Rebuttal to “NoFake”

I was recently in a discussion with a proponent, and author, of a New World origin theory for the Voynich Manuscript, and he believes my 1910 Forgery Hypothesis is without merit. Of course that is fine, I relish disagreement, it is the “oil of the machine of progress”. But what interests me most about rebuttal is just “how” the were arrived at, and how they are supported? I am less interested in both agreement and disagreement alike, if the basis for either is unfounded.

It is usually the case that the critiques of my forgery theory use the meticulous and well-researched pages of, founded and edited by the Voynich expert, René Zandbergen. Most argument used to dismiss my claims seem to originate from those pages, or to some other source based on them, or past work that they draw from. Other sources are the recent Yale book about the Voynich, for which René is one of the contributors and advisers.

But it is clear that a major force in many people’s “understanding” of what the Voynich is, and what it is not, owe as a basis the works of Mr. Zandbergen. It has become a starting point for many researchers, a reference for articles and blogs, and, it seems, a sort of “proxy” opponent for any theories which run counter to it. A person does not have to understand the basis for their own argument, and often, they do not. All they have to do is repeat the things they have been told are so.

Many conclusions are given there as known, unassailable proofs, when they are actually based on speculation, and are, in fact, opinions: that the Voynich is known to be a 15th century genuine work, that it appears in pre-1912 records, that it was made within a short period of time, that it was owned by Horicky, that it was in the Court of Rudolf, that it was once believed to be a Roger Bacon work, that Kircher saw and commented on it… and much, much, more. All these things are still unknown, based on speculation, and often contradicted by the evidence. The second problem is that those pages do not properly describe, if they describe at all, the great many anomalies, anachronisms and inconsistency in the Voynich and its purported “provenance”.

I’ve addressed many of the hundreds of problems with this carefully constructed “image” over the years. But the task is an onerous one, and the genie is long out of the bottle. It has spread through media and popular culture, has become the basis of many books and articles, and now forms the “understanding” for hundreds of posts on the Voynich, around the web.

But this post is about one page from that site, the one which was used as a direct “proxy rebuttal” to my own 1910 Modern Forgery theory, by the New World theorist I was engaged with. He told me that I “… need to refute all [René’s] arguments” on the page, “Why the Voynich MS is not a Modern Fake“.

The importance of this page is that it is clearly the “best shot” that the 1420 Paradigm can levy against the possibility of a modern fake. It is written by the man often described as the premiere Voynich expert. There would clearly be no argument against fake left off of this page, and I can attest to this, as I have heard all the arguments. It is also clear that that page is at least partially reactionary to my own work these past years, although I am not specifically named in them. While the idea that the manuscript may simply be a forgery by Wilfrid Voynich has been around a long time, I have pushed the envelope of that investigation further than it has ever gone, using new research and observations not previously considered. This work, and these ideas, have unfortunately caused a rift in the field of Voynich research, but also a necessary, and necessarily public discussion about it. “Nofake” is an attempt to close the matter, to dissuade others to not consider modern forgery, to claim there is no merit in the idea… and so I consider it my right and responsibility to counter it.

Notes: In the quote boxes are copied the wording from “Why the Voynich MS is not a Modern Fake“, or from other sources so identified, with my comments and rebuttals below them. If anything has been omitted by me, it is because of its repetitive nature, or some other reason rendering it moot to the discussion. But of course one is welcome to point out any items from that page that they may feel pertinent to the issue, and I will of course address that in the comments below.

“Part 1: codicological and forensic evidence”

“The MS is written on previously unused parchment”

This is irrelevant to the issue of forgery, first of all, as many forgers use and have used old material, either blank, or erased (palimpsests). The Voynich might be written on either, we don’t know. The only evidence given for it not being a palimpsest is that no scraping or sanding marks have been found. However, because of the pre-conception the Voynich “must” be old), more modern bleaching methods, which do not scrape the surface, have not been tested for.

“The sewing/stitching of the binding is centuries old. On photographs (e.g. IMG: here) it is partly hidden by Kraus’ restorations of 50 years ago, but it was studied in detail by several expert MS conservators on 7 November 2014.”

Old stitching can be faked, and also often is. Note the “disclaimer” here: the mention of “Kraus’ restorations”. This is frequently done in defense of anomalies: anything anachronistic is said to be “added” by someone else, while anything consistent with the paradigm is just fine. We don’t know exactly what Kraus did and did not do, it should not be used as an excuse for anachronisms.

But let’s look at the actual verdict of the experts on binding, as per the Yale book, “The Voynich Manuscript”, edited by Raymond Clemens (2016), for René’s claim that the construction is “centuries old“:

On page 25, typical Gothic period (1300-1600) stitching is described as “generally” using linen thread (for the quires) onto “raised, double, tawed-leather thongs”. The Voynich, on the contrary, is described as having “bast fiber thread (linen or hemp) onto double cords of flax”. So that is different than “general Gothic” practice. The Yale author is conscious of this, and gives this disclaimer, “Although it is not unheard of for a fifteenth-century manuscript to be sewn onto flax supports, as the Voynich manuscript is, it is less usual than the use of leather supports”.

So that is not a good match, it is “less usual” to find this. So that counters the claim that we KNOW the binding is “centuries old”.

Further on,

“The sewing appears to be very old…”

That is, “appears to be”, not “known to be”. Forgers always make things “appear to be”, so this is not a firm statement of authenticity… Yale continues,

“… and is either original or an imitation of that used in the early Gothic period”

It could be “an imitation“? Now isn’t that what forgers do, “imitate” old stuff? This, again, counters René’s impression that we know the binding is “centuries old”… but leaves open the possibility some of the construction may be an imitation of it.

I’d like to add here a link to a blog page of Diane O’Donovan. I mentioned my intention to post my thoughts on  the “telling” wording of the Yale examinations. She had also noted this months ago, and did an great job of breaking down, in detail, the “how and why” of it all: (It goes without saying that Diane has her own opinions as to what the Voynich may or  may not be, and most very different than mine… but like me, and many others, she realizes that much which has been stated as fact about the Voynich Ms., while there are anything but settled).

The Yale essay then describes random holes, that do not seem “indicate a different arrangement of folios”, but “may have been stabbed by mistake while setting up the text for sewing; others may be merely evidence of insect damage”.

There you see that they do not know the origin of these holes, nor, I point out, can they differentiate between worm holes and accidentally poked holes. From these statements by the experts, I think it is perfectly reasonable to come to alternate opinions, such as that previously used parchment with old holes was used. Or, perhaps, with worm holes, and disassembled and re-used, as the holes do not line up to anything… and so on.

The essay then goes on the explain the possibility that the work was dis-bound and re-bound at some point… which it must have, because of the missing leaves and scrambled order. Then it continues,

“The parchment binding and endleaves (first and last pages of the book) are not original to the text and may have been added in the eighteenth century” by the Jesuits.

Note that they are not describing JUST the endleaves as being added in the eighteenth century, but they include the binding… so yes, that is still under René’s claim of “centuries old”, but about “two” centuries, not the five plus centuries which he was clearly implying to make the case for a 15th century origin.

The Yale book then explains that a note in pencil states the “sewing and cover were repaired in the 1960’s”. Do we know what was repaired, what was replaced? I don’t think so, but anyway, again, this is not “centuries old”. The book goes on,

“Although parchment or leather spine linings were commonly used at this time, paper spine linings like that found in the Voynich Manuscript were not.”

So there is yet another case of anachronistic materials and construction. Then the examiners write that “… determining its age or origin might offer further clues that would help place the manuscript geographically”… in other words, they seem to consider this anomalous, anachronistic paper spine lining to be original, but have not “determined” their age nor origin! Once again, countering René’s claim these experts concluded the binding was “centuries old“.

The Yale experts then add that the insect holes and staining on the first and last leaves indicate an older wooden-board binding, covered in leather, was once there… which is “more typical for the Gothic period”. Read another way, another affirmation that the materials and construction of the binding and covers is NOT typical for the “Gothic period”, in that there is a possibility a gothic-age clue WAS there, once, but it is now gone.

So much to the contrary to RZ’s claim that the tests and examination determined the binding is known to be “centuries old“, what the experts actually tell us is quite different: that the materials, construction and practice of binding the Voynich deviates in ways anomalous and/or anachronistic to what would be expected of the C14 date range. I’d go as far as to say the conclusions of Yale actually support other reasonable conclusions, including fake.

Back to’s “nofake” page:

“Beside remnants of old paper lining, very tiny fragments of leather were observed attached to the back of the text block, as leftovers from an earlier binding”

I am not sure where this comes from… maybe Yale again… but it is irrelevant. Wherever blank vellum sheets, or blank quires, or a blank book was salvaged from, for genuine old use, or modern fake, there may be “tiny fragments of leather” stuck to it.

“The folds of the foldout pages show signs of very significant wear”

Again, irrelevant. Almost every forger since the beginning of time makes certain that they wear, and stain, and beat, and worm hole, and crack and abrade the work, to imply age. But skipped over here… although my rebuttal here is less about why it may be a forgery: The foldout pages are actually a major clue to forgery, as the they are anachronistic by several hundred years (see Clemens, Yale, and below) to the 1420 Paradigm. I speculate that they are also are a clue that a forger may have started with all full size folios to begin with, as in my “Three Quire Theory”: They simply left some large, and folded them.

“When Kraus acquired the MS, the cover was almost entirely detached. However, the imprints on the dorso made by the old binding (i.e. without Kraus’ repairs) show that it must have been attached tightly for a longer time. There are signs of additional (previous) stitching holes, showing that early in its history it has most probably been rebound in its present form”

Again, not clues (even if correctly pointing to “old”, and not simply pressed together for some lesser time) necessarily pointing to age of the book as a whole, but actually may be a clue to the re-use of the parchment. This also is a case of the assumptions that anything “too new” was due to Kraus, or some other later hands, such as the Jesuits, or Voynich… and anything looking old enough means “genuine”. Also note that René cherry-picked one possible explanation for those extra holes (“rebound”), and also, that this is actually moot to genuine and forgery alike. Nonetheless, as we have seen, the experts didn’t have an explanation for the extra holes.

“There are wormholes on the very few first and last folios. They don’t extend into the MS because these insects did not feed on parchment. The holes cut through writing and drawing elements, showing that they appeared after the MS was written.”

This demonstrates the frequent misuse of forgery evidence, being spun to instead imply genuine. This because a clue often used to determine the authenticity of a document is the “lining up” of wormholes between sheets. But here, wormholes don’t line up with anything. So they are both being used to imply genuine, with, “there are wormholes”, and “through writing and drawing elements”; but then the evidence they are not genuine, i.e., they don’t line up to any other, continued, holes, is explained away, with “these insects did not feed on parchment”. So these particular ones did just the perfect amount of feeding: They ate through JUST enough parchment to prove it is old, then stopped… proving the parchment is old again.

Furthermore, I am unclear on just how the determination was made they appeared “after the MS was written” to begin with, as wormholes are commonly faked anyway, and difficult to judge the authenticity of. Fake wormholes have fooled many experts. In any case, elsewhere in Yale, as described above, the stray holes are indistinguishable to the examiner between poked with a tool, and insect holes.

“There are stains on f1r and f116v from an earlier cover. Combining this information with that related to the wormholes, the experts conclude that the MS must have had an earlier cover of wooden boards covered by tanned leather.”

This is not evidence of forgery. Staining is easily and often replicated, and has historically fooled many examiners of forgeries.

“The MS does not include yellow flowers, unlike essentially all other illustrated herbals. Upon closer inspection, it appears that there are remnants of a faded yellow pigment, which must have been an organic yellow that has faded through the ages.”

This “faded yellow pigment” has not been tested, first of all… or, we assume it has not, by McCrone. It does not appear in their report. And in the Yale book, it says nothing about this yellow pigment having “faded through the ages”, only that it “might be organic” (page34). Unless I missed it, I’ll assume that it was René who speculated that this yellow “… has faded through the ages”.

How long does it take yellow pigment to fade? Forgers also fake aged paints and dyes, by falsely adding oxidized ingredients and colors, by treating them, by method of application. So would a forgery know that yellow fades? Anything an examiner knows, a forger knows. Sometimes, more. So how do we know a forger didn’t simply apply a thin yellow? Or fade it? In any case, it is yet another claim of René’s that seems to really be his own opinion, and does not reflect any specific expert observation or analysis, and which can again have many alternate opinions ascribed to it.

“In 2009 radio-carbon dating of the parchment and forensic testing of the paints and inks was performed. The parchment dates from the early decades of the 15th Century”

First of all, skipped over is the fact that the ink was not, and cannot be, dated. Medieval inks can be mixed up this afternoon, if we desire, and McCrone never dated the ink. But as to the parchment date of “… from the early decades of the 15th Century”, this is demonstrably untrue. The dating of the samples are actually from a range of between the latter part of the 14th century, through the late 15th, or even early 16th centuries, according to René on his site, and elsewhere:

“All tests of the inks and paints, both in 2009 and 2015, failed to bring to light any trace of elements inconsistent with this date. This is a test where fakes perpetrated more than a century ago are almost inevitable to fall through.”

On the contrary, the ink and paint tests do show several anomalies, such as “slightly unusual” copper and zinc; a “titanium compound”, and an unknown gum binder not in the McCrone sample base, and much more. In fact, the report recommends further tests in some areas, in order to resolve these questions.

But even if anachronistic ink constituents were not found, it is not at all “inevitable” that fakes have such problems with their inks. There are many cases of forgeries with quite good inks… that is the point of forgers learning how to make them. In fact, the Voynich’s long time friend and partner, Sidney Reilly (M15 double agent and spy) took a book on mixing medieval inks out of the Cambridge library. Voynich was a trained chemist.

“Part 2: Evidence of Provenance”

“When, around the year 2000, several references to the Voynich MS dating from the 17th Century were found in the correspondence of Kircher, the main reason for the above suspicion about the Voynich MS was removed.”

The references (Kircher Carteggio letters) are, first of all, vague and do not satisfactorily describe the Voynich. Stars, “chemical symbolism”, “plants unknown to the Germans, unknown script… could all describe a great many manuscripts. Conversely, many prominent, identifiable features of the Voynich are NOT described in those letters, when it would be logical to include them in any discussing attempting to identify it: Nude women, the zodiacs, the cylinders, and so on… this area is ripe with points, enough for a book in itself… such as that several of the cylinders look so much like Kircher OWN MICROSCOPE… that it is absurd to think the similarity would not have occurred to him.

And the “Ilyrian” in the Kinner letter, long thought to be a reference to the mysterious text in the same letter, turned out to be… with a better translation… referring to another, known, work. In fact the record was updated to reflect this, with a new rationalization, weakly claiming, again, it is evidence the Voynich was being described. But far from knowing the “several references” are known to be of the “Voynich MS”, the evidence is actually that some other manuscript other than the Voynich is being described. I call it that unknown ms. the “Baresch Manuscript”.

Also, that these letters were likely kept in the Villa Mondragone, under the care of Joseph Strickland, who was a friend of Voynich’s. And Strickland and his brothers actually attended the college there, years before. The often repeated idea that Voynich could not have seen them, or seen any record or report based on them, is unsupported, and in fact, unlikely, in my opinion.

“Further suspicion about Voynich as a possible faker arose because of his legendary capability of finding previously unknown books (primarily incunables and early prints). It has been suggested that these could be fakes. This aspect is addressed (without the suspicions) in Whitemann (2006), and here we see that many unique or previously unknown books offered for sale by Voynich were soon found in several other copies, showing that this particular suspicion was equally not founded.”

I’ve never heard anyone publicly state these early incunabula might be fakes, so I imagine René is referring to a private exchange we had on this subject. But whether the early incunabula… he is referring to the sale of 150 to the British museum, in, I think, 1902… are real or not, is irrelevant to the question of whether the Voynich, or other works Voynich owned, are real.

“Voynich’s secrecy related to his acquisition of the MS could be a further source for suspicion, but now we know that he acquired several MSs at the same time, many of which are now preserved in American libraries. All of these are genuine old MSs which originate from the Jesuit Collegium Romanum.”

Again, it is irrelevant whether or not these are fakes. Forgers, art and book dealers alike, might, and have, sold only a few fakes, or one, while at the same time selling a much greater number of genuine items.

That being said, several of the works Voynich bought at the same time as the Voynich are questionable, and have been questioned. He has even sold at least one known fake. But that is also a topic for another paper, as it is, as I said, irrelevant to whether or not the Voynich is fake.

“His secrecy applied equally to these genuine MSs, and it was because of a promise made when he acquired these MSs. It clearly has nothing to do with a supposed fake. Most of the collection from which he acquired these MSs is now in the Vatican library.”

See above… and also, I point out, that Wilfrid’s stories used to impose this “secrecy” are varied and contradictory in many cases. In short, we know he lied about provenance, on several occasions, and gave highly suspicious provenance in others. So to use the word of Voynich in any case, of any owned and/or sold work, does not help us to know for certain the provenance of any of them.

“We can see that the cover of the Voynich MS is similar to other MSs that he acquired at the same time, and also similar to the MSs that went to the Vatican. The similarity of all these covers was the result of a general rebinding by the Jesuits reported in Ruysschaert (1959). The historical archives of the Pontifical Gregorian University have even published a text written shortly before this rebinding indicating that such a rebinding was needed because the collection was infected by woodworms.”

This is covering for the fact that the binding and cover of the Voynich are actually more modern than the C14 tests of the parchment revealed. It also now contradicts René’s previous statement the binding is “centuries old“. If this reported “general rebinding” by the Jesuits, then it is only a bit over a century old.

“We see that the evidence related to the provenance and the codicology are fully consistent.”

No, the evidence is anything but consistent, and the provenance anything but convincing, as I’ve shown above.

“At least three of the books that were acquired by Voynich on this occasion, and later sold by him, were seen and consulted before 1870 while they were in “the Collegium Romanum library. Many of these MSs still show their original Collegium Romanum shelfmarks. Some 25 manuscripts (including autographs) of Kircher that are now preserved elsewhere can also be traced back with certainty to the Collegium Romanum library, so it is fully consistent to find the Voynich MS, that was sent by Marci to Kircher in 1665, in the same collection.”

It is irrelevant what else was in the Collegium Romanum, as to where the Voynich may or may not have come from. But note again an important point which is glossed over: “Many of these MSs still show their original Collegium Romanum shelfmarks.” The thing is, the Voynich does not have any label, any shelfmark, any indication at all this was in the CRL, or with these other books, at any time. No shelfmark, no descriptive ex libris, when many other books which René is attempting to relate by proximity, to the Voynich, do actually have these. Again, this is another case where a damning bit of evidence is spun to seem to support genuine.

“Two letters letters from Godefrid Aloys Kinner to Kircher, written in 1666 and 1667 respectively and now preserved in the Kircher correspsondence, tell us that Marci had recently sent an unreadable MS to Kircher for translation (see note 10). The unnamed previous owner of the MS that Marci referred to in his letter has now been identified as one Georg Barschius, and one of the letters he reportedly sent to Kircher has also been found. Equally, the response from Kircher to an even earlier (now lost) letter from Barschius has been found in Prague.”

See above, i.e. the “letters” are unconvincing in their description of the manuscript, and it is more likely some other manuscript, either lost or unidentified as such, than it is the Voynich.

“In summary, we have a fully consistent trace of the Voynich MS from the 17th Century till its discovery in 1912 by Voynich.”

See above… this is not at all a reasonable conclusion. On the contrary, the Voynich has virtually NO acceptable provenance at all, and no real “trace” and not at all “consistent”. Any case for provenance needs to be invented, and it was by Wilfrid, and is still done, today. See the new claim that the “1903 catalog entry” is the Voynich… claimed as possible on René’s page, which morphed into fact by the time he wrote his essay for the Yale publication.

The two most similar methods of argument are always those of the forger, and the defenders of forgeries. The exact same rationalizations, omissions, argumentative tactics, are used by both, and this “nofake” page continues to reflect this. There is virtually nothing of value connecting the Voynich to the Collegium Romanum, to the Villa Mondragone, or to any of the players that Voynich, René, and all 1420 adherents insist you believe were involved. In fact, there is no plausible, reliable evidence that the Voynich existed before about 1908.

Part 3: About faking artefacts

“Around the start of the 20th Century there certainly was an active trade in faked old artefacts of all nature. The most famous proponent of this trade is the so-called ‘Spanish Forger’…

In this section, René relates several known forgeries, and states that longer ms. forgeries are not made, for various reasons. He seems to be trying to show that in all aspects the Voynich is not similar to other forgeries, and that forgeries of the type and length of the Voynich would not be made, based on the limited information he has supplied, and that “therefore” the Voynich is not a forgery.

This is an illogical path of argument for several reasons: First of all, while no two forgeries are the same, and while the Voynich is likewise a unique work , the Voynich still has more similarities to many known forgeries, by far, than any real, or even forged, manuscript that I know of. So it is wrong to try and say there is no forgery like it, therefore it cannot be a forgery… rather I counter, there are many forgeries with some of the characteristics of the Voynich, and the Voynich has many characteristics, in one place, of many forgeries. These were outlined in my talk before the NSA in 2017:

Another false argument here is that it would not be “worth it” to make such a long forgery. But first of all, Voynich wanted between $1.6 and about $2 million dollars, in today’s currency, and that is quite a worthwhile return for, at most, a year’s worth of spare time. And furthermore, there is a long precedent for making long manuscript faux books, which took a great deal of time and effort, and offered no monetary return. Among them are the Chittenden Manuscript, which I examined in person.

The Chittenden, and many other “faux books”, belie the claim that “nobody would do this”. For more examples:

René then cites the longer forgery, the Archaic Mark, which actually counters his own claims that it would not be worth it, or too risky, to make a longer forgery. So he switches gears, and disallows this example by saying “The parchment has been scraped to remove any earlier writing and painting on it. The forensic reports clearly indicate the presence of anachronistic elements in the paints, and a suspicious binding.” He is discounting the good example of another long forgery because it was revealed to be one. This is irrelevant, because there are many forgeries, some found out, and some, not. At least, it would be ridiculous to assume that only those forgeries we discovered, exist.

And then, despite his claims longer works are not made as forgeries, he actually links to several, in that section:

So which is it? Was it done, or not? Well it was done, and done often, both despite and because of René’s passage on this subject. Several long forgeries do exist, several long faux books of various types, do exist, and still, their existence really does not affect whether or not the Voynich is yet another one. But by René’s reasoning, it does matter… so in effect, in this section, he has countered his own point.

Part 4: W. Voynich’s means, motive and opportunity

“… if the Voynich MS were a modern forgery, then the forger needed a large amount of previously unused parchment from the early 15th C. Since we saw above that the stitching of the MS is very old…”

Shown above, the binding as old is questionable, not “we saw” it is known to be from the early 15th century. Also, René is aware of the 1908 purchase of the Libreria Franceschini, the repository of perhaps 500,000 items collected over a period of 40 plus years. It would be difficult to accept that no quantity of blank vellum could not be found in the massive piles of ancient material there.

“… one might suggest that the MS was written in a previously bound volume with empty pages, but this can be excluded for three different reasons.”

One might, but it is not necessary, and I do not. I know of no-one who thinks the Voynich was written on a previously bound, blank book. And there are several other ways in which the Voynich may have been created. From cut down larger folios, from pre-stitched quires, which have been un-stitched, then re-stitched, and so on. In any case, if re-ordered (and we know it was), why does it have to be for genuine reasons? It can simply have been un-stiched to work on, and reassembled, by anyone, at any time.

“The first is that in several locations drawings and text ‘disappear’ in the binding, so these pages were written, drawn and even painted before they were bound.”

OK, that works for forgery, too.

“Secondly, no previously bound book with blank pages would have the occasional foldout folios that the Voynich MS has.”

Aha! Once again the anachronistic fold outs, which are actually evidence of forgery, are being used to claim that it cannot be a forgery! And “why?” one would ask, also, would “no previously bound book with blank pages” “have the occasional foldout folios”? Because they were not used in the era suggested for the Voynich. But this claim also makes no sense, because René is not disputing that the foldouts do exist, that they were not used, that they were not once, blank. So this is also sort of odd, to say that no blank book would have had foldouts, because… well, OK, they wouldn’t. It was from sheets, whether the Voynich is real or fake, old or new.

“Finally, it would also be expected that the pages had been trimmed.”

René knows that many of the edges of many leaves of the Voynich do appear to have been trimmed. But other than that, I am unclear of his point here. Why? would we expect a blank book, or the use of sheets for a forgery, and so on, if a forgery, to be trimmed more or less than a real book?

“… and an old book dealer like Voynich would be in a good position to have occasional access to unused sheets of old parchment, by dismembering old books.”

Well, yes… and an argument for the possibility of fake, again, not against it. Again I must note his acquisition of the Libreria Franceshini, in 1908, which was the repository of over 500,000 of everything and anything possible.

“For a moderately long MS like the Voynich MS, in such a case one would expect to find a patchwork of parchment from different ages, something that was specifically taken into account during the radio-carbon dating of the Voynich MS…”

This statement is frankly stunning, because, in fact, the Voynich Manuscript IS A “patchwork of parchment from different ages“! The samples ARE “from different ages”… 50-60 years, up to 200 years apart. But then, this odd claim that this was “something that was taken into account during the radio carbon dating”. It was NOT taken into account, it was altered. The actual results were modified, based on several “assumptions”, then “combined”, to produce a “1420” friendly range of 1404 to 1438.

“In reality, the parchment is of similar quality throughout the MS, and not a patchwork of different types or from different ages.”

Roughly similar types, although the quality varies. And that other “error” is repeated, because they are “from different ages“.

“Another possibility is that the MS could have been created from a stack of sheets of previously unused parchment that had been preserved for 500 years and never used for a book. In both above-mentioned cases, the mixture of normal-sized folios and large foldouts of different sizes, yet from similar parchment that has been dated to a single time frame, makes this scenario unrealistic.”

Why? Three quires of unused, full size parchment would make all the pages of the Voynich, including all the foldouts (from uncut sheets). But note the “unrealistic” appended to this… the site is peppered with such claims, without foundational merit, as here. At least this is openly stated as an opinion, which it is, but then it has no identified basis in itself.

And again, a repetition of the erroneous “single time frame” claim. This is a perfect demonstration as to how a mis-characterization can be recycled endlessly, to seemingly lend support to a million other points. That is practically the definition of “circular reasoning”, and in this case, based on a single untrue claim.

“This argument is also presented in Zyats et al. (2016).”

The statement referred to here is going to be the subject of a blog post at some time. It is one of the more convoluted twists of logic, which to my mind is indicative of the understanding by those holding this paradigm that they have problems. I think the correct term for it is “confirmation bias”:

Zyats et all wrote (Yale, 2016),

“The quantity and size of the foldouts in the Voynich Manuscript are very unusual for the time period; it is rare to find so many large pieces of parchment folded into a single textblock, and this seems to indicate authenticity: In the twentieth century it would be quite difficult to find this many large sheets of genuine medieval parchment in order to produce a forgery.”

OK, “very unusual”, which should then, and normally would, cause a scholar to question the authenticity, or at least the age, of the work. They know this, so they need to “spin” into something the opposite, “… it would be quite difficult to find this many large sheets of genuine medieval parchment in order to produce a forgery.” This is incorrect, it would not have been all that difficult, and especially not for Voynich. But back to “nofake”:

“And we do need to keep in mind that the parchment has been bound together centuries ago.”

Again a repeat of the “centuries old” binding, which the experts in no way could or did, conclude.

“Motivation and opportunity are closely linked. The statements of Voynich related to his discovery of the MS… “

I don’t follow this “reasoning”. Does it matter? Something like “He bought other real books, so would not have faked…” I am not sure.

“The Voynich MS appears in the Jesuit list of books for sale, written in 1903, but in a way that does not allow a positive identification….”

This is the newly invented “1903” claim I mentioned above. Not only does it “not allow a positive identification”, it in no ways should be considered a reference to the Voynich. But that seems to matter not, for René stated it as fact in the Yale book, with no disclaimer at all.

“So, could Voynich have seen the letter from Barschius and faked the Voynich MS accordingly? This highly speculative option has a number of severe problems, that basically fall into two different categories: the first is that it is highly unlikely that he could ever have seen the letter, and the second that, even if he had, the resulting fake should have looked very different.”

I consider this statement a “gem”. You see, those letters are used by the 1420 Paradigm as foundational evidence that the Voynich is genuine. For years, I and others argue that they do not describe the Voynich very well at all. And René and others have ridiculed me for suggesting they don’t describe the Voynich, or ignored the issue, and so on…

… But now, right here, René is admitting that the letters are not a good description of the Voynich, and that if the Voynich was made to match those letters, “.. the resulting fake should have looked very different”. So the argument is both that they do describe the Voynich, therefore the Voynich is real; but they don’t describe the Voynich, therefore the Voynich is not fake. This is contrary application of standards being used to imply support of one’s position.

“This is all very speculative, and there is no need to go into the details, because there is an even greater problem, namely the lack of motive and opportunity.”

This is another case of adding in unsubstantiated claims borrowed from another section of the page. He arguably, and plausibly, had motives (money, name recognition, marital hegemony); and that he had the opportunity and materials in the Libreria and his book enterprises in general.

“There is no possible scenario for Voynich creating the MS. Did he get the idea before he saw the Collegium Romanum MSs and the Barschius letter (at a time when he could still have had a financial motivation)? This is the unacceptable coincidence mentioned above. Did he get the idea after? Here, he was about to make the most lucrative deal of his entire career, so there was absolutely no motive to spend a large effort and cost, at great risk, on a completely uncertain fake. He sold his first two MSs from the Collegium Romanum collection before July 1912 for an amount that is equivalent with 1.4 Million US Dollars in 2015. And there was no time because the MS was already seen in London by the end of 1912”

This is a “straw man” argument: First, René creates a forgery scenario that he feels cannot work, rather than relate an actual forgery theory which is totally workable. Then, he “shoots down” the straw man forgery theory he created. It includes a scenario in which Voynich would have created the manuscript before seeing the Barschius letter, which I and no one I know, does. I posit the Voynich Ms. was created about 1908/10, before the other works were sold. And in any case, why would it be assumed that he, or anyone, would hold off creating any forgery just because they were in the process of profiting from other sales?

I would point out that if one needs to construct an imaginary argument for an imaginary opponent, as done here, then it might indicate a lack of ability to argue the actual case against forgery.

Part 5: Evidence from W. Voynich’s actions and correspondence

“No clear theory has been formulated about how or why Voynich would have faked the MS.”

There are several, and René full well knows this. Why not post a link to my page on the subject? I cite his pages all the time, for those things good and bad, agree or not.

I also point out that while there are several “clear theories” as to how it could have been faked, there is, despite over 100 years of looking at the work as genuine, “no clear theory” as to who, when, exactly when or where it may have been made, if 1420, and genuine.

“Did he also fake the Marci letter at the same time?”

Probably later. René is also fully aware, and again, but leaves out, that Voynich “inexplicably” (although my theory explains it) didn’t “notice” the Marci letter for some time. I believe that this letter is faked, for several reasons.  But in short, no, not at the same time, but probably later, and probably to help nudge the Voynich manuscript into a desired new authorship: Roger Bacon. For without that letter, there would have been no Roger Bacon.

“Did he also anticipate the full provenance from Bacon to present through John Dee as part of his plan?”

Not sure of everything he means here… but real or fake, the Dee connection was provably fabricated by Voynich himself, and fake or real, the Bacon/Marci letter was in his possession, so no “anticipation” was necessary in any of it.

“Following is a summary of Voynich’s own activities related to the MS, after he acquired it. It is based primarily on letters preserved in the Beinecke library.”

The arguments are a bit of “scattershot”, but I may as well address them:

“In 1911 or 1912 Voynich obtained the various MSs from the Jesuits, according to different sources.”

The “different sources” are DeRicci, Russysheart (sp?), and Voynich himself. It seems, however, that DiRicci (1937?) is partly compiled from the word of Voynich, and/or the word of Ethel after his death.

“These sources can be reconciled if one assumes that Voynich became involved in 1911, and the sale was completed in 1912. Already on 29 July 1912 there is an invoice to Pierpont Morgan for two manuscripts that Voynich acquired from the Jesuits. These had already passed through several hands, and through an unsuccessful sales negotiation with the archbishop of Budapest.”

OK, but again, those sales are irrelevant to the question of VMs authenticity.

“In December 1912 the MS is admired by potential buyers in Voynich’s London shop at Shaftesbury avenue”

René is referring to the Sowerby chapter on Voynich, which, by the way, I scanned, converted to a PDF and sent to him. He didn’t previously have a copy, which I am lucky to possess (wonderful book, by a wonderful woman). But I point this out, because in that chapter are outlined many unusual attitudes and actions by Voynich, and other related book dealers, which René ignores here. There is much to raise one’s eyebrows on a careful reader of Sowerby. That is another topic, but for an example, an issue Sowerby relates led to me learning this:

“In November 1914 Voynich makes his first trip to the USA. In his 1921 presentation he states that at this time he had not yet seen the barely visible Tepenec signature on f1r of the MS.”

René is also aware that I found… in the Beinecke archives René previously searched, and somehow did not find, or report on… the only known pre-treatment image of the “signature”, which show that his later claims to not have seen the “signature” are highly questionable. This, because WE can see it: If we can see it, pre-treatment, then it is plausible that Voynich actually saw it, too. And more importantly, that if genuine, it should have been seen by Baresch/Marci/Kinner/Kircher, but they do not mention this valuable piece of “evidence” to the mystery.

“In October-November 1915 Voynich has several exhibitions of (a.o.) some of the manuscripts he had obtained from the Jesuits. He sells quite a number of items at these occasions. He spreads the story that he discovered them himself in a castle in Austria, after tracing some correspondence. This story is known not to be true. In 1916 he sold the “Vitae Patrum” MS (also from the same collection) to Morgan for US$ 75,000 (half the original asking price).”

Again, another story, and irrelevant to the question of authenticity of the Voynich.

“On 19 July 1930, four months after the death of Voynich, his widow writes a letter, to be opened after her death, about what Voynich told her in confidence: that he acquired the MSs (the Voynich MS being one of them) from the Vatican through the help of the Jesuit Fr. Strickland.”

… Voynich’s close friend, as I wrote. Alternate opinions as to the use of testimony of the dead may be raised here, but if anything, the use does little to argue against forgery.

“This took place in Frascati. He was invited to buy them in or around 1911. He had to promise absolute secrecy about the sale.”

Wilfrid “says”, but we know he lied several times, about provenance. Voynich’s word is proof of nothing, and only “evidence” of genuine by being hopefully and selectively used.

“The reader may judge whether it is reasonable that all of this is just ‘show’ to cover up his faking of the MS.”

But the thing is, the association of “all of this” to the actual Voynich Ms. in front of us, is purely speculation, based on little information, some known errors, and much omission, all combined with the few words of the untrustworthy Voynich. In fact all we really “know” is that the parchment of the Voynich dates from the late 14th through early 16th centuries, that Wilfrid was a book dealer, and that he often lied about what he did and didn’t do. So the “show” is not Voynich’s… it is all the stuff the people of the 1420 Paradigm, based on some slim and contrary claims of Wilfrid, along with some contradictory and inconclusive forensic evidence, have built it up to be.

But that is the main tactic here, and the root problem, for “Nofake”, and for that matter, for pro-1420 Genuine: A large, complex set of rationalizations is created and used to support them, which then results in a construct so big, it is then asked, “How could Voynich have done all of this?“.

The answer is simply, “He didn’t do it- you did it for him”.



71 Responses to “Rebuttal to “NoFake””

  1. nickpelling Says:

    Rich: I’m particularly focused on the Voynich’s codicology, because – unlike provenance threads, which a skilled fabulist can weave into whatever pattern he or she desires – it offers a more forensic and logical way of answering the fundamental question of how the object was constructed.

    It was therefore a disappointment to me that the discussion of the construction in the Yale book fell so short, when so much good work had already been done.

    But at the same time, your summary here of their work is biased in the extreme, your quoting overselective, and the alternatives you suggest are naive and not credible.

    There is a right answer to be had to the question of how the Voynich was constructed, but the sophistry you use to sidestep difficulties rather than to meet them head on does your argument (such as it is) no favours. 😦

    • proto57 Says:

      Hi Nick! Thank you for your input… I see you do agree with some of my first points, sort of. As for:

      “… your summary here of their work is biased in the extreme, your quoting overselective,”

      I’d agree with “biased”, in the sense of my rebuttal here being my “counter opinion”.

      And as for being “overselective”, very much so… in this sense. I was not reviewing the Yale book, what I was doing was selecting those points from that book which counter the claims René has made on “nofake”. The experts simply did not come to the conclusions that he says they did.

      I would be glad to be less selective, when and if I review the book in it’s entirety. I’d love to, but this was not the place… it was both not necessary for this rebuttal, and leaving out the other points does not undermine my rebuttal, either. I “selected” those points necessary to show that the experts who examined the Voynich did not come to the conclusions which René stated they did, on “nofake”.

      There is much good about the book, and I respect the abilities and insights that are in there, to a large extent. And honestly I was surprised when really paying attention to the observations and opinions of the examiners, that in reality they do not give the Voynich a clean bill of health, so to speak.

      And I have critisisme of it, too… but this was not the place to review the book, and so yes I had to select the parts relevent to the “nofake” statements..

      “… and the alternatives you suggest are naive and not credible.”

      I appreciate that you feel that way, that is your opinion. We all have them. I don’t feel genuine nor old are at all credible, so there you go… the name of the game here, we’ve been dealing with a long time now.

      “There is a right answer to be had to the question of how the Voynich was constructed, but the sophistry you use to sidestep difficulties rather than to meet them head on does your argument (such as it is) no favours.”

      As for my using “sophistry”, I’m not sure how… I try to be as direct and pragmatic in explaining my points, and feel no need to use it. But as for “sidestepping” any difficulties.. do you mean for my own theories, or the book? In either case, you should know by now, I never avoid an issue or criticism, and welcome open discussion. So if you feel I’ve avoided anything, let me know, and I’ll give you my opinion on it.

      I would counter, in fact, that it is I who try to get others to face “difficulties” “head on”… because I feel so many anomalies and anachronisms of the Voynich have been avoided for far too long. They need to be to “keep it real”. But if you think I’ve not done this in some way, as always, I’m willing to discuss it.

      • nickpelling Says:

        Rich: you misunderstand my point about codicology, which is that your standard evasions (e.g. that you feel that the manuscript is neither genuine nor old) are not relevant to the forensic logic of the construction. How it was made is how it was made, so we should all be able to work towards understanding the construction, because that should be a bedrock of primary observation and reasoning upon which everything else should be built.

        As far as sophistry goes, your normal method of counterargument is to present a possible scenario you have plucked from the air (that is, with no flicker of evidence to support it) and then verbally normalize the two (i.e. the original argument and your possible scenario) as merely equivalent ‘opinions’. Perhaps there are areas of discourse that are so ungrounded that this strategy might be considered acceptable: in codicology, it is not.

      • proto57 Says:

        Hi Nick:

        “As far as sophistry goes, your normal method of counterargument is to present a possible scenario you have plucked from the air (that is, with no flicker of evidence to support it) and then verbally normalize the two (i.e. the original argument and your possible scenario) as merely equivalent ‘opinions’. Perhaps there are areas of discourse that are so ungrounded that this strategy might be considered acceptable: in codicology, it is not.”

        Ah… I see. No, that is not “sophistry”, that is explaining the merit of my position. You and I see the same codicology results and opinions, and you and I have different opinions as to what it means. You don’t feel my interpretation of evidence is sufficient for modern forgery; and I don’t think your interpretation of evidence is sufficient for Averlino, etc.. Neither one of us has plucked anything from air, both of us support our theories with quite a bit more than a “flicker” of evidence. Either of us saying so does not change that, and most reading this blog already know this is not the case, so I’m not sure who you think your audience is when you make such a claim.

        And you know, I’ve always strongly recommended to people that they buy your book, so that they fully understand your use of codicology, and all evidence, and the conclusions you come to, just as I urge people to read of my theories, on my blog. I see John Sanders owns one, by his quotes… so he and I are on the same page in that. I’d like more of the people I discuss the Voynich with, to have a copy. Everyone, if possible.

    • Rich P Says:

      Hello Nick Pelling —

      What you should explain to us is how codicology on the VM has thus far ruled out the possibility of forgery. I don’t see where you or anyone else has done that. You complain how Rich presents “a possible scenario you have plucked from the air” … but what I see is the attempt to provide rational explanations for the many anomalies we see.

      “Can’t be a forgery” is a tall order and you can’t simply hand-wave provenance questions away. Forgery remains a plausible explanation as it goes to the very heart of the problems with this manuscript — no title, no author, undeciphered text and all the rest of it.

      • nickpelling Says:

        Rich P: it is normally hard to rule out forgery, because (as Rich S likes to say) forgers might well be wise to all the subtle details, like a dark omniscient cross between Anthony Grafton and Martin Kemp.

        However, the more we learn about the Voynich’s codicology, the more extraordinarily complicated the forgery becomes. For example, the Voynich’s quire numbering style only appears in a handful of late 15th century documents (we’ve found one so far, but there may be a couple more out there): and so it is extremely unlikely that WMV knew about it. Rich S has therefore proposed (to keep his forgery theory in play) that the quires must have been pre-numbered back in the 15th century: but this is a significant concession, and may even be a concession too far on its own.

        More generally, there is strong evidence that the quire numbers were added *after* the pages were drawn, which makes it seem as though the pages were drawn with a different gathering order in mind. Which also doesn’t help forgery theories.

      • proto57 Says:

        Nick, you are cherry-picking the quire number issue, then cherry-picking one possible explanation for them, in a forgery scenario. There are a great many ways that the quire numbers, as seen, could appear in a forgery.

        For another thing, I would not rely on what we might imagine “WMV” would not know, to support or dismiss any possibilities for the manuscript. It is that case again, that he was really knowledgeable, sharp, reliable, learned, smart… whenever that suits… but then was ignorant of whatever point we find anomalous, or anachronistic, or otherwise inexplicable, to keep the Voynich genuine.

        Could he have forged any quire numbers? Cunningly used the found sheets in a way that would later deflect suspicions, to be used by defenders? Simply say he could not have known enough about them, and then they are not a problem.

        Suffice it to say there are many ways full sheet quires could be used, re-used, cut, folded and bound, quire numbers or not, to create the leaves of the Voynich.

        One more point here: As we both know, we both use the same evidence, and come to different conclusions…. which is fine, of course. But a good example is your wonderful observation of the scarring and repairs on the leaves. You feel that implies those sheets came from the same skins; I alternatively propose they came from the same sheets, cut down to make the pages we are left with.

        Likewise the quire numbers. There are many different scenarios, all different, that might explain them, the way they are.

      • nickpelling Says:

        Rich S: the pre-numbered-quires thing was your cherry-picking, not mine – and it sounds as ridiculous to me now as it did when you first proposed it.

        But your alternative scenarios – where WMV was superhumanly omniscient, or whatever – are every bit as non-credible to me.

        Either way, I’m not liking your codicology much.

      • Rich P Says:

        Hi Nick —

        It’s refreshing to see that you don’t completely rule out forgery (even though I know you don’t promote it!) and that you’re willing to keep an open mind on the matter. This is where René loses me…

        I acknowledge and appreciate your point about complexity but as you say it can’t actually rule out forgery. It doesn’t have the same explanatory power as say an anachronism does.

        “Rich S has therefore proposed (to keep his forgery theory in play) that the quires must have been pre-numbered back in the 15th century”

        I’ve read through Rich S’s “Three Quire Theory” ( and among the possibilities he mentions, I don’t see “must” have been pre-numbered anywhere (maybe you’re referring to something else).

        “there is strong evidence that the quire numbers were added *after* the pages were drawn, which makes it seem as though the pages were drawn with a different gathering order in mind.”

        Ok, that’s one interpretation but as Rich S pointed out in the comments to the “Three Quire Theory” post, it could also be an argument for forgery: “Why add quire numbers to an existing, genuine, work, when this obviates their original purpose and function?”

        I’m convinced that should the VM turn out to be a forgery, the provenance issue will be part of the unraveling. I came across this recent, informative paper detailing a bit of the history behind de Ricci’s “Census” ( and learned that de Ricci was very much a “bookman” and was expert in book composition and provenance. It seems that he literally got his hands on most all the works that he catalogued for the Census and I was wondering if he ever physically examined the VM. Is this known or does anyone know of any other commentary/correspondence that de Ricci may have left us regarding the VM?

        (Note to Rich S: my apologies if multiple replies show up… I think https URLs are putting some of my replies “in moderation”).

  2. john sanders Says:

    Could there be any other “skilled fabulist” the equal of Nick Pelling in having a capacity “to weave into what pattern he or she desires”…. ‘The Sun Begets Bees, This Noble Accommodates Princes’ comes to mind as a notable quote by our hero Tony Averlino as he prepares to cross the Bosphorus towards Sultan Mehmet’s encampment in the capital about 1465… In similar tones, “We’re going in to drain that swamp” may have been George Washington’s own hushed command before a night crossing of the Delaware in 1776 to surprise and route the enemy (German) encampment at Trenton; before heading off to Philadelphia in the morning….So how’s that for weaving Nick?.

  3. Ger Hungerink Says:

    Your reasoning goes like this:

    A list with names is found and all appear to have won the National Lottery at some time. Nothing wrong. That list could well have been published by the organizers. It says Mrs Johnson won it, and why not? The chances are small but such things do happen. And she recently bought a new dress. It says Mr. Smith won it, and after all he bought a new car two months later. Then Ms. Rutherford won it, why not? She had her hair done. And Mr. Simpson too, after all he went to Italy a year later. Not to mention the Carter family. Chances to win are small but someone has to win. So nothing is wrong with this list: It is a list of actual winners.

    There is only one tiny detail. These people all appear to live in the same village, in the same street, all on even numbers. But you would then still say it is POSSIBLE, ergo it HAPPENED. It’s a proper list of winners.

    This will be my only contribution to this page, I will not reply. But I will see how you are going to explain “line” for “line” how each person individually well could have won, ergo they all won. Ignoring that their addresses combine all these minute chances, pointing loud and clearly to: that theory does not hold.

    • proto57 Says:

      Hi Ger: What? Sorry I’ve not been able to understand your allegory here, not one bit. Is the lottery scenario the “genuine 1420” paradigm? Is it my modern forgery theory?

      I don’t get the point, or the connection to mine or any theory or theorist… I admit you’ve confused me here.

      But thank you for the “contribution”, and best of luck until next time…


      • Ger Hungerink Says:

        Like I said I am not going to answer here, but if my allegory was not understood of course I will explain:

        A list of names (the VM) was found (by Willy) of the inhabitants on one side of a village street (scientific explanation). However Richy claims it is a list of secret winners of the National Lottery. For each person he proves they could have won it and have shown telling behavior. When pointed time and again to the fact that they all live on the same side of one and the same street, he ignores that time and again. When pushed he would say that it is not rare that people from the same city win the Lottery. And that’s it.

        Since I already stated I don’t want get into another fruitless discussion on these terms, you will have to fill in the details of what stands for all these highly unlikely assumptions (lottery wins) of yours.

      • proto57 Says:

        Hi Ger! I think I understand it now, but reject the structure of your allegory. I would use the elements of it like this:

        Willy and the VMS are on one side of the street. On the other are the homes of Baresch, Kinner, Marci, Kircher, DiRicci, Strickland. Roger Bacon lived there to, but only until 1922. The Villa Mondragone is there, too, with an empty, dusty trunk.

        Wilfred has the VMS tucked under his arm, while he tries to cross the street in the dark. If he makes it, and gets that book, in that trunk, he wins your “lottery”.

        But traffic is heavy, and he can’t quite do it. He has been, trying for a hundred years, in fact.

        Some of us are driving the cars, others are traffic cops, putting up roadblocks to stop us.

        Still others simply say Wilfred made it across that road long ago, and we should just save our gasoline and park it.

        Well it is a silly but fun excercise to use allegories, and each of us would have our own. It’s like Rashonon playing Mad Libs, though, the possibilities are infinite.

  4. john sanders Says:

    Nick: True/false logic was George Boole’s algebraic proposition upon which his truth theory was based and it still holds sway to this day for computational applications, even including artifical language possibilities . After his untimely demise with a little help from ‘the Missus’, she came to the realisation that truth alone could not prevent untoward negative applications from thwarting poor dead hubby’s honest Christian ideals. So Mary used her own self taught added A1 initiatives in a manner that might ensure security and well earned reward for her own kith & kin against all evil manipulation.VM was her best means to achieving that end and is still doing it’s work masterfully a century on.

  5. Rene Zandbergen Says:


    “Perhaps there are areas of discourse that are so ungrounded that this strategy might be considered acceptable”.

    I think what you’re looking for is politics, or political debate.
    In that, everyone is part of some group (a party) with a programme, that has to be defended and pushed.

    To achieve this victory, it is just as important to speak badly about others as it is to defend one’s own points. Ad hominems are an important part of the game. Suspecting people’s motivations is too.
    It is normal to blow minor faults of the others out of proportion, and sweep one’s own major ones under the carpet.

    Saying things that aren’t true or can’t be proven is fully acceptable, as long as you’re not caught doing it. And even then it’s OK, as long as you gained a few more supporters.

    I have no more interest to participate in genuine / fake discussions. Anyone who is interested in this question can read here, and on my web site, and make up their own mind.
    For sure, there will always be people who believe it’s a fake by Voynich (or someone else – hi John), and I say “good for them”. It is not my problem, and I won’t make it mine.

    • proto57 Says:

      Hi René: You’ve got the point of my rebuttal here entirely backward. This post is a response to your frequent projections, on my sites, and around the web, that any theories that run counter to your strongly projected and defended 1420 Genuine European Paradigm are “impossible”. It is a reaction to your very page, which you wrote, to try and quell any attempt to question your word on the subject, and not critically examine your own statements and conclusions.

      Can they not bear scrutiny, René? Why deflect again, falsely claiming I’ve personally attacked you in some way, rather than join the conversation, and tell others why my rebuttal is invalid?

      You… and Nick, for that matter… have been quite nasty to me, and others, over the years. I can and have weathered much of it. I am still willing to, since to me it is a mark of just how important you both take my ideas. It is obvious that my work is the one sure to draw you out for a fierce rebuttal, and debate. It is a sign that my points are good ones, that they cannot be easily dismissed, if at all.

      As I’ve often said, I don’t need to be nasty to anyone. It is therefore ironic that you now accuse me of ad hominems and politics, and so on. I don’t need to do these things, while it seems to be a matter of course from your end. Most recently, you said my theories “amuse” you. You’ve told me that you don’t like it that I “think my opinion is as good of yours”. You’ve mockingly told me, when I was theorizing the Voynich might be someone’s representation of Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis, “Maybe I see you in Atlantis?”. I have no need to do any of that, and you honestly have a lot of nerve to accuse me of “ad hominems”.

      As for who uses “politics” to project and defend one’s position, I think perhaps that is a subject which might be best kept private. But it surprises me that you would level such a charge at me, considering… However, if you ever want the use of politics in this field to be a public discussion, I’m fully ready to engage. Just let me know.

      All I’ve ever wanted to do, all I’ve ever done, and all I need to do, is explain how I come to the opinions I do, and conversely, what the problems are with the theories you hold. Then, as you say, others can make up their mind.

      As I’ve said on Klaus’s recent blog post, about you, your work, and your website, it is very clear that you hold the title of premiere Voynich expert. You have amassed a great deal of information over the years, and it is very admirable. Most of that information is factual, in depth, and very interesting in its own right. But what people need to understand is something that I’ve come to learn over the years: Most of what has been assembled, much of it, by you, really has very little plausible connection to the Voynich Manuscript itself. That whole story is only attached to it by a very slender thread, which needs a lot of work and attention to avoid being severed. So much information needs to be “adjusted”, so many points need to be “assumed”, and so many anomalies and anachronisms need to be ignored, or the thread would “snap”, and people would be freed to investigate the Voynich for what it really is, whatever that is.

      I take your strong reactions to my ideas as a reminder just how important it is to you that knowledge of this is something you do not want generally known. Me, I want everyone to know everything, because I have faith I do not need to tell them what to think. Free thought, based on a clear understanding of what is really known about the Voynich, and what is not, is the only “victory” I am after.

  6. Monica Says:

    To me, it is good to know that there is a possibility that the VM can be newer than the 15th century.

    The sad part is, that if people with the potential to solve the code or cypher or shorthand or whatever it is are stuck in a certain mindset or another age, it might never be solved. Maybe it isn’t meant to, just like a work of art has different meanings to different people. I still think it is a great work of art. Nothing mediocre about it.

    Rich, you said somewhere that the VM had taught you a lot in a variety of fields. I feel the same way. It is in itself an amazing journey. Above all, remember to have fun.

    The other day, I spent 7 hours on a ferry. I had brought a book called Conceptual Blockbusting. Part of it can be found here:

    It has a lot of angles on creativeness and problem solving and it also talks about different environments for conceptual work.

    Imagine if we could just reset all we know about the Voynich and just have one fact:

    Wilfrid owned it in 1912. Nothing else.

    • proto57 Says:

      Monica! Thank you for such a thoughtful and reasonable comment.

      I like your term “reset”. That would be nice. I suppose it is close to my approach… at least to go back to source, to critically question what we think we know.

      I’ve also suggested to others that try and imagine how the Voynich, and the story attached to it, would be received if dropped in our laps today. I think much of our perception would be wiped away, as it is really the vestiges of past mindsets, with judgements unlike ours. They just stuck to it, like the marks on rocks from an old high tide.

      But you said all that, with a wish for a “reset”.

  7. Josef Zlatoděj Says:

    Hi Rich. Your theory that MS 408 is false. It is wrong,of course. The manuscript is original.

    • proto57 Says:

      Josef! I appreciate your work, and your opinion. I always say that I do agree there is merit to many of your points, although we do disagree as a whole.

      All the best…

  8. john sanders Says:

    Professor Zlatodej: Listen Josef, us ants have tried all the fish in your Moravian Brethren pond. Jan Huss, Petre Chelcicki, Greg the Patriot and even his interloping disanfranchised Jewfish clan &c., though without so much as a nibble to date. Can you recommend different bait perhaps?. If not, all the best anyway and it’s nice to have you swing by to test our warmer more accommodating waters.

  9. john sanders Says:


    Would you, with your particular background in medieval women’s health issues, be able to give an opinion on the depiction in f80r of a lady (one of two) in the centre left margin. She is standing inside what appears to be an isinglass lower body spray sheet and has a pair of obstetric type delivery forceps or measuring calipers in her right hand. All my best efforts to ellicit answers from our 1421 advocates have either gone unresponded or else put down to being later additions eg., the ‘rosette’ pipe clusters &c, which I find a little offputing to say the least. PS: Sorry if this has been dealt with before.

  10. Josef Zlatoděj Says:

    John Sanders …..bait ??

  11. john sanders Says:

    Josef …..navnada bait mate!!

  12. Monica Says:


    I have no background at all in medieval women’s health issues. You may have me confused with someone else. Thinking about the tool in her hand, it could also resemble something used for carrying an ice block.

    Some letters from George Boole to his sister Maryann

    (BP/1/73 to BP/1/76)

    may interest you. Apparently she stayed in Blarney for months for water therapy at the start of 1852

    where St Anne’s hydro and Turkish bath seems to have been a vast establishment. Bath treatments were also used for mental health (here in Scandinavia I know they were used up until the 1950’s). There was a large asylum near St Anne’s where people were treated successfully by being offered ‘hydropathy’:

  13. john sanders Says:

    We really must give all due credit to the Fench for their creative talents when it comes to modern medical concepts. A decade before the turn of the 18th century Bavdelocques introduced gynocologists to his revolutionary sliding gauged pelvimeter. At around the turn of the 19th century in Paris, the first known European water birthing centres commenced operations with some degree of success….A Bavdelocques compas d’epasseur with its distinctive bent arms and hanging measure stick is depicted in f80r. Held by an attendant in an opaque bow tied isinglass apron, her attention is being directed to a reluctant small boned woman being being drawn along a cleansing trough toward the birth pool. It is occupied by an as yet undelivered patient and midwife or attendant.

    It is plainly evident by now that the whole theme of the VM poolside peep show is, in reality an entrepaneurial attempt to explain the benefits of a new concept in non invasive birthing proceedure. With chances of a successful outcome being excellent, as might well be shown in the numbers of happy unstressed delivered ladies in f84r &c. If some of the background effects and pariphernalia look a little like Jules Vernis contraptions, well afterall that would fit with a vive la France flare for display in promoting a daring post revolution life style alternative at dawning of a brave new era … Should 1421 or 1465 medieval theorists wish to explain away the proposion put forward, then step up to the plate and put those contrary or rebuttal opinions to the test. An attempt at civil and dignified discourse is always appreciated, even in difficult situations.

  14. john sanders Says:

    There can be no if or buts, pelvimeter it is, or to be precise, compas d’passeur and this shall remain the case so long as sense and sensibility prevail. Indisensable to19th/20th century obstetrics and gynecology, but unknown before 1788. Simple to use by slipping the open arms around the lower abdomen and sliding down to the pelvic region at a point where an appropriate pre dislocation girthage might be taken.Then by subsequent readings during labour, a reliable mean headspace measurement will be gauged for consideration as to whether a hopeful stress free delivery might be anticipated.

    In our particular case, the pregnant lady is on the diminuitve side (smallest in the set) and most likely a delivery first offender for mine. Because of her narrow hips, she has been singled out for special attention, both by our sketcher, and as a theoretical canditate for extra careful consideration by highly trained staff at the new water birthing centre. The nurse stands facing her charge confidently, with the Bavdelcques device ready for use. We can be sure that this scene is an original part of a continuous full page birthing theme and not a later add on to be dismissed out of hand; as may sadly be the case.

    • proto57 Says:

      Hi John: I believe the late Glenn Claston also speculated that this object was an obstetrics device… although I don’t any longer remember the specific one, and his pages seem to be long gone.

  15. john sanders Says:


    Sorry for getting you confused with Dr. Monica Green, an authority on women’s health during the medieval period, who also comments on VM issues.Thanks for your idea on the f80r tool’s purpose and your Boole inclusions.

  16. Monica Says:


    That’s quite ok. Confusion happens.

  17. john sanders Says:

    Jean-Louis ‘le Grand’ Baudeloque (Bavdelocque 1746 – 1810) was physician to the French Court and most renowned teacher of Paris midwives and doctors working in the field of obstetrics. He was best known for pioneering a technique for external pelvic measurement named after him developing his compas d’ passeur instrument for the purpose. That simple device is undoubtedly the one depicted in f80r and was of a type used in Contenental maternity delivery rooms, with only minor modification for many years, though more modern variations with digital readouts have replaced the inbuilt measure . With regard to the really troublesome non clinging hoop apron worn by our calliper weilding attendant, I now have a solution based on a reference in J-L C’s post delivery notes. It can be imagined that the sterile colligen isinglass material might be intended as a warm wet wrap for the baby in it’s customary unattended laying state post delivery.

  18. Josef Zlatoděj Says:

    John Sanders …návnada. tak jo.
    Find out what the fish symbol means. Then you will surely understand a lot.

  19. D.N. O'DonovanD Says:

    If I could ban anything in online Voynich studies it would be the idea that the first task of a researcher is to invent some speculative tale, with all subsequent effort devoted to nurturing and preserving it, against all comers and in defiance of all dissent, informed or otherwise.

    Those who have invented ‘histories’ for the manuscript and who insist on thinking that all you need in order to analyse and explain problematic imagery are ‘two eyes’ and some item or other asserted ‘like’ something in the manuscript really ought to take more notice of the linguists and statisticians here. They still behave sanely, first gathering data, then considering it with an acutely critical eye, stress-testing it and never behaving as if the entire body of external scholarship has no permission to enter Voynichland.

    I should have thought the aim of being involved in this study was to contribute what each of us is able, so as to give those working on the written part of the text more reliable information about the imagery or the work’s historical context.

    Or is that some naive thought that is ‘so last year’?

    Suppose Rene’s hypothetical narrative – of the manuscript as having some sort of ‘German-speaking-cultural-expression-Rudolf’ thing about it.

    So what? Has anyone ever been able to demonstrate that Voynichese exhibits characteristics of any German dialect?

    What if Rich’s hypothesis is right – does that help us better read the imagery or the written text? Doesn’t seem to.

    Same for Nick’s Averlino speculation and its shudder-worthy and utterly a-historical fantasy about the plants as machines.

    Yet Nick, and Rich, are naturally talented researchers. Both have pretty high ethical standards on that score, and Rich also has the ability to maintain his ideas without either attacking those disputing them, or folding at the knees for the sake of fellowship. (No, I’m not implying that Nick folds at the knees).

    I wish everyone would sit down, write a list of what they think they know and spend the next couple of months determinedly reading external studies with the aim of proving wrong their own ideas rather than everyone else’s. In fact, I’d guess quite a few would succeed pretty well. 🙂

    Dump the baggage.

    I might add that I was surprised to see Rene be as direct as he was, in saying,
    “To achieve this victory, it is just as important to speak badly about others as it is to defend one’s own points. Ad hominems are an important part of the game. Suspecting people’s motivations is too.”

    points for not being hypocritical Rene.

    • proto57 Says:

      Hi Diane: I agree with some of what you say, but for part of this:

      “If I could ban anything in online Voynich studies it would be the idea that the first task of a researcher is to invent some speculative tale, with all subsequent effort devoted to nurturing and preserving it, against all comers and in defiance of all dissent, informed or otherwise.”

      Most of the theories that I have seen do not seem to have begun with a “speculative tale”, but rather been triggered, suggested, implied to the viewer, by some content of the Voynich, which becomes the “seed” of it. That is not to say they are correct, or not, only that I do believe this is the case.

      I know that for myself, as an example, my failed Cornelius Drebbel theory began because I believed (still do, on this part) that the “cylinders” of the Voynich had a close similarity to early microscopes. Discovering that Drebbel was in the Court of Rudolf II, working on them, and so was Kepler, working on Dioptrice, seemed to give me a basis to believe that this “speculative tale” was a valid path. Yes, I argued against all comers, for a couple of years. I came to agree with my critics on many points, that this was not a correct theory.

      But “no”, the speculative tale did not come first, I saw something that I thought led to it, for a time.

      There is one theory in which I would agree with you, though… a person who admitted first wanting to write a Voynich Novel, and then deciding that they would not do that, and write non-fiction, instead. I think that is the core reason that theory does actually read like fiction.

      But in any case, while we all disagree, and while our approaches, our guesses, our theories, are all based on a wide range of education (or not), experience, and who knows what, I think it rare that the starting point is a “tale”, and the Voynich is then forced to fit that. I do agree that it the case, often, after being formed…

      … I confess I do, and that I do not know the answer, and can only give my opinion as to what I think the Voynich is: A rather bad fake, that was launched into the limbo of “undetermined” by a perfect storm of unfortunate chronology and much wishful thinking. And I would argue, like others would, for themselves, I am there because of the content, not despite it.

      • nickpelling Says:

        Rich S wrote: “There is one theory in which I would agree with you, though… a person who admitted first wanting to write a Voynich Novel, and then deciding that they would not do that, and write non-fiction, instead.”

        If you were referring to me here (and if so, thanks for having me ever in your thoughts, that’s a compliment I can’t honestly return), the novel I was trying to write in 2000-2001 had no connection with cryptography whatsoever. In fact, it was a historical conspiracy-cover-up thriller, flipping between the 14th century and the present day to tell two curiously intertwined stories. It was a lot of fun to work on, and hopefully one day I’ll have the time and space to finish it.

        As far as your theory sniping goes: if there is a way to tell your WMV forgery theory apart from the legion of speculative Voynich theories, I’m certainly unaware of it.

        That is: you speculatively propose that WMV might have faked it, but given that you have found no smoking gun (nor smoke, nor gun) proving that this is what he actually did, you then speculatively infer (from all the historical doubts you have raised about the evidence) that this is what he indeed can only have done.

        All of which sounds pretty speculative to me. But perhaps I’ve unwittingly missed some important detail.

      • proto57 Says:


        “If you were referring to me here (and if so, thanks for having me ever in your thoughts, that’s a compliment I can’t honestly return)…”

        I’m not sure why you would think that, but I’m glad you are reading my blog. That is having me “in your thoughts”, in a sense…

        “It was a lot of fun to work on, and hopefully one day I’ll have the time and space to finish it.”

        I hope you do finish it, and I will be your first customer. I enjoyed your Curse of the Voynich greatly, and refer to it often. You and I don’t agree on Averlino (to put it mildly), but I respect your many great observations about the Voynich… codiology and all that. You may or may not remember, but I genuinely urged you, well over 10 years ago now, to write a “textbook” of the Voynich… not theory-specific, but as a reference work to all the points you made in “Cursed…”, and more.

        So maybe you have two more books in you, at least: A great novel, as you describe, and a “Voynich Reference Textbook”. You can put me on the list for both.

        “That is: you speculatively propose that WMV might have faked it, but given that you have found no smoking gun (nor smoke, nor gun) proving that this is what he actually did, you then speculatively infer (from all the historical doubts you have raised about the evidence) that this is what he indeed can only have done.”

        “All of which sounds pretty speculative to me. But perhaps I’ve unwittingly missed some important detail.”

        Well one man’s “smoking gun”, or “important detail”… and I posit dozens, whether you accept them or not, that is your prerogative of course… one man/woman’s “evidence” for a hypothesis, is another’s dross. As I also told you many years ago, I see no validity whatsoever to any of the connections you surmise with Averlino, nor the works of his. The Voynich is, to me, the most un-architectural work humanly possible. I don’t see the bees or beekeeper (that page seems like one of two representations of the elements, to me); nor the automobile in the plant; nor the flush toilet, nor any “signature” you see it. And so much more, but it is not important to go into details… only to make the point that I can see no “smoking gun” for Averlino, and related, as you do. And I have read your book at least three times, with intensity.

        At least you have René on your side, which I do not… he considers your theory possible, and mine, impossible. So that’s something.

        But that’s the beauty of it all… the Voynich is a perfect storm of a book, which everyone can see something entirely different. In any case, I have been recently thinking how much fun it would be to have a public debate… maybe it could be three, or four, way… panels, that is, with a moderator. Then we could each pummel each other, quote from each other, and explain ourselves, and our ideas.

        My “assigned” personality type is ENTP, or “Debater”… (which explains so much, to me, at least)… so as you probably suspect, I would revel in it. I’ll bet it would be entertaining to others, as well.

      • nickpelling Says:

        Rich S: ooh, defending by attacking again? You really have become a creature of few habits. Oranges are not the only fruit, you know.

        The things we now know that point to a 15th century origin are all via direct evidential arguments (e.g. radiocarbon dating, 15th century quire numbering number shapes, 15th century quire numbering style, 15th century clothing in the zodiac roundels, parallel hatching, etc), i.e. the normal means by which historians construct historical proofs. They’re not perfect, of course, but this was nearly 600 years ago, so you do the best you can, right?

        By way of contrast, you have no direct evidence that points to a 20th century forgery at all. Rather, you have only your own indirect speculative inference that because some things don’t feel quite right to you, something must be wrong with the whole idea that the Voynich Manuscript is a genuine historical object. Which then leads you to infer that WMV must have forged it.

        Note that I’m not saying “I’m right and you’re wrong” here: rather, what I’m saying is that while I’m trying to work out the limits of what I can genuinely infer from direct (if incomplete) historical evidence, you are trying to work out what you can infer from your feeling that something is wrong with the whole ‘it’s a genuine thing’ template.

        The bit you seem not to have grasped is that, viewed from the outside, what you’re doing has ended up indistinguishable from conspiracy theories. These work in exactly the same way, by starting from a feeling that something is wrong with the whole mainstream narrative surrounding some contested area, and then reasoning backwards from there, finding ever more ingenious ways to explain away all the direct evidence that gets in the way.

        Maybe I’m wrong and you’re right: after all, I haven’t found a definitively smoking gun yet (which nobody ever said would be easy). But all you seem to have found to date is your own smoke and mirrors, sorry.

      • proto57 Says:

        Hi Nick:

        “ooh, defending by attacking again?”

        If you feel that my listing elements of your Averlino theory is an “attack”, there is not much I can do about that. It is not a personal thing at all, it is an intellectual discussion, or should be. We both argue the pros and cons of our ideas.. banter, discuss, argue, what have you. But “attack”? No, of course not.

        But I do note that in all these discussions, all around the web, and on your site, you don’t actually defend your Averlino theory… unless I missed that. You usually, as you do here, tell others why they think what they do, then dissect that, and compare it to a sort of “Yale baseline” of genuine 15th century. You don’t, I mean, say, “It is not 1910 forgery, because it is more like an Averlino”.

        And so, yes, I bring up Averlino, when you do not… not as an “attack”, but to compare ideas, and demonstrate our mutually exclusive thought process, method, viewpoints. We just think differently, and nothing demonstrates that as well as our very different opinions as to what the Voynich can and cannot be.

        Anyway, since you bring up the subject of my theory, although I am surprised you don’t really know it by now, this is as good a place as any to make my points (again):

        “By way of contrast, you have no direct evidence that points to a 20th century forgery at all.”

        No, nobody has any direct evidence of anything, though. It is all speculation based on the few things we do know. But over time I’ve come to realize that the Voynich, if not a forgery, is then very coincidentally an almost case-book example of one. When I realized that many of my suspicions over the years were more and more pointing to this possible, and even critics of my previous theories were inadvertently pointing to it, I began to learn all I could about the history of forgery. Anyway, there are different ways of demonstrating this, with some overlapping evidence, to describe why it likely not a 1420 anything proposed, or not an Averlino, or Askam, and so on… then, concurrently and contrastingly, why it exhibits so many characteristics of forgery.

        The latter was the subject of my 2017 talk at the NSA Historical Cipher Symposium, entitled, “Is The Voynich Manuscript a Modern Forgery? (and why it matters)”. In that talk… and BTW, this is only part of the foundation of my hypothesis as a whole… I point out that of the 10 common “red flags” of forgery, the Voynich (arguably) demonstrates ten of them.

        In all my reading of the history of forgery… I just finished another, this last week… no known forgery comes close to that number:

        1) Multiple, contrary expert opinions as to time of creation and/or place of origin.
        2) Poor and/or missing provenance.
        3) Reluctance to reveal previous origin and/or ownership.
        4) Content from a historically incorrect range of age and geography.
        5) Misuse of iconography by the forger (i.e., a plow is a weapon).
        6) Anachronisitic content (different from 4, as it can stand alone, with no range).
        7) Improper tools, methods, and/or materials used in construction.
        8) Looks “too new”, or “too old” for age, purpose, and/or location of claimed origin.
        9) Refusal to produce, and/or test, original
        10) Claimed disappearence of original

        As I pointed out in my talk, #5 is a bit weak, and of course #10 is not applicable at all. And I’m sure you would… actually have… argued against all of the others, as many have, many places. And that is fine, you disagree. But I’m outlining my reasoning here. Also, it is important to note that I didn’t decide, or “feel” as you say, that “something was wrong”, and decide this is probably a forgery. I got here “kicking and screaming”, noting things all along that bothered, that bothered others, and found my self suspending disbelief over and over and over… until I realized that there was no way to deny the serious probability this is just a fake, or hoax.

        So this would be too long to list the elements which I feel support all the points above, but they are mostly on my blog. But in answer to your “pro-genuine” points above,

        “The things we now know that point to a 15th century origin are all via direct evidential arguments (e.g. radiocarbon dating, 15th century quire numbering number shapes, 15th century quire numbering style, 15th century clothing in the zodiac roundels, parallel hatching, etc), i.e.

        … I’m sorry, but they are not proof… barely evidence, of genuine, nor old. They could be from an old, genuine item… but forgers use old materials all the time, and WMV had plausible access to much of it; as I argued, there can be many reasons for the quire numbers, real or added; the clothing, the zodiac, the hatching…

        Well first of all, that is also what forgers do: mimic the style of the era they are trying to emulate. But also, you leave out the great many expert and amateur comparisons from a great many ages, causing the experts to have previously thought the work from many different times… and that is what forgers often end up doing, despite their best efforts….screw up and put a bunch of the wrong stuff in there.

        So I get that you don’t accept any of this, and again, that’s fine… but it is incorrect to say or imply that my hypothesis has no evidence… more accurately, I have evidence, and you disagree with it.

      • nickpelling Says:

        Rich S: yes, “defending by attacking” again (I read your comment, even if you didn’t). And then over-responding again. And then misdirecting and distracting yet again.

        I wrote that you had no direct evidence because you have no direct evidence – no direct indication whatsoever that WMV faked the Voynich Manuscript.

        And though you have doubts about aspects of the direct dating evidence, it remains direct dating evidence, however many blustery points of doubt you try to summon up to your cause.

        Saying that there is no direct dating evidence (as you would like to), would be a false statement. There is direct dating evidence, but you simply don’t like what you see.

      • proto57 Says:

        Hi Nick:

        “yes, “defending by attacking” again (I read your comment, even if you didn’t). And then over-responding again. And then misdirecting and distracting yet again.”

        Well all I can say is that I don’t feel any of these complaints/charges are warranted by you. It’s called a “discussion” as far as I can see it, and I can’t see the attack, and I answer questions and explain myself… also, I think I’m very much “on point” here, and can’t see where I’ve misdirected, nor distracted.

        I’d say, on the other hand, that your charges are a “distraction”. But here it is, for the reader to decide who is correct, and continue as I have: Explain myself, explain my points, explain why I think you and others are incorrect.

        “I wrote that you had no direct evidence because you have no direct evidence – no direct indication whatsoever that WMV faked the Voynich Manuscript.”

        Well it depends on you definition of “direct”. As I said, and possibly agree, not one has “direct evidence” of actually anything. But I do believe there is overwhelming evidence this is a forgery, and the person I think is the best candidate is Wilfrid. It could have been someone else, either to make it for him, or he just found it, pre-made. But the specific points which I feel point to Wilfrid are:

        1) He lied about the provenance. We know this, because he gave several, mutually exclusive origins for the work. They cannot all be true.

        2) He has no proof he bought it where he said he did, or bought it at all. Lack of proof of purchase is a key piece of evidence to either theft or creation of an item, and is highly desired when one wants to assure that the line of provenance is not broken. But there is no letter, note, receipt, any proof he bought it from the Villa Mondragone.

        3) He is probably the one person who shows the least effort to solve the mystery. René and I recently had this argument, again: Voynich simply did not leave behind any evidence of any effort to work on the Voynich. We do have his list of names from Bolton’s “Follies…”, in order, which can be judged either way. He did write letters to various “experts”, which smack of “phishing” to me, since he always gives information “just off” what should have been obvious to him, then used the answer as supporting evidence of the genuine nature of the work. The example I picked to demonstrate this was this, but there are others:

        4) The timing fits well with his purchase of the Libreria Franceschini in 1908. Four years after buying a mountain of unknown materials, collected over the previous 40 plus years, he shows up with a book… with no other reasonable provenance… which could have been made from those materials.

        5) He was a shady, anti-establishment character. A revolutionary, friends with spies, and he ran a safe-house, the Libreria. Identifying with the Proletariat does not make one a forger, but it is certainly “evidence” to me: For it supports motivation. A person who may fight empires, and be imprisoned for it, would arguably be more inclined to steal from the Bourgeois. A sense of disenfranchisement…, and you don’t get much more disenfranchised than being an imprisoned revolutionary in the Russian Revolution… is a powerful, and frequent motivation in forgery.

        6) Not only did he (arguably) have the materials, but the inks: He was trained as a chemist, and his buddy, the spy and double agent Sidney Rosenblum (aka Reilly), took out a book from (I think it was) Cambridge Library on Medieval ink formulas. This is relevant, because in criminal trials it is considered evidence when a person had access to information which could be used in a crime… such as a person taking out books on bomb-making, if suspected of being a bomber (and etc.).

        7) The suspicious nature of his given “provenance”, and method of phishing experts, is very similar to that he used for the forged Columbus Miniature he sold, and other works he sold. It is also very similar to a great many known forgers… how they cover their inability to produce provenance, how they cover their trails, how they trick the experts into giving their fraudulent works validation… citation, which they then use. It is only superficially similar to the cases of genuine works.

        It is frankly stunning, reading dozens of cases of (other?) forgers, and just how similar many of the actions, motivations, personalities, methods, and so on, they have in many ways, to the life, actions, words, background, of Wilfrid Voynich, as well as to the many characteristics of the manuscript itself.

        There are many more reasons, large and small, I personally believe Wilfrid himself most probably made this most probable forgery, but those would be the key points which I think would implicate him in the process. And of course that is in answer to your suggestion I have no “direct evidence” that Wilfrid personally created it… not the overall hypothesis of which these points are a small number.

        You can say again I am “over-responding”, but I will argue in advance that it is just about right, and probably too short, and certainly on point and pertinent to your claim.

        “And though you have doubts about aspects of the direct dating evidence, it remains direct dating evidence, however many blustery points of doubt you try to summon up to your cause.”

        Well the most “blustery” points are simply this:

        1) Old stuff is always copied by forgers, it is what they do. If not, all forgeries would look modern to their times, right? That’s basic, and inarguable.

        2) New content (anachronistic) is, on the other hand, evidence of forgery, or at least, a more modern creation. In the case of the Voynich, a great many experts and amateurs have independently noted a great many feature of the Voynich which are anachronistic.

        In fact, Nick, remember you, yourself, were agreeing that there was something to my optical comparisons, or at least they caused you to delve deeply into that possible avenue. There was that whole “Roget” thing, which led to an article on the possible pre-1609 history of advance optics:

        … and more. So clearly you were also compelled by the comparisons I made, feeling they were good ones: But then you could not find evidence that such early optics went back as far as you felt the Voynich creation date, and so surmised that there was not connection… that the cylinder/optic similarities were purely coincidental.

        That’s fine to do, as you weighted the evidence of Voynich origin, and favored it over that comparison. I feel the opposite, because to me the comparison is good enough to demonstrate… to act as evidence… that the Voynich is much newer than 1420, and probably early 20th century. We have different approaches, different ways of evaluating the evidence. But to say you or I don’t have evidence would be incorrect… is incorrect. We both have evidence, and you are led to Averlino, me, to Voynich.

        “Saying that there is no direct dating evidence (as you would like to), would be a false statement. There is direct dating evidence, but you simply don’t like what you see.”

        Well we can go round and round on this. There is dating evidence for old, such as the C14 age for the parchment, and some content; but there is even more dating evidence for many ages since the C14, which must be either ignored, or rationalized away, or argued away with issues not related to it (such as calling the listing of them “over-responding”, or a personal attack, or a “conspiracy theory”, etc., etc…. anything BUT explaining them adequately).

        And then, on the contrary, there is really only the age of the parchment samples, some content which could have been penned anytime (I can pen it, today, hatching, quire numbers, etc.), bad and incomplete Carteggio descriptions, and Voynich’s “word”, supporting old and genuine.

        But again, I note… not to be dissuaded by your “attack” charges, for it is correct to point it out, considering you question my evidence, my reasoning, my method of explanation… it is correct to point out that you still do not defend, by comparison, your Averlino theory. I mean, you claim I have “no direct evidence” of a modern forgery by Wilfrid, when I feel I do, and have listed it…

        … so it is fair and appropriate to compare what YOU consider “direct evidence” in the Voynich, pointing to your Averino hypothesis: with the content you presume, the motivation, the history with the Turks, the Sforzas, and so on. And I won’t consider it an attack, if you finally do, nor “over wordy”, nor call you a “conspiracy theorist”, as you have, me.

        I know no one who can, or at least has, supported your theory, let alone can explain how one can go from what we see, to the hypothesis you claim explains it. Here is the best opportunity, to do as suggest of me, and as I’ve complied: Explain it.

      • nickpelling Says:

        Rich S: another 1000+ words of empty, repetitive distraction from you, again.

        I ask you about direct evidence, and all you can dredge up is that WMV was a shady character, etc etc etc. Tabloid stuff. You have no direct evidence, and all you can do is try to redefine what direct evidence is. Shoddy argumentation.

        And then you go on the attack about the Averlino theory, again. Defending by attacking, yet again. Boring. The issue was about dating evidence, not about Averlino. So all you’re doing is evading difficult questions. Really boring.

      • proto57 Says:

        Well Nick, I can only say that your responses are a perfect example of “the pot calling the kettle black”:

        It is you who is evading, while I have answered and addressed every issue you raised (agree or not my points, or the length, I have answered them); while you, on the other hand, are “evading” and “deflecting”, from a valid point, a valid request:

        In the light of your strong, frequent, and very long criticisms of my work, and questioning how I came to my opinions (which I honestly don’t mind, and actually enjoy), it is certainly right and appropriate, and not an “attack”, to ask you to show us how you came to Averlino. Compare and contrast, and all that: Show us how it is supposed to be done, since you are telling us… me, everyone else… how we all do it so wrong all the time.

        But you never do defend your theory, and still do not, and won’t here, apparently.

      • nickpelling Says:

        Rich S: yet another troll-style response from you. Does attacking other people’s theories make yours stronger? Hint: no, not even remotely.

        The fallacy in your reply is that the Averlino theory doesn’t need to be true for your theory to be false. The 15th century dating evidence and codicological evidence still stands, as they have done all along, the fundamental rocks upon which your theory has always foundered.

      • proto57 Says:

        Well Nick, now I am a “troll”? But I am the one “attacking” you?

        I’m not “attacking” you, nor your theory. I am only doing what you do, questioning it… and, I have to say, if I may pat myself on the back, I’m doing it, as I always do, with respect and politeness, in the face of some pretty harsh charges.

        “The fallacy in your reply is that the Averlino theory doesn’t need to be true for your theory to be false.”

        No of course your theory does not have to be true for mine to be false. That is a straw man argument on your part, I’ve never suggested or even implied that.

        The point is… assuming you genuinely do not understand what I am saying here… you are harshly critical of others, including me, for years. You’ve called various theories, mine included, “pathetic”, “sad noise”, “ill-formed”, “fallacious nonsense”, “diseased discourse”, “toxic”, “[not] vaguely tenable”, “supercilious and stupid”, “crackpot”, “bad stuff”, and that it needs, “intellectually twisted and crooked ways of supporting [its] broken, sad, lamentable, foolish”.

        OK that is your method of critique, which I and others in no way indulge in. But it is completely fair, and reasonable, for me to ask you, since you feel so strongly that the ideas of others are so awful, that you explain your reasoning to come to Averlino, the Turks, the automobiles in plants, and so on.

        Another legal analogy is that when a witness comes to the stand, it is fair for the defense to point out that witnesses judgement to the court and jury. In fact this happened to me, when I was the forman of a Federal Grand Jury years ago: The judge instructed us that if we questioned the witness on things brought up in court, although unrelated to the charges against the accused, then we could, on that basis, accept or reject ALL of that person’s testimony.

        So in light of that, and your harsh criticisms of me for my opinions as to the Voynich, to ask you, the witness telling us how awful my theory is, how and why you formed the opinions you did.

        Not an attack, again; not deflecting… it is very pertinent to the question of your critique, to hear how you, the critic, forms their own opinions. Perfectly relevant, perfectly on topic, perfectly correct and polite of me to ask.

        Not an attack to point out, politely, that I feel that your method and conclusions is relevant to your critique of others. And to point out, again not an attack, but a mini-review synopsis, that I feel your theory is totally without foundation, that it does not reflect any of the “evidence” you use to come to it, that in fact, much of the reasoning you use in your theory would and should give one in many cases the opposite conclusion than the ones you came to.

        I feel your Averlino theory is an vivid and imaginative work, but bears no relationship to anything the Voynich has to offer. Explain why I… and, by the way, every single person I’ve ever discussed this with… explain why I am wrong, and your reasoning is correct, and proper, and your suggestions re: Averlino and the Sforzas and so on, are the better conclusion?

        And when I suggest any of this, you dismiss it as an “attack”. Sorry, again, you feel that way… but tell me again how your frequent, and very virulent and nasty criticisms of me are not an “attack”, while my polite requests that you explain yourself, are?

        And if a polite request for an explanation of your own work is considered an insult, then why is that my fault? All you need to do is (finally) tell us… as I do, tell you.

        “The 15th century dating evidence and codicological evidence still stands, as they have done all along, the fundamental rocks upon which your theory has always foundered.”

        We’ve bantered back and forth on that, and it is not an unanswered question, so I will leave it for now. We just disagree on the dating.

        What is unanswered is why and how you came to Averlino, and how you explain the conclusions you come to. Please stop evading the question, I think it very much on topic to know your reasoning methods, and I’ve no doubt others would be interested, also. Not boring to me, and I suspect, not boring to others… So?

        Have at it… here is your forum…. You think the Voynich Manuscript is an enciphered book of knowledge recorded by Averlino… Filarete (sp?), to hide the information from the Turks (correct me if I am wrong), with machinery hidden as plants (flowers as gears), with flush toilets and bee keepers, because……. ?

      • nickpelling Says:

        Rich S: even more diversion and bluster on your part. My Averlino theory only came up here as a diversion on your part. Boring.

        In summary, you have no direct evidence (however incomplete) for anything you’ve ever proposed, not are you likely to start having any anytime soon.

        And all you do – year after year – is troll people with your Groundhog Day posts and comments. Toxic is just too kind a word for something that has poisoned the entire well of Voynich research for a decade or more.

        The point of history is to progressively know more and better within evidential limits: but these are basic principles which you consider obstructive to your long-running anti-historical conspiracy soap opera nonsense.

        And so you’d rather spend your time burning the whole farm down than learning how to milk a cow. What a farmer you are. What a farmer.

      • proto57 Says:

        Well now. Tell us what you REALLY think, Nick. But more insults from are not going to change the reality here… that you want to claim some scholarly high ground, while not actually able to, and/or refusing to, defend your very own ideas (as I do, as others do, as is normally done).

        Since “Curse of…” is still on the market, though, I’ll let that stand as an answer: You still believe the Voynich Manuscript is an Averlino product:

        So again, no angst, no insult from me (although I think most readers would agree I would be more than justified in “letting loose” on you by now), and not even with the often claimed hostility I am labeled with by you, I will point out what I feel is the reality of the case here:

        You judge everyone else so harshly, so rudely, so indiscriminately, for their supposed lack of judgement, knowledge, ability, and so on… and have, for well over a decade now. But I would counter to you, that as long as you hold your Averlino theory, your opinions of others cannot be taken seriously. That book is your albatross around your neck. If and until you disavow it, your opinion must be colored, and judged, with that theory as an indication of the level of your ability and knowledge, your insight, your logic and reasoning… it is your “standard of excellence” in making a determination as to what the evidence of the Voynich tells us. Should I or anyone then accept your rude and frequent judgements, of us? I don’t think so.

        So this is one reason I continue to be unruffled by your angst and abuse, and why I don’t need to return it, in kind. For since the same judgement that you use to criticize and insult me, was likewise used to invent Averlino, the Sforza’s and the Turks… I can’t… and others shouldn’t, either… take you all that seriously.

      • nickpelling Says:

        Rich S: for the last time, attacking other people’s theories doesn’t barricade your own theory against criticism.

        Your theory has no direct evidence supporting it, and you’ve spent the last decade in a futile effort to drain the sea around your boat to explain away why it keeps letting in the water.

        Moreover, your story can’t explain away even the most basic of Voynich features, such as its codicology, its dating evidence, or even basic Voynichese features like Currier Hands, Currier Languages, etc. Call out the motes in my eye all you like, sure, but you’ve got a right old timberyard in yours.

        As for Averlino, I’m not really sure why you think 200+ pages of Curse isn’t enough of a statement. Perhaps I should take it as a compliment that you can’t get enough of my dry old prose. 😉

      • proto57 Says:

        Hi Nick:

        “for the last time, attacking other people’s theories doesn’t barricade your own theory against criticism.”

        Another incorrect description of my point here, which I’m sure you do understand by now. I welcome criticism, but it is important for everyone, me included, to understand the standards of the critic. In your case, that can best be quantified by your own theory, Averlino. To repeat,

        “… you want to claim some scholarly high ground, while not actually able to, and/or refusing to, defend your very own ideas (as I do, as others do, as is normally done).”

        So you can continue to attempt to make it about something else, but that says it in a nutshell.

        “Your theory has no direct evidence supporting it, and you’ve spent the last decade in a futile effort to drain the sea around your boat to explain away why it keeps letting in the water.”

        Every element of the Voynich, and the story that comes with it, and also every point of Voynich’s life, fits well with modern forgery, and most likely by him. It has very much evidence for it, but this comes back to your standard for evidence… which is, as I’m pointing out here, a key factor in evaluating your critique.

        “Moreover, your story can’t explain away even the most basic of Voynich features, such as its codicology, its dating evidence, or even basic Voynichese features like Currier Hands, Currier Languages, etc. Call out the motes in my eye all you like, sure, but you’ve got a right old timberyard in yours.”

        Well that is an interesting way of putting it… the beauty of it is that, unlike my past theories, and most theories, including 1420 genuine, I don’t have to explain away anything, and many points, when not neutral to the issue, support modern forgery. I’ve addressed the best shot that René makes against forgery, above… and the Yale book, on careful re-reading, actually demonstrates problems with old, and real. Read above.

        And a great example of the difference in our thought processes in your thinking different Currier hands would affect a forgery judgment. Why? That does not make sense to me… it can have one hand, or twelve hands… So? Just as Genuine, just as Averlino, I’d assume, if there are different hands, either the same person changed it up, or different people contributed.

        “As for Averlino, I’m not really sure why you think 200+ pages of Curse isn’t enough of a statement.”

        Because I don’t see in that book a reason to remotely believe the Voynich had anything to do with Averlino. There is simply no connection there…. on the level of comparison, really anyone from hundreds of years could have been chosen, and a story built up around it.

        I’m hammering this point home, because I’d like anyone reading your criticisms of my work, to know the critic. That is the best way, that they realize this, when reading what you say about my ideas. I think I’ve made that clear here, in a dozen ways.

        But you clearly won’t do it… you will insist everyone else answer every question you put to them, and insist they accept your criticisms, without any insight into your proposed alternative (Averlino), or how you built that case. In fact I think you rely on your ideas not being known, generally, and certainly not questioned, for the very reasons I suggest you do.

  20. john sanders Says:


    I hardly think that a well meaning VM historian ciuld be considered guilty of inventing “some speculative tale'”, then for a decade or more, devoting and nurturing his 1910 proposition “all comers”. As if all accredited Xperts and college scholars alone were of a type sufficiently credentialed to deal with VM’s multi faceted mystque. To my scant knowledge, not one solitary word of the script has been deciphered in 100 years, which does not point to great scholarship if you see my point. Whereas, enthusiastic humble folk with no particular claims to expertise apart from perceptive vision, have detected nuances in the “problematic imagery” sufficient to slice over four centuries of antiquity off the book, along with it’s related claims to past title &c. My henceforth desire would be in puting our over enthusiastic failed cryptographers to work prioritising a more logical quest for determining the VM’s authorship. The now not so old and perhaps meaningless script cann be considered writing on the wall and as such should lessen the distraction potential immeasurably.

  21. john sanders Says:

    Josef Prof.,

    Jo, I found a whale and a little tunny on the Rosette page, then another, in the form of a ‘Jesus Saves’ logo on our armagola’s jawline curvature. We also have tethered twin carp, a pair of sharp clawed freshwater rak and a lone mermaid (perhaps), all intermingled with a bevy of old Jim Hinton’s nude blonde nymphs. Am I getting warm in your best estimate and looking towards a likely rekindling of interest in Perchta Rosmberk’s sad marriage to fish eyed Jan of Lichtenstein, or am I just a VM minnow all alone in a sea of hovno.

  22. Monica Says:


    I have had your thoughts on birth scenarios on my mind for the past few days, thinking about the absence of babies in the images. But then I thought: “What if the pictures illustrate rebirth?”


    “I should have thought the aim of being involved in this study was to contribute what each of us is able”

    Well said. That is our strength. Sparks can fly in the strangest of ways.

  23. john sanders Says:


    You might like to expand a little on the rebirth scenario, so I can give it some thought. On f84r, there is something in the red bucket that might well be a stillborn child, although poor Bill Newbold gave a description relative to a serpent with outstretched arms. On another rough sketch nearby there is something resembling a baby’s severed head and yet one more that Tom Spande thought might have been a wrapped newborn in the jaws of a dog. All that is obviously in the mind of the beholder and is subject to personal close appraisal for opinion to be drawn.

  24. john sanders Says:

    I feel for the many understandably troubled, punters (frustrated hand claspers) who, through pride and or predjudice, dare not to discuss, even with their antiquated peers, the gamechanging new evidence revealed for all to see on f80r. I know this to be so, because there has been no negative critiques, subjective or personal from folks who would normally relish playing the man/lady off against their well meant glad tidings. I find this to be enlightening, refreshing and enormously encouraging to say the least.

  25. Monica Says:


    I’ll have to quote the Wiki here:

    “The term is derived from an event in the New Testament in which the words of Jesus were not understood by a Jewish pharisee, Nicodemus.

    Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
    “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
    Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.”
    — Gospel of John, chapter 3, verses 3–5, NIV

    The Greek phrase in the text is ambiguous, resulting in a wordplay in which “born again” is rendered as “born from above” in some translations such as the NET[4] and the NRSV.[5]”

    A lot of the women in the VM seem to be coming out of something that could represent a birth canal.

    In the first two bath scenes there is a kind of canopy (to me, it can be seen as representing religion).

    Of course it is in the mind of the beholder.

    Just another thought:

    What if f 83v are the fallopian tubes of the spirit?

  26. john sanders Says:


    I’m no authority, but to my way of thinking, John’s Gospel might merely have been referring to JC’s desire to have his follower’s dirty old souls cleansed by immersion before deemed fit to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Now that’s not to say that all the spiffy decor and anatomical tubes &c were not intended as part of some higher order, enhanced media cleansing ritual; though child birth, possibly associated with water baptism should not be discounted out of hand..Actually your related post is a Godsend of sorts, for it just reminded me of one, apparently rather loose moraled lass on the same f80r page, who is most inapproriately attired according to strict Papal dress codes, in force throughout Chistendom between 12th & 18th centuries….Rene, Nick, B 408 strategists? check it out and cringe.

  27. john sanders Says:

    It seems clear enough that young Erwin Panowsky managed to kick a few goals as he progressed through FU, UB and UH in Germany, surprisingly with his wits still about him which is not unheard of as I’m led to believe. Whilst later lecturing part time at NYU, he hooked up with Anne Nill and L.E.V. (sic) in 1932 and after having spent several hours going through the very rough VM photostats, he came to the logical conclusion that the manuscript could well be Spanish, Portugese, perhaps Basque or Provence with the odd presence of Kabala or Arabic in the mix. Twenty years on, after consultation with his pal Salomon, he changed tack, telling Bill Friedman it must be of German origin, based on the ‘der mussel’ angle. From having trolled through as much of the academic postulating as would lead a normal person to distraction, I went back to find out why such a turn about might occur. As it panned out, a very simple answer emerged and so ridiculously obvious, that I dare not elaborate, for fear of causing embarrassment to all those fine scholars who left their wits behind upon graduation.

  28. nickpelling Says:

    Rich S: another fallacy on your part. Nobody needs to be on particularly “scholarly high ground” to know what History is, or how History needs to be done to be done satisfactorily (let alone well).

    The problem you face is that because the arguments you raise run against direct evidence (because you believe that just about every aspect of what we see must have been concocted by WMV), you argue against the whole principle of direct evidence..

    So in effect, you’re arguing not just against 15th century dating evidence, but against the whole idea of what doing History is all about. It should hardly be a surprise if some people find that toxic.

    And yes, yet again attacking the Averlino theory is yet again defending by attacking. Still extremely boring indeed.

    • proto57 Says:

      “Nobody needs to be on particularly “scholarly high ground” to know what History is, or how History needs to be done to be done satisfactorily (let alone well).”

      My points still stand, Nick, and are only reinforced after spending several hours last night poring over “The Curse of the Voynich” again:

      I still contend it is perfectly valid to point out that your book makes less than no case at all for authorship of Antonio Averlino, “Filarete”, while you state it as proven, not even a hypothetical. So when you criticize ANYONE for a lack of scholarly, intellectual, historical, knowledgeable abilities, it has to be understood with your own work as an indication of your own standards, from which you so frequently and harshly judge others. Yes, you do claim a “scholarly high ground”, which others usually do not, and so you should at least be held accountable for your opinions.

      You do have an odd propensity to see, in others, your very own faults. I’ve noticed this over the years… the very critisisms you levy against someone else, are often the very things you, yourself, are guilty of. Like here, coming on my site and claiming, over and over, that I am “attacking” you, when I am actually making a valid point, not being rude, and not attacking at all. But while you falsely claim this of me, you are clearly, actually, the one “attacking”.

      People are very kind and patient with you, and I am no exception. Yes I get frustrated at the tidal wave of abuse you heap on me, and my friends, but like many others, I try my best to not respond in kind. I’ve been very careful to not call your criticisms “attacks” over the years, or assign base motivations to you, as you do… like always claiming it is somehow personal with your critics, when they argue their own points. That happened again at Koen’s site, when we were all arguing the identity of the F80V animal… you claimed I must have a personal problem with the people who disagreed with me, when nothing I wrote should have given anyone that impression. I was arguing ideas, and my opponents are my philosophical opponents, not personal ones. I make that clear in almost every argument I enter into. And at the same time, again, you got quite nasty, very personal. You usually do, you have that reputation in this field, and I’m surprised no one else publicly calls you out on it. I think that further indicates just how nice most people in the Voynich field are are, they are sensitive and forgiving of your behavior, and don’t, generally, point out how inappropriate your behavior is. I am, now, yes, because it really ought to be said.

      In short, it is HIGHLY hypocritical of you to claim that my ideas, and my arguments, are “toxic”, when you speak like this, publicly, and have for years, to others.

      Maybe it is a debate tactic of yours, to try and silence others? By humiliation? Whatever the reason, it is not nice, not productive, unless “productive” is quelling any alternate version of any issue other than your own, or those you agree with. Some of us, like me, swim upstream against your angst, but I’m sure many others wither and die on the shore. Which might be the point? But nothing gets learned, then nothing changes. My ideas have radically changed and evolved over the years, precisely because I enter into discussions with others, and argue my points, and allow criticism. Perhaps if you were more open to alternative ideas, your ideas, too, would have evolved from Averlino?

      So here, again, you came on my pages and hypocritically claim that my, “… arguments you raise run against direct evidence”, that, “… [I] argue against the whole principle of direct evidence..”, that I’m “… arguing not just against 15th century dating evidence, but against the whole idea of what doing History is all about.”, and that, “… attacking the Averlino theory is yet again defending by attacking.”

      None of which is remotely true, I do not argue against the dating evidence, I do look at evidence very closely, all of it, direct or not; and I am very much attuned to many details and facets of history going back to the earliest possible time of creation for the Voynich, in processing it all, It is very, very, relevant to point out that despite your claims here being untrue, it is also odd that you argue these things, in light of your book, “The Curse of the Voynich”. You deflect from this comparison by “playing the attack card”, but it is not an attack, it is perfectly reasonable and appropriate to point out your actual conclusions in the very same areas you angrily debase other’s ideas on:

      In your book, you do have some very interesting historical material, relating to Averlino, Milan, the Sforzas, and so much more. It is well written, and is entertaining and informative. But as for any remotely reasonable connection between those histories, to the Voynich? Nothing that I can see. You link Milan to the circular city on the rosettes, as it was a circular city… as, as we all know, a great many cities are. The buildings you cite don’t match all that well, as many such comparisons to a great many castles, over the years, also don’t match very well. I would say your comparisons are no better than any others, and worse than many.

      You then state that the “swallowtail merlons”, designed, built, then covered by the late 16th century, date the manuscript to that time. This does not follow, however, because the illustration of an item once seen, but covered, may be illustrated at ANY time after it was built. Janick & Tucker’s latest book try to do a similar thing… place an “end date” on the VMs, based on the renovation of a New World building at a certain time.

      And you do, yes, give many more reasons that you place the Voynich in the time and place you do, but likewise the comparisons are not very good, or convincing, such as the murano glass, the other buildings, and such. Then once you had your time frame, and read the very interesting and colorful history of that time and place, you somehow placed the authorship of the work in the hands of the architect, Antonio Averlino. But the thing is, there is no evidence at all, or any evidence that could reasonably do this, demonstrated in that book. None. Even if, by chance (because it would only be by chance at this point) the VMs was from Milan, and was from 1550 to 1580, there is still no reason to pick Averlino as the author. This work is nothing like anything he was known to have done, and really, not anything anyone would, or should, expect from an architect in the first place.

      But it seems that once you decided on Averlino, you “found” many connections (now I insert here that I don’t like it when others tell me the order of my thought process, unless they are correct: But I did read your book, and believe this is an accurate chronology of your ideas, and two, you refuse to answer these questions, falsely claiming they are an “attack”, so I am doing it, for you. Correct me if you like, call it an “attack”, and “boring” again, whatever you like)…

      … and these supposed connections to many illustrations in the VMs are frankly… to put it mildly, kindly… a long, imaginative stretch from what we actually see in the Voynich, and far from the best guesses for them. They are almost like “anti-guesses”, for things most UNLIKE what you believe they are. You believe the flowers and roots of plants are gears and wheels, when they look nothing of the kind. You posit that the dots and mounds on f83v3 are bees and beehives, when they look like anything but those, and are probably a representation of the four elements, or something else. You claim that the tubes at the top of f77r (in your section, “Breaking the Naked Lady Code”) are “complex plumbing (as displayed in the Ospedale Maggiore)”, and so on, when to most viewers, whatever their overall theory, have seen a far more obvious representation of the elements.

      You noted, on page 120, the “highlighted tower”, but failed to note, or notice, the important distinction that that tower is in a hole.

      And famously, and one of the more inexplicable claims you make, is that you claim Averlino has hidden a picture of a disassembled automobile in the plants. Pages 126 through 129, “Wheels Within Wheels”, concluding, “However, I thik we now know were Averlino copied his car from: Guido da Vigevano’s 1335 windmill car. The clue is the small ‘sunflower’ inserting itself into the right-hand sequence of gears to reverse the direction of rotation…”, and so on.

      No, Nick, there are no “gears” here, no “wheels” here, no automobiles, probably no bees nor beehives, nor flush toilets, and so on. The point here is, again, the same one: You are easily the nastiest, most pointed and cynical critic of the ideas of anyone else, but your own ideas are (ironically?) the easily, by a wide margin, the poorest of anyone’s. It is right to judge the judge, you in this case, as you are so vocal… and so there you go.

      There are pages and pages of these very bad, and often wild, suggestions, trying and failing to connect the work to Averlino and his works, such as the “Golden Book”. It is all interspersed with some interesting real histories, as I’ve said, and as I’ve also said, much very valuable codiology and so on. But you have done nothing of what you insist of everyone else, and actually, reasonably, connect those histories, and observations, to your proposed author. You want it to be so, and even claim it as fact… that there is no question… (which most of us do not do, we admit we do not know, that we are all speculating), and tell us that Averlino even signed the work: With the “F” and “TOA” found on f1v and f4r. With a convoluted set of instructions, percieved by you, such as, “In this instance, the ‘5’ on page 2 instructs us to step five drawings forward to page 7, where we find the (somewhat mystifying) real signature ‘TOA/F- but what kind of name is that? We need one last jigsaw piece to complet this whole puzzle…”, then later concluding, in the section, “Finally, the Signature”, page 102, connecting the “F” to “Filarete”, and the “TOA” to “Antonio”, as in his sometimes used, “[ONI]-TOA-[N]”, giving the reader your verdict, “So- finally- via a distorted copy of a cryptogram, we have succeeded in reading a signature: from which we can say that the author of the original document was none other than Francesco Sforza’s restless personal architect- Antonio Averlino”.

      No, Nick, there is nothing there. Your connections between the Voynich manuscript are not only weak, they run counter to simple common sense, and all experience, and all the history you outline within your pages. It is clear to any reader of it, that you attempted to force a chosen scenario into the context of the Voynich, far beyond any ability of your argument to support doing so.

      And the point is, again (because you are going to make false claims, again, I am sure, about my intent) that your fiercely and nastily and sarcastically criticizing others, for their supposed perversions of codiology, of history, of observation, of common sense, MUST be viewed against your own attempts to do the same.

      Is the Voynich a modern forgery by Wilfrid? I believe that is the best conclusion from what I see, and have learned, about the Voynich, about him, about the history of forgery. But I could be wrong. The thing is, I and others have far, far, BETTER reasons to believe what we believe… better comparisons, better reasoning, coming to better, although often mutually disparate, conclusions, than you have been able to come to. I do have a list of reasons, and evidence, despite your frequent false claims to the contrary, when, ironically, on critical examination, you have virtually none in your theory. Most of the works and/or observations I’ve seen, in fact, which I disagree with in part, but still agree with many of the very thoughtful elements of: Tucker, Talbot, Bax, René, the Comegys, Velinska, Tomlinson, Vogt, Diane, Teague, Koen, and many, many more. They, at least, have some starting point in some connection with reality, a real reason for being, while yours, almost uniquely, has none.

      So I’ve no doubt you will continue to rant at me, at anyone else, how they are all doing it wrong, and their ideas are “toxic”, and baseless, and ignorant of the facts. But I will continue to make certain that when you do, that people understand the reasoning that YOU use to come to your alternate conclusions to mine, and theirs, so that they can value your rebuttals and opinions, accordingly.

      • nickpelling Says:

        Rich S: if it takes you that many words to accuse me of “ranting”, something is clearly badly wrong in your world.

        If only you had once thought to look in the mirror with the same intensity, how much better off we would be! But sadly, that is not the case.

        You may not like my theory’s evidence much (or indeed anybody else’s evidence either), but mine is at least visible. Good luck with finding anything that directly supports your theory.

      • proto57 Says:

        Thank you for your input, and opinion, Nick.

  29. john sanders Says:


    Pardon moi French but, in the case of friend Nick, his historical researching inevitably results in his making a complete fraking ass of himself, whilst vehemently dismissing 1910 hoax theorists much as one might a band of uncouth goat herders. Unlike fellow VM lost in limbo time dwellers, mostly inclined to stick to their area of doubtful Xpertise, our polished mofo gives equal time to many a hoax based mystery upon which he undoubtedly believes in. Of course gross intuitive limitations are bound to lead incompetent dither dicks astray and so we must accept such to be the case here. When one talks of not being able see a forest for it’s trees, for our honey loving mofo it would be a task locating his hive for the resident bees, a sad case to be sure and a caution lest we be inclined to veture too far.

    • proto57 Says:

      Sometimes herding goats looks very appealing, actually. And from it, you get a livelihood, milk, mutton, silent friendship, exercise and fresh air, and so I hear, in some instances, “companionship”.

      But kidding aside, the Voynich does force everyone to examine a great many disciplines and histories. If one doesn’t, they will go nowhere. I personally believe, although I may be wrong, that any open minded person, with no agenda of any kind, reading and learning the history of forgery, along with the Bolton book, the New World theories, and much that is related to all of this, would not be so adverse to modern forgery.

      At least I know the opposite is true, for most who disagree with it are almost proud of the fact that they refuse to know about the history of forgery, or Bolton, or for that matter, any modern forgery theory for the Voynich.

      In short, they usually disagree with things they admit they do not know about. The only way you can truly know you disagree with something, is to actually know it, first.

      Thank you for your input.


  30. D.N. O'Donovan Says:


    What most troubles me about the atmosphere that has developed in Voynich studies is that it promotes the belief that the chief activity involved in researching a manuscript is “defending one’s very own ideas”.

    I long ago came to feel that the ideas most in need of defence are those of the people who expressed those ideas in the manuscript’s text and imagery.

  31. john sanders Says:

    A word has been detected, with modern hand suspected, but most likely written with a thumbnail dipped in tar. It has been inspected by an Xpert once respected and it fits with the depiction of it’s nominal cabral.

  32. john sanders Says:

    In order to deal with sociopathic behaviour, one must first learn to identify the symtoms eg. A bullying resentful and a blunt posturing disposition are the most common traits, along with an intransigent uncompromising stubborn and defiant attitude. They love to use so called humorous phrasing to hilight comparitive points eg. ‘like herding cats’ etc., but will never give an inch when pushing a totally unsupported nonsense as fact, when humor is not called for. Lies and dishonesty are both part and parcel to a socio’s deception ploy, well suited these days to intellectual property theft and such; unlike the shysters of old who dealt mainly in fenced goods that could be offloaded. One must not be fooled by chummy’s use of charm and feigned respectful overtones in order to gain advantage in any form of social discourse. Some also have a tendency to rely on aliases when they feel ill at ease or threatened to exposure, which should have no bearing to on-line nom de plumes. Nick names however, are used freely by sociopaths to support an unfelt nonchalant bonhomie and easy going style, as might lead any gullible street Antonio or Mario for that matter into dropping their guard.

  33. john sanders Says:

    On second thoughts I doubt that Wilfred was sociopathic in spight of shared traites with others well documented. Had he been mentally deranged to such a degree, it would have been picked up by those he had dealings with in US Intelligence and certainly by others who saw good in the fellow. Perhaps Tony Averlino might himself have fallen into the criteria, not to mention the Sultan’s new flushing john and all.

  34. john sanders Says:

    My understanding of the so called calendar or zodiac roundels which may or may not give reference to their associated themes etc., I note the following: A pair of nanny goats of a similar stance, right foot raised and chewing leaves off a tree; the word beneath both is either cabral or cabriol, meaning of which suggests ‘of goats’ and or goatherds. Antonio Cabral who discovered Brazil in 1500 had two purple goats on his battle shield,…A pair of tailed antelope in similar stance and engaged similarly to the goats with perhaps the word onyx beneath each, though from their horn curves they appear more like gazelle than the sabre horned onyx,…A mamaliasaurian creature with a wrapped baby? in its jaws with an uninteligible word beneath which some say resembles a month,…A crossbowman with similar uninteligible word, some say resembles December though that’s drawing a long bow says I…A beautiful fairy queen with a tiara and holding a star sparkler for which no comment is necessary…A couple of young well dressed young aristocrats with handy pandy exchange confirming to some (Germans) that VM is of German origin…A set of Libra Scales which appear a little more sphisticated than the era they are alleged to represent…A pair of tethered ass about Euro carp which appear to be ineddible &…Lasty and least commented upon is Wilfrid’s own chosen motif of a lion with a rodent in its jaws. Some see August beneath the creature but I don’t recall our chap being a Leo or Virgo either. I’ll go with Wilfreds choice to reflect his ‘Sessa’ cable address promoting his calalogues for Fine Unlisted Books London est. 1903?…

    • proto57 Says:

      Hi John… not to comment one way or the other on your other ideas, but the Voynich logo is actually cat, not a lion, with a rodent… mouse… in its mouth. He did “borrow” that from the Sessa family publishers, which used variations of the cat and mouse logo for generations.


  35. john sanders Says:

    Rich: I’m ok with Wilfrid’s cat and mouse duo, although I recall a Lion and mouse buddying up in a jungle thriller as a boy…I stuffed up with Cabral as well, for it was Pedro in Brazil and his kid was Antonio…. Our VM lovers, most likely copied from the 1484 German original or similar, aren’t involved in some crossing of the hands ritual as Nick and his team suggest. In fact the fair maid in their own depiction has her hands out as if seeking assistance from the swain in tights. She may even have glasses or else be otherwise visually challenged, as evidenced by her not making eye contact with her attendant guide.

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