I was recently in a discussion with a proponent, and author, of a New World origin theory for the Voynich Manuscript, and he believes my 1910 Forgery Hypothesis is without merit. Of course that is fine, I relish disagreement, it is the “oil of the machine of progress”. But what interests me most about rebuttal is just “how” the were arrived at, and how they are supported? I am less interested in both agreement and disagreement alike, if the basis for either is unfounded.
It is usually the case that the critiques of my forgery theory use the meticulous and well-researched pages of voynich.nu, founded and edited by the Voynich expert, René Zandbergen. Most argument used to dismiss my claims seem to originate from those pages, or to some other source based on them, or past work that they draw from. Other sources are the recent Yale book about the Voynich, for which René is one of the contributors and advisers.
But it is clear that a major force in many people’s “understanding” of what the Voynich is, and what it is not, owe as a basis the works of Mr. Zandbergen. It has become a starting point for many researchers, a reference for articles and blogs, and, it seems, a sort of “proxy” opponent for any theories which run counter to it. A person does not have to understand the basis for their own argument, and often, they do not. All they have to do is repeat the things they have been told are so.
Many conclusions are given there as known, unassailable proofs, when they are actually based on speculation, and are, in fact, opinions: that the Voynich is known to be a 15th century genuine work, that it appears in pre-1912 records, that it was made within a short period of time, that it was owned by Horicky, that it was in the Court of Rudolf, that it was once believed to be a Roger Bacon work, that Kircher saw and commented on it… and much, much, more. All these things are still unknown, based on speculation, and often contradicted by the evidence. The second problem is that those pages do not properly describe, if they describe at all, the great many anomalies, anachronisms and inconsistency in the Voynich and its purported “provenance”.
I’ve addressed many of the hundreds of problems with this carefully constructed “image” over the years. But the task is an onerous one, and the genie is long out of the bottle. It has spread through media and popular culture, has become the basis of many books and articles, and now forms the “understanding” for hundreds of posts on the Voynich, around the web.
But this post is about one page from that site, the one which was used as a direct “proxy rebuttal” to my own 1910 Modern Forgery theory, by the New World theorist I was engaged with. He told me that I “… need to refute all [René’s] arguments” on the page, “Why the Voynich MS is not a Modern Fake“.
The importance of this page is that it is clearly the “best shot” that the 1420 Paradigm can levy against the possibility of a modern fake. It is written by the man often described as the premiere Voynich expert. There would clearly be no argument against fake left off of this page, and I can attest to this, as I have heard all the arguments. It is also clear that that page is at least partially reactionary to my own work these past years, although I am not specifically named in them. While the idea that the manuscript may simply be a forgery by Wilfrid Voynich has been around a long time, I have pushed the envelope of that investigation further than it has ever gone, using new research and observations not previously considered. This work, and these ideas, have unfortunately caused a rift in the field of Voynich research, but also a necessary, and necessarily public discussion about it. “Nofake” is an attempt to close the matter, to dissuade others to not consider modern forgery, to claim there is no merit in the idea… and so I consider it my right and responsibility to counter it.
Notes: In the quote boxes are copied the wording from “Why the Voynich MS is not a Modern Fake“, or from other sources so identified, with my comments and rebuttals below them. If anything has been omitted by me, it is because of its repetitive nature, or some other reason rendering it moot to the discussion. But of course one is welcome to point out any items from that page that they may feel pertinent to the issue, and I will of course address that in the comments below.
“Part 1: codicological and forensic evidence”
“The MS is written on previously unused parchment”
This is irrelevant to the issue of forgery, first of all, as many forgers use and have used old material, either blank, or erased (palimpsests). The Voynich might be written on either, we don’t know. The only evidence given for it not being a palimpsest is that no scraping or sanding marks have been found. However, because of the pre-conception the Voynich “must” be old), more modern bleaching methods, which do not scrape the surface, have not been tested for.
“The sewing/stitching of the binding is centuries old. On photographs (e.g. IMG: here) it is partly hidden by Kraus’ restorations of 50 years ago, but it was studied in detail by several expert MS conservators on 7 November 2014.”
Old stitching can be faked, and also often is. Note the “disclaimer” here: the mention of “Kraus’ restorations”. This is frequently done in defense of anomalies: anything anachronistic is said to be “added” by someone else, while anything consistent with the paradigm is just fine. We don’t know exactly what Kraus did and did not do, it should not be used as an excuse for anachronisms.
But let’s look at the actual verdict of the experts on binding, as per the Yale book, “The Voynich Manuscript”, edited by Raymond Clemens (2016), for René’s claim that the construction is “centuries old“:
On page 25, typical Gothic period (1300-1600) stitching is described as “generally” using linen thread (for the quires) onto “raised, double, tawed-leather thongs”. The Voynich, on the contrary, is described as having “bast fiber thread (linen or hemp) onto double cords of flax”. So that is different than “general Gothic” practice. The Yale author is conscious of this, and gives this disclaimer, “Although it is not unheard of for a fifteenth-century manuscript to be sewn onto flax supports, as the Voynich manuscript is, it is less usual than the use of leather supports”.
So that is not a good match, it is “less usual” to find this. So that counters the claim that we KNOW the binding is “centuries old”.
“The sewing appears to be very old…”
That is, “appears to be”, not “known to be”. Forgers always make things “appear to be”, so this is not a firm statement of authenticity… Yale continues,
“… and is either original or an imitation of that used in the early Gothic period”
It could be “an imitation“? Now isn’t that what forgers do, “imitate” old stuff? This, again, counters René’s impression that we know the binding is “centuries old”… but leaves open the possibility some of the construction may be an imitation of it.
I’d like to add here a link to a blog page of Diane O’Donovan. I mentioned my intention to post my thoughts on the “telling” wording of the Yale examinations. She had also noted this months ago, and did an great job of breaking down, in detail, the “how and why” of it all: https://voynichrevisionist.com/2019/05/11/expert-opinion-myth-versus-materials-science-pt-5a/ (It goes without saying that Diane has her own opinions as to what the Voynich may or may not be, and most very different than mine… but like me, and many others, she realizes that much which has been stated as fact about the Voynich Ms., while there are anything but settled).
The Yale essay then describes random holes, that do not seem “indicate a different arrangement of folios”, but “may have been stabbed by mistake while setting up the text for sewing; others may be merely evidence of insect damage”.
There you see that they do not know the origin of these holes, nor, I point out, can they differentiate between worm holes and accidentally poked holes. From these statements by the experts, I think it is perfectly reasonable to come to alternate opinions, such as that previously used parchment with old holes was used. Or, perhaps, with worm holes, and disassembled and re-used, as the holes do not line up to anything… and so on.
The essay then goes on the explain the possibility that the work was dis-bound and re-bound at some point… which it must have, because of the missing leaves and scrambled order. Then it continues,
“The parchment binding and endleaves (first and last pages of the book) are not original to the text and may have been added in the eighteenth century” by the Jesuits.
Note that they are not describing JUST the endleaves as being added in the eighteenth century, but they include the binding… so yes, that is still under René’s claim of “centuries old”, but about “two” centuries, not the five plus centuries which he was clearly implying to make the case for a 15th century origin.
The Yale book then explains that a note in pencil states the “sewing and cover were repaired in the 1960’s”. Do we know what was repaired, what was replaced? I don’t think so, but anyway, again, this is not “centuries old”. The book goes on,
“Although parchment or leather spine linings were commonly used at this time, paper spine linings like that found in the Voynich Manuscript were not.”
So there is yet another case of anachronistic materials and construction. Then the examiners write that “… determining its age or origin might offer further clues that would help place the manuscript geographically”… in other words, they seem to consider this anomalous, anachronistic paper spine lining to be original, but have not “determined” their age nor origin! Once again, countering René’s claim these experts concluded the binding was “centuries old“.
The Yale experts then add that the insect holes and staining on the first and last leaves indicate an older wooden-board binding, covered in leather, was once there… which is “more typical for the Gothic period”. Read another way, another affirmation that the materials and construction of the binding and covers is NOT typical for the “Gothic period”, in that there is a possibility a gothic-age clue WAS there, once, but it is now gone.
So much to the contrary to RZ’s claim that the tests and examination determined the binding is known to be “centuries old“, what the experts actually tell us is quite different: that the materials, construction and practice of binding the Voynich deviates in ways anomalous and/or anachronistic to what would be expected of the C14 date range. I’d go as far as to say the conclusions of Yale actually support other reasonable conclusions, including fake.
Back to voynich.nu’s “nofake” page:
“Beside remnants of old paper lining, very tiny fragments of leather were observed attached to the back of the text block, as leftovers from an earlier binding”
I am not sure where this comes from… maybe Yale again… but it is irrelevant. Wherever blank vellum sheets, or blank quires, or a blank book was salvaged from, for genuine old use, or modern fake, there may be “tiny fragments of leather” stuck to it.
“The folds of the foldout pages show signs of very significant wear”
Again, irrelevant. Almost every forger since the beginning of time makes certain that they wear, and stain, and beat, and worm hole, and crack and abrade the work, to imply age. But skipped over here… although my rebuttal here is less about why it may be a forgery: The foldout pages are actually a major clue to forgery, as the they are anachronistic by several hundred years (see Clemens, Yale, and below) to the 1420 Paradigm. I speculate that they are also are a clue that a forger may have started with all full size folios to begin with, as in my “Three Quire Theory”: They simply left some large, and folded them.
“When Kraus acquired the MS, the cover was almost entirely detached. However, the imprints on the dorso made by the old binding (i.e. without Kraus’ repairs) show that it must have been attached tightly for a longer time. There are signs of additional (previous) stitching holes, showing that early in its history it has most probably been rebound in its present form”
Again, not clues (even if correctly pointing to “old”, and not simply pressed together for some lesser time) necessarily pointing to age of the book as a whole, but actually may be a clue to the re-use of the parchment. This also is a case of the assumptions that anything “too new” was due to Kraus, or some other later hands, such as the Jesuits, or Voynich… and anything looking old enough means “genuine”. Also note that René cherry-picked one possible explanation for those extra holes (“rebound”), and also, that this is actually moot to genuine and forgery alike. Nonetheless, as we have seen, the experts didn’t have an explanation for the extra holes.
“There are wormholes on the very few first and last folios. They don’t extend into the MS because these insects did not feed on parchment. The holes cut through writing and drawing elements, showing that they appeared after the MS was written.”
This demonstrates the frequent misuse of forgery evidence, being spun to instead imply genuine. This because a clue often used to determine the authenticity of a document is the “lining up” of wormholes between sheets. But here, wormholes don’t line up with anything. So they are both being used to imply genuine, with, “there are wormholes”, and “through writing and drawing elements”; but then the evidence they are not genuine, i.e., they don’t line up to any other, continued, holes, is explained away, with “these insects did not feed on parchment”. So these particular ones did just the perfect amount of feeding: They ate through JUST enough parchment to prove it is old, then stopped… proving the parchment is old again.
Furthermore, I am unclear on just how the determination was made they appeared “after the MS was written” to begin with, as wormholes are commonly faked anyway, and difficult to judge the authenticity of. Fake wormholes have fooled many experts. In any case, elsewhere in Yale, as described above, the stray holes are indistinguishable to the examiner between poked with a tool, and insect holes.
“There are stains on f1r and f116v from an earlier cover. Combining this information with that related to the wormholes, the experts conclude that the MS must have had an earlier cover of wooden boards covered by tanned leather.”
This is not evidence of forgery. Staining is easily and often replicated, and has historically fooled many examiners of forgeries.
“The MS does not include yellow flowers, unlike essentially all other illustrated herbals. Upon closer inspection, it appears that there are remnants of a faded yellow pigment, which must have been an organic yellow that has faded through the ages.”
This “faded yellow pigment” has not been tested, first of all… or, we assume it has not, by McCrone. It does not appear in their report. And in the Yale book, it says nothing about this yellow pigment having “faded through the ages”, only that it “might be organic” (page34). Unless I missed it, I’ll assume that it was René who speculated that this yellow “… has faded through the ages”.
How long does it take yellow pigment to fade? Forgers also fake aged paints and dyes, by falsely adding oxidized ingredients and colors, by treating them, by method of application. So would a forgery know that yellow fades? Anything an examiner knows, a forger knows. Sometimes, more. So how do we know a forger didn’t simply apply a thin yellow? Or fade it? In any case, it is yet another claim of René’s that seems to really be his own opinion, and does not reflect any specific expert observation or analysis, and which can again have many alternate opinions ascribed to it.
“In 2009 radio-carbon dating of the parchment and forensic testing of the paints and inks was performed. The parchment dates from the early decades of the 15th Century”
First of all, skipped over is the fact that the ink was not, and cannot be, dated. Medieval inks can be mixed up this afternoon, if we desire, and McCrone never dated the ink. But as to the parchment date of “… from the early decades of the 15th Century”, this is demonstrably untrue. The dating of the samples are actually from a range of between the latter part of the 14th century, through the late 15th, or even early 16th centuries, according to René on his site, and elsewhere: http://www.voynich.nu/extra/carbon.html
“All tests of the inks and paints, both in 2009 and 2015, failed to bring to light any trace of elements inconsistent with this date. This is a test where fakes perpetrated more than a century ago are almost inevitable to fall through.”
On the contrary, the ink and paint tests do show several anomalies, such as “slightly unusual” copper and zinc; a “titanium compound”, and an unknown gum binder not in the McCrone sample base, and much more. In fact, the report recommends further tests in some areas, in order to resolve these questions.
But even if anachronistic ink constituents were not found, it is not at all “inevitable” that fakes have such problems with their inks. There are many cases of forgeries with quite good inks… that is the point of forgers learning how to make them. In fact, the Voynich’s long time friend and partner, Sidney Reilly (M15 double agent and spy) took a book on mixing medieval inks out of the Cambridge library. Voynich was a trained chemist.
“Part 2: Evidence of Provenance”
“When, around the year 2000, several references to the Voynich MS dating from the 17th Century were found in the correspondence of Kircher, the main reason for the above suspicion about the Voynich MS was removed.”
The references (Kircher Carteggio letters) are, first of all, vague and do not satisfactorily describe the Voynich. Stars, “chemical symbolism”, “plants unknown to the Germans, unknown script… could all describe a great many manuscripts. Conversely, many prominent, identifiable features of the Voynich are NOT described in those letters, when it would be logical to include them in any discussing attempting to identify it: Nude women, the zodiacs, the cylinders, and so on… this area is ripe with points, enough for a book in itself… such as that several of the cylinders look so much like Kircher OWN MICROSCOPE… that it is absurd to think the similarity would not have occurred to him.
And the “Ilyrian” in the Kinner letter, long thought to be a reference to the mysterious text in the same letter, turned out to be… with a better translation… referring to another, known, work. In fact the record was updated to reflect this, with a new rationalization, weakly claiming, again, it is evidence the Voynich was being described. But far from knowing the “several references” are known to be of the “Voynich MS”, the evidence is actually that some other manuscript other than the Voynich is being described. I call it that unknown ms. the “Baresch Manuscript”.
Also, that these letters were likely kept in the Villa Mondragone, under the care of Joseph Strickland, who was a friend of Voynich’s. And Strickland and his brothers actually attended the college there, years before. The often repeated idea that Voynich could not have seen them, or seen any record or report based on them, is unsupported, and in fact, unlikely, in my opinion.
“Further suspicion about Voynich as a possible faker arose because of his legendary capability of finding previously unknown books (primarily incunables and early prints). It has been suggested that these could be fakes. This aspect is addressed (without the suspicions) in Whitemann (2006), and here we see that many unique or previously unknown books offered for sale by Voynich were soon found in several other copies, showing that this particular suspicion was equally not founded.”
I’ve never heard anyone publicly state these early incunabula might be fakes, so I imagine René is referring to a private exchange we had on this subject. But whether the early incunabula… he is referring to the sale of 150 to the British museum, in, I think, 1902… are real or not, is irrelevant to the question of whether the Voynich, or other works Voynich owned, are real.
“Voynich’s secrecy related to his acquisition of the MS could be a further source for suspicion, but now we know that he acquired several MSs at the same time, many of which are now preserved in American libraries. All of these are genuine old MSs which originate from the Jesuit Collegium Romanum.”
Again, it is irrelevant whether or not these are fakes. Forgers, art and book dealers alike, might, and have, sold only a few fakes, or one, while at the same time selling a much greater number of genuine items.
That being said, several of the works Voynich bought at the same time as the Voynich are questionable, and have been questioned. He has even sold at least one known fake. But that is also a topic for another paper, as it is, as I said, irrelevant to whether or not the Voynich is fake.
“His secrecy applied equally to these genuine MSs, and it was because of a promise made when he acquired these MSs. It clearly has nothing to do with a supposed fake. Most of the collection from which he acquired these MSs is now in the Vatican library.”
See above… and also, I point out, that Wilfrid’s stories used to impose this “secrecy” are varied and contradictory in many cases. In short, we know he lied about provenance, on several occasions, and gave highly suspicious provenance in others. So to use the word of Voynich in any case, of any owned and/or sold work, does not help us to know for certain the provenance of any of them.
“We can see that the cover of the Voynich MS is similar to other MSs that he acquired at the same time, and also similar to the MSs that went to the Vatican. The similarity of all these covers was the result of a general rebinding by the Jesuits reported in Ruysschaert (1959). The historical archives of the Pontifical Gregorian University have even published a text written shortly before this rebinding indicating that such a rebinding was needed because the collection was infected by woodworms.”
This is covering for the fact that the binding and cover of the Voynich are actually more modern than the C14 tests of the parchment revealed. It also now contradicts René’s previous statement the binding is “centuries old“. If this reported “general rebinding” by the Jesuits, then it is only a bit over a century old.
“We see that the evidence related to the provenance and the codicology are fully consistent.”
No, the evidence is anything but consistent, and the provenance anything but convincing, as I’ve shown above.
“At least three of the books that were acquired by Voynich on this occasion, and later sold by him, were seen and consulted before 1870 while they were in “the Collegium Romanum library. Many of these MSs still show their original Collegium Romanum shelfmarks. Some 25 manuscripts (including autographs) of Kircher that are now preserved elsewhere can also be traced back with certainty to the Collegium Romanum library, so it is fully consistent to find the Voynich MS, that was sent by Marci to Kircher in 1665, in the same collection.”
It is irrelevant what else was in the Collegium Romanum, as to where the Voynich may or may not have come from. But note again an important point which is glossed over: “Many of these MSs still show their original Collegium Romanum shelfmarks.” The thing is, the Voynich does not have any label, any shelfmark, any indication at all this was in the CRL, or with these other books, at any time. No shelfmark, no descriptive ex libris, when many other books which René is attempting to relate by proximity, to the Voynich, do actually have these. Again, this is another case where a damning bit of evidence is spun to seem to support genuine.
“Two letters letters from Godefrid Aloys Kinner to Kircher, written in 1666 and 1667 respectively and now preserved in the Kircher correspsondence, tell us that Marci had recently sent an unreadable MS to Kircher for translation (see note 10). The unnamed previous owner of the MS that Marci referred to in his letter has now been identified as one Georg Barschius, and one of the letters he reportedly sent to Kircher has also been found. Equally, the response from Kircher to an even earlier (now lost) letter from Barschius has been found in Prague.”
See above, i.e. the “letters” are unconvincing in their description of the manuscript, and it is more likely some other manuscript, either lost or unidentified as such, than it is the Voynich.
“In summary, we have a fully consistent trace of the Voynich MS from the 17th Century till its discovery in 1912 by Voynich.”
See above… this is not at all a reasonable conclusion. On the contrary, the Voynich has virtually NO acceptable provenance at all, and no real “trace” and not at all “consistent”. Any case for provenance needs to be invented, and it was by Wilfrid, and is still done, today. See the new claim that the “1903 catalog entry” is the Voynich… claimed as possible on René’s page, which morphed into fact by the time he wrote his essay for the Yale publication.
The two most similar methods of argument are always those of the forger, and the defenders of forgeries. The exact same rationalizations, omissions, argumentative tactics, are used by both, and this “nofake” page continues to reflect this. There is virtually nothing of value connecting the Voynich to the Collegium Romanum, to the Villa Mondragone, or to any of the players that Voynich, René, and all 1420 adherents insist you believe were involved. In fact, there is no plausible, reliable evidence that the Voynich existed before about 1908.
Part 3: About faking artefacts
“Around the start of the 20th Century there certainly was an active trade in faked old artefacts of all nature. The most famous proponent of this trade is the so-called ‘Spanish Forger’…
In this section, René relates several known forgeries, and states that longer ms. forgeries are not made, for various reasons. He seems to be trying to show that in all aspects the Voynich is not similar to other forgeries, and that forgeries of the type and length of the Voynich would not be made, based on the limited information he has supplied, and that “therefore” the Voynich is not a forgery.
This is an illogical path of argument for several reasons: First of all, while no two forgeries are the same, and while the Voynich is likewise a unique work , the Voynich still has more similarities to many known forgeries, by far, than any real, or even forged, manuscript that I know of. So it is wrong to try and say there is no forgery like it, therefore it cannot be a forgery… rather I counter, there are many forgeries with some of the characteristics of the Voynich, and the Voynich has many characteristics, in one place, of many forgeries. These were outlined in my talk before the NSA in 2017:
Another false argument here is that it would not be “worth it” to make such a long forgery. But first of all, Voynich wanted between $1.6 and about $2 million dollars, in today’s currency, and that is quite a worthwhile return for, at most, a year’s worth of spare time. And furthermore, there is a long precedent for making long manuscript faux books, which took a great deal of time and effort, and offered no monetary return. Among them are the Chittenden Manuscript, which I examined in person.
The Chittenden, and many other “faux books”, belie the claim that “nobody would do this”. For more examples: https://proto57.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/prop-hoax-tribute-art/
René then cites the longer forgery, the Archaic Mark, which actually counters his own claims that it would not be worth it, or too risky, to make a longer forgery. So he switches gears, and disallows this example by saying “The parchment has been scraped to remove any earlier writing and painting on it. The forensic reports clearly indicate the presence of anachronistic elements in the paints, and a suspicious binding.” He is discounting the good example of another long forgery because it was revealed to be one. This is irrelevant, because there are many forgeries, some found out, and some, not. At least, it would be ridiculous to assume that only those forgeries we discovered, exist.
And then, despite his claims longer works are not made as forgeries, he actually links to several, in that section:
So which is it? Was it done, or not? Well it was done, and done often, both despite and because of René’s passage on this subject. Several long forgeries do exist, several long faux books of various types, do exist, and still, their existence really does not affect whether or not the Voynich is yet another one. But by René’s reasoning, it does matter… so in effect, in this section, he has countered his own point.
Part 4: W. Voynich’s means, motive and opportunity
“… if the Voynich MS were a modern forgery, then the forger needed a large amount of previously unused parchment from the early 15th C. Since we saw above that the stitching of the MS is very old…”
Shown above, the binding as old is questionable, not “we saw” it is known to be from the early 15th century. Also, René is aware of the 1908 purchase of the Libreria Franceschini, the repository of perhaps 500,000 items collected over a period of 40 plus years. It would be difficult to accept that no quantity of blank vellum could not be found in the massive piles of ancient material there.
“… one might suggest that the MS was written in a previously bound volume with empty pages, but this can be excluded for three different reasons.”
One might, but it is not necessary, and I do not. I know of no-one who thinks the Voynich was written on a previously bound, blank book. And there are several other ways in which the Voynich may have been created. From cut down larger folios, from pre-stitched quires, which have been un-stitched, then re-stitched, and so on. In any case, if re-ordered (and we know it was), why does it have to be for genuine reasons? It can simply have been un-stiched to work on, and reassembled, by anyone, at any time.
“The first is that in several locations drawings and text ‘disappear’ in the binding, so these pages were written, drawn and even painted before they were bound.”
OK, that works for forgery, too.
“Secondly, no previously bound book with blank pages would have the occasional foldout folios that the Voynich MS has.”
Aha! Once again the anachronistic fold outs, which are actually evidence of forgery, are being used to claim that it cannot be a forgery! And “why?” one would ask, also, would “no previously bound book with blank pages” “have the occasional foldout folios”? Because they were not used in the era suggested for the Voynich. But this claim also makes no sense, because René is not disputing that the foldouts do exist, that they were not used, that they were not once, blank. So this is also sort of odd, to say that no blank book would have had foldouts, because… well, OK, they wouldn’t. It was from sheets, whether the Voynich is real or fake, old or new.
“Finally, it would also be expected that the pages had been trimmed.”
René knows that many of the edges of many leaves of the Voynich do appear to have been trimmed. But other than that, I am unclear of his point here. Why? would we expect a blank book, or the use of sheets for a forgery, and so on, if a forgery, to be trimmed more or less than a real book?
“… and an old book dealer like Voynich would be in a good position to have occasional access to unused sheets of old parchment, by dismembering old books.”
Well, yes… and an argument for the possibility of fake, again, not against it. Again I must note his acquisition of the Libreria Franceshini, in 1908, which was the repository of over 500,000 of everything and anything possible.
“For a moderately long MS like the Voynich MS, in such a case one would expect to find a patchwork of parchment from different ages, something that was specifically taken into account during the radio-carbon dating of the Voynich MS…”
This statement is frankly stunning, because, in fact, the Voynich Manuscript IS A “patchwork of parchment from different ages“! The samples ARE “from different ages”… 50-60 years, up to 200 years apart. But then, this odd claim that this was “something that was taken into account during the radio carbon dating”. It was NOT taken into account, it was altered. The actual results were modified, based on several “assumptions”, then “combined”, to produce a “1420” friendly range of 1404 to 1438.
“In reality, the parchment is of similar quality throughout the MS, and not a patchwork of different types or from different ages.”
Roughly similar types, although the quality varies. And that other “error” is repeated, because they are “from different ages“.
“Another possibility is that the MS could have been created from a stack of sheets of previously unused parchment that had been preserved for 500 years and never used for a book. In both above-mentioned cases, the mixture of normal-sized folios and large foldouts of different sizes, yet from similar parchment that has been dated to a single time frame, makes this scenario unrealistic.”
Why? Three quires of unused, full size parchment would make all the pages of the Voynich, including all the foldouts (from uncut sheets). But note the “unrealistic” appended to this… the site is peppered with such claims, without foundational merit, as here. At least this is openly stated as an opinion, which it is, but then it has no identified basis in itself.
And again, a repetition of the erroneous “single time frame” claim. This is a perfect demonstration as to how a mis-characterization can be recycled endlessly, to seemingly lend support to a million other points. That is practically the definition of “circular reasoning”, and in this case, based on a single untrue claim.
“This argument is also presented in Zyats et al. (2016).”
The statement referred to here is going to be the subject of a blog post at some time. It is one of the more convoluted twists of logic, which to my mind is indicative of the understanding by those holding this paradigm that they have problems. I think the correct term for it is “confirmation bias”:
Zyats et all wrote (Yale, 2016),
“The quantity and size of the foldouts in the Voynich Manuscript are very unusual for the time period; it is rare to find so many large pieces of parchment folded into a single textblock, and this seems to indicate authenticity: In the twentieth century it would be quite difficult to find this many large sheets of genuine medieval parchment in order to produce a forgery.”
OK, “very unusual”, which should then, and normally would, cause a scholar to question the authenticity, or at least the age, of the work. They know this, so they need to “spin” into something the opposite, “… it would be quite difficult to find this many large sheets of genuine medieval parchment in order to produce a forgery.” This is incorrect, it would not have been all that difficult, and especially not for Voynich. But back to “nofake”:
“And we do need to keep in mind that the parchment has been bound together centuries ago.”
Again a repeat of the “centuries old” binding, which the experts in no way could or did, conclude.
“Motivation and opportunity are closely linked. The statements of Voynich related to his discovery of the MS… “
I don’t follow this “reasoning”. Does it matter? Something like “He bought other real books, so would not have faked…” I am not sure.
“The Voynich MS appears in the Jesuit list of books for sale, written in 1903, but in a way that does not allow a positive identification….”
This is the newly invented “1903” claim I mentioned above. Not only does it “not allow a positive identification”, it in no ways should be considered a reference to the Voynich. But that seems to matter not, for René stated it as fact in the Yale book, with no disclaimer at all.
“So, could Voynich have seen the letter from Barschius and faked the Voynich MS accordingly? This highly speculative option has a number of severe problems, that basically fall into two different categories: the first is that it is highly unlikely that he could ever have seen the letter, and the second that, even if he had, the resulting fake should have looked very different.”
I consider this statement a “gem”. You see, those letters are used by the 1420 Paradigm as foundational evidence that the Voynich is genuine. For years, I and others argue that they do not describe the Voynich very well at all. And René and others have ridiculed me for suggesting they don’t describe the Voynich, or ignored the issue, and so on…
… But now, right here, René is admitting that the letters are not a good description of the Voynich, and that if the Voynich was made to match those letters, “.. the resulting fake should have looked very different”. So the argument is both that they do describe the Voynich, therefore the Voynich is real; but they don’t describe the Voynich, therefore the Voynich is not fake. This is contrary application of standards being used to imply support of one’s position.
“This is all very speculative, and there is no need to go into the details, because there is an even greater problem, namely the lack of motive and opportunity.”
This is another case of adding in unsubstantiated claims borrowed from another section of the page. He arguably, and plausibly, had motives (money, name recognition, marital hegemony); and that he had the opportunity and materials in the Libreria and his book enterprises in general.
“There is no possible scenario for Voynich creating the MS. Did he get the idea before he saw the Collegium Romanum MSs and the Barschius letter (at a time when he could still have had a financial motivation)? This is the unacceptable coincidence mentioned above. Did he get the idea after? Here, he was about to make the most lucrative deal of his entire career, so there was absolutely no motive to spend a large effort and cost, at great risk, on a completely uncertain fake. He sold his first two MSs from the Collegium Romanum collection before July 1912 for an amount that is equivalent with 1.4 Million US Dollars in 2015. And there was no time because the MS was already seen in London by the end of 1912”
This is a “straw man” argument: First, René creates a forgery scenario that he feels cannot work, rather than relate an actual forgery theory which is totally workable. Then, he “shoots down” the straw man forgery theory he created. It includes a scenario in which Voynich would have created the manuscript before seeing the Barschius letter, which I and no one I know, does. I posit the Voynich Ms. was created about 1908/10, before the other works were sold. And in any case, why would it be assumed that he, or anyone, would hold off creating any forgery just because they were in the process of profiting from other sales?
I would point out that if one needs to construct an imaginary argument for an imaginary opponent, as done here, then it might indicate a lack of ability to argue the actual case against forgery.
Part 5: Evidence from W. Voynich’s actions and correspondence
“No clear theory has been formulated about how or why Voynich would have faked the MS.”
There are several, and René full well knows this. Why not post a link to my page on the subject? I cite his pages all the time, for those things good and bad, agree or not.
I also point out that while there are several “clear theories” as to how it could have been faked, there is, despite over 100 years of looking at the work as genuine, “no clear theory” as to who, when, exactly when or where it may have been made, if 1420, and genuine.
“Did he also fake the Marci letter at the same time?”
Probably later. René is also fully aware, and again, but leaves out, that Voynich “inexplicably” (although my theory explains it) didn’t “notice” the Marci letter for some time. I believe that this letter is faked, for several reasons. But in short, no, not at the same time, but probably later, and probably to help nudge the Voynich manuscript into a desired new authorship: Roger Bacon. For without that letter, there would have been no Roger Bacon.
“Did he also anticipate the full provenance from Bacon to present through John Dee as part of his plan?”
Not sure of everything he means here… but real or fake, the Dee connection was provably fabricated by Voynich himself, and fake or real, the Bacon/Marci letter was in his possession, so no “anticipation” was necessary in any of it.
“Following is a summary of Voynich’s own activities related to the MS, after he acquired it. It is based primarily on letters preserved in the Beinecke library.”
The arguments are a bit of “scattershot”, but I may as well address them:
“In 1911 or 1912 Voynich obtained the various MSs from the Jesuits, according to different sources.”
The “different sources” are DeRicci, Russysheart (sp?), and Voynich himself. It seems, however, that DiRicci (1937?) is partly compiled from the word of Voynich, and/or the word of Ethel after his death.
“These sources can be reconciled if one assumes that Voynich became involved in 1911, and the sale was completed in 1912. Already on 29 July 1912 there is an invoice to Pierpont Morgan for two manuscripts that Voynich acquired from the Jesuits. These had already passed through several hands, and through an unsuccessful sales negotiation with the archbishop of Budapest.”
OK, but again, those sales are irrelevant to the question of VMs authenticity.
“In December 1912 the MS is admired by potential buyers in Voynich’s London shop at Shaftesbury avenue”
René is referring to the Sowerby chapter on Voynich, which, by the way, I scanned, converted to a PDF and sent to him. He didn’t previously have a copy, which I am lucky to possess (wonderful book, by a wonderful woman). But I point this out, because in that chapter are outlined many unusual attitudes and actions by Voynich, and other related book dealers, which René ignores here. There is much to raise one’s eyebrows on a careful reader of Sowerby. That is another topic, but for an example, an issue Sowerby relates led to me learning this: https://proto57.wordpress.com/2015/06/02/sowerbys-philippovitch/
“In November 1914 Voynich makes his first trip to the USA. In his 1921 presentation he states that at this time he had not yet seen the barely visible Tepenec signature on f1r of the MS.”
René is also aware that I found… in the Beinecke archives René previously searched, and somehow did not find, or report on… the only known pre-treatment image of the “signature”, which show that his later claims to not have seen the “signature” are highly questionable. This, because WE can see it: If we can see it, pre-treatment, then it is plausible that Voynich actually saw it, too. And more importantly, that if genuine, it should have been seen by Baresch/Marci/Kinner/Kircher, but they do not mention this valuable piece of “evidence” to the mystery.
“In October-November 1915 Voynich has several exhibitions of (a.o.) some of the manuscripts he had obtained from the Jesuits. He sells quite a number of items at these occasions. He spreads the story that he discovered them himself in a castle in Austria, after tracing some correspondence. This story is known not to be true. In 1916 he sold the “Vitae Patrum” MS (also from the same collection) to Morgan for US$ 75,000 (half the original asking price).”
Again, another story, and irrelevant to the question of authenticity of the Voynich.
“On 19 July 1930, four months after the death of Voynich, his widow writes a letter, to be opened after her death, about what Voynich told her in confidence: that he acquired the MSs (the Voynich MS being one of them) from the Vatican through the help of the Jesuit Fr. Strickland.”
… Voynich’s close friend, as I wrote. Alternate opinions as to the use of testimony of the dead may be raised here, but if anything, the use does little to argue against forgery.
“This took place in Frascati. He was invited to buy them in or around 1911. He had to promise absolute secrecy about the sale.”
Wilfrid “says”, but we know he lied several times, about provenance. Voynich’s word is proof of nothing, and only “evidence” of genuine by being hopefully and selectively used.
“The reader may judge whether it is reasonable that all of this is just ‘show’ to cover up his faking of the MS.”
But the thing is, the association of “all of this” to the actual Voynich Ms. in front of us, is purely speculation, based on little information, some known errors, and much omission, all combined with the few words of the untrustworthy Voynich. In fact all we really “know” is that the parchment of the Voynich dates from the late 14th through early 16th centuries, that Wilfrid was a book dealer, and that he often lied about what he did and didn’t do. So the “show” is not Voynich’s… it is all the stuff the people of the 1420 Paradigm, based on some slim and contrary claims of Wilfrid, along with some contradictory and inconclusive forensic evidence, have built it up to be.
But that is the main tactic here, and the root problem, for “Nofake”, and for that matter, for pro-1420 Genuine: A large, complex set of rationalizations is created and used to support them, which then results in a construct so big, it is then asked, “How could Voynich have done all of this?“.
The answer is simply, “He didn’t do it- you did it for him”.