I thought I’d share with you the following email I recently received via an anonymous remailing service:

This is being written to you on behalf of a large group of Voynich theorists. Even though we disagree amongst ourselves on everything to do with the Voynich Manuscript itself (which some of us prefer to refer to as the “so-called Voynich so-called Manuscript”), the two things we do all whole-heartedly agree about are (1) how much we despise your pathetic crusade against us, and (2) how much we abhor your ridiculous insistence on primary evidence and testable hypotheses.

Be assured that when one of us does eventually manage to prove definitively that it is a Mongolian shamanic handbook, a heretical medieval suicide manual, or a stranded alien’s diary, the short term pain of finding out that the rest of us was wrong will be amply wiped out by the long term pleasure of mocking you derisively for the rest of your stupid, pointless life.

You just don’t seem to realise that proper ‘Voynich research’ is in no way historical or scientific. Don’t you understand that it is we who established the one basic ‘fact’ of the discourse long ago? The thing that we made true (by repeating it so many times that it became a fact) is that nobody knows anything definite about the Voynich Manuscript. This is the frame of reference everyone is now compelled to use, and neither you, Wikipedia, René so-called Zandbergen, or indeed anyone else can move outside it: howl at the moon all you like, you’ll achieve nothing.

So you’re just wasting your time trying to make (what you conceitedly and falsely like to think of as) ‘progress’. Anything you try to assert, we deny immediately: it’s just physics, stupid. Moreover, anything you can conceive of asserting, we have probably already denied ten times over. Assert/deny, assert/deny, assert/deny: you really bore us.

Look, can’t you get it into your thick head that we theorists pwn the Voynich big-time? The Beinecke may be the institution who owns the Voynich Manuscript, but that means diddly squat against our total pwnage. Why, when there’s no obvious shortage of rent-a-mouth academics out there, do you think Yale struggled so badly to find anyone to write anything remotely sensible in their recent so-called photofacsimile? They were wasting their time swimming against our tide, just like you’re wasting yours.

OK, we’ll admit there was a brief period during which you were marginally useful to us: that was back when having a post in Cipher Mysteries putting down one of our theories was a bit like a badge of honour. We even had special gamified medals produced, to show off which one of us had had the smarmy Cipher Mysteries treatment (how we laughed): but since you’ve stopped doing even that, we’ve all got tired of your meanderings and not-so-funny posts.

So this is just a collective email from us to say goodbye to you. Even though Voynich research is still stalled in the same cul-de-sac it ever was (which is, by our reckoning, is about a perfect a scenario as can be hoped for), we’ve all moved on from you and your stupid blog. You’re yesterday’s man, if not the day-before-yesterday’s man: not interested, la la la.

Why don’t you go research the Phaistos disk or something else unbelievably lame, and leave the Voynich to the people who really own it? Maybe you’ll find some saddo historians out there who want to read your useless drivel: we certainly don’t.

64 thoughts on “Who owns the Voynich Manuscript?

  1. Nick
    Surely you can see that the rubbishy ’email’ is just a bit of reverse-engineered propaganda for the views which you, Rene and Wikipedia hold in common.

    These alone are deemed to produce ‘scientific advances’ – and if anyone is so foolish as to continue to hold, assert or argue for a different view.. well, they know now what they can expect.

    Not up to Jim Reeds’ standard, quite, is it?

  2. Diane: please don’t leave comments here, thanks.

  3. Ellie Velinska on February 1, 2017 at 4:19 pm said:

    I was watching yesterday a documentary about a group of experts trying to set some standards in the study of the works of Hieronymus Bosch. I am telling you – it is the same thing. They hate each other, they come up with tons of nonsense, perform all kinds of tests that never change their mind. There are very few more mainstream subjects than Bosch. The VMs is a manuscript, historical artifact (at least 100 years old 🙂 and an art work – the whole field of study of those things is rotten. The VMs research is no different than the mainstream mess in the field.

  4. bdid1dr on February 1, 2017 at 6:14 pm said:

    @Nick : Honest, I have nothing to do with the latest ‘hate group’. I learned, long ago, the more derogatory, the more self-hatred is being displayed. Seems to me there are a lot of “trumpist” admirers ‘out there’ who have no idea that the ‘gates of hell’ are going to open for their entry; sooner than later.

  5. Fascinating.
    More so than I thought after the first reading.

    But I am glad that I don’t have the problems of the sender(ess)((e)s).

    Waiting for the full moon now.

  6. Rene: so is your middle name actually “so-called”?

  7. I’ve never been called so.

  8. Rene: ah, just goes to show that you can’t believe everything you read.

  9. Thomas F. Spande on February 1, 2017 at 9:35 pm said:

    Ellie, It seems to me that one of the few solid pieces of evidence that all Voynichers should accept is the carbon-14 dating of the VM vellum as being from 1404-1438 A.D. If you are arguing that the VM is “at least 100 yrs old “, this is undoubtedly true but you could be more precise unless you are holding onto a hypothesis that it is the date when ink was applied, that is the only date that counts and this remains untested and unproven?

    For all those who were included as targets in the really weird “email” above, it seems to me hardly worth noting and if there is any point buried in there somewhere that conveys any useful information on the VM or its research, I fail to spot it. Just the delusional ramblings of someone several bricks short of a load.

    Cheers, Tom

  10. milongal on February 1, 2017 at 9:38 pm said:

    I wonder how big this “large” group of people is. I’m picturing 2 people at a computer disagreeing with each other over each sentence….
    Oh wait, they had 3 ideas, maybe it’s 3 people – perhaps one of them is sitting on the couch with a beer chuckling to himself about how he imagines your reaction.

    I wonder whether you posting it earned them one of their medals too, or whether there was only the one medal for you dissing their stuff.

  11. Thomas F. Spande on February 2, 2017 at 12:00 am said:

    Dear all, We could use some more irrefutable evidence on other aspects of the VM besides the vellum date.

    May I suggest a method that would fine tune the composition of the iron-gall inks. The method is non-destructive and is called “scanning Auger microscopy” (SAM) and the short take home on this is that it will reveal ALL the elements in the top nanometer of the ink by reflectance. We got pretty much the expected elemental analysis of iron and a few other elements but not the kind of elemental analysis that SAM is capable of. It can do all the elements except hydrogen and helium. Phillips in the NL (I’m guessing Zanbergen is Dutch?) is the world expert on this. Oxidized iron might be used to date the age of the iron gall ink?

    What could we learn from a complete elemental analysis of the ink? Maybe the source(s) of the iron? There is also an option and that is to blow off the top nanometers of the ink by ‘sputtering” to get at the lower levels of the ink. That would not be non destructive, unfortunately.

    Milongal, Right on! Not just the guy on the couch has the “barley pop” but all have indulged big time.

    Cheers, Tom

  12. Ellie Velinska on February 2, 2017 at 12:57 am said:

    Hi Thomas,
    Richard III died in 1485 – the carbon dating of his bones came out wrong – 50 years earlier. They blamed it on the fish he ate. Fine! But the tree that is now the panel of Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights did not eat fish. It was supposedly painted around 1500 and the dendrochronology came out 50 years earlier. They use dendrochronology to calibrate the C14 dating. If the dendrochronology is few decades off – than the C14 will be few decades off. So forgive me for displaying healthy skepticism on the matter. I hope in the future these two scientific methods will improve.

  13. Ellie Velinska on February 2, 2017 at 1:03 am said:

    Just to be clear – I do agree that the parchment was made at some point in the 15th century.

  14. So … a ‘large group’ of Voynich ‘theorists’ wants to say goodbye to those of us who favor doing some actual physical analysis of VM (which might disrupt their loony tunes). Yeeeaaahh!! Please don’t stay in touch. I’ll continue to favor primary evidence and testable hypotheses.

  15. Nicely written, Nick 🙂

  16. Jackie Speel on February 2, 2017 at 1:35 pm said:

    It is feasible for the materials to be somewhat older than the actual artwork (wood does need to be seasoned; and material does get transferred/sold on from one workshop to another).

    The Rationalwiki page http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Leaving_and_never_coming_back seems to apply in this case.

  17. Fred Brandes on February 2, 2017 at 2:03 pm said:

    Who cares?

    Seriously, who cares what earth is flat ninnies think about a reasoned and logical approach to any historical question.

    Or any other problem, for that matter.

  18. Jackie Speel: from my corner of the world, ISTM that Voynich theorists are more likely to die of old age than to surrender their first born (theory).

  19. Gert Brantner on February 2, 2017 at 3:22 pm said:

    Voynich Anonymous? That’s ridiculous and spooky at the same time.. Spooky to me because I am unable to project myself in a position to waste so much time and effort to actually _write such a piece.
    Or rather, you (and thus we all) are subject to an “applied social study”?
    Anyways, to reference a before comment: mind you, the beer seems to have been good & plenty.

  20. Gert Brantner on February 2, 2017 at 3:51 pm said:

    And, who dares to say the Phaistos Disc is lame? After all, it’s character set has made it to the Unicode 9.0 standard, range: 101D0–101FF (http://www.unicode.org/charts/PDF/U101D0.pdf). So now we have official Phaistos Disc char.., arh, picto/ideo-/idio-grams, arh, things. But.. weren’t they movable type? Anyways.. I still cherish the copy I received in the Phaistos museum shop as a boy. Don’t insult my Phaistos Disc! 😉

  21. Thomas F. Spande on February 2, 2017 at 3:52 pm said:

    Ellie, Wiki has a fine piece on carbon dating and brings up a number of fudge factors that the knowledgeable apply. 1) A calibration curve that covers, I think, irregularities in cosmic radiation hitting the upper atmosphere. 2) As in the case of Richard III, that you mention, marine life from the deeps will have carbon, that has not been refreshed in C-14 and will depleted in C-14 relative to land-based carbon, giving, in the hypothetical instance of Richard III, an older date than actual. Carbon dating of marine objects is a discipline of its own. Recall the instance of sheep grazing on sea weed. The date of their vellum would be ca. 80 yrs older than grass-fed sheep. So there could be some uncertainty in dating things using the ratio of C-14 to C-12. BUT from what I read, the maximum errors are less than 100 years.

    I have also read that Richard III commissioned a book on Curries that most considered too heavy on the use of saffron. So this land-based carbon source might mitigate somewhat the effects of a fish diet? It appears to me that a few controls of other fish eaters of the period would also be useful in establishing the “fish fudge factor”.

    Cheers, Tom

  22. Gert: quite so, I have my own Phaistos Disc copy (bought a decade ago from a little shop in the square just outside the museum) which is also much treasured.

  23. I have a clear vision of who could come up with something like that.
    It’s called jumping the shark, or as they say nowadays, nuking the fridge.

  24. Donald Vaughn on February 2, 2017 at 4:28 pm said:

    Upon first reading this I thought it must be some kind of joke, then I remembered it is the internet world, and there are more trolls and bizarre creatures about than a Tolkien novel.

  25. Jackie Speel on February 2, 2017 at 5:31 pm said:

    No names and rubbishing other contributors detracts from the arguments (whatever they are).

    ‘Copying a script with which one not familiar’ (being a black letter/Cyrillic etc reader) is more plausible.

    Several pages have become detached from the main manuscript – has there been any search for them?

  26. Google translate could not translate several words, but the general sense is mind-boggling.
    In any case I wish success to all and a good entertainment translating the manuscript, whatever your own theory.
    Translate and let translate!

  27. Thomas F. Spande on February 2, 2017 at 8:37 pm said:

    Dear all,

    Dear all, SAM has been used to date when iron-gall ink has been applied to paper or parchment.

    “SURFACE ANALYSIS TECHNIQUES: McNeil (1984) has proven scanning Auger microscopy (SAM) to be of particular relevance to dating historical manuscripts on paper or parchment. This method is the SOLE METHOD [my emphasis] for direct dating of iron gall inks. It determines the time elapsed since the ink was deposited on the paper. The method is based on the time-dependent migration of metal ions from the ink. This migration causes the formation of a skewed tail on the ink edge profile beyond the dried capillary drawn ink area which increases with time. The high lateral resolution of SAM (down to a few micrometers) makes it possible to emphasize the distribution of a selected element along the ink profile simply by performing line scan acquisition. Iron is the most common element used for SAM dating purposes owing to the wide use of iron gall inks in the past. A typical profile, taken, if possible, from fibrils running perpendicular to the ink line so as to avoid morphologically-induced alterations of the elemental profile, exhibits two shoulders at either side of the curve defining the area over which the ink was distributed by the nib of the pen. These shoulders are generated by diffusion driven by capillary forces at the surface of the fiber. The area under the tail that shows up beyond the capillary diffusion induced shoulder is used to calculate the period of time that has elapsed since the ink was deposited on the fiber. Using this method, documents coming from the period, 1350–1950, have been dated with an accuracy of around 122 years.”

    The key reference to the work of McNeil is: “Scanning Auger Microscopy for dating of manuscript inks” 1984, in the monograph, Archaeological Chemistry III, ed. J.B. Lambert, American Chemical Society, Washington DC. pp 255-269.

    McNeil looked at iron gall inks on documents written between in 1457, 1354, 1272 as well as later dates. What McNeil showed was that the metal ions of the iron gall ink slowly diffuse outward from the original enscribing. The older the writing, the greater will be the diffusion. Illustrations are shown in a short review: “Dating of Historical Manuscripts using Spectroscopic Methods: a Mini Review by K. Nesmerak and I. Nemcova (NB Professor Joe, two Czechs!), Anal. Lett., 43,330-344 (2012) [available as a free download]. It appeared to me that the oldest diffusion edge was about a third the width of the original outlines of the iron gall inking.

    Cheers, Tom

  28. Thomas F. Spande on February 2, 2017 at 10:56 pm said:

    Dear all, An addendum on the use of SAM for dating iron-gall ink writing.

    The method in the hands of McNeil (1984) uses an analysis of the little shoulder that appears on either side of the original writing. The width of that nib is time dependent. The document of date 1457 has a diffusion distance of 12 micrometers, which is immense when you are measuring at the nanometer level. Recall 1 um = 1000 nm. I was wrong on the accuracy. It was claimed to be +/- 22 yrs although the diffusion differences narrow as time goes by. Still 1457, 1354 and 1292 can be distinguished. I think the accuracy would have to decrease with the inks of greater than about 1300 yrs. Lastly, McNeil is looking at just at elemental (or oxidized?) iron.

    Cheers, Tom

  29. Thomas F. Spande on February 3, 2017 at 6:04 am said:

    Dear all, When a SAM scan is run on an ink line, the profile has two little furrows that correspond to the two parts of a nib of the quill. It might give some additional information on the loose and tight scribes. Likely they cut their own quill pens with the tighter writing scribe having a finer point and a thinner ink channel. As the quill is worn down, the distance between the furrows would increase. This might serve, if a complete set of ink line profiles were accumulated of indicating the ordering of the folios. I realize I have used “nib” in two senses; the above should have been shoulder or nub, not nib.

    Cheers, Tom

    ps. One question bothers me and that is why McCrone or Yale has not explored the SAM method that has been around since 1984?

  30. Calling the Phaistos disk lame is not quite up to Jacques Guy standard….

  31. Rene: in detail, certainly, you’re correct. But the overall provocation might possibly be something Jacques might appreciate. 😉

  32. Will SBNPRZ leave before knowing what is 408 about?

  33. Jackie Speel on February 3, 2017 at 3:49 pm said:

    With my theory about transcription above – the two scripts were examples and it would be possible to recognise the alternative handling (much as we can read ‘fancy scripts based on the Latin alphabet).

  34. Thomas F. Spande on February 3, 2017 at 7:26 pm said:

    Dear all, From the “ho-hum” response that Scanning Auger Microscopy has elicited from the membership, I surmise that 1) it has been tried and is in the rear view mirror of failed approaches; 2) everyone has burned bridges with Zyats, (except Rene?) and Yale would have to arrange the instrumentation and loan of the VM? or 3) it is just more fun to spend time bouncing that goofy email ball around.

    Is there a better idea out there of trying to date the ink? Is it currently being considered a “mission impossible”?

    It does seem to me, since the method works on paper as well as parchment, that the paper stuffed into the binding might be sent out for SAM tests? Zyats held open the possibility that it might not be of recent vintage.

    Cheers, Tom

  35. bdid1dr on February 3, 2017 at 8:30 pm said:

    A Nick and ThomS : Several days ago ThomS asked me if I had any idea or information about a mystrious glyph which looks like a V with with a cross-bar at either the top of the glyph, or at the base. (Depending on which way the V appears.
    Several years ago, I wondered about its meaning. The closest handwritten script appears on the cover of the large soft-bound book published by Stanford University Press and UCLA Latin American Center Publications (in 2001). query.
    Interesting enough was the printed replica of a handwritten manuscript.
    Next to the first line of the script being illustrated is what MAY be similar to TomS’ query.

    The opening page of this large manual has a phrase:

    nacatl in itlaqual quauhtli

    (Florentine Codex, Book ll, Chapter 2, Paragraph 4)

    So, now that I have Book Eleven (of the Codex) I can now more fully translate the contents of the “Voynich” top to bottom ! Every specimen. No code, but lots of phraseology can now be read in two languages Nahuatl and Espanol .
    We have a very fast-moving storm coming in from the West. Gotta feed the birds. Gotta trim back the oak trees, and put some more food out for the wildlife: Lots of birds, several raccoons, a skunk or two. (even an owl, once.

  36. Thomas F. Spande on February 3, 2017 at 9:22 pm said:

    BD, I did trace the inverted “v” under a cross bar, that appears five times in the VM text on f46r, f55r and f94r and several times in the concentric circles of f57v. The source is the Phagspa script of Mongolia, encountered by Marco Polo in the 13th C..

    It may not be unique to the Phagspa script that overlapped Marco Polo’s travels but a few other Polo-esque clues, I think, are also found in the “tubbed nymphs” (f71r, f71v, and f72r), and my interpretation of the function of the white eagles on f86v3 in retrieving diamonds after heavy rains.

    Some inverted “v”s also occur without the overbar and might be traceable to the coded numbers used by Roger Bacon where it is equivalent to the current number “7”.

    If you find the inverted “v” with overbar in the New World, that is interesting. Some have speculated that the “Olmec” figures in central Mexico have oriental, particularly Chinese, features.

    Cheers, Tom

  37. bdid1dr on February 4, 2017 at 5:46 pm said:

    @ThomS & any interested parties: A large soft-bound book, published by Stanford University Press and UCLA Latin American Center Publications : “Nahuatl as Written ”
    Lessons in Older Written Nahuatl with Copious Examples and Texts —
    James Lockhart

    The very first line of writing begins with an ornate script which can be viewed as resembling the inverted V with crossbar that appears in the “Voynich Mss”.
    Lessons 16 through 20 are very interesting.

    Another book which has enabled me to translate quite a bit of B-408 :
    Frances Karttunen : “An Analytical Dictionary of NAHUATL” .
    Example from page 228: : TEPAHTIA ; to cure people…….

  38. bdid1dr on February 4, 2017 at 10:03 pm said:

    Correction to the Eleventh Book of the Florentine Codex: Second Chapter, Fourth Paragraph (which telleth of all the birds [of prey) -page 40: Eagle and Golden Eagle. Page 41 Golden Eagle and Osprey.
    Once again I refer you to Book Eleven of Fray Sahagun’s magnificent Florentine Codex. – General History of the Things of New Spain. (Which is written in two languages — and artwork throughout.)
    ps :
    What DOES ‘look like’ a pilcrow — is a backward facing P — which ‘head’ is facing backward and is blackened.

  39. bdid1dr on February 4, 2017 at 10:29 pm said:

    Amacapuli : Mulberry : amacapulquavitl — ‘I pick it. I shake it, I eat mulberries.
    Last line of text: njctequj , njctzetzeloa , namacapulqua

  40. bdid1dr on February 5, 2017 at 5:40 pm said:

    I wonder why Yale’s Librarians are still describing the contents of B-408 as being ‘mysterious’ and ‘unsolved’ . Yes, I know it is not a librarian’s responsibility. I do know that they are committing fraud by selling a replica at $60 a pop.

    What they shoulda-coulda done is make 8 inch by 10 inch pamphlets of each item of interest being enlarged (which would also make the handwritten script more easily read. Sell each pictorial item and its accompanying dialogues for maybe $ 1.00 a page (plus postage & handling for those persons who’d rather be ‘arm-chair’ readers.
    Fortunately (maybe) they have retained their enlargement facility and we are still able to visit B-408 online.

  41. bdid1dr on February 5, 2017 at 5:54 pm said:

    B-408’s Monks Hood plant is visually warning the reader that it is poisonous. Note the long root which appears to be a scorpion stinger.

  42. bdid1dr on February 5, 2017 at 6:12 pm said:

    Nick and ThomS :

    When I was 5–6 y.o. my parents were working at Inyokern — one more place where uranium was being refined. My sisters and I would sleep on blankets in the sand. In the morning, we would find insect (scorpion), blue belly lizard (poisonous bite), and sidewinder (deadly snake) tracks all around the perimeter of the blanket. Apparently the rattlesnake didn’t do much at night. Maybe owls were present?

  43. Thomas F. Spande on February 5, 2017 at 10:54 pm said:

    BD, From what I can determine, Uranium ore was mined in Kern county, CA, where Inyokern is located. I have found no evidence that it was refined there. I am guessing that sleeping in blankets in the sand was an option available to you and your sisters and not a requirement associated with mining uranium ores!

    Reminds me a bit of the routine of Monty Phython’s discussion of hard times being discussed by Welshmen, getting more and more preposterous with each exchange: “Each family member had one tea bag and we’d have to make it last a week”!; “Luxury!, we had one tea bag for the whole family and we’d end up sucking on it for a month!” etc.

    Cheers, Tom

  44. Thomas F. Spande on February 6, 2017 at 3:49 pm said:

    BD, Amazon has the facsimile for $36 plus shipping. I have seen it also for prices below $30. Probably on e-bay. I suspect the market is not large and it will soon be “remaindered”. Anyway a lot pops up that might be missed on either Bax’s Voynichese.com or the Yale library’s photocopies. Bax tends to cut into the key root areas of the botanicals whereas the original Yale photocopy shaves off portions of some images.

    I think the only grumbles about the facsimile might be some of the short essays included. Actually, all things considered, that by Zyats and coworkers is pretty useful and Zandbergen’s time line is also. Cheers, Tom

  45. bdid1dr on February 6, 2017 at 5:47 pm said:

    Pray that Beinecke will continue to allow the ‘enlarge’ facility which can also be moved anywhere on whatever folio is being requested for viewing. Are you able to enlarge any item and its discussion with the facsimile ?
    Again, my apologies to Paula; she may have been following orders of the ‘boss’.

    ps: Otherwise, I once again refer you to the “Florentine Codex- Book Eleven ” as a tool for translating the “Voynich” (B-408).

  46. Iam going to show René Zandbergen how the voynich manuscript was constructed :the structure of the VMS language .I think from 2004 or before that he still struggling to find the key . i donot want him to leave this world without knowing about it . I will only explain in a video few issue concerning language to give a chance for new start . for the date place and author it will come later .

  47. Jackie Speel on February 7, 2017 at 10:39 am said:

    In response to the original message – we do know some things about the VM.

    There is an approximate timeframe; at first glance it #looks# like a medieval Italian document (even to the paleographer I showed the online image to); it appears to be ‘a collection of manuscript documents’ written in a coherent and neat hand rather than a draft/the author(s) thinking as they wrote.

    And nobody has yet found the means of understanding it, despite a range of approaches and skillsets (including cryptography).

  48. Nick, to answer the question you asked, it belongs to Yale doesn’t it? I personally
    have always went from this, as my personal starting point, and unless the primary
    evidence changes, will continue.

  49. Matt: did you read right to the end of the post?

  50. Yes, I think so, the plaintext anyway. You were being sarcastic, I understand.
    sarcasm is not something that is picked up so well these days, at least in
    the U.S. I thought I would address it, for the benefit of others; perhaps non-
    cryptographers or non-linguists like myself. I consider myself a fair historian
    though, and I think we are kidding ourselves to think it doesn’t fall in that
    arena. This will clearly be a interdisciplinary study in the future. Unless
    it isn’t of course. We shall see.

    ps If this was an actual letter you received from someone , chalk it up as another weird theory

  51. Matt: I wasn’t being sarcastic, it just didn’t seem that you’d read to the end of the post before leaving your (first) comment.

  52. Davidsch on February 7, 2017 at 12:33 pm said:

    What does the term pwn /pwned mean?

    In NL we have powned.nl at first I thought it refered to that group but it is more probable it is English slang ?

  53. Davidsch: worse, it’s American Internet slang. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pwn

  54. Nick,

    Yes, in fact, for whatever reason I did miss it. I think people still are not
    at peace over this ownership question. The Unexplained Files TV program,
    shows a map, of the U.S. talking about the Seneca guns, and segues it
    with; “Over in the United Kingdom…” never mentioning Yale at all! The
    facsimile itself puts the Ethel Voynich note, I believe out of context, not
    only in the book, but also on the back cover. Yes it is ok, obviously the
    Voyniches are important and should be recognized as such, I think the
    note was for a specific legal purpose, and functional as well. Though
    not for discouraging devotees in the far future from studying it! I would
    like to hear evidence to the contrary if it exists. Many people have seen
    and wondered about this book long before me, I am aware.

  55. Yes, I think so, the plaintext anyway. You were being sarcastic, I understand.
    sarcasm is not something that is picked up so well these days, at least in
    the U.S. I thought I would address it, for the benefit of others; perhaps non-
    cryptographers or non-linguists like myself. I consider myself a fair historian
    though, and I think we are kidding ourselves to think it doesn’t fall in that
    arena. This will clearly be a interdisciplinary study in the future. Unless
    it isn’t of course. We shall see.

  56. bdid1dr on February 8, 2017 at 5:26 am said:

    @ Jackie Speel: I beg your pardon ! I have TRANSLATED some 30 folios of the so-called Voynich manuscript. I have also translated several of the author’s, and his assistants works.
    Of course our host would be keeping some of our contributions in “cold storage” so to speak ! After all, it is his decision as to when, and if, he plans to write another book ! I’m hoping I’ll live to see the day — I’m 74 years old ! AND it damned well better not be teeny tiny facsimile-size !

    beady-eyed wonder

    Hey, Nick, bear with me, please — it has been a miserably cold day on our ranch which is on the other side of the county.

  57. Jackie Speel on February 8, 2017 at 10:38 am said:


    Wilfrid Voynich led an interesting enough life to justify having something named after him – and it is generally known as the Voynich Manuscript, so ‘so-called’ is probably not necessary.

    And – when are you going to show the fruits of your translation (and provide information on the author(s) and assistants)? Until then ‘as yet untranslated’ stands.

  58. bdid1dr on February 8, 2017 at 6:41 pm said:

    @ J.Speel : Why I refuse to refer to B-408 as being the “Voynich” is because Mr. Voynich only bought that manuscript. He was not able to ‘decode’ nor translate a single item in the entire book. It was an intact scroll when Ambassador Busbecq returned to Europe with some 200 others.
    B-408 was separated from Fray Sahagun and his students when the Inquisitioners confiscated all of his written material. Quite a bit of European manuscripts ended up in Suleiman’s (Ottoman) Empire.
    I have fully translated (into Espanol, Nahuatl, and English) and have referred to just about all of the mysterious folios, whether botanical, trees, fruits, bulbs or corms, silkworm larvae and transformation into the beautiful moths/butterflies.
    Trees (mulberry, strangler fig, palm) all of which appear in the rough draft manuscript (leather) and also appear in Book Eleven of the “Florentine Codex”

    Believe it or not, B-408’s pharmaceutical is most easily translated: All you have to do is look at the instructions which first identify which plant’s roots are going to be either cold soak or boiled to make a curative/medicine/pain reliever. If you are still curious, start over with the first botanical items which also display their root systems. Then compare those ROOTS with the contents of the pharmaceutical jars.
    I vaguely recall that a couple of years ago, Nick and I got as far as discussing the last items as being soup/food or medicine.

  59. Jackie Speel on February 9, 2017 at 10:29 am said:

    The document is know generally as the Voynich Manuscript – much as other items are known after the person who discovered them or the place where they were found.

    Is Fray Sahagun Wikipedia’s Bernardino de Sahagún who seems too late: and the Florentine Codex is fairly readable (as a script).

    My interest is more in Wilfrid Voynich himself.

  60. For people interested in the person Wilfrid Voynich, I can recommend Gerry Kennedy’s (relatively) new book: The Booles and the Hintons: two dynasties that helped shape the modern world.
    It isn’t of course primarily about him, but ELV figures rather prominently, and there is a lot of material from correspondence of ELV that has not been published elsewhere.
    (And the front cover includes an image of the Voynich MS).

  61. Thomas F. Spande on February 9, 2017 at 6:31 pm said:

    BD, The size of the original VM (see Wiki) is 4.5″ x 9.4″ x 2.0″. The facsimile produced by Yale and printed in China, is 9″ x 12″ x 7/8″. So the original VM has been slightly enlarged and printed on thinner paper. I think you can find it online at slightly less than $30 and you can use a hand lens or buy one of the magnifying sheets that will enlarge the text by 2x or maybe more. All the fold outs are there although not numbered. For that you still need the Yale photocopies. The VM facsimile uses the Yale photocopies, some of which are problematic as one can observe that the “see through” differs slightly from recto and verso. I thought I had discovered some diffusion of the painted botanicals but it turned out to be that one folio (e.g. verso) was copied to the very edge, while the recto shaved off a bit on the binding side. Until scanning Auger microscopy can rule in or out diffusion of the coloring, I will refer to the visibility of recto images on the verso folio and vice versa, as “see throughs” rather than “bleed throughs”. These are all there in the VM facsimile. Another useful aspect of the facsimile is the original page edges are visible.

    Cheers, Tom

  62. Thomas F. Spande on February 10, 2017 at 2:11 am said:

    Dear all, “Victoria” is currently getting top billing on our Public Broadcasting System (sort of like BBC except PBS is directly supported by viewer donations). Many will remember Jenna Coleman (who plays Victoria) as Clara Oswald from many “Dr. Who” episodes. She is portrayed as sort of an erratic airhead but with overlaying a sense of fundamental decency. For Americans, Victoria is known and acknowledged as a long-serving monarch who kept Edward VII waiting in the wings to be king until he was middle aged (sort of like Eliz.II and Charles). Anyway the point I want to make is that consort Albert has a special place in the hearts of Americans in that he prevailed against Victoria and her advisers (like d’israeli) from intervening the US civil war. The Crimean war was a wash for the Brits and the Yanks ended up with loads of British mercenaries fighting for both North and South. Albert told Victoria, essentially, we don’t want to put a dog into that fight even though it might have benefited English cotton mills and many British investors who had big pounds invested in Southern cotton bonds.

    Albert is also fondly remembered by British chemists and chemists in general for his introduction of practical lab bench chemical work to the Brits. Chemistry at the time of Victoria was largely a philosophy of matter with no attempts to intervene. Albert knew the Germans operated differently and had a long history of “Practicum” changing one substance to another. Albert brought over Hoffmann, one of the best of the German chemists to teach the Brits, practical laboratory practices. Hoffmann’s first assistant was Henry Perkin Jr. who was diligent but kept his eyes open. Hoffmann was attempting to make quinine, long before the structural theory of chemistry had been developed and chemists went by elemental analysis only, a certain percentage of nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, and you had made it. The analogy by later chemists was to a plum pudding of elements. Anyway Perkin observed that in their attempts, starting with the nitration of an aniline, that really intense colored products were obtained. He observed that one could dilute the colored product by many powers of 10 and still had enough to dye cotton and wool. Hoffmann told him to get back to the problem at hand as nearly every reaction gave colored “by products”. Perkin took all of his own assets and those of friends and family to build a dye works and in a few years Henry Perkin Jr. was the richest man in England. Hoffmann thought maybe this lad is onto something, returned to Germany and eventually created IG Farben and with the trained manpower available, quickly put the Brits out of the aniline dye business. This chapter in Organic Chemistry is recounted in the excellent, short work “Mauve” by Simon Garfield. Mauve was the first dye that really caught on with the British ladies. So credit Albert with creating Experimental Organic Chemistry in England and eventually the US of A.

    ps. The journal of Experimental Organic Chemistry honors Henry Perkin Jr.with naming the journal after him.

    ps2. When the Jew d’Israeli is apprised by Victoria and the Duke of Wellington of their desire to grab the ports of the Crimea from the Russians, over the provocation of the act of the Roman church in placing a small star over the spot where Jesus was born, he replied, ‘Let’s see if I have this right, “We are going to fight a Christian nation (the Greek Orthodox of Russia) with Muslim allies (the Turks) over a small star?” A French military observer commented on the charge of the “Light Brigade” against massed Russian artillery “It is magnificent but it is not war”. The British generals in charge< Raglan and Cardigan (I remember them as the "sweater generals") conducted operations from afar, and had been known mainly for activity on parade grounds, not military operations.

    Cheers, Tom

  63. bdid1dr on February 15, 2017 at 5:21 pm said:

    @ ThomS :

    Several days ago I went online with Beinecke’s manuscript 408. Whoopy! Their magnification feature is still alive and well ! Pray that they continue ! I have just finished translating folio 39 reverso. I’m going back to my files to find my translation of another folio in B-408 : Scabiosa sclerae .


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