Pitfalls of Decipherment

I am barely a cipher amateur. Nonetheless, I’ve read and studied about many historical cipher attempts, both successes and failures, and over the last few years, and I’ve been privy to a great many decipherment attempts on the Voynich, both in public and in private. And so even if I have not made any significant decipherments of my own, the successes and failures of others have still taught me many useful signs of error in the process of decipherment. The failure of many of these attempts may be obvious to me and others, but is often not at all apparent to their proponents. This should not be so, as there is available a very simple two-step test one can use to determine a the correctness of any proposed solution. These tests are derived from several sources, but most notably the works of Elizebeth and William Friedman. Both of these conditions MUST be met in order for a claimed decipherment to be deemed correct:

1) Repeatability: If one can explain the system used, to a second person, and then they derive the same cipher text as the solution’s proponent, then part one has been passed.

2) Meaning: If the system is repeatable, as above, then the results must have meaning.

But the problem is that, in a very many instances, a decipherer believes they have met the above two-step criteria, and passed the test, when they have not. As I asked, why? It usually is because they have been trapped by various pitfalls, in which “ways around” the tests… although invalid… seem to obviate a need to meet those basic requirements, or convince them that they have met them. I’d call these “pitfalls” then, and are very dangerous. By not recognizing them in one’s own work, by stepping over or around them, one can become victim to spending huge amounts of life and effort continuing to work on what is a failed scheme.

List of potential pitfalls to decipherment:
1) Defending subjective input: It is normal, in many cases, for a decipherer to insert speculative plain text characters, words or phrases in order to test cipher schemes: Such as using the name of an item in an illustration, or a word which might make sense in the context of the work in general. But then a problem arises if the system is not seen as flawed when it needs to alter itself in order to allow for new results from new cipher text. That is, if the scheme needs to be altered to fit the new, speculative plain text, then this should be seen as a test of the scheme, and that the scheme has failed. It this “red flag” is missed, there is no limit to the complexities that that a decipherment scheme/system can grow to, in order to continue to adapt to speculative, desired, plain text. But we know the solution is wrong, because no cipher system needs to adapt for individual words. No matter how complex, a proper cipher will work consistently to decipher the text without needing to adapt as it progresses.

The signs to look for are if the decipherer will not try new text, and only sticks to small section of selected text. Another is if the system is not shared, often said to be “too complicated” for others, or if there is no expressed, relatable system at all. Sometimes a system is shared, but cannot be used to create meaningful text by a second party, and then this shows the solution is wrong.

2) Multiple Plain Text Choices: If at any point in the decipherment process, choices of multiple possible plaintext letters or words are needed, the number of outcomes quickly rises. The level of subjectivity in such decipherment schemes can be so high that many different translations of meaning, or near meaning, can be derived from the same cipher text. What to look for are charts with columns or rows of alternate “translations” for one cipher character or word.

Often the pitfall is that the translator has a concept of what they think the content is, or should be, so then the choices they make for the output don’t seem subjective to them, but the only logical possibility from the many variations conceivable during the process. In these cases, a proposer may believe the “repeatability” requirement must be bent, as there needs to be a mutual understanding of what choices should be made in the process, and that the original users of the cipher would possess that understanding. Another excuse is that the original creator alone possessed the necessary understanding, as they never intended anyone else to read the plain text. They then feel that, possessing this understanding, they alone come to the proper results. This is a dangerous pitfall, as there is really no way to convince oneself, or others, that this is unlikely to be the case. But it is  historically unknown as a concept, if that helps.

Another good test is falsification, as if many other results can be derived by using other choices of characters, then at the very least it should be apparent that any particular results cannot be known if correct or if in error. That is, any such results are virtually indistinguishable from guesswork, and therefore, the solution can be assumed incorrect.

3) Anagrams: Similar to the above, if any string of plain text results needs to be reordered to derive meaning, the chance are the derived meaning is purely speculative on the part of the decipherer. It is true that anagrams have historically been used to hide information, but rarely used to hide it in a way that another person could readily derive the meaning without help. This is a common misconception about various historic uses of anagrams, such as those by Roger Bacon and Galileo. They were using anagrams to insert a “watermark” of sorts in the test, so that they could later reveal that they were privy to some knowledge, so that they could later claim precedence to that knowledge, but without revealing it to unwanted eyes. But the purpose was not for another party to discern the meaning on their own, as it needed help from the creator to find it.

But if for whatever reason anagrams might be suspected, after only a few characters the possible translations quickly rises beyond any sensible use of hiding plain text, since many alternate plain texts can be derived from even short strings of plaintext characters. This means it becomes purely subjective, and almost from the start of the process. This was one of the pitfalls that William Romaine Newbold fell into, when attempting to decipher the Voynich Manuscript cipher text.  He derived long strings of characters, from which he, or really anyone, could assemble some resemblance of meaningful text. Newbold was assuming Roger Bacon content, however, and so he manipulated his anagrams until he found it.

4) Small Set of Input/Output: If a scheme seems to work for a select few words, usually under 20 (and rarely approaching it), and then the decipherer stops attempting their scheme on new words, it then becomes a pitfall. There are several such claims of translation, some of which have made it into mainstream media. In order to avoid this, one must make certain that their scheme continues to work on a larger set of cipher words, and that they do not stop at early, perceived, “successes”. Likewise, for those attempting to determine the validity of such small set solutions, they should first insist that the proponent apply their method to a larger set (editors and producers take note). Until they do so, the solution should not be taken seriously.

5) Lack of plain text meaning: This is only a pitfall if it is not seen as a failure of a decipherment, as per the two step test at the top of this post.

It is of course easy to translate the Voynich text, or any cipher I suppose, in a way that produces “something”. But if that something has no discernible meaning, it is wrong. The pitfall comes when one does not accept that this lack of meaning exists, or that it is important. For the former, one may think the encipherer must have had a meaning in mind for the resultant ramblings; for the latter, that it is simply not a problem that there is no meaning- that is, they simply do not address it, to themselves or to others. But if one wants to self test their scheme, or the scheme of others, then lack of meaning is a sign of an incorrect solution.

Nonetheless, there are many claimed solutions which produce meaningless text… in the case of the Voynich, this almost always involves long strings of repetitive words and phrases, as the cipher text of the Voynich has much repetition. It is often claimed that these meaningless solutions must be either song, chants or poetry we don’t understand, or lists of recipe ingredients or formulas, which we simply do not know how to use due to our modern viewpoint. In reality, they are simply gibberish, and not the solution.

6) False Patterns: It is human nature to seek, and then find, patterns in randomness. But the ability can become a pitfall when left unchecked in the practice of decipherment. This pitfall not only arises in seeing patterns in the text, but in illustrations, also. And a very good self-test is, again, if the results have meaning. There has to be a greater context for the pattern, or it is probably purely subjective. If one does not make an attempt to find that greater context, or diminishes the importance of doing so, they may never see the error in the scheme. But also, like many schemes which are vulnerable to subjective errors, a pattern may be “seen” which matches a preconception for meaning and context, and this then is mistakenly thought to be validation of the pattern. Another good check in that case is falsification… that is, seeing if other patterns can be also found, with other meanings, in the same text or illustration… by oneself, or better yet, by others. If they can, then there is no way of knowing which one, if any, may be correct, and the solution is in error.

7) Skipping the process: This is rare, but there are cases of decipherers simply inserting plain text for cipher characters or words, purely speculatively (or maybe loosely based on some belief of what the Voynich may be about): This can be food sources, if one thinks it a cookbook; or chemical names, if one believes it a formula book; or maybe herbal and plant names, if one believes it a pharmacopeia. Great lists of meanings for characters or words may be offered. The tests as usual are repeatability and resultant meaning, but these are often avoided in this case. One case I’ve seen is that the proponent wrongly claims repeatability because of anyone using the list will arrive at the same exact results as they do. But the point being missed in this case is that the list is the decipherment, and the list must therefore be repeatable, and is not. And so, repeatability has actually failed. Another danger is that one may simply surmise there is a missing code book that was originally used to derive the lists of meanings; and that the results are (again) simply not understandable to a modern mind. But if one is objective, and realizes that any list of words can be substituted for one’s own (for any speculative code book), and that any results can be claimed meaningful, as in #5, they will see the error, and so can avoid this pitfall.

Conclusion: There are many historical, and even contemporary, instances of decipherment attempts which have consumed large portions of their proponent’s life and effort. In the case of the many failed Baconian theories, several individuals spent decades in a fruitless pursuit of hidden meanings in Shakespeare’s texts. But there are many other cases like this, and unfortunately even in our time. The Voynich cipher has engendered many dozens, if not hundreds, of its own instances of this unfortunate effect. I’ve personally witnessed several cases in which very brilliant and sincere people have fallen into the traps I relate above, and so are expending their precious life energy, year after year, to baseless chimeras so easily avoided- if but a small amount of careful introspection would be applied. I offer my observations, above, as a well-meant and helpful warning to them.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

127 Responses to “Pitfalls of Decipherment”

  1. Thomas E. O'Neil Says:

    Rich you have to see my post on Reddit! Anyway I’m going to investigate the Cast Mouse Business Card from Wilfrid and it does look like it could contain some hidden Morse Code.

    Sorbus AriA plant f102v2 otol found AriA plant in f30v
    The facts are in otol is AriA!

    Looks like the facts are slamming us right in logical hemisphere of our minds! AriA is associated to Mars from Ares the God of war from Greek Mythology, which the Romans inherited as Mars the God of War. Yet AriA in Italian translates to air in English as it follows the theme of an empty otol pipe in f77r. So I just looked up AriA as keywords ( vegetation, plant). The plant leaf in f102v2 which looks like its cut in half has the serrated edges.


    Folio 49r Teste roma giuoco per le gente ade
    The folio translates to: (Witness Rome game for the people (hell or Hades)). I guess the serpent really added the kicker here for the author. After all Satan transformed himself into a serpent in the Garden of Eden. The Romans adored Hades!

    What is interesting to me was if this is referring to the Coliseum Wilfrid was using English grammar to write in Italian. I believe Wilfrid authored MS-408, because the writing style of Italian follows the English language grammatically!

    Whilst in Siberia, Voynich acquired a working knowledge of eighteen different languages, albeit not well.





    – . … – . ……. .-. — — .- ……. –. .. ..- — -.-. — ……. .–. . .-. ……. .-.. . ……. –. . -. – . ……. .- -.. .

  2. Thomas E. O'Neil Says:

    Hi Rich,

    This may interest you as well as I linked your Michal Wojincz Business Card. He actually did apply a variable Morse Code Cipher to the VMS and the Morse Code Cipher is inherent in his business card too.

  3. Thomas E. O'Neil Says:

    Hi Rich,

    My decryption is about Voynichese to Morse code to Italian anagrams and some English words.

    You should see this:
    MIT believes the Voynich Corpus to be in a Anagram format, list Italian a possible candidate!
    We then present an approach to decoding anagrammed substitution ciphers, in which the letters within words have been arbitrarily transposed. It obtains the average decryption word accuracy of 93% on a set of 50 ciphertexts in 5 languages.

    The properties and the dating of the manuscript imply Latin and Italian as potential candidates.


    I just want to say to all those people out there that think I’m drinking the kool-aid regarding a nutty approach for the text to be in anagrams, they should contact MIT. If they are on to Italian they should check in with my cipher as it leans more towards a Polyalphabetic over substitution.


    • proto57 Says:

      Hi Thomas: I’ve spent a lot of time reading over your ideas, and watching your Youtube videos, and I do not believe you have a solution to the Voynich. I do not believe there is any Morse code in it… at least, not where and how you believe it exists… not in the ms., and not in the logo, and so on.

      I think that your believing so might be a case of pareidolia, much the same as any of the well-meant observations with the Voynich text and illustrations, and very similar to the famous cases of believing one sees biliteral evidence in the works of Shakespeare.

      As far as, “I just want to say to all those people out there that think I’m drinking the kool-aid regarding a nutty approach for the text to be in anagrams, they should contact MIT.”

      It has nothing to do with “nutty”, and people do not need to drink kool-aid (that’s when you join others, anyway, and most people with ideas about the Voynich work alone), and you are VERY obviously a really nice person, smart and observant, with a great trust and belief in your own ideas… which we all are, of course, for the most part. But the work of MIT does not necessarily support your ideas, because if the Morse code, and other information you suggest, is not there, MIT can be right as rain, and you can still be wrong. It would be the same as saying “Expert XYZ thinks it may be Latin, and my proposal says it is Latin, therefore Expert XYZ supports my theory“. No, they don’t.

      Now I have to tell you I have been here before, for many years, as many of us have, many times. There are a GREAT many proposals like yours, although different information, different observations, different results. But they are similar in that they are unsupportable, and un-provable. For a very long time I have suggested that people with such ideas read William and Elizebeth Friedman’s, “The Shakespearean Ciphers Examined”, and also the book “Codebreakers”, by David Kahn. Perhaps you did, but I still suggest them, just in case. From the work of the Friedman’s, I derived a simple test I suggest to people, to see if they are on the right track with a solution or not. For any proposal to be correct, it has to fulfill BOTH of the below, at the same time:

      1) Repeatable: A person, when given the system, including any substitutions, lexicon, whatever information the proposer uses, will derive the same results as the proposer, from the same string of text.

      2) Meaning: The results of number 1, above, will have meaning in SOME context.

      I have seen each of 1 and 2 being fulfilled many times, and very often, also, neither, with respect to the Voynich. I have never seen anyone come close to both 1 and 2 at the same time. In the case of your work, I cannot, and cannot see how anyone else, would derive (in that case), the Morse Code you see… so right away, I cannot reproduce your work, so #1 is not fulfilled for me.

      If experience is any guide, and if I am correct in assuming that to get as far as you and all the others believe you have come, you will, of course, think I am entirely wrong, and simple have not read enough about it, or misunderstood the proposal, or don’t have the proper background. But I would only answer, should that be the case, that… in my case at least… you would have to show me how you fulfill my two requirements in the “Friedman Test” above, and of course, if you did that, I would be glad to agree you are correct.

      But as I said, I have not seen any of the Morse code, or other evidence you suggest is there, so I believe that it has already failed number 1, and so, that is my personal conclusion: You are on the wrong track here, your ideas are incorrect.

  4. john sanders Says:

    We might wonder “What hath Thomas O’Neil wrought”, upon the Voynich Intelligencia team over yonder, all of whom can be seen now sharpening swords for a turn at stabbing the bearer of bad 1421 tidings in the back. Perhaps they might be mindful of uncle Sam’s Morse’s own fraternal Yale links as well. Me thinks those pointed swords may in time need to serve another more painful purpose for detractors such as they. And Rich, you might do well to back pedal a little on your own allbeit polite negativity; As the old chinese proverb goes “My enemy’s enemy can be my brother enemy after all”…

    • proto57 Says:

      Well John it does not matter to me one whit whether or not an idea supports or detracts from my own ideas, what I matters to me is the value of the idea itself. Plenty of people support the modern forgery theories in one form or another, but I don’t automatically support them, even if it would be politically expedient.

      I want to know the idea, the basis of it, and in Thomas’s case, I see no basis.

      I have many such examples. Famously, there was a group in Italy, pretty well known, who came to me because they had published a book. They were trying to convince me that they knew of a letter by Wilfrid, in which he confessed to having forged the Voynich Manuscript. They offered to show it to me, if I came back to Italy. Of course I explored the possibility, and asked if an Italian friend could see it, and they refused.

      Is there a letter? I very much doubt it. But it would have been VERY easy for me to embrace these people, and tout the letter in my blog and writings, based on their firm assurances it existed. It would probably have convinced many. But I don’t give a crap, because their story fell apart, and I didn’t trust it, or them.

      This is a mistake often made. This is not a game to me, or politics, are some sort of contest. It is assumed… charged, really… that I, and others, are in this for those reasons, and that I must be so motivated, and will say and do whatever to “win” the “contest”.

      Which is ridiculous. I can’t speak for others, and I do trust your motivations, and, for that matter, Thomas’s, and many others… but not everyone’s. And whether or not anyone chooses to believe me is something I can’t do anything about… but as always, I only want to know the truth of the matter here, whatever it is. And so, if I thought there was any Morse in the Voynich, whether or not it supports or detracts from my own ideas, I would be equally excited to know about it.

      But there isn’t, in my opinion, so I cannot support the idea.

  5. john sanders Says:

    I couldn’t agree more Rich, but they, whoever ‘they’ may be, should be given a fair go to promote genuinely considered points of view whether right or wrong. If such be the case, it may at the end of the day, have merely provided enough rope etc and so be it. I am neither a supporter or detractor of Tom’s latest effort, though I do admire his tenacity and am quite satisfied that he believes he has a viable solution through his Morse key. Let’s not forget that one of Wilfred’s biggest lies was in his response to Miss Rickart’s query in 1917, that he knew nothing about ciphers, relying on opinion of Continental experts. Enough said on that, though if pressed I could add plenty more. Those so called scholarly detractors and bottom feeders are always out there with opinionated negative comments pertaining to others flaws, though always notably deficient in any ideas their own, so far as I can make out.

    • proto57 Says:

      Well yes, the phrase that jumps to mind, with all the really nasty responses to anything other than “old and genuine”, which I’ve seen and also weathered for a good decade plus, is,

      “What are they so afraid of?” I mean, if “they” are all correct, then it should not be a problem… because they would truly believe it is possible to one day prove their case.

      I think the negativity is a pretty good sign of frustration in NOT being able to come close to showing the Voynich to be the thing fervently projected: A 1420 (-ish) Genuine Northern European Cipher Herbal. It is really… and honestly I’m sometime embarrassed how long and how far I was led down that Primrose Path… it is really nothing like anything real, from that time, or any other. I think the only way for others to defend it IS with the “long knives”.

      I could tell you stories, too… perhaps I’ll have a chance sometime.

      “… one of Wilfred’s biggest lies was in his response to Miss Rickart’s query in 1917, that he knew nothing about ciphers, relying on opinion of Continental experts.”

      Yes he always “knew nothing”, make fawning sheepish wrong guesses, and hoped the experts could please please please “correct” him on this or that… then, of course, the expert’s “correction” would end up in his catalog. The “Boy Sketch” from the Valturious; the Columbus forgery; the Magellan Map “guess” to Hadshrin; the supposed “Giotti” miniatures on the Lives of the Martyrs; all just like the ridiculous “Topence” guess…


      Filling in between the lines… just speculation, of course… I would imagine he tugged and prodded poor Newbold along, until the unfortunate man was pretty much a puppet of Wilfrid’s, spouting all the Bacon nonsense for him… “Romaine, don’t you think this looks like a nebula?”.

  6. john sanders Says:

    One thing that really grates with me is a particilar detractor’s constant use of cute, know it all comparitive phrasiology to shoot down the merits of another’s well considered subjective opinions. The only thing more sickening that comes to mind, is the usual responding LOL… replies from his fawning disciples. Of course us good guys are live without sin.

  7. john sanders Says:

    Not mere frustration, more like desperation and attempts to distract; when a couple of the dome’s disciples, in horror cry foul & fraudulent misrepresentation against poor honest Tom O’Neil, for admitted past errors in his ill considered mistaken VM encryptions. Both agrieved scholars demand retraction, ceasure of unsold publications and reimbursement of any benefits obtained through his most audatious swindle. Not content with that, they demand that he retract present claims that Wilfred Voynich was not the honest man he perported to be.

    We might hope that, following timely admonishment and calm intervention by their site’s single voice of reason, that the chief antagonists might see the folly in continuing accusations of Tom’s alleged impropriety. For him to be be called a fraud, then perhaps others closer to their own 1421 base might also need sanctioning over their own like mistakes. Not to suggest any willful exploitation of gullible types, eager to hand over ridiculous sums to gain essential knowledge of mysteries attached to the Voynich Curse.

  8. Thomas E. O'Neil Says:

    Hi Rich and John,

    I just read all this and decided to post a rebuttal with evidence for Rich. I’m glad for John at-least he has opened his mind for this possibility of Morse Code as a Wilfrid Cipher to MS-408.

  9. proto57 Says:

    Hi Thomas: I look forward to watching your video. But first I want to address this:

    “I’m glad for John at-least he has opened his mind for this possibility of Morse Code as a Wilfrid Cipher to MS-408.”

    The only reason you hear from me at all is precisely because I AM open minded. All those many hundreds of people you never hear from are the close minded ones who will not consider your ideas enough to review and comment on them.

    Also, what makes you think that I am NOT open minded to the possibility of Morse Code in the Voynich? Because I do not believe you have found any, yourself? That is a wrong assumption. I am very open to the idea of there being many other codes, ciphers, stenography, and any and everything under the sun… in fact it was part of the theme of my talk before the NSA Historical Cipher Symposium two years ago, that people SHOULD look for and be ready for, and yes, OPEN to the idea that there may be many other types of hidden information in the Voynich.

    But because I do not agree with your observations, the things you think are there, I am therefore not open minded to them? Of course that is not correct… I am about the most open-minded of investigators out there, ready to spend my private time with a great many ideas, and review them, and give my feedback and opinion on them… and yes, hoping someone has something correct and valuable. But that is unfortunately one of the many ways in which my rejection of concepts is taken:

    – I must be closed to the idea
    – I can’t know enough about the subject (code, linguistics, whatever)
    – I don’t want the proposer to be right
    – I don’t want the Voynich solved
    – I don’t like the person
    – I’m not smart enough
    – I’m not a critical thinker

    The problem is, for the proposer, if they cannot accept criticism as valid, and then either explain why the critic is wrong, or adjust their method to fix the problems… but instead, assume one or more things from the list, above, as the REAL reason they do not agree…

    … the proposer will be stuck in a loop, always thinking they are right, the world is wrong, and nothing will ever change.

    And I point out that you didn’t either read or respond to my suggestion, above, that to convince me, or anyone, you have found something, that you meet the two critirea for success:

    1) Repeatability
    2) Meaning

    … at the same time. If you can do that… and as I said, I don’t think you can, because I already do not see the morse code you see… but if you can convince me you can do both, and show me that, then you have succeeded. Can you?

    If I sound annoyed, I can’t apologize. Perhaps I am a bit jaded, but this pattern repeats over and over and over and over…

    1) Someone anxiously suggests a “solution”
    2) Silence from the Voynich world
    3) So I break my back, spend my time, and with patience and respect, look the idea over
    4) The idea is totally wrong, demonstrably, fantastically even, wrong, and I patiently and politily and incontrovertably show WHY it is wrong…
    5) And then I am told I am just close minded, or ignorant, or mean, or biased, or or or or…

    So forgive me or not, but this is just another case, one of many. This same story is pretty tiring, really, especially in it’s almost perfect predictability.

    Now, as frustrated as I am, I am going to watch your video, and keep an open mind, because despite your thinking otherwise, that is EXACTLY what I am… even, now.

    • proto57 Says:

      OK Thomas… I watched the video, there is nothing in it I find convincing in any way, I’m sorry.

      1- Your system… from what I understand of it, is so full of speculative variables, that there is no way any two people would come close to arriving at the same conclusions you have. That is, it is not at all repeatable. So it fails the Friedman test, right there.

      2- On top of that… not that this part, in itself, matters… but you also don’t explain why you choose the words in Italian that you do choose. In other words, you give no reason for the words to be these words, your words, any more than any other words, in any other language. Yes, in one case you try and show how the plant is like a marijuana plant… but it looks far less like one than even some other plants, which also look little like one… so it seems you are trying to fit your plant to the word you found, and we don’t know why you chose that word to begin with.

      3- Then you are counting the Morse patterns to get the type or length of these words? Not clear why, again, but this is purely speculative… in fact, “speculative” does not even cover the situation here… they are chosen with no speculation, it seems, simply inserted. Speculation has some seed, some core, of reason to speculate on, as I understand it… you say, “.. take a translation of a Voynich “vord”, and add up all the equivilant dots and dashes, to get a total of dots and dashes. What we are doing is searching for an anagram word, that fits, in Italian, that total. Now, some would say it is ‘subjective’. I would say it’s half logic, and [ummm] a little subjective”. I am sorry, but I don’t see any logic in this, at all.

      4- Your results… the comparisons you show, between the Voynich words, and the Morse and Italian equivalents, actually show a great deal of variability to the choices for Voynich characters… a VMs “9” can be an “a” or an “s”, a VMs “o” can be several letters, and so on… there is more variability here…

      5- Anagrams: I is inaccurate to say I am “against” anagrams… only that they have a VERY limited use, in a very small scale, to be at all useful. They are almost NEVER used to encode information that one wants to be read by others, for this reason. The usual purpose is… again, in a very small sampling, with few letters… to hide information, so that later, the writer can prove prior knowledge or invention of something… point back to it, and say, “I thought of that first”. An example of this is Roger Bacon using an anagram of the formula for gunpowder… and Galileo used a short passage, as I remember, to prove first discover of some celestial event. But you needed the person to decode it, one, and two, it had to be very short. Past a few characters, certainly long before the length of a Voynich sentence, let alone page or the entire work, anagrams are far less than useful, as they would be totally irretrievable. And your defense of their use is not valid, “… it has to be in anagrams, because it has never been solved”. No, there are many other reasons it may not have been solved… many possible codes, stenography, languages… gibberish, too… in fact, anagrams, as they are not used like this, would not be useful like this, would arguable NOT be on the list for reasons the VMs has not been solved, let alone the only reason they were used.

      I could go on and on, Thomas… and again, you strike me as a nice, well meaning guy… but I am done here, you need to find someone else to try and convince, because all you have done with your rebuttal is further convince me… assure me, prove to me… that you do not have any solution, of any kind, at all.

      All the best, Rich.

  10. Thomas E. O'Neil Says:

    Dear Rich SantoColoma,

    You have spent your life investigating the Voynich Manuscript or the better part of it which I feel the same about my investigations; while you focused on providence I focused on the text, yet I’m not quite sure how much time you invested to decode this MS-408. So going on about valuable time I understand and don’t. We are truth seekers and I believe in your work as I understand it, that does not necessitate acceptance too mine. Yet this is a historical and pivotal decision for you here and I sense some angst. Let me clear it up in simple terms and explanations.

    First off, vord cutoffs next to images; have you ever noticed that most of the vords do not overlap the images? If upon inspection you notice the glyphs, you can see a correlation to my cipher, where gallows are used or a glyph which represents many dot and dashes is inserted to complete the vord. To me this is comprehensible due to the fact Voynich wished not to mess up the drawings! Secondly, Friedman’s little anagram was figured out like he suspected yet very difficult to do as he stated. This is in, “Elegant Enigma”, 6.5 William Friedman. Thirdly Rich, a minor suggestion and excuse me if I sound presumptuous, the past as far as William Friedman, Newbold and Tilman did not utilize the speed of computers we have today or if some of them even had access to one. Just because they failed does not imply I have! Friedman’s mantra and yours about repeatability is a little sickening don’t you think when it’s in anagrams, however the key with my cipher adds some stability to it.

    Simply put I could go on like the vords fail all frequency tests for known languages except there is a variety of vords throughout the text! It behaves like a language which indicates my method, because of different values the glyphs have to represent to obtain Italian words to form a narrative. Also sometimes you will see three vords or four in a row. Being that this cipher is in anagram format with a stable key, however perhaps that particular vord fits say ten Italian words which Wilfrid could string into a coherent sentence yet not perfectly though. He knew Italian albeit he did not know languages that well, but he was known to know a little of about 18 of them.
    Every decryption system has failed to produce a narrative except mine. Do you know for a fact that the Voynich Manuscript is not in anagram format? What if it is like my cipher suggests in anagrams? Then can you come up with a better solution? Look closely at what I call the Rosetta stone in the Voynich Manuscript’s Folio 77r section a dead center top for the empty pipe which represents Aria as in Air which some have related as the alchemy section. Look at it under a microscope and you will see the feint letters, “weird square A” and “ria”!
    .- .-. .. .- , See my cipher for dots dashes totals to explore (otol).
    Furthermore, how do you know if Wilfrid even cared to read back the document at any passage with 100% accuracy? At the time he had no computer to aid him in anagram Italian recovery. He wanted money and fame not to read a document back. I surmise most of it was on his mind all the time and so a decryption for the important vords he knew by heart. The glyphs (o,9,a and c) were for primarily for speed in his cipher whereas the (&) glyph gallows and its brother were for nearing margins and drawings.

    What you are looking at? My Morse Code to Voynich vords applied to Italian is a variable cipher. I believe if you cannot accept this possibility and not follow up then you are definitely shutting yourself up to this solution. That is closed minded in IMHO.

    Here is a step by step procedure to my method.

    a) Sum up the glyphs as dots and dashes from a vord using the cipher which I have provided.

    b) Next using the python code I provided input Morse code until the total dots and dashes are used up. This is complicated, press enter to see Italian output or simply use an anagram engine and remember the Italian word has to retain the exact sum of of dots and dashes to the vord!

    c) Retry it if it does not fit a narrative which maybe somewhat disjointed by Academia standards.

    End of Rebuttal to Rich
    Take care, friend and big thanks for your time.

  11. john sanders Says:

    We note refeference once again to William Friedman’s foolproof test for assessing viability of Tom’s morse code decryption methodology, which seems to have failed miserably once more; but is however doing a fair job scaring the pants off one of the resident debunkers over yonder….Does anyone know whether Herb Yardley, Bill’s much much maligned US Army decrypt pedecessor and lifelong nemisis, had any connections to Wilfred Voynich prior to his New York arrival in 1914. They may have been introduced by MI8 team member, John Manly, who had sought help with decoding as is revealed in the VM FBI file. The office was in mid town NY near to where Wilfred lived in E42 and it is known that Herb’s ‘girl friday’ was of Geman origins like Wilfrid’s own Ann Nhill and who had like talents for transliteration of shorthand (no mean skill). Perhaps they had even met in London around 1912 when the latter was sent over by the US Postal Service to learn the ropes on revised international Morse/radio transmission technique. Yardley had been taught Morse by his father, a railway keyman and he took up the profession aged 16, along with a lifelong affair with straight poker win chance percentages and loose oriental women with no win chance at all…

  12. john sanders Says:

    Getting away a little from the Morse thread, though still concerning times and places including a little factual repetition that may have gone unoticed earlier. My original suspects for the VM artwork, unbeknown to me previously, all from one Voynich related family, had occasion to visit the US, one for work in 1912 and another (more likely two) in 1915 for pleasure, the latter two? at a time when travel between Britain and The States would have to be considered a threat to safety due to the war. I’m thinking that perhaps the visits were made in order to make certain adjustments deemed essential to maintain initiative for the manuscript’s continued claims of bringing home the bacon so to speak. There is absolute documentary and artistic proof on both counts.

  13. Thomas E. O'Neil Says:

    Hi John,

    It seems to me that there is hardly much info out there on the net online regarding Wilfrid Voynich. Am I wrong or do you know of other sites besides here and this site.


  14. john sanders Says:

    Hey Tom,

    Am enjoying your input immensely for reasons untelated to your new work, which I commend anyway…I can’t really help much with friend Wilfrid’s lesser known bio, if that’s part of what you happen to be interested in. We could say that his Wiki nominated Telsiai (Lith.) origins may just as well be substituted for Wojnicz (Pol.) and that the more bookish Estreicher name might have been more suited to his chosen vocation than Habdak. As for a chance meeting with Ethel, his mysterious black robed future bride (marriage of convenience) looking out a slit widow in Warsaw Citadel (32 acres)..Where did they dig this bunkum up; I’m thinking either that old conman Bill the Yid or perhaps ‘The Brig’ himself who knew all the players in blighty.

    In all seriousnous though, I’m betting that our certified pharmacist cum bibliograher had been forcably signed up by Sid Reilly’s boss Bill Mellville, then gifted to Smith-Cumming SIS for overseas espionage work. Upon declaration of war in 1914, Fred would have landed on Reg ‘Blinker’ Hall’s lap and given special liason duty, with a credable cover vocation (plus suitable sale goods) in America. Setting up good contacts with the newly formed MI 8 cipher team in NY, led by friends more suited to dealing with British Admiralty agents than the antiwar pussycats in Wilson’s Washington DC. Then he would have had his nephew George down Mexico way in a secure Morse loop to Sessa from his own post office.. See Mr. ‘H’ Zimmerman Telegram.

  15. john sanders Says:

    AND Thomas: During those same heady days, at times interrupted, between August 1914 and mid 1919 (Bolshie extension), Fred’s mate, the Ace himself Sid Reilly was doing his own thing in New York City arranging clandestine arms shipments to various destinations for the hun. However, Sids work was for Smith Cumming’s SIS and Whitehall, totally at odds with our boyo’s eavesdropper pals from Room 40, so he was not likely to have been in Wilfred’s safe Sessa morse key loop. This stopped on ‘Blinker’ Hall’s desk at Admiralty, where Churchill had a different set of priorities for winning the war. It would be quite interesting to know whether all these Big Apple opperatives (on all sides), working in close proximity ever got together for ‘poker nights’ with their beligerent counterparts. Folks like HerbYardley, Ralph Van Dem, Marlborough-Curchill, Franz Von Rintelen (Manhatten Hotel) and the double dealing Bill Friedman. All quite prepared to fold on winning hands, rather than show their best cards I’d wager.

  16. Thomas E. O'Neil Says:

    Thanks John,

    Your writing contains wit and humor lol. I wish to know more about this mysterious circle of Wilfrid’s friends. Do you think Wilfrid hoaxed the manuscript himself or with a group of people. I believe he did it himself. Why are so many people falling for this manuscript to be a 15th century document and turn a blind to the fact that it’s a 20th century document? John Wilfrid’s chemist abilities had to be used while constructing the Voynich Manuscript. I suggest the missing pages perhaps held either to many clues to Morse code or mistakes. What are your thoughts?

  17. john sanders Says:


    Of course our knowledge of Wilfrid’s life up until around 1895 or so is subject to a good deal of hearsay and misinformation, likely to have been put out to satisfy a need for some background of the man long after his passing in 1930. It would also satisfy a need to conceal the true nature of his earlier clandestine activities by covering an onset of renewed academic interest in the Voynich Manuscript. My belief is that he may well have been the link between certain secret back door operations in support of the allies, but without need for direct government approval or apparent knowledge of the dirty detail. His main task was likely to collect and relay coded telegraphic cable information through a pair of most reliable confidants in the form of British born, impecably credentialled brothers based in Mexico City and Illinois; The full and substantial operating costs possibly coming out of Wilfrid’s most unlikely non existent wartime book sales and a little help from British Admiralty slush funding.

    George and Sebastian, adult sons of Mary Boole & Charles Hinton (decd.) just so happened to be Wilfrid’s favorite nephews on his wife’s side of the family. They had migrated in the 1890’s after a time in Japan, one eventually becoming a mining engineer in Mexico, his younger brother a patent attorney in Chicago We note that Ethel (Lily) Voynich had remained in England all throughout the long war years, only joining her husband sometime after 1920. Presumably she had stayed behind to run the essential GB secure Sessa cable link to the Americas, under cover of running the (not so) busy F.U.B.L. London book store and undertaking partime duties for Red Cross to prove her loyalty. In short, my theory proposes a Boole family involvement in the initial VM hoax, where a logic based non intrusive code was hatily converted from it’s original purpose of a personal rebuke against perceived scholastic snobbery, to help win the war, which as things panned out, seems to have been achieved Admirally

  18. john sanders Says:

    Whilst neither contrived or intended, for I have not done much recent research of the so called FBI file; most of those people giving their support to Wilfred therein, and to whom I have per chance recently referred, just happen to get a mention. They include a well heeled Edith Richert and John Manly, whose sister quite off handedly adds great weight to claims that our man was more than just a part time player in maverick Herb Yardley’s MI8 team …It may also come to pass, that the name Wilfred Voynich will one day be connected with convincing the Yanks to get ‘over there’ in April ’17 and help to ensure an allied victory against the axis forces in ‘a war to end all wars’, but not so long as the truth is concealed in the papers of Bill Friedman and others of his ilk.

  19. john sanders Says:

    My oh my Thomas, what wrath have thy wrought in His name?.All those ratty intellectual snobs, to which Mary Boole took umbrige to and pledged her Voynich curse upon, have turned their ungrateful spite upon you the ‘umble messenger begad. Who do you can think will crack first man?. I’d say it’s a toss up between those belligerant native German speakers; nothing to do with their grandad’s most exemplary war record of course.

  20. john sanders Says:

    We couldn’t help but note the barbed quasi comedy digs made at Rich’s expence by a former esteemed commenter; stuff about time travel machines and unattributable (not I) pangolin jibes etc. Just the sort of pathetic humorless attempt at mirth, in endeavor to get back in withthe equally unfunny and condescending 1404-38 (1465-80) Euro geeks (usual apologies svp).

  21. john sanders Says:

    I guess it’s worthwhile mentioning from the FBI file, that a renowned Chicago avangelist, confidant to Washington law makers and long time Voynich customer, gave his approval for issuance of a post war US re-entry visa for Wilfrid. Frank Cunsaulus told a BI Agent that he had often warned his friend that in helping the U.S. Army to identify Chicago/Mexican based German cross border spies, by overplaying preferential patriotic fervour, his business could face ruin. Needless to say Sessa business did suffer, though this may simply have been due to Binkers Hall of Rm 40 turning him loose after their double sting Zimmerman Telegram ‘interception’ in Mexico City; not about security concerns, nor him appearing to display a worrying degree of American favouritism.

  22. john sanders Says:

    Ger Hungerink,

    Lucky for you my man, that your story telling grandfather liked sex. Just for interest sake, are we talking gramps in a maternal or paternal sense; could make a difference to your secondary address entitlement. Wouldn’t do to have good folks like Thomas eg. refering to you as a jokular old basket, now would it?..js

  23. john sanders Says:

    Another bouncer that may have gotten through the wicket keeper or catcher (U.S.), with regard to passed over facts from mere cursory perusal of Wilfrid’s FBI file: Reveals that, in an aside off the cuff remark made by him to, non accusory questioning by the inqiring agent determining his background and bonifides, threat etc., he mentioned five nephews that were patriotically serving England in her war against the Hun. Let’s see if that pronouncement holds water for the unidentified relatives in question, original decendents of later renowned mathemation George Boole and equally talanted Mary Everest.

    Julian Taylor, son of Edward and Margaret Taylor (Boole) was already a qualified surgeon by 1914 at which time he was commissioned into the Royal Army Medical Corps as an humble ambulance driver/attendant. He served in the desert and France at the front no doubt and was decorated for his efforts at war’s end. In WW2 he was senior medical surgeon in Changi Prison, Singapore where he was inturned, performing inovative neuro surgery in primitive conditions. He dabled in the arts, like other members of his family and attended frequent artist camps in Italy in his formative years.

    Leonard Stott, son of Walter and Alicia Boole Stott also became a medical doctor specialising in war caused communicatable diseases, primarily tuberculosis, primarily serving with the International Red Cross in a quasi military designated capacity as specialist physician and overall hospital district administrator with regard to treatment and eventual re-habilitation of TB and influeza afflicted British and Commonwealth soldiers evacuated from the front. I can’t find information of his own presence at the front, though we might give him credit for doing his bit as uncle Wilfrid claimed.

    Geoffrey Taylor, another son of Edward and Margaret was already a renowed physacist and wave theorist at war’s outbreak, having been on government service to Amerca on at least one occasion around 1912. During hostilities he worked at Farnsworth RAF on aircraft wing avionics and also wave theory which may have taken him back to America for liason. His mother once an art student and father, a renowned mixed media landscape and botanical artist, were known to have been in New York about the time of Wilfred’s arrival in 1914. It can leastways be confirmed that dad was in New Jersey in 1915.

    Sebastian Hinton, second son of Charles and Mary Ellen (Boole) was married with children and working as a lawyer in Chicago in 1917. He apparently registered for service with a Provost Corps National Guard unit, though details are scanty. Being a British citizen and having travelled extensively, with family connections in Mexico, he would have been an assett to Room 40 operations from 1914. Poor chap suicided in 1923, as did his mother Mary following Charles Hintons untimely demise in 1907 or thereabouts. Chuck had been a science fiction writer, inventor, polymath, 4D theorist.

    George Hinton, oldest son of Charles and Helen had become a mine engineer in Mexico around 1903 and later an industrialist. In 1915 following raids by Pancho Villa against government supporting U.S.mine owner like himself were executed, Mr. ‘H’ took an office near Mexico City G.P.O. Having familiarity with Morse key telegrapics and a will to serve, he must thereby have engaged in surrogate contact with his Room 40 designate handler in New York. He was a selt taught botanist, plant collector and in later life, the authority on Central American flora.

    So there we have it, Wilfred’s nephews all prepared to serve jolly old England in her time of need in any capacity to which they may be called. Doing their utmost to thwart efforts by a determined foe and it’s abetors, to undermine British dominance and standing in the international powerplay game…Will we ever know if Voynich and his mystery manuscript played a role in America’s reluctant mobilisation and ultimately it’s more than fair share of the victory spoils. If it can be validated as a consequence of our input, both his patriotic acts and those of his Boole relatives will have served old Mary’s desires.

  24. Thomas E. O'Neil Says:

    @Rich & John,

    I don’t know if any of you guys are interested, but I completed the decryption process for f16r. You may like the read.

    • proto57 Says:

      Hi Thomas: I appreciate your patience, and input. I’m glad to give you a chance so that your work can be seen by others.

      As for me, I still am of the same opinion about it: That you don’t have a solution here, and for many of the same reasons that I have already outlined to you.

      But that aside… as you know, Voynich researchers rarely agree, and for that matter, no translations have ever been accepted by more than one or two people… but those realities aside, we are among a rapidly increasing number of people who are quite aware that the Voynich is NOTHING like what the mainstream paradigm has long, and vehemently, insisted it is. And it is clear to me that the answer is outside of that crumbling paradigm… so I think you are one of a large group of people who finally get that, and are therefore at least looking in the right place and time.

      I’m sure more will join us, so they can stop this spinning endlessly in the paradigm, where over a 100 years of effort has borne NO fruit… and, in my opinion, logically can never do so.

  25. john sanders Says:


    Much obliged for keeping us informed and trust that you are well satisfied with Wilfrid’s translation thus far…You may also have cause to be pleased with news from the symposium at Villa Mondragone, which does not give the troubled c1421 theorists any reason for cheer; Whilst advocates of the alternate Voynich era might be well satisfied with increasing hints of doubt on popular belief of medieval providence, as against the alternate possibility of a 19th century justification based on evidence, not fancy.

  26. john sanders Says:

    …and our resergence in the VM ratings is perhaps Providence based on only a single provenance

  27. Thomas E. O'Neil Says:

    That should ease everyone’s mind.

    Try to imagine that the glyphs don’t really exist as a language on their own, they are just an amount of mixed dashes & dots until an Italian word is applied to that vord. The cipher never changes as it is now established as bullet proof!

    For example a voynich “ror” is in this current state ..—…— totaling six dashes & five dots. Thus santo could be formed from this set of six dashes & five dots. “Santo” equals … .- -. – — which translates to “Holy”

    For instance a Voynich 8 equals —-. or it can be in this order –.– or this order -.— and this is in abstract Morse code not Morse Code at the moment. Yet then since this is only one glyph which does appear on it own it translates to this Morse Code. -. — which equals “no” and its the same for Italian.

    Add up the total dashes & dots from the glyph’s and apply it to an Italian word equal to the dashes & dots of that word, or rarely an English word.

    Find an Italian word that equals the total of dashes & dots, apply to Italian word.

    This is like anagrams however less words are found due to the dash & dot total key!

  28. john sanders Says:


    Can’t say I find your decrypts as easy as the sixth grade, which I managed OK, although I must have been away on the day of Morse code instruction…I’m still pretty confident that I’ve played some small part towards fullfilment with my f80r left marginal modern obstretic calipers, which are undeniable proof of post medieval VM dating. I’m also happy with the F.U.B.L. figure layout on f84r which I find personally quite telling, allbeit that it’s disclosure two years ago did not receive rave reviews nor since…You’ll have noted the drop off in posts at other sites such as Ciphermysteries which favors 1421 as a medial year for it’s unique herbal release. Lets hope our resolute Wilfrid denyers are not so resolute when time comes to call it a day.

  29. Thomas E. O'Neil Says:

  30. john sanders Says:

    Capacious camp indeed Nick Pelling, though not capacious enough for you and your ‘ants’ to crawl into for succou when Tony Averlino’s castle wall comes a tumblin down. You talk about poor Stephen as if he had it coming, continuing to call him Bax withour any respect whatsoever.. Perhaps he did see the end coming for all the VM traditionalists and simply determined that his pride would not allow him to live with the shame of being so wrong.

  31. john sanders Says:

    We can agree with Aga that Prof.Touwaides suggestion that VM is indeed a creation from the past but most likely not from the medieval timeis, which Pelling anors through obstinance can’t grasp. She is seamingly leaning towardss a revenge theory, as I for one also favour, but alas 19th century as opposed to her 16th which is a large gap. There can be no doubting in my mind concerning Baudelcques 1789 patent obstetric pelvimiter device on F80r, complete with it’s graduated stick gauge clearly visible and true to the original design concept for the period. Forget all about 16th century delivery forceps or ice block holders that some have referred to as being mere aberrations and therefore irrellevant. I’d implore any doubter to compare the original French doctor’s version when making up their own minds upon close scrutiny. I’ve never been more wholeheartedly convinced that this little gem will prove to be the straw that breaks the 1421 camel’s back. NB: Note that Marie Boivin and others made improvements in the 19th century which bare marked similarity to the VM version, but the original patent year should stand.

  32. Thomas E. O'Neil Says:

    Hey John, wonderful identification for the obstetric pelvimiter! It just goes to show how I can miss things over the years while viewing the manuscript. This is a real gem which would indicate a modern forgery. I wonder if you are a Doctor? 🙂

  33. Thomas E. O'Neil Says:

    “You talk about poor Stephen as if he had it coming, continuing to call him Bax with out any respect whatsoever.. Perhaps he did see the end coming for all the VM traditionalists and simply determined that his pride would not allow him to live with the shame of being so wrong.”

    John I never mention Bax in this regard. Maybe you are confusing this statement with me when Pelling said this. I don’t know how Bax died? I do agree his methods for decoding the VMS where wrong however!

  34. john sanders Says:

    Thomas, no of course I wasn’t referring to you when mentioning Pelling’s intemperate knocking of Stephen Bax since his passing, without any qualms or thought for his greiving young family. Like you, I also don’t know details except that it was sudden, but no matter what we may have thought of his VM contribution, he nonetheless deserves due credit for his effort. Sorry no medical folks in my family, apart perhaps from forbears who once concocted potions in Samoa during Robert Louis Stevenson’s time there with his American wife in the late 18th century.

    Very happy that you took the trouble to check out the pelvimiter, design of which remained relatively unchanged for 100 some odd years, therefore not out of place in the manuscript of 1910 for instance. If you have the time please swing by f84r and tell me if you can make out the nymph FUBL formation in the bottom pool which is better read in monochrome. Two things to mention are that the U bottom arm depicted on the left side was apparently not unknown so it could be distinguished from the more common V of the Baltics.

    Fine Uncirculated Books London
    Focus Under Bucket Lady (feint writing) = F U B L
    Fred’s Unique Books Limited

  35. Thomas E. O'Neil Says:


    The bottom of the red bucket rim, is that what you are referring to on f84r? I do see some numbers like 16, let me check it in a different saturation with Photoshop. It might just be cracks oddly drying as number from the ink.

  36. Thomas E. O'Neil Says:


    I’m looking at the very bottom pool in f84r, maybe you can email it to me. Use snipping tool in Windows 10 under Windows accessories and save as .jpg then in windows paint put an arrow pointing at the area for F.U.B.L


  37. john sanders Says:


    Outside the pool under the red bucket lady’s left foot is a light web scrawl that I originally discovered following FUBL/2 directions above. I’m ashamed to say that my equipment is rather agricultural and my own technical limits are of a similar capacity. It may turn out to be nothing more than benign surface cracks on the velum as you have just suggested, but your initiatives will improve the quality much better than mine. Regards js.

  38. Thomas E. O'Neil Says:

    Under the left foot is just ink bleeding through from the opposite page. Remember the book was very small so you would be talking about extremely small letters here. Sadly there is nothing there to write home about. I wish you were correct.

  39. john sanders Says:

    Thomas, So be it, glad to have your input for a not unexpected resolution to a vexing problem of identification on my part.

  40. john sanders Says:

    It seems that with the mere trickle of comments at CM these days, only two frustrated squabblers, whom the stymied mediator has left to bare the weight of expert opinion re post Palace d’Mondragone medieval era’s sudden decline in popularity, have now shifted to a full on VM plant identification safe zone that to all intents might remain ostensibly age neutral..Don’t bet on it; The former diehard once allied predominantly glyph experts, not now satisfied with their additional gifts for otherwise unidentifiable plant species plus their incumbent herbal properties, now can’t seem to agree on whether eg. A certain variety if stink weed or other was more at home in Lower Saxony or the Sinai desert regions. All would be fine if the pair of undoubted scholars could only keep from alluding to the impossible 1421 time frame in their petty bickering. NB: It’s this class of self promoting pompous buffoonery that the Boole family would have had in mind when considering a means to punish them in perpetuity; Then along came Wilfred !

  41. john sanders Says:

    J.K. Petersen might do well to look to the left, look to the right, then left once more, then give us a count on how many of his faithful to the cause, ie. medieval milieu VM researchers he sees out there. If the answer be few or none, then if I were he, I’d be making like the proverbial pigeons and fluttering off to better pastures ala nasty Nick, with respect.

  42. john sanders Says:

    Rich: Your most polite and patently patient attempts at reasoning with some sad disillusioned souls, who view their intransigence and argumentive discourse as a symbol of rightful intellectual superiority. Folks like that would see it as a just right to ascendency over less gifted underdeveloped and undeserving troglodytes such as we mere forms of petty existence. Whilst most would agree that your gallant attempts at passivie persuasion are indeed admirable, some would caution that they are unlikely to bare fruit at all. The typical case in question, whilst not untreatable, does present certain dire sympyoms somewhat akin to delirum tremons. We can only hope that in your most recent circa.1910 VM denial case under review, the condition will pass with bed rest, electrolytic replenishment fluids and therapy derived from late Victorian or Edwardian terms of endearment.

    • proto57 Says:

      Hi John: Sorry it took so long for me to respond.

      I don’t think everyone comes under the category of “disillusioned”, and while it is possible I am, also, as many charge, I doubt it less and less. As for why people still believe this is a real, 1420ish European Cipher Herbal, I think the reasons are varied… one or more of these:

      1) Heavily invested: I don’t agree this should be a factor, and I would, and will, change my position in an instant (as I have done before) if there is any good reason discovered to do so. But I think there are those who have cemented their trust in the reality of this work for so long, on the web, in print, and they therefore feel it is a part of them, tied to who they are. More importantly, tied to their reputations, outside of the VMs. And so, even if they ever were to fully realize this is just a poor fake, to admit that, would mean to admit that they missed it, that they were fooled, and it would be seen as a reflection of innate poor judgement.

      2) “Never be solved”: Whether or not the people in #1 finally have doubts about their position, there is probably a hope that the thing will never be translated, or otherwise identified and solved in some way. And then, if they realize it is actually fake, that is what they can hope for. So it is a two edged sword: If it is promoted as genuine, as visibly as possible, and if the problems with the work that show it to be fake are ignored, dismissed, left unanswered, falsely claimed to be no problems in the first place, then that helps keep the thing in the vicious limbo it is in. Because if it is fake, but you keep investigators away from knowing this, if none of the right tests are done, the right information released, to know this, then it is “safe”… stuck in a situation that is far less likely to ever be solved, and therefore, nobody in #1 will be proven wrong.

      3) Really believe it is real: There are many really nice, smart, and well meaning people (and maybe some not so nice), who really, strongly believe this is a genuine 1420 “something”. I wonder often at the reasons that anything contrary to that viewpoint are confoundingly dismissed, and I can only guess. But I do see it: Good examples are the armadillo and optics, in which a person will insert a hundred bad comparisons in place of the very things they look most like, which are right in front of them. Or any of the obvious problems with the Vms, or the Marci letter… it is like a virtual “head turning away”, they simply don’t want to see it the problems with these things, but will gobble up some really poor thread of “evidence” like the Carteggio comparisons, Voynich’s “word”, or for a good specific example, the 1903 reference. They will rather hang by a thread, then stand on a mountain, because… well, why?

      4) It is nice as real; but “dirty”, cheap, as forgery: A great many people like the Voynich a great deal, but they would not like it so much if it were, as we believe, simply a sloppy modern hoax. They would hate it. I had very strong feeling of this at the 2014 Voynich talk in D.C., at the Folger Library. The audience was dressed as though they were going to the opera. Everyone looked so elegant, and there was a huge spread of wine and cheese and fruit afterwards, in the middle of a big room surrounded by the rarest of cipher works from history, a copy of a First Edition, and next to that, the Voynich Manuscript itself. These people didn’t dress up to come see and hear about a cheap fake, that has fooled the best experts for more than a century… their predecessors in many cases… they came to see the finest of the fine, a truly exquisite, highly baffling and mysterious cipher work, the cream of the crop, the Mack Daddy of all cipher manuscripts… which they allow to fool them… which they accept is just beyond their understanding, but in a good way. No, they do feel they understand it, on some level, but only as a real object, which represents those reasons the world of scholarship exists in the first place, to understand and solve great problems. This is “the one that gets away”, their Moby Dick. But it has to be real.

      During that talk, one speaker went down the list of theories about the Voynich. When he got to “Wilfrid did it”, he read that off in a mocking tone… and an audible snicker passed through the audience. When I saw all this, and heard this, I really “got it”. This is about knowing, really, not about “not knowing”. All those people, and so many around the web, don’t really think they “don’t know what the Voynich is”, they do, and they like what they know it is: A genuine 1420 European Cipher Herbal. Forgeries are perverse, dirty things, and not “their” Voynich.

      5) Don’t know yet: This I’ve always noted, that many people who strongly believe the 1420 Paradigm about the Voynich simply don’t know the problems with it. I see this all the time, in almost every conversation in person and on the web, and in print in articles and books, and it even goes to the very top: Yale. Over and over and over I hear people say things like, “It would have taken too long to make, not worth it”, or “Where would he have gotten the materials?”, or, “How could Wilfrid predict that Radiocarbon dating would be invented, he picked the right age materials?”, or, “The ink was dated to the 15th century”, or or or or… all those things that are either provably false, or still not known, and usually highly implausible. But those people just don’t know these things.. no, they have not known about them, and dismissed them, they just don’t know the problems, anachronisms, inconsistencies, with the Voynich, its contents, provenance, and test results. They. Just. Don’t. Know. Which was why I wrote “Myths”.

      A related anecdote: I was at the release of the Clemens/Yale book on the Voynich, and had a chance to talk with Mr. Clemens. Now understand, I was already a great fan of his, and still am. He is a really wonderful man, and brilliant in his field (I point this out, because it has been falsely charged my disagreement with the Yale book is some reflection on the judgement or character of Mr. Clemens.. no, I don’t blame him at all. He has to trust his advisors, he cannot have spent his own life dedicated to the Voynich alone). But I was literally stunned to learn the he knew NOTHING of any opposing argument to the 1420 paradigm, nor any of the known and suspected problems with the work, nor any alternate theories to any degree. I had to be careful talking with him, because of course, much of what I told him being entirely new to him, he could easily think me mad. And right behind me (at that fine wine and cheese, this time in the very Beinecke, by the giant cube… with the Voynich now sitting there, to another page…) was another Voynich disciple, ready to spew some wild alien theory or another. So my hope was that Mr. Clemens would take me seriously enough to at least look at the problems with the work he had just endorsed as real, but really, in the end, it matters not.

      And as an anecdote within and anecdote, I actually brought his other work to this event, a reference I (ironically) often use to show the anomalies in the Voynich, his Introduction to Manuscript Studies, 2008. He graciously signed both this work, and my new copy of the Yale/Voynich book, for me.

      6) Just believe it is real, and 1420: I suppose some of those who a) fully know and study everything Voynich, b) have an open mind, c) don’t care what the Voynich is, real or fake, d) have seen and considered all the anomolies, and still think that the Voynich is some sort of Genuine 1420 European Cipher Herbal, exist. But here it the thing, and this is my overriding point: I have not found them. The people who still proclaim they have not problem with this really awful forgery, and still think it is real, usually come under one or more of the above categories… because you have to have a STRONG DESIRE, to WANT it to be real; you have to IGNORE or DISCARD the huge tattered pile of problems with it; or simply, still no know about those problems; to think that the Voynich is a genuine old work. But of course I suppose that after all that, there may be people who still believe the Voynich to be a genuine 1420 European Cipher Herbal, but I have not yet met them. Well, there is a related exception…

      7) Those who realize it ain’t what they are told to believe it is: There are actually a GREAT many people who realize that the Voynich cannot be what the 1420 Paradigm insists it must be, but they don’t believe it is a modern forgery. There are those who surmise (and, for that matter, long have been those) who believe it is from a later date, because of the obvious anachronisms. Only they might think it a coded scientific treatise from the 19th century, or an astronomical from the 18th. And so on.

      8) Those who realize this is a fake: Last but not least, there are an increasing number of people… dozens that I know of, publicly and privately, understand that a modern forgery, probably by Wilfrid or someone close to him, made this stupid thing. Some of these people were past disciples of genuine 1420, in fact, and some of those, I suspect, disappeared from the scene because they realized this. Either it became unexciting to them, when they realized, or embarrassing, maybe a little of both… maybe something else. It would be like realizing that velvet painting of the dogs playing cards that you hung in a prominent place above your settee, to herald in front of all your guests at your own wine and cheese, for decades.. realizing it was not an unknown Dali after all. Now, what do you do? You quietly put it in a closet in your basement, or better yet, burn it in a leaf pile next fall, and never mention it again. So that probably happens, too, and I have reason to believe, it has.

      Anyway, for anyone who thinks me too smug, or harsh, in my evaluation of the “why” of it, I have to say “get over it”. I have been impugned to no end, my own motivations questioned and even falsely assigned to me, for going on the second decade now, and so all I can say is I have every right to share my honest appraisal of the sorry situation in this field. And also, lest anyone misunderstand: I don’t care one whit if anyone agrees or for that matter, acknowledges when they do, that this is a hoax… we are all responsible for our positions, or words, our opinions, so that is their business, not mine. And if I were the only one who thought all this… as, I was, practically only a few years ago, so be it. For the others, welcome to the light of day.

      • JohnH Says:

        [proto57]: I do appreciate your response on my comment and you are the first to respond to some of the few emails I have sent out and seems you are open minded to a new and possibly the only way to read this book even though it has already been solved by many with made up formulas they can’t even replicate again.
        Respond to my email in private and I can continue with what I have to show you and say about the book , because I have not read much at all about this Vbook I feel that I have not been contaminated by all the nonsense of trying to make a name for myself and be known for something to further my Title in my PHD area ect.
        There is good reason to at least start out in this email way as you will quickly learn why.
        Please reply this is truly an amazing book

      • JohnH Says:

        [proto57] , you almost figured out the large fold out page by making this 3-D.. This is what you have to do .
        123 across the top 456 on the bottom
        fold 456 up to 123 and hold up to the lite and you will see how those pipes line up with what looks like a bucket and the lettering coming out of the bucket is arched so that now it appears like water.
        Next fold 1 onto 2 and the pipes line up with what looks like a walkway then take 3 and fold on top of the already stacked 1,2 and you will see your 3-D as each fold moves over about 1/4 ” from lt. to rt. and on 1 you can see the offset of the center somewhat circle . For the full effect try on some glasses of your choice , you will be amazed at how precision and accurate this becomes. The colors used in this book are green, blue, red and an occasional use of yellow.. #2, 5 have what looks like more words around the edges of the circle but when folded together it will make sense and you will see the words not only make water but also appear as something else .so you can see by this the words are there to create and arched or squiggled to give perspective , the words mean nothing else. I will leave the map and tell you I have read most all of this book and now you have some directions to go .
        The pages are to be taken out to be viewed as page 1 side a and b are one page and so on for the rest of the book , watch the numbers and it will show you how many pages are to be viewed together as one page . pages are to be viewed together through a viewer with the lite of the time which is a flickering candle or a flickering oil lamp, you will see how this works after I open more of this book for you.
        Now that you know how the book is to be viewed through the pages you can find you way through some of this but there are 3 more codes to break even though you may see something in a page there is always more to see in a page. There is much more I can tell you about this book but will only show as I explain this book as it is all visual with no words.
        I can tell you what the symbols or so called words are and other books to reference to along with what the plants mean and why they were used.
        I have stopped in over the years to reference other work that I do in other areas of history and have watched this art evolve from much earlier and disappeared around 1920 . I did not know that there was so much interest in this book until I saw a youtube video with the Librarian and someone else discussing the book so I contacted the library about 2 years ago but the did not have any interest in what I had to say so I went online to look at some of the comments and I could see why they didn’t want to hear from another person who has again deciphered this book. When you view a page after it has been taken out it is to be left in the viewer for reasons that you will see if you have the vision , the pages are filled with much art that seems to change because of the flickering lite , almost holographic , I can tell you how this effect relates to other hidden art. when you get to the section of the book with pages of symbols , hold up to the lite and some numbers will show up. At this point I will stop and continue if there is any response to this and I will tell you this is one of the code books used as a reference to use for underpaintings for many other artists of the time.

      • JohnH Says:

        I have everything you need to wrap this up with a long line of references, photos , and keys to finish the complete book. I have 3 other projects to finish by 2020 , If my spelling and sentencing is a requirement then it is another failed attempt.

      • proto57 Says:

        Hi JohnH: I suspect you have John Sanders and I mixed up, because you write, “… you almost figured out the large fold out page by making this 3-D..”

        I am Rich SantaColoma, the writer of this blog, and also the creator of the Rosettes pages 3D interpretation:

        Mr. Sanders and I share the belief the Voynich is a modern forgery, but we both have different opinions as to who created it, and why. But that being said, about your translations: As I always say to people, I would agree that any translation that can be BOTH:

        1) Repeatable: That someone who only is shown the method of decryption/decoding, will come up with the same results as the proposer of the system.

        2) Has meaning: That the results from #1 have real meaning in some context.

        And as I also often say, there has been no one who has come remotely close to being able to show both of the above. Some have been repeatable, some have had meaning of some kind… but never, ever, both.

        If you are the exception, then of course I would be interested in seeing your work. If you explain your system here, or provide a link to it, and give a block of Voynich text to work it on, that I or others can try, I would take a look at it. And if it passes #1 and #2, above, then you of course have solved the Voynich.


      • JohnH Says:

        Yes Rich, you are the one I can have been trying to reply to.
        I will put something together for you and will be very easy to follow so if I send you information I would not like to be public to start . I am not that savvy on internet stuff.
        I can read the art in this book from start to finish, along with how it has evolved. The book has one author but four different artists.
        Thanks for the reply

  43. john sanders Says:

    Rich: Not that it worries me too much, but perhaps to keeps things nominally in order, it might be just as well to delete JohnH’s two posts directed for my personal attention. Thank you for clearing the matter up at your end, also for outling to him on our general stand re our respective VM accreditation beliefs. js.

    • proto57 Says:

      Hi John S., and JohnH: I edited the posts to be addressed to my screen & blog name, “proto57”, put in brackets to show the edit. I hope that works for everyone.


      • ja hallberg Says:

        Rich, I confirm and agree . JohnH

        On Mon, Nov 18, 2019 at 7:54 AM The 1910 Voynich Theory wrote:

        > proto57 commented: “Hi John S., and JohnH: I edited the posts to be > addressed to my screen & blog name, “proto57″, put in brackets to show the > edit. I hope that works for everyone. Rich.” >

      • ja hallberg Says:

        [image: Screen Shot 2019-09-21 at 8.17.57 AM.png] If you start with most of these small the plants will make more sense as they become focused after all it is a small book to be seen small. The pages have obvious pics of plants and different things on each side

        [image: Screen Shot 2019-09-18 at 6.02.31 PM.png] study this one large and then postage stamp size and you will see how things change. This plant has many things going on with shadow like figures. Its almost like 3 pages to make 1 page . page A has visible art and side B has visible art but when held up to lite there is so much more to see. The middle page middle page is what makes it all come together and I think this could be done by burnishing the surface of the pages which would not show up unless viewed as mentioned.

        [image: 8 & 9 B.jpg] [image: 8 & 9 B again.jpg]

      • proto57 Says:

        Hi: Your images do not show up in the comments… probably a setting or something. If you like, you can email them to me, and I’ll take a look: helio6 (at) hotmail (dot) com.


  44. john sanders Says:

    Any old detective worth his suit and gold badge still with even half reasonable comparison skills, would have no hestitation in putting up f80r and f80v before an impartial jury of 12 honest Voynicheros, to have it decide without prejudice in favour for likely 19th century origins as opposed to anthing pre 18th, let alone 15th century as the Petersens, O’Donovans &c would still have them believe. The odds would be Manhatten to a brick against all odds, considering such telling evidence as scene continuity through modern plumbing fixtures and faucet outlets, nymph attire including stripes, opaque material of a kind not known in medieval times and of course the most unshakeable contrary evidence being the well defined form of Dr.Jean Baudeloques’s compas d’eppaise circa. 1800. Only the most obstinant detractor would dare say that much of this could easilly have been inserted later (Pelling’s pipes), reason being that much of the portrayals fit within the text making additions almost impossible.

    • JohnH Says:

      If you believe that this is circa 1800 then let it be 1800 but the fact is it has not been decoded and the so called map is an amazing 3-D when folded as described , so you are saying this is not true even though all the things are in plain site when viewed as described. DaVinci was already using some of the same methods in his works so that would mean one or the other were trading or borrowing only some of the hidden art methods used in this book.
      What is a honest Voynicheros? If you can see what I have been sending then there is no doubt so how could there be 12 impartial and honest when they cannot even read the book? When shown pics of what is on and what is within the pages it is a simple yes or no of what you see. You do not see any of what I send you to be valid??
      So change the year and we can get on with the decipher.

  45. JohnH Says:

    Sorry John Sanders I did not send you pics I’m still trying to navigate this net stuff.

  46. john sanders Says:

    JohnH still has much better looking Rich and I confused. No matter his sending pics reminds to advise that my residency situation precludes ability to do that or to send links for that matter, much to my frustration. In saying that, folks should find it relatively easy to follow my posts. For instance from my last on f80r/v you can find the device referred to under pelvimiter, compas d’paise or the inventer’s names on wiki; and by the way, note the stick measure device up until later in the 19th century was left unhoused and so can be seen hanging down from the left arm in f80r. To explain the red and white striped garment worn by a nymph above, such brazeness was not deemed appropriate style until at least 1800. Perhaps someone could see fit to do what I’m not able to do with pictures etc.

    • JohnH Says:

      Okay I got it, so it looks much later to you based on your historical knowledge of the viewed items.
      What ever century this is I see this artwork of great value due to its complexities in different ways this art has been put together in plain site for only a few but it you are the page holder you will see much more.
      I will use this information with discretion .
      During the time frame you mentioned this hidden artwork has already been on canvas and paper by many artists,
      Van Gogh is the easiest for someone to read after it is explained and you can see how this has evolved from the 14-15th century but maybe not this book. I am reading the art within and not concerned about the dating of this right now but I was wondering why I didn’t see anything demonic in the book as in the earlier years this art was full of demonic images .
      I don’t have either of your pics on my wall yet.
      Thanks John Sanders

  47. D.N. O'Donovan Says:

    I noticed that in some comments made above, the writers had an impression that for Pelling to speak of the late Stephen Bax just as ‘Bax’ was disrespectful. This isn’t necessarily so at all. In England and in other English language countries it is the custom for university men to refer to fellow scholars using only the surname when speaking in person or in print. Not in formal situations, though, such as introducing a speaker at a colloquium or if mentioning that colleague in speaking directly to students or laymen, but it is not disrespectful for an English historian to speak of an English (or any other) qualified linguist in that way. The fact is that, depending on context, the opposite may be true and someone might speak of Touwaide, Bax and Pelling but use the forename as well as the surname for a layman – in order to quietly underline the last’s lack of qualifications and/or ability. To see this at work, all you need do is read scholarly reviews of scholarly publications.
    (I hope Pelling will excuse my presuming to defend him).

  48. john sanders Says:

    Mark Knowles angst over what Maggie Taylor’s awful untitled depiction on f65r is uncalled for thankfully. In her own notes compiled a half century later, Ethel Voynich listed her sister’s f5v, f36r, f57r plus the queried f65r as geraniums, the other three coming with dialogue to assist any futile decipherment attempts. Thanks to a slip up in moderation, this advice repeats one of similar content aired for a brief period on CMs 18th inst. before the error was detected and it was hastily expunged..

  49. john sanders Says:

    I can’t ever recall any VM technical historian ever having made mention vis. the numerous astronomical drawing details involving circular planetary base forms attesting to the type of instruments used for such precision detail or likely forensic tell tale sugns. That is until Dianne O’Donovan’s confident claim that they were done, not by template, as had been the custom for like diagrams since time immemorial, but by a standard point compass (not disimilar to my pelvimiter device in f80r). If I’m correct, the drawing tool equivient relied on a pair of pointed arms without provision for pencil or quill insertion which would have made easilly traceable scratch marks on the velum sheets. Surely any such original indentations would still be easily detected if subjected to modern analysis, thereby lending some proof that a primitive tool had been inplay or that a compass with lead insert post 1800 had been utilised to complete the outline.

    • proto57 Says:

      Hi John: This is actually a subject I spent quite a bit of time on. Briefly, yes, there do seem to be the pin pricks from the center of some sort of compass device, or string or stick anchor, at the middle of some of the Voynich wheel shapes. What is interesting is that after using an instrument to draw the circles, the artist didn’t use the anchor point as the center of the circles, in all cases. Anyway, look at f67r-1, and the alignment of the circles with the pinprick at the center:

      Here is a closeup of the pinprick on f57v. Note it is NOT where the artist drew the center dot/decoration:

      And look at the alignment of the f57v circles, to the pin prick, and to the drawn dot:

      I think this is evidence that these pin pricks ARE from a circle-drafting instrument, such as a compass. BTW, I also have, somewhere, a picture I took of a 15th or 16th century diagram on vellum, which I took at the Cloisters in New York, which show the use of a compass… or, I mean, implied that it was used, as there was a pin prick there, too. So the use of a compass is not anachronistic to the Voynich, I don’t think.


  50. john sanders Says:

    Well put Rich, though what I’m really suggesting is something more telling in that the compass used for the annular rings may very well have been a lead drawing compass from post 1800, as opposed to a scratch/trace one. I’m thinking it should be possible for an expert parchment tech. to provide the answer, my best guess being that yet another nail in the 14th + century VM coffin could be well within the realms of probability..

  51. john sanders Says:

    If one has to compromise to get involved in so-called freely engaged discussion as has been proposed, then I guess I’ll just stubbornly stick to my guns, which I’m quite certain are on target. One should, I suppose try to make compromises with Noel full upon us, especially when we are also confronted with Nick’s enticing little elfin hatted Christmas nymphs. I can’t oblige there, but I guess the very least I can offer are my most own sincere best festive wishes to, not only Rich and his many supporters, but to all contrary, fair minded Xmas revellers with their own well constructed alternative VM agendas, whatever those may entail. Happy New Year everybody.

    • proto57 Says:

      Yes I don’t want to compromise either, but certainly the pressure is there. The 1420 Paradigm is pretty well entrenched, and one has to live in a dog house on the outskirts if you happen to have a theory that goes against it. First you lose your “seat at the table”, then soon find friends dropping out of the discussion… blocking you, unfriending you. Anyone who does not believe the Voynich is what they are told it is is subject to mockery, anger, and isolation. You will be lumped in with alien and time travel theories, ridiculed, lied about, demonized.

      I found the best explanation to why this happens is in Thomas Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions”. He explains that the quest and accumulation of knowledge is not a linear path, but a series of paradigms. These are formed, then fiercely protected by the scientific establishment. They are of course necessary, because for a stable scientific foundation, there need to be reliable foundations.

      But what happens is that while protecting themselves, these paradigms then tend to ignore internal problems: Anomolies, anachronisms, purple cow test results, new data, new analysis, and so on. Rather than process these, and adjust, the established paradigms ignore, and/or misstate, and/or misrepresent, those problems that threaten the structure. Kuhn calls this stage the Paradigm in crisis. Then, the paradigm either survives the challenge, and remains unscathed, or collapses, and a new paradigm is formed.

      Before I read Kuhn, I called it the “bubble”. That to retain connections, offers to speak or appear in documentaries, or be interviewed… to have the source material available, to be invited, to even have friends… one had to obey the rules of the “bubble”. As soon as one had any ideas not favorable to this bubble, one would “lose their seat at the table”. But it is the same idea, the bubble is the paradigm.

      And it even goes so far as not being able to describe the effect, as I just did, above. Then, rained down on you are charges of “Conspiracy Theorist!”… or worse, that you are “Attacking the establishment, or the established”. The message is to not challenge the paradigm, and if you do, and the response is unfair, and unscientific, you do not then point that out, either.

      I’ve learned the structure of this paradigm very well in the last dozen years… I know all the players, and all their roles, even better than many of them know, themselves. There are those who are not really accepted, but think they are. They are kept around because they serve a useful purpose, and their ideas are no challenge to the paradigm in the least. There are those who are “fans”, and want to be listened to, and a part of something greater than themselves, then their own work. They get tossed a bone here and there, even though their well-meant ideas may have long been discussed, and have no intrinsic value. They learn quickly how to play the game, what to say, who to support, who to ignore…

      There are those who build the popularity of their outlets on the Rules of the Paradigm. Without realizing it, the content and ideas are governed by popularity, and popularity is encouraged by how well they reflect the Paradigm, and how they play the rules. It is a self-fulfilling, vicious cycle.

      And all this is aided by the desire of people continue to “like” the Voynich, what they “want” it to be. It cannot be dirty, cheap, artless… which forgeries often are. People kill weeds, and grow flowers; have house cats, not, usually, house rats. So the 1420 Paradigm has a head start in a likeable, favorable pre-determined outcome: But then, that is how and why it was made in the first place, of course. Wilfrid called his creation an “Ugly Duckling”, but he knew damned well that was not what it’s appeal was. He probably said those things just in case it was seen as it should be, as he saw it: A crude attempt at past literary magnificence; a sorry joke, really, only roughly and insultingly reflecting something great. But he should not have worried so much, the human ability to see The Good in the most undeserving, is a testament to our undying hope.

      Barnum knew this, too…

      No, there is no “conspiracy”. This is a natural and understandable progression of any popular search for the answer to any mystery, and it has its ingredients: It’s supporters, it’s followers and fans, it’s established, entrenched support structure, it’s driving human desire to believe in magic. These thing happen without open plotting, it is part of who we are. The Voynich is one of the best examples of this, I think, in history. To evoke a recent and overworked meme, it is the “Perfect Storm” of forgery: Look, timing, error, intent, desire, all worked together to first launch this thing into orbit, then have it propped up there, in a sort of uneasy and really ridiculous limbo, when if seen for what it obviously, truly, is, it would plummet to the ground like the sorry flightless turkey it genuinely is.

      But Merry Christmas to you, too! There is always a room in the dog house for us, outside the paradigm.

  52. john sanders Says:

    Rich: Plenty more where that came from, but it doesn’t work if other imaginative realists won’t join in and apply pressure to those dear dupes opting for the refined ‘humanistic hand’ authorship. Those being of self assured scholarly bent who uphold the romantic, pre industrial era outcome, despite there being ample evidence to the contrary. Speaking of reality and direct evidence of industrial age engineering creativity, we need look no further than Pelling’s very own little festive gift; by way of his covorting Xmas water nymphs. Even non scholars can tell that they’re all enjoying a swim in their own ready plumbed, freestanding outdoor pool, of which a similar, more detailed version is depicted in f85r. With it’s pressed metal pre formed intented sidings for extra strength, oh so familiar to us working class types of the sixties. Being of a cheap ready to erect format, these clever designs by Aussie companies like Hills and Malleys were made for working class, handyman Santa Clause dads, who could put them up on Xmas eve and surprise the family, filled and ready to use on Christmas Day (down under).

    Surely it doesn’t get much better than that one could only hope; but think again friends, because it most certainly does and will. Just so long as our marmot like time travellers and their fellow adherants, persist in pursuing their alternate, unwavering pipe dreams along a blind path through the woods, towards the inevitable barren cliff top overhang and culminating in a massed suicidal plunge into the abyss below. Well scholars don’t dispare, for we are there to save all who might tarry awhile at the edge of oblivion and opt to become born again lateral thinkers and not the literally dead stinkers they might have become . By all means, those not wishing to give up on their quest of an eventual side show glyph text solution issue, be our guest and let’s all join you in such trivial pursuit for the fun of it. We afterall are primarily concerned (at this juncture) with a correct era for the compilation of Voynich’s very own ugly duckling manuscript, which is all there is to our own modest ambitions, lump it or leave it.

  53. john sanders Says:

    Well one from our traditionalist paragon of virtue, from left field in that his beloved 1428 VM appears to be somewhat of a dead end. I see that as be one small step towards eventual capitulation on his part at least. He being one of those outside established lines of command who is morally bound to upset the applecart by occasionally sticking to his guns on principle. Anyway Mark Knowles, for what it’s worth, I’m always happy to stick up for the well meaning lone voice in the wilderness, right or wrong and you certainly belong in the loner club. Also take heart those of a gentle pursuasion who refuse to kiss the misogynistic rod, we have room enough for all.

    Of course you’re right Mark, about VM being a virtual ‘dead end’, ie. nothing before quite like it and certainly nothing since, apart from the model T Ford perhaps, both icons having achieved their respective maker’s aims most admirably and having done so, sidelined for rest eternal Amen. Of course it’s hard to put a good horse down and nothing lasts forever as we’re often told, even eternity in this case. Hence resurrection of the old Lizzy ‘T’ dinosaur by the epicyclic geared motor hounds, along with others of a like bent seeking answers to Wilfred’s own taunting mystery volume. Eventually those poor hounds may opt for a Model T also.

  54. john sanders Says:

    It’s right on ten years since the routinly advised team from University of Arizona was given the task of carbon dating a few random Velum samples upon which to do the usual C4 spectro dating stuff. Their technical man from Tennessee was seemingly convinced of it’s straightforward nature, having done similar tests on the likes of skin samples from mainland American bison most likely. Only problem of course he may not have been informed on likely varying isotopal transfers of a category quite at odds with his laid out test feed in format; enough said.

    Surely with more up to date input proceedures universely developed, combined with much better scientific knowledge re the territorial bovine grazing variables likely to affect result outcome, it might be time to bite the bullet, puting pride aside and do us all a favor with input of a new more definitive set of criteria to work with for 2020. Perhaps the McCrone people from Chicago could be talked in to doing something similar, on a pro bono basis to give us a reliable update, not to mention themselves greater credibility, for those all important parchment surface overlays and types of tools used.

    As for the text translation, it can have little bearing without the other more technically explicit details, being of itself something more akin to a sideshow, better left for a few geekish die hard cunning liguist types to fuss and feud over til the calves come home; Whereas in reality ‘it don’t mean nuthin’ (US marines on what will be shall be), so long as the main dish is served up with extra corn grits and gravy.

  55. john sanders Says:

    On second thoughts why bother going over old ground with new input data, when all we need really is for Greg our tech. from UofA RCSA dept. to provide details of his perceived parameter limitations in play first time round. Then perhaps Rene to give some ideas on what other relevant criterea he might have submitted had such been available at the time. From our last encounter along similar lines, including doubts about stored parchment which I’ll own as having of itself little evidentiary value, it became quite obvious that our 1404 through 1465 advocates were becaming uncommonly withdrawn. Especially when asked to consider factors like deep water carbon depletion and resultant half life variables, isotopal transfer identities and especially the bovine doner’s likely nutriment source. Such data would of course have been necessary in order to give accurate dating to those miniscule velum slivers, alas with all of the desired criteria being quite unknown, there was no chance for a reliable historic period (catch 22). If some of the details been available, the most we could expect from such input, bearing in mind it’s organic colligen content, would be a fault error of around 450 years too old, thereby leaving us at around 1900, give or take, which we’ll take.

  56. john sanders Says:

    As I was telling Rene at Ciphemysteries, Greg could have been laying low back in Tennessee about the time of the C14 meet the press deal in December 2009 and one can’t blame him one bit. Nick must have missed the pick up unfortunately.

  57. john sanders Says:

    To be equally fair to Reny, re his deliberate failure to respond to three interrogitory questions vis. the 2009 press non committal disclosure on pigment compatibility, is rather telling and somewhat unbecoming of the man in my opinion. Could it be that he’s still numbed and in a state of denial following on from a more up to date release of new irrefutable evidence (posted on this blog) to discredit the flawed medieval origins, including those erroniously asserted supportive VM provinence claims along similar lines.

    Perhaps our designated spokesman for those remaining supportive ‘dark ages’ contenders might now be challenged to consider his options for a mutually agreed partial capitulation of his adherants, based on the potentially flawed C14 dating. This in favour of them pursuing arguments based purely on claimed provinence and other hisorical grounds For our part, we might offer not to adversely comment on the ongoing glyph translation attempts and simply put up what contrary evidence comes to our notice for rebuttal. Can’t be any fairer.

  58. john sanders Says:

    I’m almost sure that JKP is right about coffee being served up in and around Ethiopia from medieval times, leastwise it’s consumption was well documented by the time renowned bibliophile James Bruce visited in the mid 18th century. He was on his way to discover and chart the Blue Nile from it’s source to Khartoum and raved about the brew according to his Aussie biographer. Incidently in his travels he was able to get his hands on three fair copies of the coveted Book of Enoch manuscript (1 for Louis XV and 2 for the BM beq.) for a song. What I really need to impress upon JK and his cohorts is that by say 1900 there was also an awful lot of coffee in Brazil. So irrespective of its prevalence in Khartoum or even Timbuktu around 1400 or so, it would naturally have no bearing on VM’s creation which as we know was some five hundred years later.

    • proto57 Says:

      Hi John, and Happy New Year.

      In my opinion, all these ideas about this plant or that plant are really now moot anyway, because of the huge number of anachronistic plants and other items in the Voynich, and all the other problems with it, already make an overwhelming circumstantial case for modern forgery. Which is why I avoid most of the blogs which endlessly try to make comparisons with (only) those things which appear in other text from one chosen (1420ish) time. Coffee? Maybe, and so be it.

      I’m reminded of one researcher who insisted the plants not known to Europe before Columbus might have actually been found in Europe because a bird dropped the seeds there, in the 15th century. And of course no genuinist endorses such theories, but then, they never counter them, either. That is, they leave all and everything, no matter how ridiculous, “on the table”, like a vast minefield: Full of duds, but which causes anyone who sees them as faulty to have to stop and address each one. It is a “scattershot” tactic, which is time consuming and pointless, the only reason it is being used is to give the IMPRESSION of a good, 1420, genuine case. “What about ALL the evidence???” it is insisted. “It is OVERWHELMING!”, we are told.

      But the “overwhelming” evidence, the common sense reasoning, the bulk of real content of the Voynich, the almost abject lack of any real, reliable, supporting evidence, is actually on the side of “modern, cheesy, fake”.

      So “coffee?” Maybe. And I’ll let others argue endlessly as to whether it is coffee, or not… and that it is not, and therefore the VMs is old; or that it is coffee, and there for the VMs is old; and both that it is, and is not, coffee, and therefore the VMs is old… and “what coffee?”, and therefore the VMs is old; and there is no such thing as coffee, and I hate coffee, and I love coffee, and maybe birds carried the coffee beans here and there all over the world, and dropped them in an Italian Monk’s garden in 1420, and only HE saw coffee, and on and on an on…

      And while all this goes on, the very obvious problems and questions about the Voynich are purposefully ignored, or mis-characterized to favor the 1420 Paradigm, and anyone who insists it might be a good idea to hear a good explanation for them, or worse, who point out there IS NO good explanation for them, are called the problem.

      That’s how it works, John. You know that by now. So my advice to you is to not get into a pissing match about coffee, when we hear already such bizarre dismissals about an obvious armadillo, and a thousand other things, and read that the Voynich has good provenance, when it really has none at all. I mean, one needs to continue to focus on the obvious, and make it clear to new researchers what those things are, and find even more obvious problems with it, to really move forward.

      I have two major ones in the New Year… my resolutions. Stated correctly, made clear, any defense of these problems, like so many others, are almost laughable. But that is my focus, because while the case for the 1420 Paradigm is, in reality, in mortal crisis. Modern forgery continues to strengthen, while genuine old continues to stagnate, and increasingly needs to ignore the insurmountable accumulation of anachronisms and anomalies, all unanswerable in any cohesive, logical, way.

      In any case, again, Happy New Year! 2020 does not need a better case for modern forgery, of course, but it is gratifying to bring it into focus a little better, and we both enjoy the clear vision of what it this is. Those like us, who know this is a fake by now, are increasing in numbers, but also, privy to a fascinating aspect of modern literature that others refuse to enjoy. Let’s help them, too.

  59. john sanders Says:

    Making light of something that one doesn’t understand is a normal human trait, one certainly not lost on our past master of mirth and repartee Nick Pelling, who in his inimitable style over the years, has made it an art form and keynote of his clownish personality. Some time back he posted yet another attention seeking spy based thread of no particular VM relevance, but in which he made a big hit with his depiction of a well known company logo in the form of a red Seagull? So much so that Ellie Velinska was totally overcome by a laughing fit, which denied her chance for the usual postworthy input.

    It happens that the depicted subject of all this frivolous, tom foolery, a stylised soaring albatross or gull like seabird, appears as the very first object d’ art in the VM and is cleary evident at top left of folio 1r. In Nick’s deceptive post it appears in full flight, soaring high, wings at full stretch, proud and free. The red coloration is significant to the extent that it seems to tell any inquisitive observet to take particular note; lo and behold, directly beneath Pellings single figure, one can now make out the same, now not so majestic creature spiralling earthwards out of control and with both its wing tip flight feathers and stabiliser tail section totally assunder. Perhaps it was victim to a latter day, gun toting hunter or other modern weapon of destruction.

    If there be an explicit message or clue for us left by the artist, on what all this was supposed to represent, we’ll need time to dwell on the matter, at least to put it all into logical context, which does call for input of the more seriously minded Voynich enthusiast. What I can say with some confidence is that whatever It’s significance at the very first page of Wilfrid’s Ugly Duckling journal, this was evidently and somewhat strangely lost on such worthies as Nick and Ellie who who perhaps mistook the aforemention “Jonathon Livingston Seagull ” depiction as merely representitive of some weird 15th centuary comedy caper…Thanks to Rich and some others for their tacit support of my out of sinc ramblings which might well test even the strongest resolves re my stand on some non voguish issues.

    • proto57 Says:

      Hi John: Well I see the mockery as one way the 1420 Paradigm defends itself (as described by Kuhn, it is to be expected). But more specifically, it is as you way… sort of. The difference is that I think for many, these are things that critics of modern forgery know full well can be explained, and explained better, by modern forgery. That is, I think they do understand this, but chose to defend the paradigm by either ignoring them, or mocking them, or mis-characterizing them, and so on… all, because they cannot answer them, at all, or better, within the context of 1420 genuine.

      You bring up the mockery of the f1r bird glyphs as an example. I am not sure if you are aware (maybe you and I discussed this already? Sorry, if so…), or not mentioning it here for some reason, but those characters were first suggested by me to be the paragraph markers used on some New World texts:


      I had found glyphs like these in the Codexes Mendoza and Aubin. Since then, in the 2018 book, “Unraveling the Voynich Codex”, on page 49, the authors added several other instances from the Codexes Osuna, Ejercicio en Lengua Mexican, Marquesado delle Valle, and a Registry of Matrimony from Mexico City, along with my finds. The authors seem unaware of my naming these “Bird Glyphs”, or the origin of the concept, but they did give them the proper name, “calderón”.

      The thing is this: The use of these virtually identical markers, in the same and proper placement at the beginning of the paragraphs, has really only two plausible, realistic, implications:

      1) This is an authentic post-Columbian work, either made in the New World, or influenced by those works from the New World.
      2) It is a modern forgery, which used these calderóns in an attempt to evoke an ancient, New World, influence or origin.

      Which is why, depending on who is bringing up the subject, this very good and obvious identification is either heralded, or on the contrary, ignored, or even, mocked. What 1420 Genuinists CANNOT DO IS SATISFACTORILY EXPLAIN IT. Shouting intentional, and deserved.

      I am sometimes torn in wondering if those who do ignore the obvious do so realizing why they do so, or when they mock, know the motivation to that tactic. And I think it varies from person to person: Some I think realize this is just a cheap, modern fake, but continue on because they feel that since it may never be proven, they have everything to lose, and nothing to gain, by changing their long-held positions and admitting that; but also, I think that the human ability to delude oneself into truly believing something which has not basis, and every reason to reject, is infinite and boundless.

      And it is fair to me to point this out, because for long I have not, yet been accused of the same on almost a daily basis. Frankly, this past year or so I am very sick and tired of it, and will no longer refrain from pointing out not only that it is not me that does this (as I have for a decade or more), but actually what has been keeping people from realizing, against all odds, against all evidence, that this is a really poorly executed modern forgery.

      No, I do not care what this is. I do not have an agenda. I do not ignore evidence. I do not suffer from paradeolia, paranoia. I am not a conspiracy theorist. I am not angry at anyone who disagrees with me, and wish them well. I am not blind, stupid, ignorant. I do not need to ignore, nor distort any of the available evidence, or any of the test results, all which support modern forgery. The evidence is overwhelming to the point of a circumstantial proof. Nations have gone to war, and men to the gallows, and fortunes risked, on far, far, less evidence than is needed here, to see the obvious: This was made in the early 20th century, by a forger or forgers, using bits and pieces from many sources available to them.

      But in short, when you see a question put to an adherent of the 1420 Paradigm, and that question is either not answered at all, or answered poorly and/or illogically, or better yet, mocked as they often are…

      … you then have your answer: It is another clue to the modern fraud this is.

  60. john sanders Says:

    Rich: I was not aware that you had covered the red bird glyph so long ago, VM centenary year no less. I was both delighted but also a little deflated by my obvious limitations, noting the depth of your coverage and by the resultant facinating input derived therefrom. Here’s me thinking that perhaps I had come up with something quite ground breaking. No matter, you have given me more to think about on likely post Columbian Meso/Spanish influences just for starters, and to see where that takes me by way of better subject understanding. As an aside, how about the bits and pieces in the top right corner of f1r that look like practice doodles, notably the inverted ‘C’ and the Coke bottle?…

    • proto57 Says:

      No need to be deflated at all. And as you say, it only adds to your ideas that this was primarily created to seem like a “post Columbian Meso/Spanish” document. If you can, you ought to get a copy of the book, “Unraveling the Voynich Codex”, because there are a great many such points and discoveries in it, by the authors, and many others.

      The book essentially does two things: Make a very good argument for New World content, which then does the second: make a very good argument that the Voynich is not what the 1420 Paradigm peeps say it is. This is then a step up the ladder toward a 20th century creation. For these reasons I think it is a valuable work for you and I, and anyone else who realizes this is not a 15th century work.

      I had a long and interesting conversation with Mr. Janick about the book. In that conversation, he argued against modern forgery on several grounds, and I argued back with him. Needless to say, neither one of us were convinced of the other’s position, but I think the discussion was valuable to both of us, for different reasons… which I won’t go into, here. Anyway, I recommend the book, again.

      “… how about the bits and pieces in the top right corner of f1r that look like practice doodles, notably the inverted ‘C’ and the Coke bottle?…”

      Do you mean these?:

      If so, the only point I’ve noted is that the designs avoid the “worm holes”, which counters the Yale claim that the worm holes came after the inking. Or do you mean these?:

      Or some other? I’d be interested to know to which you are referring to, if you could link it here, from Mr. Davies (very useful) “Voyager”.


  61. john sanders Says:

    Rich: I note with some pleasure, that whenever we introduce any well researched evidence of latter day VM authorship, our esteemed time warped brethren have a tendency to avoid the issue by deliberate non engagement or alternatively crossing over to the safety of yet another ciphermystery challenge, set up for the purpose. My own genuine offers to assist, allbeit with limited well meaning points of reference to the subject have always gone unresponded. Must mean we’re still ahead of the game!

    • proto57 Says:

      Much of this whole investigation is reactionary, although the reactions vary greatly. I will often look into something I’ve read or heard, then end up posting about it. Often people will do the same, when I or others have posted, often without naming the source. In short, I agree, it happens.

  62. john sanders Says:

    Yes Rich, both Jason’s f1r scans depict what I was on about, namely three red blotches top right amongst a few near miss worm holes and bordering a brown stain. Topmost takes the form of a filled ‘C’ or an inclined quarter moon, the two below having no distinguisable form and to the immediate right a lighter toned partial nymph figure perhaps…Your recommendation of publications ie. ‘Unravelling the Voynich Codex’ sounds enticing, unfortunately, anything that is not up on line is virtually impossible do obtain in my part of the world, due to regional inaccessability to international delivery nor lawful means to arrange for acceptable terms of payment in any case, but thanks anyhow.

    • proto57 Says:

      Hi John:

      “… namely three red blotches top right amongst a few near miss worm holes and bordering a brown stain. Topmost takes the form of a filled ‘C’ or an inclined quarter moon, the two below having no distinguisable form and to the immediate right a lighter toned partial nymph figure perhaps…”

      What is your opinion as to what these may be mean to be? I admit I have no opinion, other than to point out… as others have before me… that the “C” and the shape below it seem to have been drawn after the “worm hole”, which is a sign of modern creation on an already wormed page.

      Which means, as usual, it would be an observation dismissed in various ways:

      1) the “C” was added later, by a later manipulator of a genuine, old, manuscript

      2) That one is NOT a wormhole, like the others must be. It was a vein hole in the parchment made at time of creation of the media

      3) It would be ignored

      4) It would be called a coincidence

      5) We are seeing things, the drawing does NOT go around the wormhole

      Anything but what it, and hundreds of other bits of evidence actually do show: A modern forged creation, on old parchment. But it is in the reaction that I see the best evidence… if traffic is seen to steer a curve around an obstruction, you know that the obstruction is considered a problem. I mean, it is not just all these anachronisms and anomalies that show what the Voynich is, it is the litmus test of the predictable reactions to them, that tell us how serious a problem they are. If they were no problem, they could plausibly explained. But that does not happen.

  63. john sanders Says:

    I wonder if other Voynicheros would agree with J.K.P.when advising a colleage that “most of the (VM) text is legible”. I can’t find my reliable Funk & Wagnel to get their own take on ‘legible’ though both Miriam Webster and Cambridge seem to think similarly, using like descriptions of the word ie. .”Able to be read and understood easily” which would appear somewhst at odds with Mr.J.K. Petersen Esq.

  64. D.N. O'Donovan Says:

    John, I think the distinction is between legible and intelligible. A perfectly legible text in Russian might be incomprehensible (unintelligible) to a person who was unacquainted with the Cyrillic script and/or who hadn’t learned to understand Russian.

    • proto57 Says:

      Yes I am sure you are correct, Diane. J.K.P. was probably using the word “legible” in that way, not meaning that it could be comprehended.

  65. john sanders Says:

    Maybe so, though perhaps J.K.P. was also playing the cunning linguist, consequence being that poor Mark was left no better off in his specific VM translating difficulties, than he had been prior to being given the carefully worded (legible) advice.

  66. john sanders Says:

    Rich: Having just passed on your ELV notebook info to Mark for his troublesome plant comparisons, I wondered whether you were able to come up with any other examples of her writing apart from scribal Latin. In NB No.6 I note with interest, Lily’s generally neat small hand, meticulous care with accent and punctuation detail, ability to hide mistakes, equi distance in word spacing and glyphish Latin letter formations eg. the likeness of her tailed question mark to an EVA ‘S’. If at the end of the day it can be shown that she were to be a likely candidate for the VM script, I for one would not be inclined to argue the point.

    • proto57 Says:

      Hi John: I looked through my notes and images, and I think the only other sample I have of Ethel’s writing is this:

      Ethel Concerned

      I mean, there were a great many other samples of her handwriting, including a manuscript of one of her books in the Grolier, but I didn’t photograph or copy them. The above few lines are from a set of notes Ethel made a few years after Wilfrid died, when she began to study the Ms. in earnest. In my opinion, is shows an innocence on the part of Ethel, even to the point that she was questioning, and even moreso, concerned, about the provenance that Wilfrid had given. She was looking into, and trying to trace, that provenance.

      Yes, Ethel and Anne were protective of the Roger Bacon story, to the extent they controlled access to the Ms. to those they felt would favor that version, but they were at the same time trying to figure out where that story came from, themselves. They had trouble doing it, as we and others before us, have. The story is of course shaky at best, ridiculous at worst.

      But in any case, it is seeing these notes (and I do wish I had photographed all of them), among other things, that lead me to believe that Ethel was not in on any fraud, that she didn’t want it to be a fraud, and that she had an inkling, and was concerned, that it might BE a fraud.

  67. john sanders Says:

    Rich: Thanks for going to the trouble with ELV’s writing for which we can be greatful, and small mercies can prove rewarding sometimes. I guess her reference to John Dee and the MS (3?) must relate to the Bacon Cipher possibly being sent to Rudolf 2; Elizabeth being the English Queen and not Rudi’s sister Elisabeth of Habsburg Empress of France etc….We should not forget that Lily had been tied up with subversion/espuonage in her younger days, living the life of Reilly so to speak. She was no Miss innocence, being a skilled teller of tall tales by vocation all her life. Had she been part of the VM deception, one could envisage our little ‘Gadfly’ playing the game out through her well constructed supportive notebook entries.

  68. John sanders Says:

    A big thanks to Pathe for their VM spoof on 1870’s ‘Hunting of the Snark’ a lot like ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘What Alice saw through her looking glass’. What we saw in fact was, a delightful fictional history of our circa.1910 Voynich Manuscript, according to the few genuine medieval era believers.

    This stimulating sketch set in Lewis Carroll’s enchanted imaginary was loaded with a host of our original characters such as Friedman, Fr. Peterson, John Manly etc. and of course a guest appearance by a rather dapper Rene Vandenberg, God luv em every pig headed one who couldn’t see the obvious.

    Even our little ‘Gad Fly’ looked well for 95, though her poor long suffering faithful servant seemed overawed by the presence of the Bolshoi Ballet, perhaps I’m being unkind to Anne. Also noted was the original British Pathe mono chrome footage, used to good effect by producer Snark, a talented ‘Jabberwocky’ story teller indeed.

  69. john sanders Says:

    Hello Rich,

    Whilst being most respectful of Ben Franklin the man, his keeping a secret saying was until now a little too simplistic for mine. Rene’s use of it to support his own suggestion of a lone inividual author of VM, since modified by JKP with his similar family secret scenario, having as it’s theme a similar outcome, must be most heartening for you and other staunch 1910 VM proponents. On Voynich Ninja (Holy Grail) of all places, these admissions certainly do suggest a possible turning point of opinion amongst the old 1421 stawarts, namely that Wilfred himself might well be such an individual, or in the same context, it was the combined efforts of his wife Lily with help of her own kith and kin the Booles and Hintons. Either way Ben’s secret would be in safe hands for century at least.

  70. D.N. O'Donovan Says:

    John – it is hardly Rene’s suggestion that the manuscript had a single author – it’s a return to the idea asserted by Wilfrid in 1912 and repeated without much thought from that time to the early 2000s.

    There is no evidence offered by the primary document in support… it all returns to that third-hand rumour included in Marci’s letter.

    The internal evidence is very much against it – Currier’s ‘two languages’, the form of the quires, and just about everything else – including the varying style for the images. But the conservatives’ position is just d’Imperio’s Table of Contents, annotated with speculations which have each heading connected to ‘central Europe’ and Holy Roman Emperors. The attempt to revive speculations about alchemy, and magic and so on were part of the ‘plan’ and reversion to the ‘one author’ idea was fairly predictable too. Pity it doesn’t tell us anything about the manuscript itself, but it makes a fine story, especially the bit about tattered flags or books in the smoke of battle. Most exciting.

  71. john sanders Says:

    Diane: I’m quite familiar now with Currier’s work, having spent an hour so gaining a complete insight into the Captain’s call on all his VM observations. Especially with regard to his late tendency for constantly re evaluating and contradicting his original assessment (my layman’s take). I don’t dispute his simplistic two language theory at all, for that was not part of my Rene/JKP slight shift contention, for I’m merely aligning with the great man’s six to eight scribes final overview from his solitary Maine home. Mary Boole, her daughters, their nephews George Hinton the plant man, Grahame Taylor the physicist and his dad Ted the art teacher, all formed part of an extremely close knit multi talented family. They seem to fit nicely for Currier’s six to eight Voynich scribes, with Wilfrid as the chief keeper of family secrets at the helm. Does that make any logical sense in your learned estimation Di?.

    • D.N. O'Donovan Says:

      John, What you are kind enough to describe as my learned estimation has certain, definite, limits beyond which my opinion is either non-existent or not unrecommended. The history of Ciphers and cryptography is beyond those limits, so I tend to refer people to specialists (non-Voynich) as a rule.

      As far as the iconography, materials and binding is concerned, I’m afraid these make it impossible for me to accept a date later than 1438 for our present quires’ inscription. People educated in the nineteenth century (as Wilfrid and Ethel were) were trained in hand and eye in ways which – quite apart from specifically stylistic considerations – would have made it impossible for them to draw in the style(s) used in the Vms. I’m not trying to impress you, but simply to explain the level of information needed when I say that despite a good ten years’ education in such things as the history and technology of artefacts and imagery, I had almost thirty years’ practical experience (which in my field means another 30 years’
      reading and study in parallel) – and even then it took a lot of very deep digging to explain as much as I did. Some details are only explicable thanks to post-1930s developments. If you can find any independent specialist in palaeography, codicology, or iconographic analysis (which is not ‘art history’) to provide an informed support for your views, it would certainly assist their wider acceptance.

      In theory, it should also make Voynich theorists re-think, but my own experience inclines me to think that – if torn between remaining attached to a self-made theory and concentrating on studying a medieval artefact, the majority behave as did Pygmalion, hoping for the miracle of faith.

  72. D.N. O'Donovan Says:

    PS scrap the ‘not’ before ‘unrecommended’.

  73. john sanders Says:

    Diane: You will surely have noticed my deliberate mistake for the day. Margaret Boole/Taylor, a student artist, was mother to Geoffrey and not Graham Taylor, the Manhatten Project wave theory physicist and knighted naturally. He was also well up on his botany his life long hobby, astro/cosmology, structural engineering, aeronautical wing design, lens aparatus technology (after his great grandfather), yacht building, sailing and related oceanic cartography. No doubt the man could easily have been impressed by other useful applications whilst visiting Philadelphia Gymnasium pre WW, such as design concepts of the revolutionary new free standing swimming pools like the ones displayed in VM, and of course far in advance of medieval creative capabilities. One day a chap familiar with free standing above ground pool design concepts will come along and explain to us why our VM nymph pools could only be of modern industrial age construction.

    • D.N. O'Donovan Says:

      John – what is in the Vms are not “free-standing swimming pools” – they are pictures which you define by comparing them with forms of things you know and what is in your mind is ‘free-standing swimming pool’; others do exactly the same and among the things in their minds are copies of the Balneis Puteolanis; others again do the same and what happens to be in *their* minds are ritual baths… and so on and so forth. The problem is that theorists constantly forget to ask what the maker intended, assume that whatever the limits are to their knowledge must include the answer to what the maker intended, and constantly ignore the *differences*. Lack of perspective, holes pierced through the walls, and the whole issue that you are unaware of the fact that not every image was intended as a ‘picture of’ some object. It could be entirely metaphorical; it could be the illustration of some poem of which you’ve never heard; it could represent some scheme by which metempsychosis. It might express ideas derived from linguistic cues in languages you’ve never heard of.

      Why don’t you get those plans for ‘above ground pools’, set them beside the Vms’ images and make a list of all the points on which the two pictures – as pictures – differ. Then research the differences and find an historically valid explanation – supported by historical, art-historical, linguistic, cultural and ethnological and economic-historical evidence that your explanation is compatible with the historical evidence.

      Of course, even if you do you will be unlikely to make the slightest difference to the core-conservatives. In saying that, I speak from experience.

      • proto57 Says:

        I edited and shortened my comment, below, because on re-reading it, it was a clumsy mess that didn’t do a good job of getting my point across:

        Hi Diane: While John and I won’t necessarily agree on any one particular identification, I think that he and I will also accept that it really is not all that important whether the tubs are certain genuine baths, or influenced by, or representative of, modern above ground pools. The reason being, the Voynich is so full of anachronisms and anomalies, any one or two of them is a drop in the bucket.

        About this, then, “Lack of perspective, holes pierced through the walls, and the whole issue that you are unaware of the fact that not every image was intended as a ‘picture of’ some object. It could be entirely metaphorical; it could be the illustration of some poem of which you’ve never heard; it could represent some scheme by which metempsychosis. It might express ideas derived from linguistic cues in languages you’ve never heard of.”

        Well in a technical sense, perhaps. But the problem is that using these apologies afford far too many variables to give any real art historical interpretation as to what the Voynich actually is; and it allows one to fit the Voynich into any desired identity.

        This problem is illustrated, partially, by my “Anything but an Armadillo” post, and the comments which follow it. That poor armadillo can be seen as absolutely any animal, real or fanciful, expertly drawn or amateurish, and drawn for any purpose, symbolic, artistic, known or unknown; and made by any person, in almost any age.

        Why is “modern forgery” different? Aren’t we doing the same thing as everyone else does, by explaining these things to suit our theory? I say “no”, because for this to be a modern forgery, all the many problems the Voynich has don’t need to be explained away, everything is accounted for. And those things that make no sense for this or that other theory don’t have to be rationalized be something other than the obvious. Everything fits just as it is, and their presence and forms are easily explained by this simply being a really clumsy forgery.

        I hope this slightly less clumsy rewrite makes my point a bit better than my bleary eyed and coffee-fueled version from this morning did.

  74. john sanders Says:

    Diane: Your intransigence based apparently on learned profundity is a caution; being in your particular case a totally negative chronic combination of assumed scholastic superiority and egocentric elitism without shame; Hence there being no show at all for me or anyone else in puruing their own modest alternate VM views. Sorry.

  75. D.N. O'Donovan Says:

    No John – I was just trying to introduce you to some themes in the psychology of perception and some methods employed in interpreting and placing difficult imagery.

    I don’t pretend that I knew this stuff the day I was born, or that it comes from my own imagination, or that I’m the only person in the world who has studied the same subjects.

    It does trouble me that so many Voynich writers seem to think that Beinecke MS 408 lives in a bubble – a world of its own – and that so long as enough people can be persuaded to believe an idea the manuscript itself will magically turn into whatever the theorist wishes.

    What is meant by your use of the word ‘intransigence’ except my inability to abandon fact and the whole world of non-Voynich manuscript studies in favour of belief in your theory? In just the same way those with a myriad untenable theories describe all others as intransigent.

    Your resorting to ad.hominems, insinuations that I have no genuine credentials in my field and so forth… are not really to the point, nor even new ideas. The same ‘memes’ have been circulated first by your chief opponents who find – as you apparently do – that if someone points out that your theory is opposed by solid bodies of scholarship (I’m talking about medieval history, manuscript studies, codicological studies, materials science and so on), then the easiest thing to do is… and I’m quoting Rene Zanbergen

    (1) sweep the evidence under the carpet.
    (2) discredit [i.e. try to ruin the public reputation of] the source.

    If you are interested in the manuscript, then learn something about manuscripts; if the manuscript’s pictures, then about how to understand problematic pictures.

  76. D.N. O'Donovan Says:

    Rich – your ability to remain civil to people who do not agree with you, and to try keeping to *issues* is something for which I’ve expressed my admiration more than once, at voynichrevisionist as you know.

    I want to apologise for that conversation’s becoming so unpleasant and in will in future resist the temptation to respond to John Sanders comments.

  77. D.N. O'Donovan Says:

    Rich – my point about the ‘armadillios’ is that if you look at the spectrum of European depictions of the armadillo to the you find two invariable elements – the claws and the long narrow scaled tail. Those were the constants – they defined ‘armadillo for western artists.

    Neither element is in the Vms picture. It’s not just that the tail is a bit different – it’s entirely different. The claws are not just smaller – the paws are quite claw-less.

    It’s a serious objection to any argument that the maker intended the image to be read ‘armadillo’. As serious as if you drew a lion without a tail, or a giraffe with a small neck, or an elephant with snout.

    For the earlier centuries – before westerners began drawing foreign animals from experience – you might get away with saying they got it wrong because they were drawing hearsay, but the historical context doesn’t allow such an argument from the armadillo. News of it didn’t arrive, centuries earlier, in vague writings in monastic manuscripts but as reportage by first hand observers. So no tail no claws… doesn’t auger well.

    • proto57 Says:

      Hi Diane: I appreciate your disagreement on my identification of the f80v animal as an armadillo, and you and I, and many others, have long butted heads over this. For an outline of my reasoning, and yours, too, in the comments, readers of this comment can see them at:


      “For the earlier centuries – before westerners began drawing foreign animals from experience – you might get away with saying they got it wrong because they were drawing hearsay, but the historical context doesn’t allow such an argument from the armadillo. News of it didn’t arrive, centuries earlier, in vague writings in monastic manuscripts but as reportage by first hand observers. So no tail no claws… doesn’t auger well.”

      That point is probably covered by both of us at the above link, and probably elsewhere… but to make it clear, I don’t at all think that what people knew, or drew, in earlier centuries (except the 20th, that is) is at all relevant, since I am fairly sure this was all made up about 1910.

      The tail is bad, yes. But again, each person is welcome to decide what it all means, and we have the blog by Koen, my “Anything But an Armadillo”, and the above, “But Why an Armadillo”… probably along with about a dozen others. I doubt any of us will agree any time soon… but what fun would that be?!

      All the best, Rich.

  78. D.N. O'Donovan Says:

    two words dropped out
    “of the armadillo to the *eighteenth century*…”

  79. john sanders Says:

    Diane: As for sweeping evidence under the carpet & discrediting the source, I have always considered your fine self to be the master exponent of that with aim to achieving some desired tactical advantage. I note that your inane and ridiculous offering on Pelling’s Ciphermysteries, uses both initiativeswell enough, admittedly with a typical escape route in place. With regard to my “adhominems” against your unabashed obstinance Di, all I can say is, if the cap fits wear it and fare thee well in whatever wrong direction the winds of change may take thee.

  80. D.N. O'Donovan Says:

    Rich – I wonder if you can recall who it was who, beginning with theory that the month-folios were astrological, ended up with an argument that they showed a (late 15thC?) focus on, or astrological chart for,… I think it might have been Vienna.

    I just can’t think of his name. I know roughly when it was because it was after I’d published what I wanted to publish from my analysis of the map (to c.2014), and .. I think… about the time the ‘fumaroles’ idea was introduced.

    I’d like to be able to mention his work, now I that I’ve remembered it, but can’t for the life of me think of his name.

    Ring any bells?

    • proto57 Says:

      Hi Diane: I’m sorry, but that only sounds vaguely familiar, and so I can’t remember who it might have been. I could throw out a dozen possible names, and they would probably still all be wrong.

      I’ll search old traffic for Vienna, maybe? If that part happened to be correct…

      Perhaps you could simply acknowledge you don’t remember who it is, in the writing, then if anyone remembers, you can add it?

      Sorry I can’t help. Rich.

      • D.N. O'Donovan Says:

        Yes – I don’t think he quite appreciated that when theoretical results don’t match physical results the thing to do is ditch the theory… but he did a lot of work and it involved ‘geometries’ – the subject of my latest post – so it’s only right that people should know about his efforts. Darn. I’m sure he was talking with you most of the time, too. If you can find it, I’d be so glad.

      • proto57 Says:

        You could look at the work of Robert Teague: voynichology.wordpress.com I thought of him when you wrote “geometries”, and when I did a search for “Vienna” in my old Voynich Mailing List emails I found this (it was public, so),

        “The other day I realized f67v2, which is a set of four planetary
        conjunctions as seen from a central location (I think Vienna), is a fractal.
        That is, an object self-similar at different scales.

        “The conjunction in the lower left, the “U” shape, is the small
        iteration. The entire folio is the large iteration.

        “The shape is time dependent–

        “Small: conjunction of four planets [one day]
        Large: four conjunctions of planets [a century+) These occurred in a
        chronological order that, if followed earliest to latest, make up the
        “U” shape. They happened in separated Zodiac signs that reinforce the
        “U” shape.

        “Both iterations are oriented the same way, as indicated by the color TO
        map and the rising/setting moon and sun.

        “I have put up illustrations of this on my Voynich blog:

        Robert wrote many times he thought various constellations and other items related to Vienna, so perhaps it was him you were thinking of. Unfortunately, Robert passed away a few years ago. He was a friend, and a really nice man.


      • D.N. O'Donovan Says:

        Oh yes – thanks so much Rich. Now you say it, I’m sure that’s the name I was trying to recall.

      • proto57 Says:

        Bingo! And when I went to Robert’s blog, right on the first page was the use of a geometric overlay of a European map.

        Later, Rich.

  81. D.N. O'Donovan Says:

    John, there can be no ‘tactical advantage’ except in war. I think we have to accept as true that online discussion of the manuscript has devolved into a ‘theory war’ but that’s one reason I prefer not to become too involved with theory-driven clusters.

    As for evidence, there is difference between items adduced on the one hand to lend credibility to theory, or to explain why someone espouses a theory and, on the other hand, evidence which sets something about the manuscript – materials or content – firmly in an historical context.

    To take an example which won’t seem aimed at any current theorist…
    If someone were to have a theory that the manuscript was a book carried by an east African slave to the Americas during the 16thC, then no matter how many images of east African art they produced and set beside clips from the manuscript – and no matter how much historical material about the slave trade, it would be material to support a theory, not to explain the artefact that is Beinecke MS 408.

    On the other hand, if they had evidence that objective studies of palaeography, codicology and e.g. physical materials which all indicated an east African, 16th or 17thC origin for those elements in the manuscript, that would be evidence relevant to the manuscript’s study.

    Any evidence of the last kind is of interest to me and I’m very keen to give those who find and discuss it full credit, unlike certain other people involved in this study who constantly try to imply themselves the persons due credit for every ‘idea’ they take up.

  82. john sanders Says:


    I’d beg to differ with respect and suggest that, contrary to mistaken contentions, that we at 1910 are not at war. This is indeed a warlike contest of wits and courage of conviction, with precicely the same end game objectives, ultimate inhilation and no place for the feint hearted. Armed with knowledge for our weaponry and facts in place of armour with which to prevail over yon cretinish hoards or medieval non believers. There are the same fronts and flanks to protect, being always mindful and full ready to thwart attempts at creating fear of the unknown into perhaps unsuspecting rank and file. With historic accuracy as our vanguard and truth to support all our contentions of modern hoaxlike creative input, our eventual victory is certainly close at hand…Unless of course you are able to convince us that some form of weak willed compromise is a better option.

  83. john sanders Says:

    D.N. O’Donoval,

    Apropos your recent gang r**e [edit- RSC] antagnists over yonder and their cowardly attack on a little old lady who sticks by her guns; my own well considered definition of history, non perse, would be Rene Z, JKP and Nick Pelling (Peter M. void), all of whom are about to fold. Give em another little push sweetheart and prepare for Rich’s grand Voynich ticker tape parade down 42nd street past Manhatten hotel. I picture a flatbed float with naked ladies frollicking in a rubberised canvas pool circa. Philadelphia 1907.

  84. Tommy O'Neil Says:

    john, Diane and Rich:

    Come over to the light and stop banging your heads against the Voynich text. I’m being honest you all will never decode it properly if all don’t use my method. My success with the system I use is unstoppable.

    Here is a great post at reddit/voynich which I explain everything and I offer programs to help you decode the voynich which I posted on a virtual drive.

  85. john sanders Says:

    Tommy O’Neil,

    You’ve perhaps been too busy to notice the Voynicherial situation change, with all our recognised medievalist waning believers gone quiet and no doubt honing up on their respective exit strategies. My guess is that those overwhelmed by weight of the (not so) subtle modernistic art form evidence, may go back to their seemingly undecipherable archaic script for safety. No need to say more for it seems that is exactly where your own hard work may suffice to totally demorolise our learned experts. Thus completing the enemy encirclment and achieving capitulation on 1910 fruitgum company terms.

  86. Tommy O'Neil Says:

    @john sanders

    John you seem to put a smile on my face after reading your posts, your wit with the English language surpasses so many, I’m laughing my ass off. Yes Academia is capitulating to my wide grinning coffee and cig stained teeth lol. Those know it alls are typing:

    … …. .. – / – — — / .– .- … / .-. .. –. …. – / … — … / … — … / .– …. . .-. . / -.-. .- -. / .– . / …. .. -.. . ..–.. / — -.- / .-.. . – … / …. . .- -.. / ..-. — .-. / -.– .- .-.. . … / …– ..— ..— / -… .- … . — . -. – .-.-.- / — .- -.– -… . / – …. . -.– / … – .. .-.. .-.. / – …. .. -. -.- / .– . / .- .-. . / — .-.. -.. / — .- -. ..- … -.-. .-. .. .–. – / –. — -.. …

  87. john sanders Says:

    Yes Tommy, I’m sure that I’ll agree most wholeheartedly with your Itai Morse once I can get my old navy signaller friend to translate. A little reminder however, that Mr. Pelling is not in the medieval camp from my understanding and that can surely work in our favour. That being attributed to his own emphatic discounting of anything to do with 1438 or any year south of that mark, his emminent self set on a date closer to the 1486 emergence of our modern era in historical terms. In effect Nick is disputing what Greg and Rene his fake date groomer came up with on their wacky C14 gizmo. It stands to reason hence that he agrees more ir less with our own modern day hoax solution, one which all the smart will be on before you can say sweet Lily from Manhatten…cheers js

    • proto57 Says:

      Hi John, Tommy & Diane: You are all welcome to continue this conversation, if you like, in the appropriate categories of the brand spanking new “Official Voynich Net Forum”, at: voynich.net/forum

      All I ask is that we all keep it civil, because we don’t want to scare away any newbies… or oldbies for that matter. Some of the acid wit excersised here, in these comments (me included) might burn the forum down before it takes root.

      I would love to see all of you there…

      Stay safe,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: