A little while back, the Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library announced that it would be allowing a specialist Spanish publishing house called Siloe to produce a short-run facsimile edition of the Voynich Manuscript.

The story was covered in El Pais back in December 2015, months before Siloe’s people had set their painstaking 18-month production process in motion. (Annoyingly, the second illustration that El Pais included was of a modern reinterpretation of a Voynich Manuscript drawing, *sigh*.) But even then, Siloe’s owners could clearly see the financial upside of the project:

“What really excited us about it was that it is one of the most requested books in the world for exhibitions, so it’s much simpler for an institution like the Beinecke Library, rather than having to loan the codex out all the time, to be able say that there is an exact replica that a Spanish publisher has printed that you can use. This was a good argument for persuading them to give us the project.”

In fact, few people outside of academia or museums even know properly what a facsimile edition is – it’s a copy of a book (usually a rare manuscript) that reproduces the original’s physical state as closely as practical. That is, it is not so much a printed set of scans of the original book’s pages as a brave attempt to reproduce the original object’s overall physicality – its page feel, page weight, waterstains, holes, stitches, binding stations, and all.

As you can imagine, this bravery takes a great deal of time and effort to achieve, not only in terms of the actual printing (which is extremely hard for normal pages, but the Voynich Manuscript also has a number of unusually complicated fold-out pages to deal with), but also in terms of things like getting the basic shape, texture and feel of the pages right, and even scanning the pages in a completely different way from normal. It’s a big, tough old job, however you look at it.

£6000 and up

In due course, the plan is for Siloe to place 898 facsimiles of the Voynich Manuscript on sale for around £6000 each: which, if they sold them all, would net them several million euros. All of which is surely enough to make a crypto guy or gal struggling away in their research garret wonder whether he or she is in the right bloody business. 🙂

But all the same, £6000 is a lot of money for a book, however much hard work has gone into making it. So apart from a small handful of (oxymoronic) cash-rich museums or libraries, who exactly would be ponying up their painfully-amassed cash for one of these improbably splendid facsimiles?

Well, it’s fairly hard to say. The Beinecke itself would want one to palm Voynich tourists off with: but it would be a remarkably inept set of negotiations that didn’t allocate at least one of the copies as complimentary. Siloe say that they have not far from “300” clients already eagerly splashing their cash for a copy: but in the ever-bullish world of press releases, it’s hard to be completely trusting of what any publisher asserts about pre-sales.

Even so, I’d personally be surprised if they had pre-sold a lot more than a hundred up until last week: which was when the all-wise Goddess of PR made them a gift they could not refuse…

The AFP Story

Two weeks ago, I was contacted by Madrid-based AFP journalist Marianne Barriaux, who was about to go to Burgos to interview people at the Siloe publishing house about the Voynich facsimile project, asking me if I might be available for a phone interview on the subject. Three days later, she emailed back to say not to worry, she’d since found Rene Zandbergen’s site and so now had no need to speak with me. Which was nice. 🙂

So really, it wasn’t a huge surprise to me that when the AFP story broke a couple of days ago, it was quickly picked up by numerous newspapers – Guardian, Daily Mail, Telegraph, Washington Post and so forth.

What did AFP do right in August 2016 that El Pais did wrong in Dec 2015? August is renowned in the UK press as the “Silly Season”, when the paucity of content (and a lack of journalists not on holiday) can lead B- stories to get trumpeted as if they were A+ stories… and sadly, this is what seems to have happened here. Timing is everything!

Still, the AFP news story is probably the best thing that could have happened to Siloe: chances are that they’ve had a load more pre-orders arrive over the last weekend. Break open another bottle of cava, chaps: happy days.

BBC World Service Newshour

For a 3-minute audio version of my take on the whole story, I was interviewed last night by Julian Marshall for the BBC World Service’s Newshour programme.

The point I tried to make (and that managed to somehow survive the edit) was simply that the Beinecke wasn’t making this Siloe facsimile available to encourage amateur codebreakers to take on the challenge of cracking Voynichese: really, it had done that extremely effectively back in 2004 when it had released its first set of high-ish resolution scans of the Voynich Manuscript’s pages. One might argue, from the continuous attention from the whole crackpot spectrum the Beinecke has had ever since, it was wildly successful in that regard. Success isn’t always what you want it to be, it would seem. 😐

Yet the Beinecke, I believe, would now dearly like to wrest control of the Voynich away from the nutters, and instead hand it over to academics: and so the real point of allowing top-end facsimiles to be made, I would argue, is that its curators want to legitimize the Voynich Manuscript in the eyes of academics as a genuinely interesting historical artefact, one well worthy of study and close analysis (even if we still can’t read a word of it).

However, up until now, the Voynich has been something far closer to Kryptonite for those of Academe who dare to step up to the line: its quicksand of uncertainty sucks in and annihilates reputations, not makes them. And so – sadly – it is hard not to conclude that it will probably be a very long time before the crackpot contingent leave the Beinecke and its forlorn manuscript behind… a very long time indeed.

But What About *The Other* Facsimile?

The first sort-of-but-not-really-a-facsimile edition (i.e. just a set of colour images) was published by Jean-Claude Gawsewitch in 2005 (I always bring my now rather tatty-from-overuse Gawsewitch to Voynich pub meets and talks), though now there are a whole load of similar books, and of wildly varying quality. But if you want to see the best quality images, download them for yourself from the Beinecke’s website.

But lost in all the painstaking mire of Siloe details is the fact that the Beinecke has also produced its own mid-market coffee-table-style photographic facsimile-stylee reproduction, and will be publishing “The Voynich Manuscript” on 6th December 2016, just in time for Santa Claus to get some stock in for your stockings (or alternatively, Yale Books will happily take your £35 pre-orders now, so feel free to step right up, Good Ladies and Gentlefolk of the Interweb).

The publisher’s blurb for this (other) Voynich Manuscript facsimile says:

The essays that accompany the manuscript explain what we have learned about this work-from alchemical, cryptographic, forensic, and historical perspectives – but they provide few definitive answers. Instead, as New York Times best-selling author Deborah Harkness says in her introduction, the book “invites the reader to join us at the heart of the mystery.”

The-Voynich-Manuscript

So fear not! Even if your book budget won’t stretch (as mine certainly won’t) to a Siloe-style Voynich Manuscript facsimile, Yale Press’s coffee-table sort-of-facsimile will be far less likely to break your bank.

For me, it’s probably time to replace my ten-year-old Gawsewitch: the only downside is that I’m likely to have to grit my teeth in sharp disagreement with at least half of the essays at the front… but you knew that already. 😉

92 thoughts on “The Voynich Manuscript facsimile news story…

  1. bdid1dr on August 23, 2016 at 12:27 am said:

    Oh dear me ! What a waste of time and energy for the many potential buyers of Yale’s latest offering (B-408). At least two persons working for the Boenicke Library are so confused (when not at a total loss) about the ‘readability” of that precious manuscript, they are likely to be sued (as con artists) — if not jailed.

    No, I am not speaking from envy. I am just fed up that so-called professionals cannot read or translate B-408’s writings, much less identify the writer and his aides (his students, whom he taught to translate and illustrate B-408 — as well as the Florentine Manuscript; also beautifully illustrated and discussed in two languages.

    Would you feel better if you had the opportunity to see the two manuscripts side by side — somewhere ? I’m pretty sure you have the ability to compare the two manuscripts side-by-side, Furthermore, you would probably better understand my insistence in translating some of the more formidable un-illustrated, manuscript pages.

    Tempest in a teapot, or not, I am still proceeding with translations — in between the immense forest fires, nearly all set by arsonists. Meanwhile, my husband is having cataract surgery tomorrow. If it is successful, I may once again attempt to have the same surgery (long overdue – but put aside because the surgeon insisted on operating on both eyes. NO WAY ! Long story…..
    bd

  2. Nick,
    There’s no way that our library will be devoting such a slice of their increasingly-limited (Thatcher-economics) budget to a single volume. I understand that the last facsimile edition acquired by Rare Books was that of the Atlas Catala, but then we no longer have a department for studies of codicology, palaeography and epigraphy.

    I’d say it’s meant for the sort of people who have everything and worry about what to give a fellow magnate for Christmas.

    I shouldn’t worry about nutters unless they are political, networking sort of nutters. Most studies attract enthusiasts with a single idea in their head and no capacity for research – no, actually some aren’t bad at research either but their driving force isn’t the item, it’s their fantasy about it, whether it’s the Book of Kells, or the drawings on a ‘Templar’ cave, or crop-circles or whatever.

    Studying this manuscript is chiefly hampered by the complete absence of the sort of structures and protocols which enable a study to advance by the co-operation of adequately qualified, independent, and productive scholars.

    How many peer-reviewed specialist studies of this manuscript which are not theories or arguments about the alleged ‘cipher’ have appeared in any reputable journal over the past twenty years?

    The field has become ‘mad’ chiefly because there has developed an attitude which is mad by definition: first that an individual with no relevant qualifications can just “get a hunch” or an “idea” and then believe that the rest is merely a process of hunting something to support the idea while attempting to discredit the character of anyone who doesn’t “love me love my theory”.

    The number of people self-disciplined enough to research the manuscript on its own terms, to see what is actually there, then find out the usual why, when, and where (forget the ‘who’) are probably less than four or five in the online community. If pressed, I could only name three. The rest are busy ignoring the primary evidence, ‘researching’ by reading wikis, and foam at the mouth when items of the primary evidence are adduced which oppose their theory.

    All that is needed, I should think, are more people who can keep their minds, and their efforts, focused on the primary source and accept that no-body yet is an expert in this field, because the sort of people who are expert in their own field are, as you indicate, so routinely savaged by the maniacs, ego-maniacs, or theory-maniacs or whathaveyou.

    Let the people who create histories for the manuscript submit a paper for peer-review by specialists in medieval history, for a start. Maybe then I wouldn’t find myself in the position of having to write a few thousand words to show that the currently fashionable idea that southern Italy and the Aegean were ‘Germanic’ is a-historical.

  3. Nick, you are completely right about the fact that the real facsimile and the coffee-table edition were planned together, from the start. They are part of a double-barreled plan to change the status of the Voynich MS from a mystery or cult object to that of a genuine old manuscript that also deserves to be studied as such. The former can appear in libraries and exhibitions, and the latter in classrooms and people’s homes.

    The essays have been planned to be examples of how one can write about the Voynich MS in a normal way, i.e. without invoking all sorts of fantastic theories.

    The cult status of the MS will of course not disappear because of this book, but the book can hopefully move the Voynich MS more into the realm of normality.

  4. nickpelling on August 23, 2016 at 7:17 am said:

    Rene: even though this is the Beinecke curators’ intention, I think they may well have left it a decade too late. Voynichology has become as foolishly entrenched as Baconology a century before it.

    The way out of the hole is proper, carefully thought-through science well informed by codicology: facsimiles and near-facsimiles are just a distraction that will likely achieve nothing, sadly. 🙁

  5. nickpelling on August 23, 2016 at 7:37 am said:

    Diane: I tire of Voynich theories as much as the Beinecke tires of Voynich theorists.

  6. Nick, I am also not too optimistic that much will change.
    The difference in ‘Voynich culture’ between, say, the turn of the century and now is striking and gives little reason for optimism.

    I am reminded of a comment that Jim Reeds posted in 1994 (also before my time):

    ” I talked a bit with the head of research, Robert Babcock. He thinks
    all previous research into the VMS has been junk, [ … ] He implored me to decipher it, then Yale would stop being bothered by silly visitors. ”

    Something tells me that even a translation wouldn’t be able to stop the nonsense completely.

  7. Nick,
    You and me both. But then you know that – I’m a provenancer and because theorising has little value in our sort of work – it’s generally considered a waste of time – I’ve had difficulty being patient with the “theory” sort of research. “Where’s the evidence for your initial premise?” is what I want to know. And if that’s flimsy, forget it.

  8. PS – congratulations on a very good interview. I truly envy your ability to say much, briefly.

  9. nickpelling on August 23, 2016 at 9:48 am said:

    Diane: that wasn’t down to me at all, but to the slick editing by the BBC World Service guys. 🙂

  10. Anton Alipov on August 23, 2016 at 12:24 pm said:

    There are many Rudolphs in our time (not me, alas!) who would freely pay Euro 6k or 8k for a VMS replica to put it on their shelves.

    The scientific problem with a replica is that it would never be a 100% match of the original. Some things will be surely missed.

  11. nickpelling on August 23, 2016 at 12:27 pm said:

    Anton: indeed, I’m most interested in “everything that wouldn’t be reproduced in a facsimile”. 😉

  12. Smell, grease, pollen count from the binding?

    🙂

  13. bdid1dr on August 23, 2016 at 6:25 pm said:

    Boenicke 408 requires a translator; not necessarily a museum curator, or university professor. Nor does it require art historians guesswork. Fray Sahagun and his student translators, artists, and paper-makers began transferring his rough notes (the so-called “Voynich” manuscript) into a huge volume of work called (today) the Florentine Manuscript.

    If one takes the time to compare each folio of B-408 with the 500-or-so folios of the Florentine Manuscript (Fray Sahagun’s enormous account of just about every living thing in “New Spain” / South America / Mexico, one can do a folio-by-folio translation of Boenicke manuscript 408.

    The entire Florentine Manuscript is available online (as is the “Voynich” mss).

  14. bdid1dr on August 23, 2016 at 6:44 pm said:

    ps: When all of Fray Sahagun’s works came to the attention of the Spanish Inquisition, he was cleared of heresy — but neither B-408 nor the huge volume of his work (the Florentine Mss) was ever returned to him. B-408 ended up with the monks who maintained the Papal archives. Eventually the monks closed their monastery and sold the contents of their “library”. Mr. Voynich was very pleased with his purchases — but very frustrated when trying to decode the bi-linqual wording which appeared on every folio of B-408 in the Boenicke library.

  15. I may have read this somewhere before but I forgot: is it known whether new scans have been made for the cheaper version? Or is it a print of the currently available images?

  16. Karl K. on August 24, 2016 at 12:07 am said:

    Some of the problems (and I hate to say it given their more recent work in making the [for most purposes] high-quality scans widely available on-line, lending it to the Folger, etc.) I think arguably have roots in Yale’s previous ambivalence towards the Mss and those interested in researching it. For example, when we started the Voynich mailing list (which is now well past old enough to drink in the US :->), an explicit condition on a request for copies of the microfilm/photostats was that they could not be used to generate a machine-readable transcription of the text. That meant that people working on the text were forced to use differently-permissioned N-th generation copies of photostats from other sources, the limited published photos, or even photocopies of the Peterson hand-copy.

  17. There’s certainly some history there. However, the result of the C-14 dating has caused the MS to be moved to the area of early books (pre-1500). It changed ‘curators’ so to speak.
    This should not be seen as a criticism from my side towards the earlier group, because they were the ones who allowed the C-14 dating in the first place, and the first forensic investigations by McCrone.

    Times have changed a lot indeed since the days of the copyflo,

  18. bdid1dr on August 24, 2016 at 3:54 pm said:

    All that is being offered by Boenicke is another facsimile of the “Voynich” (B-408). No translated pages will be in the facsimile (my assumption — correct me if you will).
    The professor of Native American Studies, with whom I am acquainted, has gone on to study, I think, Alaskan and Canadian history and archives. I was hoping that he would visit Boenicke Library ‘some day’. Howsomever, this has been a dreadful year of the loss of some ‘millions’ of acres of our forests in California alone, not to mention our neighboring states.
    So, distracted I am; I apologize if some of my posts are “way out in left field” so to speak.
    I have not yet been able to contact three of my friends who ended up in shelters while their homes were engulfed in forest fires. The Cal-Fire teams and the sheriff did finally capture the miserable man who started this year’s fires. I am still shaking; because he was hiding out in a section of forest a quarter-mile from our home.

  19. Nick,
    Is there any way to get a list of the introductory essay titles and their authors?
    With the cachet that Yale has, one imagines they might have invited established appraisers, medieval historians, and all the rest to write something.

    I would be interested to know which specialists, if any, agreed to comment.

  20. bdid1dr on August 25, 2016 at 2:43 pm said:

    @ Diane: If Ms Zyatz (working for Boenicke) is the person overseeing the proposed facsimile operation, I don’t expect to see any translations of any of the “Voynich” Manuscript’s dialogues which accompany any and all of its drawings/illustrations. So, what features of B-408 qualify the asking price for a facsimile of it ?
    Ridiculous !

    Still translating, forest fires or not.
    bd

  21. D. Vaughn on August 26, 2016 at 4:06 pm said:

    There is no currently accepted translation so what should they include?

  22. bdid1dr on August 26, 2016 at 4:11 pm said:

    Way back when I began working in the City Clerk’s Office in San Jose, CA. I came across some correspondence that various City (and County) language experts could not translate. When I asked the Clerk where was that letter now, she responded that it was in the archives of the Historical Museum (as being untranslatable, but still very valuable). When I asked if it could be copied, she said no, it was no longer her responsibility; and that I would have to approach the museum’s curator .
    I gave up after several attempts to gain access to the Museum, itself. Economic cutbacks was the excuse given for limited hours or days for when the museum would be open for visitors. Hmmmmm – uh huh — okay……
    What bothers me the most is the annual microfilming of the City Clerk’s records. Where, in today’s world, do we find microfilm reading machines? I asked that question when I was put in charge of the filming of each year’s records. Shrugs were the only answer I received. A copy of each roll of microfilm was also sent to “secure storage” near Lake Tahoe.

  23. Bdid1dr,
    Although, as you know, I think a Nahuatl origin for the imagery improbable, I’m troubled by the way your claimed translation is apparently ignored, so I’m thinking of writing a post about the ‘Nahuatl’ theory in general, if I can track the material. My first stop, of course is this blog, where Nick refers to a couple of earlier people who also believed the text to be Nahuatl.

    Of course, I can’t pretend to evaluate your translation, but I can at least draw some attention to the fact that you are not the only person to have come to such a view.

  24. bdid1dr on August 28, 2016 at 4:15 pm said:

    It was not long after that discussion with the City Clerk (and eventually with the museum curator) that I introduced them to the latest modes of communication: the large CD-ROM ‘platters’. Within a couple of months, the City Attorney’s Office asked for my help in locating and retrieving some ‘missing’ litigation documents,
    I did so. I also suggested that they investigate the new method of records storage:
    The INTERNET.
    My younger son (elementary teacher) lost not one minute in getting his students on the INTERNET (once it evolved from the earlier read-only mode).
    Long-time passing — but very good intelligent material from just about anywhere on the World Wide Web. Don’tcha love it?
    beadier-eyed than ever (I may be trying, for the third time around, to have cataract surgery. We’ll see !!
    bd I’d as ever

  25. bdid1dr on September 2, 2016 at 8:54 pm said:

    @ Diane: That ‘other person’ and Nick went head-to-head for a little while. I tried giving both of them the Nahuatl ‘alphabet’. Neither of them seemed to understand my attempt at describing the difference (Nahuatl alphabet) in the Nahuatl characters for the alphabet letters M and N. Can you recall my explanation by comparing the use of “a right parenthesis which has one ‘hook or barb at its bottom — for the Nahuatl alphabetical letter “N” — and the right parenthesis which has two ‘hooks’ (or barbs) for the Nahuatl “M” .
    Ennyway ( I DO know how to spell — spelling bees beginning when I was four years old). My first week in kindergarten, the school Principal advanced me to first grade. Two weeks later, I was advanced to second grade.
    Things began to fall apart for me by the time I was in fifth grade. The teacher turned her back to the students so that she could write on the blackboard. The only good thing about being in the fifth grade was that, by then, I read and spoke “Californio” Mexican/Spanish.

  26. bdid1dr on September 2, 2016 at 9:01 pm said:

    ps: Can you now spell ‘mnemonics” ?
    beady-eyed wonder
    bdid1dr

  27. bdid1dr on September 2, 2016 at 9:17 pm said:

    Mnemonics : mnmonx (Na-hu-a-tl style)

    bd

  28. bdid1dr on September 5, 2016 at 3:29 pm said:

    ps: I m not m ak ng m is chief …..
    bd

  29. bdid1dr: Is Houl Dho Pen Ot! 🙂

  30. bdid1dr on September 7, 2016 at 4:38 pm said:

    @ Nick: Y’ lost me there ! 🙂

  31. Oh! How would I pen Nahuatl — you ask?

    I’m not able to replicate the individual alphabet letters online.
    What I could do, is send a hand-written Nahuatl phrase (and its Spanish phraseology/discussion) to your online mailbox or public (on-street) mailbox (if there is still such a thing).
    Several months ago, when you were changing servers, I sent a letter via air mail to you. Did you ever receive it ? Apparently you were able to get back online sooner than my air mail letter arrived at your publishing address.

    I’m scheduled for cataract surgery at the end of this month. I’m very nervous and somewhat worried that this latest surgeon will also DEMAND that he do surgery on both eyes . I’ve lost track of the number (and names) of the various surgeons who have insisted that they will operate on my left eye first (even though the neural transmission between the left eye and my brain is scrambled.
    The surgeons bill Medicare 30, 000 DOLLARS per eye.
    My husband’s surgery went fine. So, maybe one last try for me (with husband acting as ombudsman).

  32. Nick,
    Listening to this broadcast again you say that we know much more than we did about the manuscript. I wonder: are you speaking about technical things like pigments and parchment, or about the sort of statistical work done by Julian Bunn – or both, or neither. I’d like the know more about why you feel so optimistic. (If you have the time or energy.. perhaps a separate post might be better)

  33. Diane: I feel optimistic for a hundred different reasons, but this margin is – alas – too small to contain them all.

  34. Nick, I want to thank you for posting my e-mail address. Someone who read my article, The Voynich botanical plant names decoded, e-mailed me and passed on a very useful suggestion which I investigated. As a result I found information that may confirms who wrote the Voynich manuscript. My daughter Erica has added it to my latest paper, so please take a look.

  35. Edith: are you referring to your “Full Circle” paper?

  36. Nick,
    Thanks for the details of Edith’s paper. The method, if not the inferences taken, reminded me of your approach to the botanical folios, as argued in ‘Curse..’.
    At the moment, I’m trying to put a case (at voynich.ninja) that it is inappropriate to talk about anything much as ‘fact’ – we are still without any balanced body of research and evidence into the manuscript which might enable a balanced decision about whether any of the commonly espoused ideas deserve the description ‘fact’, and should concentrate rather on emphasising the nature, quality and balance of evidence adduced.

    Be glad, in the current atmosphere that you are not raising your Averlino hypothesis for the first time: you might be told to ‘stick to the facts’ as they were understood in 2006. At that time, if you recall, the focus was on Rudolf’s court and its occult interests.

    But I’m amazed to find the ‘leonardo’ notion still about, given all the evidence and research which has been presented during the past decade or so.

    Hope springs etermal?

  37. Diane: the years around 2006 weren’t balmier days than now, but were days filled with foolish hostility and know-nothing bullying ignorance, which I frequently found myself on on the receiving end of. My unforgiveably heinous crime, of course, was to assert that the Voynich’s codicology implied a mid-15th century origin for the artefact… but how far we’ve come since then (ho ho ho).

  38. Nick – indeed.
    We are now seeing a series of Polls on voynich.ninja aimed at deciding “what we all agree on” and thereafter, I expect, it will be considered impolite to question any of them.
    Co-incidentally, they seem to be listing and dismissing in turn each of the most telling arguments against the dominant theory: indications of religious culture; the quality and finish of the vellum… a detail which shows clearly the point at which non-Latin-Christian imagery is ‘corrected’ to seem so is described as being “the one exception” to the absence of religious icons.

    Ah well. But of course you are right, and if people were more interested in the artefact and its testimony rather than the ultimate triumph of a theory built from air and for which evidence is then sought post-hoc, fewer of the really bright minds and those of a balanced, scholarly position would have given up in disgust.

    You may still find some middle ground, though. Best wishes.

  39. Diane: voting history ‘in’ or ‘out’ seems like a peculiarly Stalinist way of trying to get to the truth, but perhaps the participants are all so much brighter than you or me that embarking on a completely spurious path would be the most minor of setbacks to them.

  40. SirHubert on September 13, 2016 at 1:58 pm said:

    When I last looked at Voynich Ninja, it had taken six pages of comments to discuss how expertise might be defined, without apparent agreement. Compared with reading the Voynich Manuscript, that seems a fairly straightforward matter to resolve.

    Tot homines, quot sententiae.

  41. Nick,
    I wouldn’t call it Stalinist, myself. But PR and personal networking and sheer saturation seems to have reduced the range and quality of intellectual investigation. I look at the names on the first mailing list; at the many acute observations offered before and since then.

    The manuscript was dated by consensus of properly qualified persons to “about 1400” by 1963.

    For the next fifty years no-one looked into that, and when the radiocarbon range was published, confirming it, only Patrick Lockerby, Philip Neal, me, you and (purely accidentally) Edith Sherwood were left standing.

    Now we see a push to a ‘consensus’ of 1475 or even later. Why?

    I think the entire study has become so badly imbalanced that there’s no point to it. Everyone is hunting stuff to proffer as ‘proof’ for a theory, but when you ask the evidence from which the theory derived in the first place – you are the only person (apart from me, I’m obliged to add) who is still around and can provide any solid answer. What happened to evidence-first?

  42. SirHubert: “tot homines, tantum stercus” might possibly get the vote, if such an option were to be given to the voters.

  43. Diane: can you please stop making claims about past consensuses that seem to be purely imaginary? e.g. “The manuscript was dated by consensus of properly qualified persons to ‘about 1400’ by 1963” is something for which no evidence exists, to the very best of my knowledge.

  44. Nick,
    In case anyone mis-takes the ‘Stalinist’ comment for a comment on Anton Alipov, who is presently a moderator at Voynich.ninja I think I should say plainly that so far both moderators have shown themselves of admirably independent minds, and more resistant to the “come-on-now-we’re-reasonable-chaps-not-like-the-common-herd) sort of brainwashing which saw such outrageous – albeit successful- efforts made to deter all intelligent alternatives to the theory first created by rene zandbergen.

    Rene has still been indulging in his habit of denigrating the personal character of any person who presents reasoned evidence against his theory, but the moderators do try to treat every member as equally entitled to speak without being pack-attacked, flamed or “meme-d” until they leave or their reputation and research are so so thoroughly smeared that no one dares refer to either.

    I feel considerable respect for Anton and for Peter for being able to stand apart and think for themselves … so far, anyway.

    And really, now, I must say farewell. Best wishes to you, Nick.

  45. Diane: attacking Rene Zandbergen for a theory he doesn’t hold, didn’t hold and indeed doesn’t promote is unlikely to help your cause today or any day. Attacking him in this way makes your argument weaker, not stronger.

  46. Hi Nick: I agree with you on this, “… the only downside [to the Beinecke facsimile] is that I’m likely to have to grit my teeth in sharp disagreement with at least half of the essays at the front…”

    I am busy preparing my own book review of it, and the included essays. I object to the obvious attempt to “cement” the Voynich into the “Early 15th century genuine cipher herbal” pigeonhole. This has been in my opinion a great problem to further research. No one would expect the new book to outline all theories, but at the very least it would have been helpful to its new audience to point out real problems and questions with past research, rather than falsely implying the issues are settled. That helps not at all, except in the intended way: Preserving the image of the Voynich desired by the Beinecke.

    Furthermore, I was surprised by your comment, above, Rene. In the past I’ve supposed this was the view… that withdrawing from discussion, limiting release of data, denying real questions about the Voynich and its contents might still exist… but I was told that I was being some sort of conspiracy nut. Now, it is publicly admitted,

    “They [both new facsimiles] are part of a double-barreled plan to change the status of the Voynich MS from a mystery or cult object to that of a genuine old manuscript that also deserves to be studied as such”, and, “The essays have been planned to be examples of how one can write about the Voynich MS in a normal way, i.e. without invoking all sorts of fantastic theories. The cult status of the MS will of course not disappear because of this book, but the book can hopefully move the Voynich MS more into the realm of normality.”

    I grit my teeth along with you, Nick, while also being greatly inspired to counter this very limited view of the Voynich’s possible identity. This is still a mystery, the Voynich has not been yet identified as presented in this book, and it is important for the public to know these things.

  47. Rich: I suspect you and I would tend to disagree with the essays (which I haven’t seen) for quite opposite reasons – in your case because you think they move too far towards a certain view (one which you happen to disagree with), and in my case because I expect their authors (very probably) don’t use the available evidence in anything approaching a joined-up way.

    I do disagree with your apparent suggestion that working with a particular hypothesis somehow closes down other options: the Voynich Thought Police has never knocked at your door to tell you to cease and desist, nor has it knocked at mine. However: given that the one piece of scientific data we have – the radiocarbon dating – points to a 15th century origin to the vellum, it would surely be somewhat intellectually perverse to suggest that the hypothesis of a completely fifteenth century origin should not be explored thoroughly and rigorously.

  48. I see two points of criticism from Rich.

    The first is that the MS is being treated as an original product of the 15th Century, which deserves to be treated as such.
    Well, I don’t know what to say here. I certainly think it is, and so do Yale and the Beinecke Library. These are independent views. I think Yale’s has more weight than mine,
    One can argue about the likely range of decades, of course.

    The second is that Yale would be involved in some sort of cover-up to deny the possibility to discover that the MS could be something else (read: a modern fake).
    This is a serious accusation, but never mind. It is easy to reject,

    Already in January 2009 access to the MS was given to two independent institutes to perform forensic analyses of its materials. The outcomes were not known at the time that the samples were taken. The library was prepared to ‘find out’.
    Again, in 2014 forensic analyses were performed, and these are briefly summarised in the book.
    After that, an external company in Spain was allowed to investigate the original MS in all details, and to scan it for their purposes.

    The idea of a Yale/Beinecke cover-up is most definitely something that belongs in the category of conspiracy theories.

  49. I agree with you that there is no proactive “door knocking”, and don’t believe that the presentation of any one hypothesis closes down other options for anyone who chooses to pursue them… you, me, or any of the hundreds of others.

    I just don’t think it is a good idea to present hypothesis as fact, especially in a publication by a respected institution. That closes the door for many who don’t know any better… who don’t know that much of what is presented as fact in that book is either opinion, undecided, our outright incorrect.

    I also don’t think actively suppressing data is a good thing: As you wrote about, the multi-spectral analysis report, and the C14 report, have not been released. Nor the C14 data… the most we have there is the slide I managed to take at the 2012 Frascati conference. The skin analysis we only got the results of, and briefly, in the talk at the Folger. There must be a report, there. And much more. Any tools needed to challenge the status quo, as represented in that book, are being stifled… considering Rene’s admission as to the purpose of the book was to quell alternate theories, it is not implausible to think this is part of a pattern.

    We both disagree on what the Voynich may be, strongly, but we are both on the outside of what that book claims the Voynich can be. But that only means I must work harder, and get the word out. Rather than close any door on my hypothesis, I feel it opened it wide for me. I’m “re-incentivized”!

  50. SirHubert on October 16, 2016 at 11:31 pm said:

    Rene: to avoid confusion, I assume that by ‘original product of the fifteenth century’ you mean a) that it’s original (as in not a sixteenth century or later forgery) and b) that it was manufactured in the fifteenth century? But not that it’s necessarily a work whose content was completely original when the manuscript was physically written? Sorry to sound pedantic but you will see where I’m coming from.

  51. Hello Sir Hubert,

    it is most certainly possible (or even likely) that whoever wrote the Voynich MS in the 15th Century used, or was influenced by sources available to him (them / her).
    So a firm “yes” on both (a) and (b).

  52. D.N. O'Donovan on October 17, 2016 at 8:29 am said:

    SirHubert,
    The distinction between scribe/copyist and ‘author’ is critical, I agree and was ignored for far too long. I am glad to see it being paid more attention since c.2014.

    Personally, I have found nothing in any of the imagery to suggest anything but superficial alterations and additions were made in the fifteenth century or thereafter, and unlike the rest of the imagery those were in accord with Latin Christian attitudes and iconographic habits.

    The rest appears to be a straight copy from considerably older sources. That is – the imagery. About the written part I can offer no opinon.

  53. Diane: for what it’s worth, I first started debating the issue of a separate scribe and author back in 2002 and have tried to pursue many of the implications of this arrangment for the Voynich Manuscript ever since. It’s certainly an angle that continues to be largely ignored.

    As for its being in any way “a straight copy”, I’d say that it’s about as unstraight a copy of anything as has ever been made. 🙂

  54. Hi Rene:

    “The idea of a Yale/Beinecke cover-up is most definitely something that belongs in the category of conspiracy theories.”

    I am only going by your admission, above, and your own essay as written in the book. You make it clear that the books are “… a double-barreled [a reference to a shot gun] plan to change the status of the Voynich MS from a mystery or cult object to that of a genuine old manuscript that also deserves to be studied as such”, and “… the book can hopefully move the Voynich MS more into the realm of normality.”

    But the problem is, the reality is, the Voynich still is a mystery, and is clearly not “normal”. Further, you claim theories other than the ones in the books are “fantastic”… that would be any later date, any particular author, any other geography or culture of origin. It also eliminates the possible of a forgery, which many believe. It eliminates any theory of later authorship, on old vellum, for any purpose. This does a disservice to the work of hundreds of other researchers over the decades. It also does disservice to many other possible opinions as to what the Voynich might be, because anyone reading the book would have a mistaken impression that the theory presented in it, “15th Century Genuine European Cipher Herbal”, is the only viable one. It is fine to have that opinion, and even, to write about it… my only problem is that you and Beinecke present it as factual… not the hypothesis that it is.

    Another problem is your essay, in the book, which includes many points which are not known, or known to be incorrect, which you present as factual. Here are some of them:

    1) You claim that the 1639 Kircher/Moretus letter (the “Illyrian” letter…) refers to the Voynich, when we now know it does not.

    2) You claim as fact that the 1903 record of sale of a book you found is referring to the Voynich. But it does not even imply the Voynich: “Miscellanea / c[odex] m[embranacaeus] s[aeculae] XV”.

    3) You claim that that Voynich genuinely believed that Arthur Dee’s reference was to the Voynich, even though the books referenced by Voynich in that speech clearly show Voynich knew a different book was being described.

    There are many other points made which are not referenced specifically by you, or the others, but which have been discussed and are known to be either incorrect, or undecided, and yet, the conclusions are presented as factual. The reader will be given a false impression that the Voynich can only be something within a very narrow range of possibilities. Beinecke, and the reader, would have been better served by being presented with the reality, that many of these points are unknown, that that Voynich may lie outside of what you think it is. I feel it is wrong to create this misconception, using the name and reputation of a wonderful organization… while admitting you had every right to do so, it does a disservice to the reality of the Voynich, and how deep the mystery really is. And it will be a prolific book, and so send many new researchers off, with blinders on, down a very narrow path: one that has been well-trodden, and frankly, has only continued to fail.

  55. Rich: I haven’t seen the essays in the book, so can’t (yet) comment on your criticisms of it.

    However, my judgement is that in comments such as this one, you deliberately bracket out the wide category difference between believing in the possibility of a forgery and believing in the actuality of a forgery.

    That is, while even I am perfectly happy to say that the Voynich Manuscript could ‘possibly’ be a forgery – for a determined-enough modern forger could surely make a simulacrum of anything – my judgment is this is a possibility that has a dwindlingly low level of probability, insofar as it simultaneously requires (a) a codicological and palaeographical sophistication that goes far beyond any other known fake or hoax, and (b) the entire pre-1900 history of the Voynich Manuscript to have been fabricated.

    This is exactly the story that you like to tell: but I don’t believe you have any genuine justification, just a doggedly determined desire to prove others (specifically Rene and me) wrong, as if we are the Keepers of some Freemasonic Flame.

    Moreover, I think it is dishonest of you to call the whole fifteenth century hypothesis “a very narrow path: one that has been well-trodden, and frankly, has only continued to fail” – for the simple reason that after you spent a decade publicly rubbishing the whole notion, the radiocarbon dating came out. So: as far as just about everybody in the whole wide world who managed to last to the end of the second sentence of the Wikipedia article goes, there would seem to be at least one good scientific reason to suspect that this is the single hypothesis that has succeeded in any obvious way at all.

  56. Having only 2000 words to describe the known history of the manuscript doesn’t allow one to present all the evidence behind it. For that I can only refer to my web site, which, by the way, still is a summary – not the full story.

    I am not going to discuss it here ….

  57. Nick! Thank you for allowing me to make my points, and your reasoned feedback. And no, I don’t really have a specific interest in proving either you or Rene wrong (I consider your theories both very different, BTW), while I understand that this impression might arise as a side effect of my pursuing my own ideas: perhaps that is unavoidable; and secondly, by my desire that incorrect information and opinion not appear in print as fact. If any hypothesis is based on false information, that should be revealed. It is not an attack on the hypothesis, except tangentially… it is an insistence on use of correct information by the holders of it.

    Your own book is entirely factual, but has included your opinions… and you make it clear which is which. That is how it should be. And I don’t know of any factual errors in your book, and I have read it more than twice. That should always be done, and that was not done in the Yale book. 2,000 words, or 200 words, known errors should never be repeated, as they are in the Yale book (as I list, above… a list which can be expanded, and will be in my review).

    As always, I wish you the best… this is not about anything but a fair, open, complete and truthful discussion about the facts, and from knowing you as long as I have, I know you want that, also.

  58. D.N. O'Donovan on October 17, 2016 at 4:54 pm said:

    Nick,
    Yes, but you are still claiming – are you not – that first composition of the content may be dated to very close to the time to when the present manuscript was made – is that not so? So you are really not making a distinction of any importance between time of composition and time of manufacture, just finding a way to explain why the handwriting doesn’t look like Averlino’s (is that right?). In any case, it seems to me that you only see it as a palaeographic issue.

    I think it is a straight copy from immediate exemplars that I’d date to the late thirteenth to mid-fourteenth century. But the oldest stratum still visible I cannot date later than the 2ndC BC, the important following strata being c.2ndC AD, then c.1250 or so, and finally a few late bits like the chap in the Mongol-cut jacket. About f.57v I am sceptical – only wish I had the opportunity to run a few tests on it, myself.

    One of the nicest things to happen lately is that Ive found that the ornamental motif known as the “cloud band” has its precedent in works dated securely to the second century AD – the ‘2nd stratum’ period. But of course this won’t hold much interest for “you and Rene”.

    Cheers

  59. Diane: I’d say that completely fails to sum up my view. I strongly suspect that what we see in the Voynich Manuscript is a mid-fifteenth century collection of mid- to late-fourteenth century books of secrets, where the pictures deliberately defy facile iconographic analysis, making fools of those who try.

  60. Josef Zlatoděj Prof. on October 17, 2016 at 5:26 pm said:

    Friends and enemies.
    I am very sorry. That I have to write this sentence. None of you would never know what is written in the manuscript ( MS-408).

    It is of course, I’m very sorry.
    The manuscript is written and encrypted in the Czech language.
    I am writing this for years.

    !! The same can also writes Michal Voynich ( Vojnič ) himself in the letter, which is Yale ( Beinecke Library).

    I am writing to you again. I’m truly sorry. The manuscript is beyond your powers and abilities.

    Hi. Josef Zlatoděj Prof.

  61. SirHubert on October 17, 2016 at 5:42 pm said:

    Nick, I’m a bit confused. So…not written by Averlino at all, then? Or his compilation of others’ works?

    I’m sorry if I’ve got lost somewhere…

  62. SurHubert: the way that books of secrets almost always worked is they were hustled together from scraggy books of secrets left by the previous generation or two. And so when Averlino talks (in his libro architettonico) about having written down books of secrets, the safest inference is that while (from the creativity of his design) he probably did invent a few of them, the vast majority he collected and collated from elsewhere.

    Averlino continues to be the best candidate for me because (a) he explicitly described having a number of small books of secrets, (b) he had an explicit interest in secret writing, (c) his best friend in Milan (Cicco Simonetta) wrote down one of the two fifteenth century treatises on code-breaking, and (d) he had his own herbal.

    So: a little of his own invention, but very probably a lot of other people’s.

  63. SirHubert on October 17, 2016 at 7:03 pm said:

    Nick: thank you for explaining. I’m not sure I agree with you but it’s nice to see a proposal which doesn’t immediately begin with special pleading or disregarding basics…

  64. Notula on October 18, 2016 at 2:14 am said:

    I haven’t seen the book yet, but I understand that here are still some people who strictly refuse the facts about the VMs in order to preserve their personal fictions.

    What makes it so terribly wrong that Yale/Beinecke now took a step to place the codex there where it belongs on the shelfs: 15th Century, of Southern German/Northern Italian origin, anthology of medical-herbal-astronomical content, usual contemporary (but very individual) iconography, unusual handwriting? I would add to that short list: very early 15th, Tyrolian origin and a lot more. What is it that drive people nuts when they see their Voynichbaby classified as an ordinary 15th Century manuscript with only one surprising aspect, namely its peculiar handwriting? Vanity? Obsession? Both?

    As René said: “The first is that the MS is being treated as an original product of the 15th Century, which deserves to be treated as such.” And: “it is most certainly possible (or even likely) that whoever wrote the Voynich MS in the 15th Century used, or was influenced by sources available to him (them / her).” That’s the way it is.

    Most of all codices from the middelages were copied from copies and slowly changed during centuries, and in many of them one can trace these changes down to the original source. But almost all of the codices remained in a rather narrow time frame and regional idiosyncracy – what makes it possible to locate them perfectly well. With Yale and the Beinecke now to consider the VMs as a serious witness of the 15th Century, facts should finally replace fiction.

  65. D.N. O'Donovan on October 18, 2016 at 4:52 am said:

    Nick,
    So your advice to those working to understand the written part of the text would be, I take it, that any decrypted text would be in a language with which Averlino was familiar.

    What were they?

  66. Diane: my “advice to those working to understand the written part of the text would be” to stay awake during your statistics lectures.

    Voynichese is not the kind of simple-minded lost language that idiot linguists would have you believe, but something that has had subtle transformations applied to it that confound your visual expectations, ones which our modern cryptological toolbox fails to flag to us.

  67. Josef Zlatoděj Prof. on October 18, 2016 at 7:55 am said:

    Proper analysis. I must commend you, Nick.

  68. SirHubert on October 18, 2016 at 8:14 am said:

    Nick:

    I do wish you’d stop putting the word ‘idiot’ before ‘linguist’ with quite such regularity. There are plenty of linguists who aren’t idiots, and there are lots of people who post on Voynich forums who are not linguists and deserve that term far more. If anyone does.

    *If* Voynichese is a ciphertext, depending on how it has been enciphered it may well be a linguist who spots a distinctive pattern that makes the eventual breakthrough.

    There have been plenty of statistical tests run on EVA Voynichese run by statisticians who appear to know nothing about linguistics. And they are often largely pointless, because they aren’t looking for anything sensible. It’s a bit like finding you’ve got problems inventing the wheel and arguing about what colour it should be.

  69. SirHubert on October 18, 2016 at 8:34 am said:

    I agree completely that Voynichese is almost certainly not a plainly written natural language, lost or otherwise. But I don’t think it follows that linguists don’t have a part to play.

    (Apologies for split post…)

  70. SirHubert: any linguist who looks at Voynichese in some depth and yet still concludes that it ‘must’ be “some kind of simple-minded lost language” is without doubt an idiot. I’d like to hope that the world is simply replete with smart, clued-up linguists: from what I’ve seen, however, it is the diametrically opposite end of that particular spectrum that seems to cluster around the Voynich Manuscript.

  71. Josef: now I’m worried. 😉

  72. D.N. O'Donovan on October 18, 2016 at 9:23 am said:

    Nick,
    Obviously I framed the question badly.

    Assuming that the main body of written text were enciphered, and that Averlino had composed that text, then would it not be your view that the plain text, if regained, would prove to be in a language with which Averlino was familiar?

    And further to that – which languages was Averlino familiar with, to your knowledge other than the obvious Latin and one of more vernacular Italian dialects. Have you ever found something to suggest, for example, that he knew French, Occitan dialects, Biblical Hebrew.. etc.

  73. Diane: Averlino wrote his libro architettonico in Tuscan, was able to read Latin haltingly (though was apologetic about the low quality of his own Latin writing), and knew a little about Greek and Greek tachygraphy (thanks to his friend Francesco Filelfo). He never fitted in during his short time in Venice, and he may well have been uncomfortable with the Venetian dialect. To the best of my knowledge, there’s no evidence from his life and works that he knew any other languages.

    Hence if Averlino did compose or collate the Voynich Manuscript, the balance of probability is very much that its plaintext is in Tuscan.

  74. D.N. O'Donovan on October 18, 2016 at 12:13 pm said:

    Nick,
    Thank you.

    I’d expect from that that his education had chiefly been by apprenticeship – maths and geometry, apprentice-style training in drawing and that sort of thing.
    Oddly reminiscent of Steve’s folded world, isn’t it?

  75. Diane: that’s just your imagination, I think. Most sources agree that Averlino began his career in Lorenzo Ghiberti’s workshop.

  76. SirHubert on October 18, 2016 at 4:56 pm said:

    “I’d like to hope that the world is simply replete with smart, clued-up linguists: from what I’ve seen, however, it is the diametrically opposite end of that particular spectrum that seems to cluster around the Voynich Manuscript.”

    If you had a mind to, you could substitute just about any discipline for “linguists” in that glib but not inaccurate sentence.

    I think Bax is wrong, and so do you. I’m surprised that that he’s made some of the errors he has, and presumably so are you. But I don’t think he’s an idiot – he’s an intelligent man who’s got something wrong for once. I share your exasperation that his mistake is going to cause people to waste their time on a red herring, but with respect you do yourself no favours in labelling someone an idiot who manifestly isn’t one.

  77. D.N. O'Donovan on October 18, 2016 at 7:14 pm said:

    Nick – Ghiberti’s workshop = apprenticeship.

    Not to have fluent Latin in the 1400s was as yet to have no formal education – I wonder how Averlino managed – unless he was being politely modest. As a random example – the first translations of Vitruvius into Italian are said* to have begun circulating about the early sixteenth century.

    * by a wiki-writer.

  78. Diane: Averlino’s contemporary – and rival – was none other than Leone Battista Alberti, whose grasp of rhetoric, classical topoi, and Ciceronian subtleties was second to almost none. Certainly enough to make anyone blush about their own Latin. Averlino tried to compete on different grounds to Latin, perhaps unsurprisingly.

  79. SirHubert: to me, the vaguely linguistitudinous stuff Bax continues to exude (and then faux-justify) devalues an entire field, which marks him down in my book as both idiotic and irresponsible. His stuff is quite literally non-sense to my ears.

  80. D.N. O'Donovan on October 19, 2016 at 6:15 am said:

    Nick,
    Perhaps I shouldn’t butt in, but I do think that Bax has been a little too trusting of opinions given him about this or that. His taking it as an authoritative statement that Edith Sherwood’s identifications are reliable or somehow ‘official’ and a lot of the other ideas current and the moment led him in the wrong direction almost immediately, but that is no reflection on his intelligence or competence in his field – it is a reflection on the way that a scholar has to be willing to take the time to lay his own groundwork. In Voynich studies it is always the case that “the thing you’re liable to read .. ain’t necessarily so..”

    But I’ve always felt that ill-informed rejection of information is no different, in essence, from ill-informed acceptance. All things considered, it’s the quality of the informing evidence, isn’t it?

  81. Josef Zlatoděj Prof. on October 19, 2016 at 7:57 am said:

    Quality and intelligence. Bax is out of bowl.
    Friends, is difficult for you to understand what he writes in letter Voynich ,Ethel and Nill ?
    The letter is written tutorial on translation.
    The instructions are the same as the manual, which is written on page 116 of the manuscript.

    At the same time there is very clearly written : Czech book is encrypted 1,2,3.

    ( MS = 1,2,3. !! (1,2,3 means – numerol.system gematria ).
    Michal Habdank Voynich you there writes ( You Here Writes !), instruction for translation.
    ( Study the letter. Good luck ).

    Josef Zlatoděj Prof.

  82. Diane: for me, doubt should always be the starting point, not Wikipedia. 😉

  83. SirHubert: to my eyes, Bax is like someone who wades into a swamp and quickly proclaims it dry. Which makes his position almost exactly as denialist at heart as Gordon Rugg’s position, perhaps not coincidentally.

  84. D.N. O'Donovan on October 19, 2016 at 11:34 am said:

    Nick,
    So we agree on that.

    Doubt and Belief seem to me equal expressions of ignorance. I tend to find that minds of the lazy-arrogant sort are tempted to make the first a knee-jerk reaction, and lazy-sociable minds the other.

    I suppose I appreciate most the in-between state – “Is that so?”

  85. Diane: you seem to be confusing Doubt with Disbelief. ‘Is that so?’ is Doubt, ‘it ain’t so’ is Disbelief.

  86. D.N. O'Donovan on October 19, 2016 at 4:37 pm said:

    Nick,
    If I tell you that consensus on the manuscript’s date as c.1400 had been reached by qualified persons by the 1960s and the reaction is “I didn’t know that so you’re making it up” then any distinction between doubt and disbelief is purely notional. Confusion between the two is a common phenomenon, and attempting constantly to suggest that I don’t know what I’m talking about is simply a stupid habit you’ve absorbed or fallen into.

    Pity. But not all that uncommon. I think of it, if I do, as the Zandbergen-Winker response. And whether it’s imagined by the persons who do it as “doubt” or “disbelief” the cure for either is intelligent enquiry, not another pair of verbal bovver-boots.

    No, sorry Nick. Count me gone.

  87. SirHubert on October 19, 2016 at 4:55 pm said:

    Nick, I’m not even sure I know what denialist means, let alone in the context of some flawed work on a poorly-understood mediaeval manuscript.

    I agree Bax is wrong about Voynichese, and I know where the flaws are in his evidence and argument. Others have pointed them out, and I particularly liked the parody by Emma May Smith (another ‘linguist’…). But I still don’t think it’s appropriate to call the man an idiot, and I don’t like name-calling. There’s far too much pathetic snarkiness on other Voynich blogs as it is, and personally I think it grates with the otherwise extremely tolerant approach you show here. But just my two penn’orth and I’ll go back to sleep again now.

  88. SirHubert on October 19, 2016 at 5:04 pm said:

    Diane: I suspect, although I don’t know, that Bax’s main focus may be on a different area of linguistics, which is a broad discipline. I think I remember looking at his website and seeing that he was more of a specialist in the scientific end – the workings of the brain and how people read, rather than philology and how languages work and evolve. But I may do the man a disservice.

    I agree completely about Edith Sherwood though. I also remember Nick making the point here in a perfectly fair and courteous way. My recollection is that Bax was fairly unpleasant and personal in reply, which was poor.

  89. Josef Zlatoděj Prof. on October 19, 2016 at 9:36 pm said:

    Diane O’Donovan. We keep you interesed in the date of orogin of the manuscript. Can I write that there is written the date of the 1437 th. Of course, I also wrote to the University of Arizona ( Greg H.). When he did the carbon test. ( otherwise, the handwriting is obviously more dates).

    Sir Hubert. Could you ever read your site (blog ?), where you write a manuscript. Thank you.

    Otherwise Ital never fails to translate handwriting. Edith alphabeth is bad.

    Otherwise, it is good that we are slowly but surely moving in research for the north. Even so then years and you finally in Bohemia ( Czech). Then it will be good.

  90. Gregory on October 20, 2016 at 7:32 am said:

    Prof.Zlatoděj is right: Voynich manuscript is the work of Czech writer Jaroslav Hasek, greetings for Diane O’Donovan.

  91. Gregory: even if it’s not even remotely true, I can at least see how a man who wrote a book about an imbecile who forged pedigrees to sell stolen dogs would be a good candidate for a Voynich hoaxer. 😉

  92. Nikolaj on April 18, 2017 at 7:12 pm said:

    The Voynich manuscript is not written with letters and characters denoting letters of the alphabet one of the ancient languages. Moreover, in the text there are 2 levels of encryption. I picked up the key, which in the first section I could read the following words: hemp, wearing hemp; food, food (sheet 20 at the numbering on the Internet); to clean (gut), knowledge, perhaps the desire, to drink, sweet beverage (nectar), maturation (maturity), to consider, to believe (sheet 107); to drink; six; flourishing; increasing; intense; peas; sweet drink, nectar, etc. Is just the short words, 2-3 sign. To translate words with more than 2-3 characters requires knowledge of this ancient language. The fact that some signs correspond to two letters. Thus, for example, a word consisting of three characters can fit up to six letters of which three. In the end, you need six characters to define the semantic word of three letters. Of course, without knowledge of this language make it very difficult even with a dictionary.
    If you are interested, I am ready to send more detailed information, including scans of pages showing the translated words.
    Nicholas.

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