I’ve blogged before about the Voynich Manuscript talk I’ll be giving to the London Fortean Society this coming Thursday, but I need to make sure that anyone going realises that the venue has changed.

The new venue is The Pipeline, 94 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EZ, which is located in the City-style Bermuda Triangle of Liverpool Street, Aldgate, and Aldgate East; the last of which three always made one of my grandfathers laugh his head off: he’d once heard a Cockney bus conductor say “Aldgit East, all git aht“.

As to the contents of the talk… anyone expecting a regurgitatory recap of what you read in Wikipedia will (I sincerely hope!) be sadly disappointed, because I plan to cover a great deal of stuff to do with the Voynich Manuscript that you wouldn’t find there, or in fact hardly anywhere on the web. Such as the real deal with Voynich theories, for which I produced a special commemorative meme:


Anyhoo, I’m looking forward to the evening, and (barring any disasters) it should be fun. Very reasonably priced and timed (7.30pm for an 8pm start, £4/£2 concs), and I hope to see some of you there! 🙂

42 thoughts on “London Fortean Society Voynich talk 25th February 2016

  1. bdid1dr on February 22, 2016 at 8:54 pm said:

    Is that a self-portrait? Commentary and all?

  2. bdid1dr: it’s many years since I had that much hair, so no, not even slightly. 😉

  3. Donald Vaughn on February 23, 2016 at 5:18 pm said:

    That truly captures the essence of Voynich theories, well that and “You can believe me because I am an Academic” (who studied completely unrelated fields).
    Of course with the background of the fellow in the picture you can be sure that aliens wrote the Voynich and once it is translated all of the Illuminati conspiracies and government/occult/reptillian cadre will be defeated and good will prevail.
    Just Saying 😉
    Good luck with the talk

  4. bdid1dr on February 23, 2016 at 5:21 pm said:

    Nick, here’s a ‘heads-up’ in re my recent comments in re Tiltman’s efforts: a PDF

    DOCID : 631091 released 23 April 2002

    You can find it online.

  5. bdid1dr on February 23, 2016 at 5:23 pm said:

    I hope this reference gives you time to add it to your Fortean Society talk….

  6. bdid1dr on February 24, 2016 at 3:20 pm said:

    Also, you may want to take a good look at D’Imperio’s Report of the Codiologist’s efforts. You can find it online also. Wait until you see the diagrams she laid out as being the way codiologists (herself?) work at solving mystery ‘history’.

    ‘Somewhere’ in DOCID:631091 there is mention of Cave Beck, M.A. London : plate 31,

  7. bdid1dr: indeed, D’Imperio is where I recommend most people new to the Voynich Manuscript should start.

  8. bdid1dr on February 24, 2016 at 8:35 pm said:

    Nick, either you are deliberately ‘misunderstanding’ my reference to D’Imperio’s mis-handling of, and deliberate actions (animosity toward) both Tiltman and Currier — or perhaps you NEED to refer to her writings as validation of your ‘decoding’ of the “Voynich” manuscript?

    Eventually, when Tiltman joined the ‘team’ at the United States National Security Agency, both he and Mr. Currier eventually realized that they were not going to be given the honors due to them. Not as long as D’Imperio was ‘overseeing’ the activities and deliberately obscuring the results of their efforts.

    Have you been able to find any material written by either of those gentlemen? I surely hope so! Am I not remembering correctly that the ‘Brig’ and Currier were both frequent visitors at each other’s headquarters?

  9. bdid1dr: Tiltman had a long and hugely productive career; made far-reaching contributions to both US and UK code-breaking; and was highly honoured in both countries.

  10. For quite obvious reasons, a lot of the work of the cryptographers working in security agencies is not publicly known.
    Interestingly, Elizebeth Smith, who later became Elizebeth Friedman, was an eminent cryptanalyst herself. The couple worked for different agencies, or on different projects (I can’t remember which) and they could not talk about their work to each other. The Voynich MS was one of their rare common projects.

  11. Rene: once they had left Riverside Riverbank, I believe they worked in different agencies for almost all of their professional lives, though doing broadly similar work. Incidentally, there was a book (“Divine Fire”) covering the early part of Elizebeth Friedman’s life that allegedly came out in 2015, but I’ve never yet found a copy for sale.

  12. Wow looks like the event is sold out!
    Good for you, but a shame for me, I would have stopped in for a listen as the location is right along my migration corridor.
    I’m sure it’ll be interesting and hope there will be a recording available online sometime.

  13. Goose: shame, if you’d made it all the way from Siberia I’d definitely have bought you a pint. 😉

  14. bdid1dr on February 25, 2016 at 4:07 pm said:

    Elizabeth Friedman — I was wracking my brain for the name of the ‘other’ woman codiologist. Cheers ! Were you able to find much on Cave Beck?
    So, shoulda, coulda, woulda’, aside — I hope things have gone well, so far !

  15. Made it there after all, luckily they had a palmiped-friendly door policy even though the place was packed to the rafters.
    Great talk Nick, the mix of Forteans and Voynich aficionados was not an easy crowd to please, but you did a good job recapping it all while also presenting some of the latest research avenues and new ideas. All in just one hour, well done.
    There were so many questions during the Q&A and then I had to leave, so sadly couldn’t take you up on your pint offer, but hopefully someday. Also I figured I can just ask you here:
    You mentioned transit via a Swiss monastery, but it wasn’t clear to me if you’d managed to narrow it down after your recent research into Handbuch der Historischen Buchbestände in der Schweitz and Helvetica Franciscana. Any luck so far?
    Also, interesting idea about the ch + gallows thing… more about that in an upcoming post perhaps?

  16. Goose: thanks for your kind words, I’ll just have to find a way to get a pint into your pint-holding wing (evolution is a wonderful thing) at a later date. 🙂

    As far as the Handbuch goes: even though there’s a lot of information there, it turns out that very little of it is helpful for what I’m trying to do. I’m going to have to take a deep breath and dive back through all three volumes again but with a different frame of mind, i.e. see if I can go backwards from what it does have towards what I want, rather than look at it through the lens of what I was hoping to find. 😐

    As far as Helvetia Franciscana ( http://www.hfch.ch/ ) goes: because very few articles listed include anything so useful as dates, I will need to cross-reference the (numerous) library names given with the corresponding Handbuch entry to see if that article is worthwhile pursuing further. So while it’s a good lead to follow, it will take some time. 🙁

    Finally: even though the “ch-gallows thing” is easy to summarise, it’s something I want to present in a particularly solid fashion. In many ways, it’s the culmination of 16 years of historical and cryptological graft, so I want to do it properly. 😉

  17. Gentlemen & Ladies,
    over the past year or so I have suggested that you obtain a copy of Professor Miguel Leon-Portilla’s fabulous (paperback book: “Bernardino de Sahagun — First Anthropologist” — (with translation into English by Mauricio J. Mixco.
    Two other books I’ve mentioned apparently were never read by you or your regular followers.
    Another perspective on Sahagun’s works in Mexico is written by Professor Walden Browne: “Sahagun and the Transition to Modernity” University of Oklahoma Press:
    Norman, Oklahoma

  18. Perhaps you should be calling your “Cipher Mysteries” blog “For Fortean Eyes Only”. Or “ForMenOnly”. ?

    When I was 10 years old (1953) I was reading at an adult (30-year old) level historical novels — and following up the novels’ contents with university professors’ dissertations.

    In my Junior year and senior year of high school, I was excused from having to sit through the history classes (only after I told them that I was not able to understand what they were saying because I was hearing impaired, and depended on lip-reading. One teacher was German — he spoke gutturrally (no lip movement). So I took spot-tests.. I was then allowed to go to the school’s library and do my homework there.

  19. What grieves me most, though, is your apparent non-follow-up of the books I’ve referred to you. Every single word of the so-called “Voynich” manuscript is NAHUATL and Spanish. The proof of what I have just said can be found, word-for-word, in the so-called Florentine Manuscript — some 250-or-more pages.

  20. bdid1dr on February 28, 2016 at 9:40 pm said:

    Just so you know — I have translated every single discussion which appears with a botanical item (including mandragore fruit juice (watered down). Take a look at the ladies who appear to be discussing that very large fruit nearby. Take another look at Rene’s discussion in re the large ‘mushroom folio). In the past two years, I have translated and posted to Nick’s and Rene’s websites entire paragraphs of translations of the Nahuatl & Spanish texts (which are the only languages in all of the so-called Voynich manuscript; better known now as B-408.

  21. bdid1dr on March 1, 2016 at 11:48 pm said:

    A bit of irony: Over the past ten years or so, I have been tracking down the name of glass-plate photographer who photographed thousands of our Native Americans — up and down the entire west coast of California and Oregon. I finally did locate him. Unfortunately he had been killed by a hit-and-run driver. His entire collection ended up in Humboldt University’s collections — and not available on the WWW.

    Today, I found out that Humboldt had donated the entire collection to (are you ready for this?) to Boenicke Library/Yale !

  22. bdid1dr on March 2, 2016 at 12:13 am said:

    The photographer’s name was Peter Palmquist. So, I shall now see what Boenicke/Benicke might be allowing to our view.

  23. bdid1dr on March 7, 2016 at 4:36 pm said:

    ‘Divine Fire’ (Elizabeth Friedman’s bio?) I shall try to use my computer’s “Adobe”
    online ‘reader’ function. I’ll get back to you if I find anything at all.

  24. bdid1dr on March 7, 2016 at 4:53 pm said:

    BTW: Did you ever follow up on my translation of a mystery item which you and Rene were pondering? “Kort” — It turns out that the manuscript was a declaration of independence — created by French revolutionaries (18th century) who occupied a fifteenth century monastery — and called themselves “Cordillereans”. The reference is to the earliest founding of the Franciscan Order who wore a knotted cords in lieu of a belt.
    Fray Sahagun (Franciscan monk) wore a knotted cord/rope (as can be seen, today, in the Florentine Manuscript.

  25. bdid1dr on March 11, 2016 at 9:02 pm said:

    ps, Nick: Who wrote “Divine Fire” ? (Elizabeth Friedman’s bio.) ThomS may know. (?)

  26. bdid1dr on March 12, 2016 at 4:34 pm said:

    Could it be that you can find an online copy of ‘Divine Fire’ by using your computer’s “Read” function ?

  27. bdid1dr on March 13, 2016 at 4:27 pm said:

    “Divine Fire” is out of print (per Amazon). I shall check with our public library system (tri-county) to see if they either have the book or know where one is available. Other sources (independent booksellers) may either have a copy — or find one for you. ?

  28. bdid1dr on March 13, 2016 at 4:30 pm said:

    ps: If you can find an ISBN for “Divine Fire” or its author name you may ‘luck out’ .
    Good luck!

  29. bdid1dr on March 13, 2016 at 10:47 pm said:

    Nick — Help!
    “Someone”, not too long ago, expressed disappointment on not being able to get Elizebeth Friedman’s book “Divine Fire” . Well, I was able to find a brief biography of her book:


    I have never yet been successful in correctly writing a link. So, I’m hoping you will find the link anyway — by ‘looking up’ W. D. Joyner”……… I tried to bookmark Joyner’s blog. Some reproductions of what, basically was her diary and photo album !


  30. bdid1dr on March 13, 2016 at 10:53 pm said:

    Correction to reference ‘her’ diary: Elizebeth’s diary….

  31. bdid1dr on March 18, 2016 at 7:11 pm said:

    Sir Hubert corrected my spelling of Elizebeth Friedman’s name. It seems he may have not seen my reference to the website of W. D. Joyner. W. D. Joyner has posted nearly all the contents of her diary and photo collection.

  32. I know you pour scorn on Kryptos, Nick, but after some success with it, and hitting what athletes might call “the wall”, I suspect that the problem in cryptanalysis lies in becoming so involved and engrossed in a cipher that the fresh mind that one had when one started work on it becomes a distant memory, and one can no longer look at objectively. The phrase “beginner’s luck” may be relevant here. So, in your Voynich adventures (or any other cipher) try “starting again”…

    With regard to Voynich, is there a count of the unique characters (can they even be determined?), and has anyone done a transcription of these, e.g. sdsdx becoming 1-2-1-2-3 etc. ? Would this help?

    PS. You look like Treasure Island Dizzy. 🙂

  33. bob: I don’t in any way “pour scorn on Kryptos”, it’s just that I’m not very interested in puzzle ciphers with (definitely) living authors.

    As far as the Voynich goes: each time someone new tries to solve it afresh, they tend to make such a mess that it can take years to clear up after them – and the noisier and more public they are, the bigger the mess. For example: despite the fact that Stephen Bax’s so-called ‘decryption’ holds about as much water as a saucepan without a base, it now occupies three of Google’s first ten search hits for “Voynich”. 🙁

  34. bdid1dr on March 23, 2016 at 4:20 pm said:

    Back to Bax, are we? Ectshuly (stiff upper lip and all) — I don’t need to support my reports to you, with extracts of Bax nonsense.
    Did you sample my cheesy solution to the “Tempest in a Teapot”?

    I’m now stretching my 73 years-old memory with a poem I learned in the fifth grade:

    The Walrus and the Carpenter……. nope! Didn’t get far! Something about little oysters dining with them……

    bdid1dr (who is more and more resembling an oyster)

  35. bdid1dr on March 24, 2016 at 4:12 pm said:

    Nick, do you ever LOL?
    Besides ‘cheers’ ?
    Jes teasing !
    beady eyed wonder

  36. bdid1dr: there are plenty of other words I’d use before ‘LOL’, such as “Proprano-“. 🙂

  37. bdid1dr on March 25, 2016 at 4:33 pm said:

    Been there – done that ! Metoprolol

  38. Steven on March 31, 2016 at 6:38 pm said:

    What about a solution like this?
    No cipher, just another language?

    YT: v=wmvmSCd2Jg0
    YT: v=PoNm65v1thU

  39. Milstone on April 6, 2016 at 6:42 pm said:

    Great meme!

  40. bdid1dr on April 6, 2016 at 11:28 pm said:

    In re “Voynich” alphabetical characters:

    a is a
    b and/or p are represented by what looks just like a capital P nearly always, depending on the number of curlicues and which vowel (a,e,i,o,u, and y (ui) is being attached to the elaborate “P”.

    look-alike alpha-characters are ‘g’ and ‘q’ : ‘g’ looks like a large numeral 9 . which head sits on the line of script. ‘q’ is smaller and has a straight leg below the line of script. And then we have ‘X’ — which is similar in size to the q — but which basically looks much like the ‘q’ but which loop is smaller and extends to the back and below the line of script.
    That’s the best I can do with the similarities of several scripts. I’ve volunteered this explanation b 4 (several times) on Nick’s other pages of “Voynich” discussions. Mr. Voynich was very disappointed at not being able to translate the manuscript which is now Boenicke Library manuscript 408. (at Yale University).
    Nick, do you know if Paula Zyatz (spelling?) has been able to catch up with us ?

    My favorite translations are the mulberry (fruit appears in B-408, looks like a pine cone). The discussion is about the leaves (mulberry tree leaves) which are eaten by sericinae caterpillars which spin cocoons around themselves. Before the butterfly can emerge from the cocoon, the cocoons are tossed into very hot water. The unwound threads are combined to make very strong SILK thread.
    You can cross-refer just about any item, which appears in B-408, in Fray Sahagun’s magnificent “Florentine Manuscript” — especially Book Eleven – Natural Things.

  41. bdid1dr on April 6, 2016 at 11:41 pm said:

    Correction: Mr. Voynich was not able to decode B-408 manuscript because it was not written in code. Apparently, even today, people are trying to decode the so-called Voynich manuscript.
    Ennyway, Nick, you know I don’t give up easily. (?) Give me a hint if I’m entering ‘tempest in a teapot’ territory’ ! (Don’t wanna go there ever again! )
    Sincerely written !

  42. bdid1dr: tempests in a teacup are easily avoided, the problem seems to happen when people land here with their own spoon looking for something to stir. That’s when accusations of sexism and of mental health disorders rear their ugly, unnecessary heads.

    The general rule is: if you wouldn’t say it to someone sitting opposite you, or if you’d be unhappy seeing it attributed to you on a 100ft billboard outside your house, then don’t write it online. 🙂

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