It’s well known that f1r (the very first page of the Voynich Manuscript) has an erased ownership mark. Under UV light, you can see that it says (something along the lines of) “Jacobj à Tepenece / Prag” (Photo Credit: © ORF):

For everyone who isn’t heavily invested in some kind of hoax-centric Voynich Manuscript meta-theory, the presence of Jacob Tepenecz’s mark on the first page would seem to be a pretty good indication that he was an early Voynich owner. Combining that with the mention of Emperor Rudolf II in the Marci letter would suggest that the Emperor himself was quite likely also an early Voynich owner (though no direct evidence of that has yet been found).

What’s almost completely unknown is that the Voynich Manuscript seems to me to have probably also had a second ownership mark: only this time, the erasers physically excised the whole bottom section of the foldout page containing it.

The Voynich owner’s mark on f102?

The two-panel recto (front) of f102 looks like this…

…while the two-panel verso (back) of f102 looks like this:

Note that the folio number at the top rght of the left verso panel was obviously added while the panel was folded back: and that the number at the bottom right of the right verso panel is a quire number. Let’s look a little more closely at the recto side of the excision:

Here we can (I think) clearly see that this section was cut out after the plant drawings had been added to the page, and also after the paint had been added to them. And as for the verso side of the cut:

Looking closely at both sides, I think you can also see the difference in quality of cut between the original bifolio cut edge (bottom right, beneath the ’19’ quire mark) and the later excision’s edge: the former is nice and clean, while the latter is ragged, as if that cut was done with a cutting tool that was not quite as sharp.

Dating the Layers

Given that the paints used here are untidy (and, truth be told, a bit nasty), it would seem reasonable to infer that these were probably added by Jorge Stolfi’s putative “heavy painter” very late in the Voynich Manuscript’s life: say, not too far from 1600 or so. All of which would seem to imply that this section of vellum was removed after that date.

And given that the f1r ownership mark was erased some time after 1609, I think it would be reasonable to conclude that this section of the bifolio was probably excised at the same time. While it’s possible that Baresch cut this out when he was (apparently) cutting out various single pages from different sections to send to Kircher, my judgement is that that’s a far less likely scenario.

Missing pages and heavy paint aside, the only other thing in the manuscript that seems to have been messed around with in any significant way is the ownership mark on f1r: hence it seems likely to me that f102v had also had some kind of ownership mark added to it in the blank space next to the ’19’ mark, that was removed at the same time.

And that in turn suggests to me that this quire mark was not ’19’ (as in ‘the number after 18’), but that it was instead a fifteenth century ‘1-9’ (i.e. ‘prim-us‘). Which in turn suggests to me that this quire and the other pharma quire were a pair of freestanding quires / gatherings in a separate book, that was merged in with all the other quires. As I wrote in Curse in 2006, there seems strong visual evidence (from the sequence of jars that progress from simple to complex) that what is now Q17 originally came after Q19.

Furthermore, there seems to be evidence of stitching holes on the exposed (and somewhat worn and discoloured) fold of f102: the presence of these holes and discoloration suggests to me that f102 may originally have been folded and nested rather differently to what we see now.

This also suggests to me that Q20’s quire number was probably added by a different (and later) hand to the hand that added the Q19 quire number, but one trying to ape the style of the Q19 quire mark hand. I therefore predict that these will turn out to have been written in very different inks.

Reading the Invisible

At this point, you might ask: so what? Even if this was indeed an ownership mark that was excised, what does it matter? Who cares?

Well: what’s interesting is that I think there is a small chance that we will be able – with just the right imaging technique – to see traces of whatever was written on f102v1 faintly imprinted on f102r2. Alternatively, we might be able to detect the faintest of contact transfers carried across onto the facing page (i.e. f103r).

In both cases, these would probably be far too subtle to see with the naked eye: but if we are determined enough to find a way of looking at precisely the right piece of vellum in precisely the right way, who can tell what we’ll find there?

58 thoughts on “The second Voynich owner’s mark…?

  1. Emma May Smith on December 28, 2016 at 7:25 pm said:

    While some of your points are good, you’ve come to two conclusions which are too strong for the evidence: that there was an owner’s mark on f102v and that the pharma sections were once a separate book.

    Neither of them are supported except by what you’ve chosen to believe existed in the cut out section. As we don’t have that section you don’t have any proof.

  2. Josef Zlatoděj Prof. on December 28, 2016 at 8:00 pm said:

    Nick and bee and ants.
    I can write that in those places, there are no recipes. No recipes. 🙂
    As I wrote to you. Not her handwriting herbarium.
    And not recipes. The manuscript is not alchemy. Is not astrology. 🙂
    Below are two characters. I q.
    I = a,i,j,q,y.
    q = a,i,j,q,y.
    In Czech language = Já.

    English language . Meaning characters = Am I.

  3. Emma May Smith: I didn’t advance either of those two points as conclusions or as facts, but instead put them forward as ideas that might helpfully inform future empirical tests.

    In the case of the (putative) owner’s mark on f102v1, the post proposes that it would be interesting to see if any imprint had been left on f102r2: and in the case of the relationship between the quire numbers on Q19 and Q20, the post predicts that it would be interesting to see if the inks used for the two numbers were different.

    If you think that writing posts that propose empirical tests directly able to prove or disprove basic notions about ownership and construction order is somehow presumptive or overreaching, I could only really conclude that you really have no idea about what I’m trying to do.

  4. Josef Zlatoděj Prof. on December 28, 2016 at 8:49 pm said:

    Nick. And bee and ants.
    I’ve done empirical research. In about five years ago. And because I know the content of the manuscript. And its importance.( ” Empirical research “.)
    The manuscript is Czech.
    It will also Michael writes in a letter that is on Yale ( Beinecke ).

  5. Emma May Smith on December 28, 2016 at 8:51 pm said:

    I have no idea about what you’re trying to do.

  6. Emma May Smith: good.

  7. To me it just looks like someone needed a piece to write on and removed that one from the foldout since on one side it was blank. Still, it’s never a bad idea to list some hypothetical avenues of investigation.

    As a sidenote, certain parts of your comments sections give me Theoritikerschmerz. I hope aspirin helps…

  8. Koen: the problem with that explanation is that vellum is really tough stuff, particularly after a century or two. Hence cutting a lump of vellum off wouldn’t have been something you would do for a whim. Also: by 1600 or so, paper had become significantly cheaper than vellum: so reusing a small section of a 150+ year-old Ms doesn’t really ring true.

  9. Nick: good point. But that leaves the more obvious question: why an owner’s mark and why there? Wouldn’t we expect it at the beginning or another prominent place?

    And if indeed something had been removed, then why not something else. Like marginalia that were somehow deemed inappropriate. Or why not ugly damage that was removed entirely? I can imagine a scenario where edges are tearing and a relatively clean cut is made to prevent further ripping.

    Or what if it was blank after all and someone took it out for a different purpose, for example to run a test or to compare it visually to other vellum, or to see how it interacts with ink and paint…

    Bottom line: too many options. But the idea as a hypothesis remains interesting nonetheless.

  10. Nick,
    The inscription of Tepnecz’ name is historical evidence of rather different quality from the lone, second-hand rumour of some link to Rudolf, as reported by Marci when his senility/Alzheimer’s was in its late stages and memory-loss near complete.

    Were the name “Joe Bloggs” rather than Rudolf, the same note would hardly have been given the publicity it has received, despite its negligible value.

  11. Diane: attacking Marci in order to undermine the contents of his letter to Kircher does your own arguments no favours. Combining those contents with Sinapius’s ownership mark makes for a good balance of probability judgment that Rudolf II owned it too, and fully justifies the efforts of those who choose to mine the Imperial archives.

  12. Koen: it’s hypothetical at this stage, which inevitably means that other possible explanations are still in play. However, the point of the post is that I think – having reflected on it for a while – that the ownership mark hypothesis is the strongest by far.

  13. Josef Zlatoděj Prof. on December 29, 2016 at 3:01 pm said:

    Bee, ants and Nick.
    You must work more. And of course put more work into your efforts. A diligence. Have to make one. And that means. Thorough and scientufic analysis has text. And, of course, a thorough analysis of the images !!

    Ant who knows no. ( no knows ) substitution Jew. He has a chance to succeed. And find the correct text of the manuscript.

    Signature * Tepenec *.
    He removed about Voynich himself. Tepenec nobody know. And Michal wanted more money. Therefore, trying to cram manuscript Bacon.

    Ants. When you read letter, which is at Yale. Find and recognize. Whom appointed Michal. As the author of the Manuscript 408.

  14. Josef Zlatoděj Prof. on December 29, 2016 at 7:57 pm said:

    Excuse me. Text correction.
    Ants who knows no substitution Jew. No chance to succeed. 🙂

  15. Thomas F. Spande on December 30, 2016 at 5:57 am said:

    Nick, There is an even greater mystery, in my opinion, regarding bifolio 102r and bifolio 102v. I suspect, because it sticks out like a sore thumb, that it was dealt with years ago, but if so, I missed that discussion. Note that f102r shows evidence of mold in a wavy line at the bottom whereas 102v has the mold-outlined section missing. How can such things be?

    I think it indicates that two states of the VM existed, similar to your idea of the smaller man-made cut that might have excised a second owner’s name. One state, had the mouldy 102r included (and presumed 102v; but only f102r photographed); state two; f102r/v has deteriorated and part has fallen off without any attempt at repair. It has to be recent, maybe while in the custody of Yale (post 1969)? and between photographs being taken, Incidentally, a vellum tear could have been be repaired by “silking” as done with paper. Does a record of such a large chunk of vellum being taken for C-14 work or any other purpose? Anyway, two photos exist, one with a complete, albeit mouldy 102r; one with a portion of the page 102r/v gone with the wind!

    Cheers, a puzzled non-Jewish “bee”! Tom

  16. Nick,
    The issue isn’t personal. It is not an “attack” on Marci, but the testimony of Marci’s friend and Kircher’s.

    Marci’s letter is dated, in Neal’s translation, “Prague 19 August 1665”, and the letter from Kinner dated “5 January 1667” – less than eighteen months later says, “Dominus Marcus has lost his memory of nearly everything ,,”

    So by consulting any sort of medical text which describes the progressive memory loss of aged patients you will see that it highly unlikely a person’s memory would be perfectly reliable only a year before it is almost completely wiped.

    To turn this observation about the historical documents into a silly ad.hominem comment along the lines you have is plain nonsense. The question is not whether I’m being “not quite nice” but how much reliance can reasonably be placed on the second-hand, second-hand rumour, recorded by a man in an advanced state of memory-loss.

    I don’t find your increasing habit of responding to objective comment, about objective issues, by some ad.hominem remark about me or my motives exactly unprecedented. I have reams of that particular brand of stupid comment on record, all of it from people who consider themselves ‘friends of’. Fact is that there is NO reliable historical support for the ‘Rudolf owned it’ story, Are you suggesting that Tepenecz could have acquired books only by direct gift of the emperor? If so, may I suggest you examine the historical basis for that notion.

    btw, creating a history for something which doesn’t exist seems a remarkably curious way to pass the time. The bit of vellum isn’t there. No evidence exists of what, if anything, might have been on it. Non-story. End of story.

  17. Diane: the 1665 letter is lucid and straightforward, and is its own testimony. Your desire to undermine the reliability of the letter clearly drove your desire to attack Marci’s personal reliability, which is by definition an ad hominem. I don’t hold the Rudolf II connection as a matter of objective fact, but as a matter of strong probability: and am content to work with it on that basis. By way of contrast, your rejection of it seems far more ideological than objective or pragmatic: and I’m frankly getting a bit bored of dealing with Voynich ideologies – by which I mean “meta-theories that dictate what can or can’t be the case based on practically nothing”.

    As far as the missing vellum goes, my primary aim these days is to create testable history hypotheses – ones which can be proved or disproved. Untestable hypotheses merely add to the noise, not to the signal. And there’s already far too much noise.

  18. The Marci letter of August 1665 has numerous references to past events. Some digging into the relevant history (already started by Wilfrid and his aides in 1921 and continued until even a few years ago) has demonstrated that all statements of Marci that could be checked turn out to be correct.
    That is the scholarly way to approach this question.

    Ignoring all that because it doesn’t fit one’s preference is not.

    I fully share Nick’s point of view: “I don’t hold the Rudolf II connection as a matter of objective fact, but as a matter of strong probability”.

  19. It seems to me that the top of f102 was cut off too at some point : if you look here the top of the 1 in 102 is missing (with no trace of it on the page behind), and then looking here one sees at the top on the left a short part with still the natural vellum border.

    So this page has definitely been tampered with quite extensively, interesting find indeed.

    To Thomas F. Spande : do you have links to the pictures of the two states of f102 you have mentionned please? Thank you.

  20. Nick,

    What if the code is substituted in a non-uniform alphabet letter system known as some incantation language(meaning mixed letters, which from a linguist hearing sounds, Celtic, Druid or Britain e Incantation lingual). Is that possible for the VMS text and built in Gematria as its own language? JKP, brought up a good point that the VMS text has a pattern to it and I see that as-well. Also I’m coming to realize that the gallows and bench gallows may point to subject matter. And here is a proposal:

    Proposal for the deciphering of the Voynich Manuscript:

    Programmer needed,

    I believe that the VMS words are just letters that equal numbers which are not represented as a language. I’m in search of a programmer who can apply my cipher to the VMS corpus of words and correlate it to a database of an Old English Dictionary associated with Gematria numbers. The programmer would have to use another piece of code which checks for grammar. Also the programmer would have to gain access to every VMS vord and substitute my cipher to every letter of it.

    What’s needed?

    1) Entire list of all the VMS vords
    2) Old English and Latin Dictionary
    3) Dictionary is associated with standard Ordinal English Gematria
    4) A grammar checker
    5) My Cipher

    At the moment I have a modern dictionary of about 360,000 words which include Gematria Numbers and a star list with its numbers as-well. If you feel you’re up to the task please help. Please email me if you would like to decode the VMS Manuscript. I have an excel file which can pull in the Ordinal Numbers from a list of words so that part is ready!

    Tom E. O’Neil

  21. Josef Zlatoděj Prof. on December 30, 2016 at 2:44 pm said:

    Ants,bees, academics and scientists. And of course linguists.

    Who wrote a letter rector of Pague University Jan Marek Marci. Italy jezuit Kircher. It is not so important. Marci know little. A letter indicating the possible author ms 408. But according to what it says. I found out. Marci something knew little. But he tried.

    For you, ants and bee. Should be important letter. Who wrote Ethel, Voynich, Anne Nill. There is tutorial on translation. Manuscript 408.

  22. Josef Zlatoděj Prof. on December 30, 2016 at 3:09 pm said:

    Just for your information. 🙂
    Yesterdey I translated page 78 r. It took me six hours. And I know the key.

  23. Thomas F. Spande on December 30, 2016 at 3:30 pm said:

    Dear all and “tfs”, I have relied on the facsimile for 102r/v. f102r has what I think is a mould line; f102v has the vellum excised exactly along the mould line. I suppose it could have happened even as recently as the preparation of the facsimile?

    To “tfs”: It does appear that a strip is missing, mainly from the second foldout of p. 102. f102r1 is 21.5cm high while f102r2 is 20.5 cm, or ca. a 1.0 cm tapering strip has disappeared. The giveaway is that the colored plants are cut into on f102r2.

    BTW, Does Zandbergen really hail from the island nation of Niue, 1500 mi NW of NZ? The two letter country symbol would make it seem so or is Rene having some fun with the membership by using a proxy homeland? Likely the last to know, I remain, sincerely, Tom

  24. Nick,
    If you cannot see the difference between disputing the historical weight to be accorded a seventeenth document and an “attack” (impossible by definition) on a person long reduced to un-attackable dust, your training as an historian has deserted you.

    Ironically enough, what you accuse me of doing is, in fact, exactly what you are doing: attacking a (living and breathing) person’s character as a way to undermine the impact of their opinions, research and evidence.

    So amusing for the younger scholars, the habits of older people.

  25. Thomas F. Spande on December 30, 2016 at 4:28 pm said:

    Professor, You. of any of us, is in the best position to get a copy of the “important” letter Marci wrote to the Rector of the Univ. of Prague. Go for it! Cheers, Tom the bee.

  26. Diane: what you have posted here would make it clear to most people that you cannot tell the difference between a careful yet straightforward criticism of someone’s reasoning and a personal attack.

    Please don’t post here again, and please don’t email me again. Thanks.

  27. bdid1dr on December 30, 2016 at 5:54 pm said:

    Hey, ThomS, Diane, ProfZ —and our host, Nick:

    A couple of years ago, Nick and I had a mild discussion in re those last three folios in the “Voynich”. At that time we ‘pondered’ as to whether the folios were recipes or pharmaceutical. I pointed out that it all depended on volume of hot water (red) or cold water (blue). Many of the individual botanical folios which precluded the ‘recipes’ section are repeated identically next to each of the so pharmaceutical jars (hand-blown clear glass).
    So, if one were not able to read written directions for a pharmaceutical
    remedy or just for cooking dinner, well one need only to match various botanical ILLUSTRATIONS and whether to mix them into a clear glass ‘measuring cup/pharmaceutical jar — with a certain amount of hot water and or cold water. Being clear glass, the ‘cook’ or the ‘pharmacist’ can proceed to prepare the potion, lotion, or ingredients for a decent meal .

    Note that the various individual edible plants and vines (some are thorned) are
    portrayed throughout individual folios. The cooks or pharmacists have a pretty good selection. Note that some of botanical folios indicate plants which may be poisonous, injurious to other plants, or invasive to the root systems (hence the over-size portrait of ONE monkshood blossom and the artist’s accompanying
    discussion .

  28. bdid1dr on December 30, 2016 at 6:12 pm said:

    We also can find another odd botanical discussion: On a single folio is portrayed one red-veined leaf of radicchio (large cabbage-size) and one leaf of cilantro (which ‘looks-like” a mint What is hilarious to me is that the discussion for each specimen was reversed.

  29. bdid1dr on December 30, 2016 at 6:22 pm said:

    Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve. So, I’ll offer New Year’s greetings now:

    Have a safe and sane holiday y’all. @Nick: How many time zones are there between your zone (Greenwich?) and New York, coastal California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii?

  30. To Thomas F. Spande : thank you, I’ll try to buy the facsimile next month then.

    Looking elsewhere, it appears that the top of f90 also seems to have been cut out, but there the cutting has a noticeable pattern, see
    I do wonder what type of tool produces this, it looks much more like scissors than a continuous knife cut.

    Depending on when this occured it may shed light either on the way the vellum was first cut (if so, is that a historically well identifiable cutting technique?), or on the fact that several tops of folios have been cut out at some later date for some reason.

  31. Nick, Do you have a timeline for when these particular folios were damaged before they were donated/sold to Yale’s Beinicke Library ? Do these cuttings occur in the replica which you purchased not too long ago? It MAY be a good thing that you purchased the replica. Now you can revisit your own archive to compare any, if not all, of that manuscripts contents. Good luck! I hope you succeed. If there appears to be something/anything missing, let me know; I will do a look-up of my downloaded folios which I translated (not decoded).

  32. Josef Zlatoděj Prof. on December 30, 2016 at 11:44 pm said:

    Friends, bees and andt.

    Tom : The letter is on the network. Letter Marci – Kircher 1666.
    ( Marci is rector Charles university Prag . )

    BD. As I wrote. So the handwriting is not :
    Hebal. Pharmacopoeia. Alchemy. Astrology.

  33. Thomas F. Spande on December 31, 2016 at 12:15 am said:

    Dear “tfs”, I got my copy from Amazon with free shipping, for $36, maybe because it was printed in China. Beautifully done but maybe the text could have been printed more intensely. Particularly for eyes over 75 yrs!

    Cheers, Tom

  34. SirHubert on December 31, 2016 at 11:36 am said:

    Diane and Nick:

    I’m sorry if I’m posting this a little late in the day.

    I’d be more persuaded of the merits of the claim that what Marci says is unreliable if someone could come up with an alternative, plausible, evidence-based alternative position which threatened to get us somewhere interesting. Otherwise, as with many, many historical questions we’re reliant on a solitary piece of evidence which has a certain amount of circumstantial support. It has therefore been accepted for the time being, with due caution as Nick and Rene both note, and stands until someone comes up with something better.

    A few characteristically tedious points:

    i) there is no stop after ‘ad’ in ‘ad hominem’. It’s not an abbreviation.
    ii) yes, it is possible to make an ad hominem criticism of someone who is deceased. One writer in my field recently attacked a well-known academic who died some years ago, on the spurious grounds that he was a Communist and therefore his arguments must be ideologically driven and unreliable. That’s definitely an ad hominem and is fallacious in consequence.
    iii) Diane’s comments on Marci are not an ad hominem attack, as I understand the term, because Marci’s mental health is relevant to the point at issue.

    Personally, I don’t find Diane’s arguments sufficiently convincing to disregard a letter which, as Rene says, appears to be correct in other verifiable points, and which receives a certain degree of support (and no contradiction) from other relevant evidence – but that’s another question.

  35. The problem with the term ‘ad hominem’ is that it can be interpreted in two different ways.
    Some people use it as an equivalent for ‘personal insult’.

    Another valid meaning is an “argument brought up in a discussion”, where not the topic is addressed, but attention is diverted to the person. This is also called a logical fallacy, though it clearly isn’t a fallacy in all cases.

    So, when Marci’s statement is challenged by attacking the person Marci, this is an ad hominem in the literal sense of the word, but it is not really a fallacy, as the argument would be pertinent, if it were true. The fallacy in this case lies in the fact that it isn’t true.

    I once read an elucidating explanation, that I cannot find back anymore. This referred to (ancient) Roman law. In court cases, the defendant’s lawyer often had no better course than to try to demonstrate that his defendant was a man of impeccable character and would therefore not have committed whatever crime he was accused of. This led to a clear ‘ad hominem’ discussion, which at the time was perfectly acceptable.

    This has changed a bit of course.

  36. Rene: ah, so we are talking about a fallacious ad hominem attack rather than an ad hominem fallacy? =:-o

  37. SirHubert on December 31, 2016 at 1:18 pm said:

    Rene: you’re explaining the difference between an ad hominem attack, which I suppose would be a personal insult, and an ad hominem argument (the original Latin phrase was indeed ad hominem argumentum, and you’re correct about its origins in Roman courts as far as I know.

    Where I disagree with you is that I don’t think Diane was ‘attacking’ Marci. She supplied evidence from a contemporary source that his memory was failing only eighteen months after the 1665 letter was written. Why do you think she is wrong to do so?

  38. SirHubert: Rene doubtless has his opinion on this, but the MS408A Marci letter seems perfectly lucid to me, as does the letter to Kircher from the following month – PUG 562 f. 114r Fletcher 35 at the bottom of

  39. Hello SirHubert,

    Diane was not attacking Marci, but providing a fallacious statement about him, because:

    1) she picked only one sentence out of a longer phrase from Kinner: “Dominus Marcus has lost his memory of nearly everything but still remembers you. He very officially bids me salute you in his name and he wishes to know through me whether you have yet proved an Oedipus in solving that book which he sent via the Father Provincial last year and what mysteries you think it may contain. It will be a great solace to him if you are able to satisfy his curiosity on this point.” (from Philip Neal’s translation). This already suggests that his memory may not have been quite as bad as the short sentence suggested.

    2) She omitted to mention that one year earlier, a few months after Marci had sent the book and the letter, Kinner had already asked the same question, and at this time there is no mention at all of any mental shortcoming of Marci. What is true that he was losing his eyesight. He made up his testament in December 1666, before the second Kinner letter, and could not sign it himself. It was done in the presence of several high-ranking witnesses.

    3) The 1665 Marci letter contains several references to past events that are all corroborated by independent evidence, clearly demonstrating that his memory in August 1665 was just fine.

    (With apologies to those having to read the same thing in two different places).

  40. tfs: if the “19” at the end of Q19 in fact meant 1-us (primus), then it could well be that the pages in the pharma quires were slightly taller than the pages in the other quires. So we might be seeing a later owner trimming the larger pharma pages down to fit the overall size of the other pages. Your mileage may vary etc. 🙂

  41. SirHubert on December 31, 2016 at 3:21 pm said:

    Rene: thank you, and I agree with that in all respects 🙂

  42. Thomas F. Spande on December 31, 2016 at 6:25 pm said:

    BD, Re your post of Dec 30 questioning when the damage to the bifolio of p102 occurred. If you examine Bax’s site on 102v1, the bottom strip of the page is gone, excised along a mould line still partially seen on 102r1 (better seen in the facsimile) but just a wee bit seen in the lower right hand corner in Bax’s site. So it obviously happened when it was in the hands of Yale’s rare book section’s curators during the photographing of the VM.

    The Chinese printers who prepared the facsimile are off the hook. Happy New Year out there in CA! Cheers, Tom (3 hours ahead of you in the Eastern time zone!),

  43. bdid1dr on January 1, 2017 at 4:06 pm said:

    Thanx, Thomas ! I have withdrawn from Nick’s ‘Forum” Happy New Year to you all.

    Beady-Eyed Wonder-er

  44. Hello,

    There is something that I cant understand.
    OK there is a missing stuff of vellum.
    OK it could contain some information about something that can be revealed by others folios.
    BUT why could we think that this information could be a signature ? Who signs a cipher document ??

  45. Christophe: owners often added ownership marks (ex libris marks, Dee’s ‘delta’ marginalia, etc) on manuscripts – and as the post points out, we have a famously erased ownership mark on the bottom of f1r, so why not an (excised) ownership mark here too?

  46. Hello everyone!
    I get lost in the page numbering, which is 102r2? I can not find in Beinecke.
    And on 103r an oblique inscription looks like “53 something”?

  47. Ruby: the first page of Q20 is f103r (with ’20’ at the bottom left), and folio 102 is the two-page wide bifolio bound immediately before it (i.e. at the end of Q19).
    In order:
    f102r1 is the recto panel by the spine with a big chunk cut out (through the two plants)
    f102r2 is the recto panel by the outside edge
    f102v2 is the verso panel by the outside edge
    f102v1 is the verso panel with ’19’ in the bottom right corner and the big chunk cut out of the bottom left
    f103r is the first page of Q20

  48. This overview may also be helpful:

    It gives links to both the Beinecke and Jason Davies sets of images.

  49. Thank you Nick and Rene for your clarification.
    If the oblique, very pale inscription in the lower right corner of 103r transpired from page 102, either, but it makes think more of numbers than letters.

  50. Ellie Velinska on January 4, 2017 at 9:12 pm said:

    The scribbles on fol 66v (last page of the “herbal” section of the VMs) and 86v (last page of the “astronomy section”) could be owner signatures too.

  51. bdid1dr on January 5, 2017 at 12:13 am said:

    @Emma Smith:

    The so-called Voynich Manuscript was retrieved from Suleiman’s Empire by a gentleman named Busbecque. Busbecque was dipomatic representative of the Austrian Court. When he returned to Austria, his luggage contained some 200 manuscript rolls. Busbecque wrote of his trials in Suleiman’s court, and he wrote a note one of the most battered scrolls. The note briefly described his dealings with Suleiman’s court. He also mentioned that while he was returning to Europe, he he traveled through Ankara, and visited one of many monuments honoring Augustus.
    That battered, shabby scroll is now known as the “Voynich” manuscript. I’ve written this same note several times in the three years I’ve been following the attempts to ‘decode’ what can’t be decoded. Every word and every item of every folio of B-408 can be TRANSLATED — NO CODE.

  52. bdid1dr on January 5, 2017 at 3:51 pm said:

    Rudolph Second inherited a severe “Hapsburg Jaw” which meant that he could only eat mashed food and or soups. Rudolph II had an enormous archive of works of art (paintings). He was not interested at all in the “zoo” which accompanied the manuscripts which were forwarded to him from the Austrian emperor. He did keep the Arabian horse(s) for a while. Not long afterwards, his cousin had Rudolph incarcerated as being insane. Not long after his incarceration, the Battle of White Mountain was prelude to the ‘Hundred Years” (European) War)

  53. I believe this is the closest grammatical representation of any paragraph to date in History ever translated from the VMS Corpus. For fun, I will let you all translate it yourselves since I did the leg work.

    I provide a large Middle English Dictionary at my site below the Water Lily folio so you can read Middle English. Here at my site.

  54. Thomas F. Spande on January 7, 2017 at 6:04 pm said:

    BD, You mean Carlos !! (1661-1700). His death as the last male Habsburg with alas no heirs led to the “War of the Spanish Succession” when the heir named by the regents of Carlos would have been an heir of the Bourbon king of France, Louis 15, Phillip of Anjou. The prospect of RCs surrounding England was a no go and they were joined by the Dutch in fighting throughout Spain under the able leadership of the Duke of Wellington, later to take on Napoleon.

    Carlos’ was really a weird family tree resulting from the intermarrying common among Spanish nobility, in fact most of the European nobility engaged in first cousin or uncle-niece marriages, to preserve property . His father (Phillip 4 and his mother Maria Anna) were uncle and niece (Maria was also the sister of Philip II of Spain ;whose daughter Mary was the first wife of Henry 8). Furthermore the family tree of Carlos turned out such that his mom was his aunt and also his grandmother and great grand mother and all his Habsburg relatives were offspring of “mad Juana” and Philip I of Castile.

    The War of Spanish Succession lasted 13 years (1701-1714) and is considered the first real World War. It rearranged the map of Europe from top to bottom.

    The parents of Rudolf II were both grandchildren of Joanna the Mad, who really did become insane. He was odd enough but sane, unlike Carlos II who wasn’t at all but was evidently a fair shot in hunting.

    Cheers, Tom

  55. Thomas F. Spande on January 7, 2017 at 10:37 pm said:

    Nick, We seem to now be on the “same page”, i.e. folios. Rene’s very useful link (Jan 2) shows that 102r1 that has a line, “mould” (or not), near the right edge of the bifolio fold is there BUT f102v1 has that portion missing totally. f102v1 has a foxing spot that is transferred from f103r. This is also seen on f102v1. So the positioning of these pages was not changed from the time of the photographing at the hands of the Beineke curators. Then bingo, that part, outlined by a “mould line or water stain” disappears when f102v1 is photographed. One can in fact, as you pointed out, see f101r2 (not f101v2 as might be expected). One solution might be that the rightmost bifolio part of f101 was then flipped in the opposite direction (as seen in the facsimile) so that the recto side of that bifolio appears under f102 r/v gap. Was this the original orientation of the f101? That seems to me to have been the case. Otherwise we have to take out the whole f101 bifolio and flip over the whole thing and rebind it.

    In short, a part of 102r1 fell off (or was pulled off?) during the photography of the bifolio f102 r/v. It is clear from the link provided by Rene and also the facsimile. With all due respect, that “mould line” CANNOT be a shadow cast by the missing chunk of f102v1. Only in the fourth dimension is this possible! The t1 stage shows f102v1 intact while the t2 stage has f102v1 missing; else how can we peek through at f101r2?

    Cheers, Tom

  56. Thomas F. Spande on January 8, 2017 at 5:12 am said:

    BD, You were right on regarding the various oddnesses of Rudolf II, just not about his inability to handle solid food. That was the sad fate of Carlos II. Rudolf’s “insanity” was politically motivated by a power grab of his younger brother Mathias.

    Greetings from an icy Maryland with tonight’s temps heading toward 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Brutal. Cheers, Tom

  57. Mark Knowles on October 16, 2017 at 8:57 pm said:

    Nick: You probably covered this elsewhere:

    When and where can we be confident that the manuscript first makes its appearance?
    And roughly when and where can we speculate that the manuscript makes its first appearance?

    I am doing a little wild speculation about what happened to the manuscript after it left my supposed author. I would be surprised if I come to any concrete conclusions, but it is something worth thinking about.

  58. Mark Knowles on October 16, 2017 at 9:03 pm said:


    I may be wrong, but I think that it will probably be more difficult than deciphering the Voynich or impossible to determine the hands that the Voynich passed through until it first emerged.

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