacrificed? The new technique pioneered by the Met of NYC would be perfect for the various “reds” in the VM. Clark was aware of reds from other than the conchineel beetle but not that from the Armenian worm, if that is indeed the source of “Armenian red”. That red symbol (a double headed eagle?) to the left top of page 1 of the VM might be a good candidate for the nanosilver enhanced Raman tecnnique. I think we need more evidence as to when the writing is applied and any initial color to buttress the C-14 dating of the vellum. It will be a destructive method but not much is required. Cheers, Tom

  39. thomas spande on June 5, 2013 at 9:33 pm said:

    b. The making of colloidal silver is still a common test for reducing sugars, (like glucose) and is this basis of the Tollen’s test and uses simply silver nitrate which is reduced to elemental silver. It was also used for making mirrors. The nanoparticles I refer to are really very very tiny and I am not sure how they are made. The sample being tested is vaportized with a laser beam onto those nanoparticles and then exposed to a Raman spectrograph. Chances are that colloidal silver (which would appear as a black suspension) was known to alchemists as your reading of Kicher indicates. Just an early whiz bang experiment, Cheers, Tom

  40. xplor on June 6, 2013 at 2:36 am said:

    By dating the thread in the binding. We could tell if Wilfrid changed anything. Was the manuscript much longer?

  41. bdid1dr on June 7, 2013 at 10:47 pm said:

    Somewhat along the line of ThomS’ recent discussion of gesso: Not too long ago I referenced/researched an item on the Met’s archives — my focus was the use of saffron (yellow) powder with gesso and organic fixatives to “gild” elaborately illuminated manuscripts (rather than some of the more dangerous mordants and chemicals of sulphur and mercury. Several other dangerous ingredients were discussed, but now they have escaped my memory!

  42. xplor on June 8, 2013 at 4:21 pm said:

    Didn’t the McCrone Research Institute verify that the white out used on the manuscript was egg white and crushed sea shells?

  43. xplor: glair (eggwhite) and calcium carbonate (chalk), I’m pretty sure.

  44. bdid1dr on June 19, 2013 at 4:19 pm said:

    My last comment in re the use of saffron crocus stigmas for yellow/gold pigment refers to the New York Metropolitan Museum “cloistersgardens” discussion.

    Several weeks/months ago, I mentioned that I had translated Vms folio 35r and its references to the legend of Crocus and Smilax — and reference to “Cilicia”.

    So, would this latest post from me be partially answering Diane’s query which first appears in this discussion?

  45. Diane on June 20, 2013 at 4:26 am said:

    re: dirty pages
    I read recently a post in the Brit.Lib. blog about why dirty pages are of keen interest to codicologists and provenancers.

    The example given was a book where the prayer to St.Sebastian showed most evidence of handling – he having been the chap who survived what should have been certain death, so an exemplary biography which gave others hope in time of plague.

    I’ve always found it interesting that one of the earliest counterparts for the older saint-lists was a new martyrium.

  46. bdid1dr on June 24, 2013 at 2:34 pm said:

    Dear Nick,
    I’m trying to get back to the subject of this discussion (bifolio reordering). To me, it is obvious that the manuscript was taken apart at least once in its history — and most likely by Kircher. In order for Kircher to have engravings made (of Frascati’s environs, lakes, and monuments/”Nine-Rosettes folio), Caspar Schott would have been in charge of the layout for the printing process. What we probably will never be able to determine is who was responsible for reordering or rearranging the folios and, maybe, having the entire manuscript leather-bound. (?)

  47. bdid1dr: the Voynich Manuscript’s folio numbers are in a 16th century hand (i.e. at least 60 years before Kircher), and no bifolio rearrangement was done after the folio numbers were added. Hence Kircher would have needed a time machine to have done the bifolio rearrangement.

    So, unless that “cat piano” was in fact the control panel of a Tardis, I think we can rule him out as our prime codicological suspect. 🙂

  48. No, in no way was I implying that Kircher did any codiology. I am simply reiterating that B-408 was a casualty of the dismantling of several “Holy Roman Emperor’s courts as a consequence of the Thirty Years War which segued into the Hundred Years War (and we must include Voynich’s own involvement in World War I activities. *Somewhere* along the line, Kircher would have had the manuscript taken apart so that engravings could be made to illustrate his various publications.
    Provenance is proven by Mr. Voynich’s account of how he acquired the manuscript (which “I” call Boenicke 408) from a derelict storage building where the Jesuits were selling its contents. By the way, do you already know that several monasteries in Italy have graveyards for fallen soldiers of both World Wars? Do you remember my reference to the French and German officers (during World War II) supposedly removing the contents of Monte Cassino to the Papal records and library in Rome?

    We can only take on faith the documentation of B-408’s travels subsequent to Mr. Voynich’s death, and the subsequent documentation provided by Mrs. Voynich and her friend Anne Nils —and the rest of the buyers/owners attributions and sale/donation to the Boenicke Library.

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