One of the fascinating things about the VMs is how much unlike 
anything else it is.  It has been suggested - only half-jokingly - 
that it is of extra-terrestral origin.
    
    However, recently - say from 1996 on - we have discovered some 
hitherto-unknown historical precedents for the VMs.  Here I offer a 
collection of quotations on this.  Most, though not all, are post-
D'Imperio.  
    
    I think it's important to keep such precedents as we have in mind.
    
Cheers,
Dennis

-------------------------------------------------------------------
Historical Precedents for the Voynich Manuscript
July 20, 2001

-General European Provenance
-Astrology
-Alchemy
-Balneological (Bath) Drawings
-Toresella - Alchemical Herbals
-The Script in General
   --Trandechino - Renaissance Cipher
   --Cappelli - Gallows Characters
   --Humanist Hand
-Date of Composition of VMs
   --Humanist Hand
   --Nymphs' Hairstyles
-Locale of Composition of VMs
- History from the Author(s) to the Present

*********************************************************************
*******************      GENERAL EUROPEAN PROVENIENCE  **************
______________________________________________________________________


    The human figures in the VMs are Caucasian; the costumes are in
general European; the astrology is generally European, rather than,
say, Hindu.  The script is derived from medieval Latin abbreviations
(see below).

*********************************************************************
*******************      ASTROLOGY                 ******************
______________________________________________________________________


    "Prominent among the drawings are a series of circular drawings
apparently clearly related to the months of the year, and each
provided with a central medallion showing a zodiac symbol.  A
recognizable, if oddly-spelled month name has been written in what
most students agree is a different and later hand that that of the
Voynich script.  Figure 10 shows details of these month names.  The
page for January and February (Aquarius and Capricorn) is missing,
having been removed before the manuscript was found by Voynich.  The
student's first hope of getting anywhere through the known association
with months or zodiac signs is soon disappointed, since there is
apparently little else in the diagrams that can be remotely associated
with conventional astrological diagrams and horoscopes."

    - D'Imperio, *The VMs: an Elegant Enigma,* , p. 16.

From: René  Zandbergen
To: voynich@rand.org
Date: Tue, 25 Feb 1997 11:43:53 +0200
Subject: Thoughts and Questions

Denis Mardle writes:

> The Zodiac months have been split 15:15 for Aries and Taurus (
> dark,light,light,dark when put in order.)   Also the stars must surely
relate
> to longitude degrees, the missing  folio is most unlikely to make up to
365
> days.   Even Pisces which has 29 stars with the figures has a thirtieth
star in > the centre with  the fish ( ? pike ? ) not seen in the other
months.

Astrological systems giving one sign for each degree were described
by Peter of Abano (14C) in his Astrolabium Planum and in the so-called
'Heidelberger Schicksalsbuch' a much later translation and explanation of
P. d'Abano's work. I am still pursuing these documents, but first
indications are that the short labels near the stars in our zodiac
do not match well with the names used in these two documents. These
are of a typical descriptive nature 'a man with red hair carrying a sword'
and each one occurs several times (more so than we see in the Voynich
labels).
Main conclusion: whereas the VMs again seems original, it is not
entirely original and similar astrological systems do exist.

Aries and Taurus do play a special role in some alchemical illustrations,
which may be behind this special treatment. A much more down to Earth
explanation may be that the vellum size at this point did not allow
for the complete circles. Note that here the draftsman was still taking
great care with his drawing, but in the later zodiac signs he is getting
more and more careless or hasty and he does cramp complete circles
in smaller areas.




*********************************************************************
*******************       ALCHEMY                  ******************
______________________________________________________________________


[EDITOR'S NOTE:  Adam McLean is probably the world's greatest expert
on alchemy.   Therefore, this note is probably the last word on the
subject. ]

Subject: Re: Your Expert Opinion on the VMs
Date: Thu, 19 Nov 1998 17:36:43 +0000
From: Adam McLean
To: Dennis Stallings


At 09:40 AM 11/19/98 -0600, you wrote:
>Hello, Adam!  I know about your extensive knowledge of alchemy.  Mary
>D'Imperio, in her survey of VMs studies up to 1978, thought that alchemy
>might be the key to understanding the VMs.  However, current
>voynich@rand.org list members, including myself, see little if any
>alchemical content in the VMs.  None of us, however, are experts.  
>
>What is your opinion on this.  What alchemical imagery can you see in
>the VMs?

Dear Dennis 

All I can say is that I have never seen an alchemical manuscript
with the same imagery and pictures as are found in the Voynich.
The plant drawings in  the 'Herbal section' have many forerunners some 
going back centuries before the Voynich, as has been extensively 
documented. The drawings in the Astronomical section again seem to
have many parallels in known manuscripts. 

The main 'alchemical' resonance is supposed to be the 'balneological'
section, but here I find no parallels with alchemical manuscripts,
except in a very general way. If this was an alchemical work one 
would expect to find some other alchemical manuscript with similar
drawings - but I do not know of one. The drawings after all are not in code!

I have an open mind on the subject, but have yet to see any real parallels.
Perhaps one day I will find a manuscript that I recognise has common
features with the Voynich - but not so far.

My view is that we can only 'crack' the Voynich when we can put it into 
some context. The herbal section is probably the most amenable to
this approach as there are many early herbals with similar structures.
It really needs someone to make a study of the semiotics of herbals,
and see if any of these features can be recognised as patterns in the
Voynich text. Such things as repetitions of phrases, maybe things like
"collect the fruits in the month of" or "this plant is for the lungs". If the
Voynich section is a herbal then it should share some of such
phrases, and one might be able to find repetitive elements that give
us a clue to the way in which the Vonichese is structured and written.

I don't think I could  find any way at present to use alchemical manuscripts
or ideas to throw light on the 'Balneological section.

It may be that it will be someone with a background in semiotics rather
than cryptography that will first read the Voynich MS. I don't think it 
will be a scholar of alchemy.

Best wishes,

Adam McLean
----------------------

Web site: http://www.levity.com/alchemy/home.html



To: René  Zandbergen (R. Zandbergen x2236 A128 logica/fcsd/oad)
Cc: voynich@rand.org
Subject: Re: Sunflower revisited (longish)
Date: Fri, 12 Jul 1996 14:29:22 +0100
From: Michael Roe


Rene Zandbergen writes:
> As for more cartoon flowers, take a look at woodcut 17 of the Rosarium
> Philosophorum:
>     http://www.levity.com/alchemy/mylros17.html
> The first time I saw this illustration (the flower in the right-hand
> woodcut) was on the cover of a book about G.Bruno which I had been chasing.
> When I pulled it from the shelf I thought I had a fit :-).

Besides the sunflower, the VMS contains many images that also occur
in other alcehmenical works:

*  On folio 79v the dew (or divine radiance) falls down onto
   the recumbent female figure. (My guess is that is also an allegory
   for the chemical process of fractional distillation)

* f68r1 and f68r show the Sun over the Moon and then the Moon over the Sun
  (Solar dominant over Lunar and Lunar dominant over Solar)

* f66r is the first ``alchemical'' folio after the simple ``herbal'' material
  at the beginning of the MS. This folio shows a recumbent female figure.
  By itself, this could mean almost anything. But the following folios
  have alchemical images, so it is tempting to also interpret this as
  an alchemical image, the female/lunar principle about to be transformed
  by the process which is described in the following folios.

* A four-fold division of the cosmos is a recurring theme in the VMS,
  and also in alchemical texts. See for example f67v2 and f85-86r2.

* Plants with faces occur in alchemical MSS (e.g. the Rosarium Philosphorum
  refered to by Rene), and also in the VMS.

*  f82v shows what appears to be a rainbow (It's a pity that I havn't
   got a color reproduction of this ---- it would be useful to check the
   colours!)

Then there's the dragon (f25v), the serpents (f49r) ...

There are probably many others that I've left out.

The image that should be there (if the alchemical interpretation is correct),
but which seems to be missing is the union of the male and female principle.
So maybe it all means something completly different.

Mike

Date: Sat, 13 Jul 1996 05:36:48 -0700 (PDT)
From: R. Brzustowicz
To: Dennis Stallings
Cc: Michael Roe, René Zandbergen,voynich@rand.org
Subject: Re: Sunflower revisited (longish)


On Sat, 13 Jul 1996, Dennis Stallings wrote:

>       I tried to learn something about alchemy and threw up my hands up
> in frustration.  I'm a chemical engineer, and yet I often cannot figure
> out exactly what chemical reaction an alchemical text is talking about.

This may be old hat to you, but you may find Richard Newman's recent
_Gehennical Fire_ useful (and also of course its bibliography as a pointer
to other works on the same line).

R Brzustowicz 


Date: Wed, 18 Dec 1996 16:46:33 -0500 (EST)
From: Karl Kluge
To: voynich@rand.org
In-Reply-To: (René  Zandbergen)
Subject: Re: Levitov, heretics, catholics


   My previously announced silly idea: in the centre circle of
   the mega-foldout on ff.85-86 there are some objects (reportedly
   six but they are too vague to make out) that could be pharmaceutical
   jars like the ones in the pharma pages, but to me they look
   quite like the images of minarets in old Arabic manuscripts.
   The centre circle could represent the Arab world, or Mecca.
   The other circles could represent other parts of the world
   or the Universe in a more abstract sense (Earth, Fire, the lot).
   In fact I like Greece or Italy for the top right circle. If has
   a castle not unlike Rhodos or Patmos, but a tower that
   more resembles the Veneto style. Some Greek(?) houses,
   a volcano (when was Santorini first identified as a remnant
   of an eruption? I have a feeling that it was much later).
   Maybe this represents.....  Atlantis :-)
   No, strike that last one.

Good eye, and I think close but not quite. *My* previously announced
idea is that this represents the old alchemic notion of how the four
elements earth, air, fire, and water are created from the qualities
wet, dry, hot, and cold. The circle in the upper right with the T-O
map and little castle would be earth. The structure is then something
like this:
         dry
fire O -- O -- O earth
     |\   |   /|
     | \  |  / |
     |  \ | /  |
hot  O--- O -- O  cold
     |  / | \  |
     | /  |  \ |
     |/   |   \|
air  O -- O -- O water
         wet


From: Brian Smith
To: Jorge Stolfi, voynich@rand.org
Subject: Wenceslaus in the bath (was RE: Just imagine...)
Date: Mon, 9 Mar 1998 12:05:46 -0800 



While on the subject of precedents, I might as well report on another
book I have read:

Title:  The book of secrets of Albertus Magnus of the virtues of herbs,
         stones and certain beasts, also A book of the marvels of the
         world. Edited by Michael R. Best and Frank H. Brightman.
Pub. Info.:   Oxford [Eng.] Clarendon Press, 1973.

Thorndike, in his long discussion of the work in volume 2, chapter
lxiii refers to this as "The Experiments of Albert" or "Liber
aggregationis."  It was a best-seller in the middle ages and
renaissance.  While out of print right now, it is not too hard to
find.  It is divided into four sections: 1) herbal, 2) recipes
involving stones, 3) strange habits and recipes involving various
animals, 4) astrology.  The recipes are very similar in length to the
paragraphs in the final section of the VMS, for example:

  If thou wilt that a man suffer no pain, nor be tormented.
  Take the stone which is called Memphites, of the city which is called
  Memphis, and it is a stone of such virtue as Aaron and Hermes say: if
  it be broken, and mixed with water, and given to him to drink, which
  should be burned, or suffer any torments, that drink induceth so great
  unableness to feel, that he that suffereth, feeleth neither pain nor
  tormenting.

This is probably the work that Robert Babcock was thinking about in
this old email:

> From reeds Wed Jul 13 22:53 EDT 1994
> To: voynich@rand.org
> Subject: Voynich MS exists
> 
> I talked a bit with the head of research, Robert Babcock...
> ...He thinks that if deciphered we would not learn very
> much: the plain text is probably something already known (he used the
> example of Albertus Magnus).  He implored me to decipher it, then
> Yale would stop being bothered by silly visitors.

The Book of Secrets is not the VMS (it is too short and missing a
balneological section) but it provides an interesting whole-work
precedent for a mish-mash of different kinds of medicinal information
published as one work.  It is mostly made up of unattributed sections
from other works which were combined and given the stamp of wisdom and
secrecy by the false attribution to Albertus.  Based on its
popularity, the clever person who compiled the Book of Secrets clearly
understood the book market of his time.  But maybe not as clever as a
competitor who had the idea of re-writing similar stolen material
using mysterious symbols.

From - Wed Mar 11 20:02:32 1998
From: René  Zandbergen
To: voynich@rand.org
Date: Tue, 10 Mar 1998 09:37:59 +0100
Subject: Re: Wenceslaus in the bath




Re: Albertus Magnus I would just like to restate (probably
superfluously) that not much weight should be given to
Voynich's statement that 'only two 13th C scientists could
have written the VMs'. I know that you know, and that you
did not imply anything related to that :-)
But having gone through some of the older literature about
the VMs again, it is disturbing to see how much Voynich's
words are repeated by everybody. The statement that the
Ms collection he found  belonged to some ruling houses of
Parma, Ferrara and Modena, and that they had been hidden
since the start of the 19C or even the 18C is repeated
by all and we now know that this is wrong. (This includes
such otherwise reliable sources as Sci.Am., Manly and
Tiltman. Not their fault, and surely, some Mss did belong
to these families for some time...)

Cheers, Rene


*********************************************************************
******************* BALNEOLOGICAL (BATH) DRAWINGS  ******************
______________________________________________________________________

Subject: Someone in the balneis
Date: Tue, 10 Mar 1998 10:06:14 +0100
From: René  Zandbergen
To: voynich@rand.org


Further to previous:


> Brian: did the reproduction of the 15C Balneis Puteolanis
> indicate whether more copies exist? I'm thinking of
> independent ones done between the original and the mid 15th
> C. Is the original still extant?
Ooops!

There is an excellent web site.
It's Italian, with English dispersed throughout.  See:

http://www.balnea.net/museum/index.html
Cheers, Rene
From: Jim Reeds
Date: Tue, 7 Mar 95 22:11 EST
To: voynich@rand.org
Subject: Voynich similarity


Hi!  While browsing through Jean Seznec's "Survival of the Pagan Gods"
(various editions; mine is Princeton, 1972) I saw a picture which reminded
me of the VMS pictures.  It is figure 32 on page 107, taken from a ms. 
of the "Fungentius metaforalis", Vatican, Palat. lat. 1726.   It is
labeled "Venus-Luxuria", and shows the goddess swimming in a pool with
some fish.  She looks to me very like the VMS ladies, but maybe I'm
misled by the natatorial subject matter.


Jim Reeds

From: Jim Reeds
Date: Fri, 16 Feb 96 21:31 EST
To: 
Subject: Weird King Wenceslaus


While browsing thru' my wife's Thorndyke (History of Magic and
Experimental Science, 1923-1958, Columbia U. Press, in a zillion
volumes) vol III, page 590, I saw this passage:
        
        That Wenceslaus or Wenzel, Holy Roman emperor from 1378
        to 1400, and king of Bohemia until 1419, was among the
        number of rulers devoted to astrology is indicated by a finely
        illustrated manuscript preserved in the national library at
        Vienna.[ Vienna 2351 (Philos. 201), 14th century.]   It
        bears the dates, 1392 and 1393; has an illuminated initial W
        with a man in stocks in it; and the pictures of tubs and
        bathing girls which characterize Wenzel's Bible and other 
        manuscripts.  It was accordingly described as adorned with 
        pictures commemorating the imprisonment of Wenzel and his
        liberation by aid of the bath keeper Susanna, but this...

Tubs and bathing girls, h'm?  Does anyone know what these Wenceslausian
balneological illustrations actually look like?  Are there modern
reproductions of (say) Wenzel's Bible?  Did Vienna 2351 survive the war?


Jim Reeds

Date: Mon, 19 Feb 96 10:11:17 EWT
From: Rene Zandbergen 
Subject: Re: Weird King Wenceslaus
To: Voynich list 

If I read Jim's note correctly, this Ms. Vienna 2351
is not the same as the Wenceslaus Bible, but BOTH have
tubs and bathing girls. It even says

  .. which characterize Wenzel's Bible and other manuscripts..

so there are even more. I am assuming here that these other
manuscript are still Wenzel's (which is ambiguous above).

I did what I usually do in a case like this: search the Web.
(I guess I am not the only one :-))
So there seems to be a picture in Princeton, but
access to it is not allowed. It can be found via
http://www.princeton.edu/~medieval/mappamundi/med201/med201syl.html
under section 3.
   Some access for outsiders:
http://www.princeton.edu/~medieval/mappamundi/
Anybody from Princeton in our group? Anybody know anybody?

Jim, your friend Sergio Toresella (sp?) mentioned that he had
seen similarities to the 'balneological section' in Italian
manuscripts. Maybe this is not so uncommon after all?



From: Jim Reeds
Date: Mon, 19 Feb 96 20:35 EST
To: <@proxy.research.att.com:voynich@rand.org>
Subject: Voynich discourse (long & weighty)

Rene Zandbergen writes (about Reeds on Thorndyke on Wenzel):

> If I read Jim's note correctly, this Ms. Vienna 2351
> is not the same as the Wenceslaus Bible, but BOTH have
> tubs and bathing girls. It even says
> 
>   .. which characterize Wenzel's Bible and other manuscripts..
> 
> so there are even more. I am assuming here that these other
> manuscript are still Wenzel's (which is ambiguous above).

Yes.  That's how I read it, too.  Wenzel was keen on astrology
and nutty about bathtubs, it seems.  

I know someone at Princeton, & will ask her if she can get a copy of
the Wenzel bible pictures that Rene mentioned.

> Jim, your friend Sergio Toresella (sp?) mentioned that he had
> seen similarities to the 'balneological section' in Italian
> manuscripts. Maybe this is not so uncommon after all?

Toresella is thinking of some late 1400's books describing the public
thermal baths of Italy.   This sub-genre of topographical book has,
typically, sections describing the special medicinal properties of 
the waters in each of several towns.  Each section might have an illustration
showing what the baths were like.  The page layout and the architecture
is similar to what we see in the VMS.  



From: Brian Smith
To: Jorge Stolfi, voynich@rand.org
Subject: Wenceslaus in the bath (was RE: Just imagine...)
Date: Mon, 9 Mar 1998 12:05:46 -0800 

I sent mail about the Wenceslaus manuscripts a while ago. 

 From: Jim Reeds
> Date: Mon, 19 Feb 96 20:35 EST
> To: <@proxy.research.att.com:voynich@rand.org>
> Subject: Voynich discourse (long & weighty)
> 
> Rene Zandbergen writes (about Reeds on Thorndyke on Wenzel):
> ...
> > Jim, your friend Sergio Toresella (sp?) mentioned that he had
> > seen similarities to the 'balneological section' in Italian
> > manuscripts. Maybe this is not so uncommon after all?
> 
> Toresella is thinking of some late 1400's books describing the public
> thermal baths of Italy.   This sub-genre of topographical book has,
> typically, sections describing the special medicinal properties of 
> the waters in each of several towns.  Each section might have an
> illustration
> showing what the baths were like.  The page layout and the
> architecture
> is similar to what we see in the VMS.  

It is a reproduction of a 15c copy of "De Balneis Puteolanis" which
was written by a Petrus de Ebulo  c. 1200.  The content was very
reminiscent of an herbal -- a picture of the bath and a page of text
describing it physically and its healing properties.  The pictures
generally showed a large tub surrounded by pillars or other building
elements.  Some of the tubs were shown being fed by streams flowing
down from mountains in the background or from pipes.  A few naked
figures stood in each tub, usually men but sometimes women.  All of
the tubs were single-sex.  The style of the illustrations was unlike
the VMS but I came away feeling fairly confident that the
"balneological" section of the VMS is, in fact, balneological.  "De
Balneis Puteolanis" would not be at all out of place in a work
otherwise about herbs and astrology and the VMS pages showing large
tubs stretching across the width of the page would not be out of place
in "De Balneis" (if drawn by a more skilled artist).

Subject: Re: Historical Precedents I Missed
Date: Sat, 24 Jun 2000 10:47:43 +0200
From: René Zandbergen 
To: Dennis Stallings

Most important was the astronomical diagram in Vat. Gr. 1291, a 9th
Century Byzantine MS which has nude nymphs in a circle. While they
are artistically done, their postures are very much like in the VMs.
I lost part of the pictures in a web site crash but will rescan.

Check 
http://www.voynich.nu/vatg1291.html

Date: Thu, 10 Aug 2000 22:20:07 +0200
From: René Zandbergen (Rene Zandbergen)
Reply-To: René Zandbergen
To: Dennis Stallings



3)
In my opinion the most exciting possible identification, but 
highly contestable and not really a clear precedent: I think
that when the VMs artist drew f77v (Fig.2 in the Aesculapius
article) he had in front of him (either physically or mentally)
the text of one of the pages of the 'Balneis Puteolanis'
which describes the baths of Pozzuoli near Naples and which was
written some time in the 15th Century. This MS was brought to
our attention by Brian Smith. The text describes, one by one,
the pictures on the VMs page. 

http://www.balnea.net/museum/terme/gallerie/pietro/pietro5.html

  BALNEUM PETRAE, [...]

  Si chiama così perchè frange i calcoli; 
  [...]
  apre la vescica, libera i reni dalla renella, lava gli intestini.
  Vidi molti calcolosi che, bevutane l'acqua calda, ebbero l'urina
  pietrosa.

(Called like this since it breaks chalk /kidney stones I think/.
 opens the bladder, relieves the kidneys of , washes
 the intestines. You will see many 'with stones' who, after drinking
 the water, have urine with grains)

You really _must_ look at the VMs page and read the text to
get the full impact. Or maybe I'm just imagining things - I'd
like to hear your honest opinion.
The original text (presumably Latin) would constitute a great 
'known plaintext' sample. 



*********************************************************************
******************* TORESELLA - ALCHEMICAL HERBALS ******************
______________________________________________________________________
From: Jim Reeds
Date: Sun, 10 Dec 95 18:10 EST
To: "@proxy.research.att.com":voynich@rand.org
Subject: Voynich observations

I just spent a couple of hours with my friend Sergio Toresella, an
expert on manuscript herbals visiting this country from Italy.
He has been making a tour of American libraries and while at the 
Beinecke spent a little time with the VMS.  He knows about my interest,
and about our group.  Here is a sketch of some of his comments
about the VMS:

The VMS is, with certainty, authentic; not a fake.  It was manufactured
in the period 1450-1460.  It was in France for a while: the month names
on the zodiac diagrams are in French in a French handwriting.  The book
itself comes from Italy; the mysterious writing is done in a round 
humanistic style found only in Italy in the second half of the 1400's.
There are similarities between the organization of the VMS (including 
the balneological section!) and that of other Italian herbals of the 1400s.
(He has a lot more to say on this account.)  The author of the VMS was a
madman, obsessed by sex.

He plans to write up his observations in a paper, possibly with help from 
me.

Jim Reeds

From: Jim Reeds
Date: Mon, 19 Feb 96 20:35 EST
To: <@proxy.research.att.com:voynich@rand.org>
Subject: Voynich discourse (long & weighty)


Rene Zandbergen writes

> Something else: I have seen my first herbal this weekend. It
> is from after 1600 and printed. Quite different from the VMs
> (very nice drawings). It is an enormous volume by Dodoens
...
> Some pictures were less detailed, and I got the impression the
> writer had not seen the plant himself. ....

I refer you to Karen Reeds, *Botany in Medieval and Renaissance
Universities*, Garland Press, 1991, for a discussion of exactly this 
point!  As with most 16th century herbals, the pictures are not a sure
guide to the author's knowledge of the plants themselves.  That's because
the publishers copied  or borrowed or stole the woodcuts of plants
in other herbals.  In Dodoneus's case at least some of the cuts were
copied from illustrations in Leonhard Fuchs's herbals.  You have to read
the text carefully in conjunction with the illustrations to judge how well
the author knew the plants.

> ...it may be possible to find classes or groups of plants
> in other herbals which are definitely not in the VMs. That
> could tell us something too. Has this been done (and documented)
> already? ...

Not as far as I know, not precisely.  It is tremendously difficult to 
learn anything from the pictures in medieval herbals.  There is debate
among the herbalologists about the actual utility of the pictures.  
John Riddle, Sergio Toresella, and my wife (whom I take to be the heavy
hitters in the field) all have somewhat different takes.  My impression
is that you sometimes have to regard the whole thing as a specialized
kind of iconography: just as we can study the relationship between 
different pictures of St Jerome (say) in medieval painting, and can form
an impression of what he looks like (large square forehead, balding,
red hat, accompanied by a pet lion) while knowing that the actual person
might have looked completely different, so we study the plant pictures in
herbals, noting similarities between the pictures (which sometimes
agree with the written text, and sometimes not) even though the actual
plant might look quite different.

My wife thinks the plants are phantasmagorical.

Karen had the idea that the sequence of pictures in the VMS might be 
related to the sequence of pictures in some ordinary herbal, which
we might be able to identify.  This struck us both as a thin reed.

When I confronted her just now with the contradiction between these 2
ideas she said, "Show me another list of phantasmagorical plants and ..."



---------------------------------------------------------------

84.Toresella, Sergio. ``Gli erbari degli alchimisti.'' In Arte 
farmaceuticae e piante medicinali --erbari, vasi, strumenti e 
testi dalle raccolte liguri, Liana Saginati, ed. Pisa: Pacini Editore,
1996, pp.31-70. [Profusely illustrated. Fits the VMS into 
an ``alchemical herbal'' tradition.] 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Wed, 10 Jul 1996 14:02:18 GMT
From: René  Zandbergen 
To: Dennis Stallings
Subject: Re: Plant drawings
Cc: voynich@rand.org

Hi!

Dennis Stallings writes:

>       D'Imperio pointed out that medieval herbalists did not draw
> plants from real life, but copied manuscripts of herbals by classical
> authors that had already been recopied for hundreds of years.  In
> the process, the drawings degenerated to the point that they no longer
> represented anything real.  She also speculated that the (putatively
> unreal) plant drawings in the VMs might have symbolic meaning.

Indeed. She also pointed out that the VMs plants are not like anything
in any of those herbals either. I must admit that the few copies
of drawings I have seen from M.E. herbals are mostly very representative
of the plant in question. These may have been from a somewhat later date
though. There is a hand-written note on f17r referring to the herbal
of Mattioli. From this I have a copy of one plant drawing which is a
nice clear drawing of an existing plant. This may not be a
representative sample :-). Brumbaugh apparently has looked
through Mattioli's herbal and claims that one half of one
plant in the entire VMs is also a copy of one in Mattioli (if my memory
is correct). I was somewhat disappointed that the Hessische Landesbibliothek
does not seem to have a copy of it (at least it is not in the catalogue).
The herbal was first printed in Frankfurt (a stone's throw away from here
and definitely in Hessen)!

>       In this connection, I was very much intrigued by a post Jim Reeds
> made a while back (also because I think, as did D'Imperio, that alchemy
> may be important in understanding the VMs):
>
> (Ref. to S.Toresella's article, with minor typos preserved :-) )
>
>       Perhaps Jim could give us a synopsis?

My 'contact' in one of Italy's premier unversities (Padova) did not
find it in their library, and I am also quite eager to read the
article. Would Jim mind if we contact Sergio Toresella directly?

Cheers, Rene

From: Jim Reeds
Date: Wed, 17 Jul 96 08:26 EDT
To: 
Subject: Voynich interjections

Dear All,



I passed a copy of a recent post by Rene Zandbergen to my wife the
historian of Renaissance botany.  She will ask Toresella if he minds
letting his address out, & comment on such topics as quality of pictures
in medieval herbals, on Mattiolus, etc.  Let me just comment a little bit
on these matters, too:  all of D'Imperio's knowledge of herbals probably comes
from Agnes Arber's book.  You can form your own impression of the accuracy
of the plant illustrations in manuscript herbals by looking at Raphael and
Blunt.  My wife's thesis has a long discussion of the illustrations of
Schlangenwurzel aka Dracontea in early printed herbals, which has since
become a topos in the historiography of scientific illustration (see J.
Murdoch's picture book for an example).

My Italian is the evanescent ghost of a quantity which was never there, so I
cannot really summarize Toresella's long article on "Alchemical Herbals".
The 2 plates in Raphael & Blunt (on pp 94 & 95 in my edition, of Bayersche
Staatsbib. Munich, Cod.icon.(bot.)26, a few pages after B&R's VMS pages)
seem to be from an example of such herbals.  The illustrations Toresella
gives do show "punning" or "rebus" plant pictures (with dragons, lions,
etc, incorporated into pictures of plants like Dracontea or Dandelion, etc)
but neither the usual symbolic alchemical images (green lions, androgynes,
pelicans, etc) nor "operative" alchemical images (furnaces, retorts, etc.)
In fact, I do not really know why he calls this distinct sub genre of
manuscript herbals "alchemical", but it is clear that there is a stylistic
unity among such MSS.  Sergio says that the fashion died out by about 1500,
and soon became inexplicable.


Jim Reeds


Date: Thu, 12 Jun 1997 08:46:29 -0700
From: Dennis Stallings
To: VOYNICH-L 
Subject: Toresella on the VMs

Rene and I have translated Toresella's remarks on the VMs in his
paper on alchemical herbals:

    Toresella, Sergio. ``Gli erbari degli alchimisti. [Alchemical
herbals.]'' In Arte farmaceutica e piante medicinali -- erbari, vasi,
strumenti e testi dalle raccolte liguri [Pharmaceutical art and
medicinal plants -- herbals, jars, instruments and texts of the
Ligurian collections], Liana Saginati, ed. Pisa: Pacini Editore, 1996,
pp.31-70. [Profusely illustrated. Fits the VMS into an ``alchemical
herbal'' tradition.]

-------------------------------------------------------------

    "Among the alchemical herbals we must include the one contained in
the Voynich codex [45].

    "It is the strangest, most mysterious, and enigmatic herbal known,
because it is written in an enciphered language that has resisted the
attacks of the most powerful American electronic computers [46].  It
is almost eighty years that the best cryptographers, paleographers,
and specialists in the most obscure languages have tirelessly tried to
penetrate the mystery of this herbal, but in vain.

    "Rudolph II of Habsburg, king of Bohemia, who constructed the
'alchemists' quarter' in Prague, paid for this codex attributed to
Francis [sic] Bacon (1214-1292), the fantastic sum of 600 gold ducats:
remember, in comparison, that the Juliana Anicia herbal [the Vienna
Codex of Dioscorides] was bought for only 100 ducats.

    "Some have seen on these parchments, on which dozens of plants
similar to those of the alchemists' herbals are drawn, but which do
not belong to that iconographic tradition (fig. 25, 26), some
fantastic discoveries:  the sunflower and the pepper represented
centuries [sic] prior to the discovery of America;  drawings of parts
of the cell seen through the microscope; the Andromeda nebula [sic] in
the astrological part of the codex, and others still.  Even so the
mystery of these plants remains unfathomable.

    "Personally I think that the person who drew and wrote this herbal
was profoundly impressed by the exhibition of some charlatan at the
market place and thought that he had discovered the secret of the
world; a secret to entrust to a language and a cryptic script such as
is often found in certain forms of insanity [47].

    "One really has to wonder about the strong fascination contained
in this message from the past where Master Ghino [who commissioned an
alchemical herbal that Toresella discusses] would have us believe that
someone was held prisoner of a spell by the herb 'ghalias retiuola':

    'Whoever has anointed his hands with the lotion of this herb, then
touched whomever he wanted, would obtain from that person any favour
that he might like.

    'And in that way he would obtain much friendship.

    'And he would cause peace and concord between enemies.

    'And he who would wash himself with it would drive away the thief
from within himself.'"

-------------------------------------

    "Fig. 25, 26:  Drawings from the Voynich herbal [f41v, f42r,
f65v].  The codex is difficult to date but the greater part of its
students think that it dates to the years 1460-1480.   These fantastic
plants have no relation with those of the usual alchemical herbals;
some botanists think they have recognized the pepper and even the
sunflower; some believe they have discovered marvels even more
surprising.  As you will have noticed, the writing is very clear and
regular, but totally incomprehensible.  The best American experts have
searched and are still searching to crack the code with an apparatus
of truly impressive electronic computers.  Every now and then it
happens that someone believes he has solved the mystery and reads in
the book some further wonders; only later to find out that some
objection renders the decryption improbable.  New Haven, Yale
University, Beinecke Rare Book Library, MS 408, c. 41v-42r, c. 65v."

---------------------------------------------------

    NOTES:

    "45.  Currently kept in the Beinecke Rare Book Library at Yale
University (Conn.), USA, as MS 408.

    "46.  The best exposition of the research on the Voynich codex is
in M. E. D'Imperio, *The Voynich Manuscript.  An elegant enigma,
Laguna Hills (Ca.) 1976.  A good summary, also easily available in
Italy, may be found in D. Kahn, *The Codebreakers.*  There also exists
an Internet site dedicated to this issue on which about forty students
from all over the world communicate their discoveries.

    "47.  The phenomenon of invented languages is very widespread and
represents a fundamental aspect of some mental pathologies.  For an
approach to the problem see: S. ARIETE, *Creativita`. La Sintesi
magica*, Roma 1986.  A. BAUSANI, *Le Lingue inventate. Linguaggi
artificiali -linguaggi segreti- linguaggi universali*, Roma, 1974.
And the recent B. BUONARROTI & P. ALBANI, *Aga Mage'ra Difura.
Dizionario delle lingue immaginarie*, Bologna 1994."

    [The US Library of Congress catalog has:

    Arieti, Silvano.  Creativity : the magic synthesis / New York :
Basic Books, c1976.  xv, 448 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.  LC CALL NUMBER: BF408
.A64

    The LOC has the Italian version of Buonarroti & Albani but doesn't
have Bausani. ]


Date: Mon, 16 Jun 1997 08:06:43 -0700
From: Dennis Stallings
To: VOYNICH-L 
Subject: Toresella on Alchemical Herbals

Here is a summary of what Toresella says about alchemical herbals
in his paper:

    Toresella, Sergio. ``Gli erbari degli alchimisti. [Alchemical
herbals.]'' In Arte farmaceutica e piante medicinali -- erbari, vasi,
strumenti e testi dalle raccolte liguri [Pharmaceutical art and
medicinal plants -- herbals, jars, instruments and texts of the
Ligurian collections], Liana Saginati, ed. Pisa: Pacini Editore, 1996,
pp.31-70. [Profusely illustrated. Fits the VMS into an ``alchemical
herbal'' tradition.]

    1)  "Alchemical herbals" is really a misnomer, since these herbals
contain little or no alchemical imagery.  A Bolognese naturalist,
Ulisse Aldrovandi (1522-1605) collected some of these herbals and
labeled them "plants of the alchemists".  Toresella calls these
"alchemical herbals" for lack of anything better.  (44-7)

    2)  Some pictures in the alchemical herbals can be traced to
pseudo-Apuleius and the *Circa Instans* of the Salerno Medical School.
However, the alchemical herbal is an autonomous tradition that may
have begun in the XIII century.  No existing specimens predate the
middle of the XIV century, their heyday was the XV century, and they
disappeared at the middle of the XVI century.  (52)  "They all seem
strictly Italian because, except for two cases, all the alchemical
herbals, about seventy, were produced in Italy, in prevalence in
northern Italy, in the Veneto area."  (51)

    3)  They only contain plant images, along with a few human images.
The images are of known plants rendered in a fantastic fashion and
labeled with incomprehensible names.  They contain from 10 to 200
images; there are some imagess found in all alchemical herbals.  (p.
49)

    4)  There are visual puns (human figures for a mandrake root(fig
7), a root like a fish for luccia maggiore (fig 14), a hat for a
teodora plant (fig. 15), a root like a wolf (with goat horns!) for
luparina (17), and a man's head in a testatoris.  Geometric figures
(circles, ellipses, quadralaterals) are also common.  Indeed visual
puns are more common than in the VMs.

    5)  The text varied according to the educational level of the
person for whom the alchemical herbal was made.  Often the texts and
pictures were intended for public display and reading.  "The recipes
found in the alchemical herbals are often absurb and irrational:
spells to become invisible or to find hidden treasures and are
accompanied by incantations and invocations for the most part pious,
but also including some to evil spirits, including the famous magical
quatrain Sator Arepo Tenet Opera Rotas or the more modest
Abracadabra." (p. 57)

    6)  Although Toresella expresses his opinion that the author of
the Voynich Manuscript suffered from insanity, that does not
necessarily mean that the text has no meaning.  Indeed, his statement
that the author "thought that he had discovered the secret of the
world; a secret to entrust to a language and a cryptic script" would
seem to indicate that the text is meaningful.  There are a range of
possible levels of meaningfulness.

    7)  Those who used the alchemical herbals practiced "traveling
medicine." (p. 47)  These healers practiced "demotic medicine, the
offspring of a very ancient medical culture, mostly transmitted
orally, and distinguished from official medicine especially by its
lack of an organic theory of illness." (P. 48)

    Thus saying that they were to impress the ignorant misses the
point.  These various types of practitioners of "travelling medicine"
were medieval folk healers, such as are found in all pre-modern
cultures.  In south Louisiana one still finds a few traiteurs, the
traditional healers of Cajun culture.  In Mexico the curanderos are
quite active.  In many third-world countries these folk healers
operate in addition to physicians trained in Western medicine.  The
alchemical herbals are best understood as shamanistic healing props.
(This last point is more mine than Toresella's.)

    However, some of the users of these herbals were undoubtedly pure
quacks; Toresella calls Master Ghino a charlatan.

Dennis


*********************************************************************
*******************    THE SCRIPT IN GENERAL       ******************
______________________________________________________________________

    At this writing (June 18, 1997) we can say that the Voynich script
could easily have come from known Latin characters, abbreviations, and
embellishments and early Arabic numerals.

    1)  D'Imperio below (based on Capelli) gives a general script origin.
    2)  Trachedino gave a summary of Renaissance cipher scripts.
    3)  Capelli shows a sample of gallows-like characters.
    4)  The Voynich script is clearly related to the "humanist hand"
         lettering style used only during the 1400's.  (This is about
         the most definite time indication for the VMs that I've seen.)

    "It is my feeling that we need not look beyond the system of Latin 
abbreviations, familiar to all learned men of the Middle Ages and 
Renaissance throughout Europe, combined with early forms of Arabic 
numerals and some common alchemical and astrological symbols, to find 
the inspiration for the design of the Voynich script."  

    - D'Imperio, *The VMs: an Elegant Enigma,* , p. 24. 


*********************************************************************
******************* TRANDECHINO - RENAISSANCE CIPHERS ***************
*********************************************************************

From: "Jim Reeds" 
Date: Mon, 6 Jan 1997 18:22:45 -0500
To: voynich@rand.org
Subject: Voynich-like cipher symbols

This Christmas I had a chance to see a very elegant reproduction of a
manuscript in Vienna containing several hundred different cipher keys
from the late 1400's.  This MS was written in exactly the time period
and general location Toresella placed the composition of the VMS (based
on the general appearance of VMS handwriting).  Many of the cipher keys
use made-up symbols, many of which look vaguely Voynichese.

The executive summary:  such symbols were in the "air" in at that time,
and no theory of Aztec influence need be invoked to account for their
presence in a late 15th century Northern Italian production.

The MS is "Codex Vindobonensis 2398", which is a 500 Schilling way of
saying "Vienna MS 2398".  The book I saw was vol. 22 in series "Codices
Selecti / Phototypice Impressi"  published in 1970 by "Akademische druck
-u.  Verlagsanstalt" of Graz, Austria.  Its title is "Francesco Tranchedino /
Diplomatische Geheimschriften / Codex Vindobonensis 2398 / Der
Oesterreichischen Nationalbibliothek / Faksimilieausgabe / Einfuehrung
Walter Hoeflechner "

The introduction is very long & interesting, but I had only a short
time to look at it.  The MS itself has 169 folios (all very clearly
reproduced), with about 300 cipher keys, one per page.  "Der Hauptteil
des cvp 2389, das eigentliche Chiffrenprotokoll, enthaelt 297 vollstaendige
Schluessel aus der Cancelleria segreta..." The compiler (Tranchedino) was
a cryppie in the Sforza chancery in Milan in the late 1400's.  Each cipher
key lists 1, 2, or 3 cipher equivalents for each of the alphabet letters,
a list of maybe 4 or 6 nulls (symbols without meaning, thrown into the
cryptogram to amuse the opponents), cipher equivalents for doubled letters,
and in some cases, cipher equivalents for as many as 50 or so words and
proper names.

The designer of the cipher symbols seems to have had fun.  Each one has
a kind of thematic unity: all the symbols are Arabic numbers, or all
the symbols are letters and pairs of letters, or are all Voynich- or
Capelli-like pothooks, or are all alchemical and astrological, or are
all Greek letters, in every case occurring in all kinds of ligatured and
pot-hook encrusted variants.

--
VIENNA, NATIONALBIBLIOTHEK, Cod. Vindob. 2398.
Franciscus Tranchedinus,
Furtivae litterarum notae .
This codex contains some two hundred ciphers
used by the Milanese Chancery
between 1450 and 1496. Ciphers shown date
from ca.1450. Original .
---------


Date: Wed, 19 Mar 1997 08:29:29 -0500
From: Jim Reeds 
To: voynich@rand.org
Subject: Re: Code-talkers, but it has wandered...Voynich

I don't know what it has to do with Navajo (or is it ho?), but Dennis 
mentioned my post about Tranchedino's collection of Milanese cipher 
alphabets from the late 1400s. Since then Rene Z has looked at a copy 
of the same facsimile I saw. He was disappointed that there were no 
'gallows' letters, and concluded (I think) that Tranchedino was not 
the author of the VMS. All I had claimed was that many of the cipher 
symbols looked "vaguely Voynichese." My point was that fanciful cipher 
alphabets were in common use in the 15th century. Kahn's book shows 
some others from the 16th century on pp. 115, 120, 123, and 139 (in 
the 1st edition of his book). 


--------------

Date: Thu, 20 Mar 1997 10:52:51 +0200
From: René  Zandbergen
To: voynich@rand.org
Subject: Re: Code-talkers, but it has wandered...Voynich


Dear all,

Jim  Reeds wrote:
> .... Dennis mentioned my post about Tranchedino's collection
> of Milanese cipher alphabets from the late 1400s. Since
> then Rene Z has looked at a copy of the same facsimile I saw.
> He was disappointed that there were no 'gallows' letters,
> and concluded (I think) that Tranchedino was not the author
> of the VMS.
Yes, though not on the basis of the absence of gallows-
lookalikes. And in fact it seems unlikely any professional
cryptographer would have written the VMs
> All I had claimed was that many of the cipher symbols
> looked "vaguely Voynichese."
I realised that and fully agree. Even down to such special
things as Currier 'S', the i-shaped variant of Currier-S,
'SO' ligatures, picnic tables, and things like the
'chinese hat in corner', looking more like the mirror
image of Arabic 'k'.

> My point was that fanciful cipher alphabets were in common
> use in the 15th century.
... and references in the introduction to ciphers in the
early 15th C, Tranchedino being late 15C.


************************************************************************
*************************  CAPPELLI - GALLOWS CHARACTERS ***************
************************************************************************

From: "Jim Reeds" 
Date: Mon, 9 Jun 1997 22:27:57 -0400
To: voynich@rand.org
Subject: Re: Gallows, Glagolithic and Greek

I have always thought of the gallows letters as being a typical feature of
Visigothic writing, but I cannot put my hand on any examples right now.

But I can refer to one of the few photographic facsimilies in my copy (well,
really my wife's copy) of Cappelli's Dizionario (the 1967 reprint of what
appears to be the 1929 edition), namely "Tavola IV", which shows a letter
"1172, Giugno 13 -- Savino abbate del monastero di S. Savino in Piacenza
investe il mugnaio Gerardo Albarola per se e suoi eredi maschi in perpetuo,
di un mulio di ragione del detto moasstero -- Scritura carolina. --
Pergamena origen., conservata nell'Archivio di Stato di Parma, monastero
di S. Savino." with glorious gallows letters all over it.

--
From: "Jim Reeds" 
Date: Tue, 10 Jun 1997 09:32:44 -0400
To: René  Zandbergen, voynich@rand.org
Subject: Re: Gallows, Glagolithic and Greek

About the text I found in Capelli with gallows letters.

Most of Capelli is a list of abbreviations, but the book starts with a short
overview of paleography in general.  That overview section has a series of
plates, showing whole document pages, in a variety of writing styles, together
with transcriptions.  So there is no guarantee that these gallows letters are
actually abbreviations.  I think they are just a embellished letters.  I'll
check tonight.  I might possibly be able to scan some of the plate.

Rene is right, gallows letters are not a usual feature of Carolingian
writing.  The sample in question looks Carolingian to me, otherwise, but
does have a lot of VMS-like gallows letters.  Deeds, charters, & similar
legal documents often, I think, received some form of caligraphic decoration.
I'm sure that's what's happening here.

--

Date: Sat, 14 Jun 1997 00:13:18 -0700
To: voynich@rand.org
From: Clay Holden
Subject: Updated Cappelli Tavola IV scans

Jacques Guy wrote:

>Jim Reeds wrote:
>>I have just been told that there is a JPEG scan of the plate from Cappelli's
>>abbreviation dictionary which contains gallows-like letters.  You can see
>>the picture:
>
>>
>>      ftp://ftp.dnai.com/users/c/cholden/TavolaIV.jpg
>
>
>I had a look. It's a 1.8Meg jpeg. Yes, 1.8Meg!
>
>Not the easiest thing to download, and my Netscape Gold just refuses
>to display it.

Sorry, not trying to choke anyone. It's a 300 DPI grey-scale JPEG. The
original TIFF was nearly 6 MB. I've gone back to Photoshop and uploaded
"Lite" versions.

For those with smaller appetites, try these:

The top line of "gallows" characters, 289 K:

ftp://ftp.dnai.com/users/c/cholden/gallows1.jpg

The bottom line of "gallows" characters, 289 K:

ftp://ftp.dnai.com/users/c/cholden/gallows2.jpg

The whole plate, reduced to 50% of the size, 510 K:

ftp://ftp.dnai.com/users/c/cholden/Table_IV.jpg

I have displayed these images from the ftp site on both Macs and PCs using
Netscape without any problem, and have succsssfully downloaded them as
well, so Netscape is not the issue.

These are still 300 DPI grey-scale images, certainly large enough to have a
good look at the "gallows" characters, but you're probably better off
avoiding the large image unless you have a fast connection and hard-drive
space to burn.

I'll leave these up for a few days, but not indefinitely. If someone else
wants to archive them, fine.

Sorry if anyone else had a problem with them.

Regards,

Clay
Date: Mon, 16 Jun 97 11:18:27 EST
To: voynich@rand.org
From: Jacques Guy
Subject: Re: Updated Cappelli Tavola IV scans

I am in the process of downloading the first set of
gallows (and, at 0.5K/sec, it is painful...) and...

BON SANG! They are the spit image of Voynichese!
It seems likely that the Voynich authors knew about
those gallows. Of course, we could entertain the notion
that they were the inventors, and that what I am seeing
slowly forming on my screen is inspired from Voynichese,
but it seems unlikely.

Date: Mon, 16 Jun 1997 08:03:51 -0700
From: Dennis Stallings
To: voynich@rand.org
Subject: Re: Updated Cappelli Tavola IV scans

Gabriel Landini wrote:
>
> On 16 Jun 97 at 11:18, Jacques Guy wrote:
>
> > I am in the process of downloading the first set of
> > gallows (and, at 0.5K/sec, it is painful...) and...
> >
> > BON SANG! They are the spit image of Voynichese!
>
> I was quite surprised as well.
> Some details. The right hand side of the loop is itself different
> from whatever we see in the vms.
> The horizontal stroke (the connection) is part of the character. I
> wonder then if the complex gallows are just 1 character.

        These things certainly do look like gallows!  Looking at the top line,
most of the gallows characters are in fact embellishments on top of
normal characters in the main line of text.  However, in the word
"sancti" in the phrase "infra monasterium sancti Savini", the gallows
character forms the letters "sanc".

Dennis

From: "Jim Reeds" 
Date: Mon, 16 Jun 1997 10:01:01 -0400
To: voynich@rand.org
Subject: Re: Updated Cappelli Tavola IV scans

Let me summarize the situation as I see it.

An ongoing thread in discussions of the Voynich MS has been the source of
the alphabet, only some letters of which looked like ordinary letters or
numbers. So a non European origin, or at least some non European influence,
was posited for the VMS.

To the contrary, I argued at the begining of this year, many of the supposedly
non-standard Voynich letters were exactly the sorts of fanciful invented
letters used in Europe in ciphers.  By good luck I found an edition of
Tranchedino's late 1400's book of cipher alphabets, many of which had a
strong Voynich-like look.  Rene Zandbergen said (if I recall correctly)
that all that was lacking from the Tranchedino collection were the gallows-like
letters.

So now we see the gallows-like decorative letters in the document reproduced
in Cappelli.

I think it is now clear that all the VMS letter shapes are well within the
range of fanciful and decorative letter shapes actually used in the late
middle ages.  If you had asked an Italian of 1470 to invent a cipher alphabet
he would have come up with something like the VMS alphabet, and there is nothing
about the VMS alphabet incompatible with such an origin.

Of course I make no claims of the form "Tranchedino was the VMS author"
or "the VMS author visited the monastary of St. Savino in Piacenza".  I am
saying that all the VMS letter shapes fall well within the repetoire of
alphabetic letter-like shapes available to, and used by,  European scribes
of the 1400s.

--
From: "Jim Reeds" 
Date: Mon, 16 Jun 1997 16:17:54 -0400
To: Denis V. Mardle
Subject: Re: Cappelli
Cc: VMs List 

I am sure the Cappelli D'Imperio saw is an earlier edition of the Cappelli
I have.  It is used by essentially all medievalists who have anything to
do with manuscripts.  It lists abbreviations and conventional signs used
in writing throughout the middle ages, throughout Europe.  Not all abbreviations
were used everywhere, at all times; Cappelli gives a century or century
range for each entry.

I don't really know what point D'Imperio was trying to make with her Fig. 17.
Let me hijack her evidence, and use it this way:  Cappelli and Fig. 17
show how many of these VMS-like letter shapes were in common use in medieval
Europe as conventional abbreviations, in addition to their uses as decorative
letter elements and as invented cipher letters discussed in my earlier posting.
More evidence, in other words, that the VMS letters are European letters.

Is it likely that Cappelli is the Rosetta stone for the VMS, that Currier F
in the VMS means "mbrus" because the same letter shape was so used in ordinary
writing in medieval Europe?  I think we discussed this several years ago,
with the usual results.

--
Date: Mon, 16 Jun 1997 17:33:46 -0700 (PDT)
From: R. Brzustowicz
To: voynich@rand.org
Subject: Re: Cappelli

On Mon, 16 Jun 1997, Clay Holden wrote:

> follows:
>
> "MANUALI HOEPLI // LEXICON ABBREVIATURARUM // DIZIONARIO DI / ABBREVIATURE
> / LATINE ED ITALIANE // USATE NELLE CARTE E CODICI SPECIALMENTE DEL
> MEDIO-EVO / RIPRODOTTE CON OLTRE 14000 SEGNI INCISI // con l'aggiunta di
> uno studio sulla brachigrafia medioevale, un / prontuario di Sigle
> Epigrafiche, l'antica numerazione romana / ed arabica ed i segni indicanti
> monete, pesi, misure, etc. // PER CURA DI //ADRIANO CAPPELLI /
> Archivista-Paleografo // Seste edizione (anastatica) / corredata con 9
> tavole fuori testo // [publisher's mark] // EDITORE ULRICO HOEPLI MILANO //
> Ristampa 1967"
>
> Cappelli's Preface was written in March, 1929.
>
> As far as I know, this book is still available in reprint from the same
> publisher, as I bought one no more than three years ago at Stanford
> Bookstore. Anyone out there with access to an online Books-in-Print?
>
> Clay
>
Contributors: Cappelli, Adriano (Editor)
Title:        Dizionario di Abbreviature Latine Ed Italiane
Language:     Italian Latin
Publisher:    S. F. Vanni
Year:         1990
Pages:        531p.
Illustration: Illustrated
ISBN/Price:   0-913298-95-6 Trade Cloth $42.00
Subj (BIP):   ITALIAN-LANGUAGE-DICTIONARIES>
>

R Brzustowicz 

Date: Tue, 17 Jun 97 11:41:28 EST
To: voynich@rand.org
From: Jacques Guy
Subject: Re: Cappelli, el cheapo edition

(my apologies to R.Brzustowicz, I pressed the wrong button,
 and he is going to get two copies of this)


>Contributors: Cappelli, Adriano (Editor)
>Title:        Dizionario di Abbreviature Latine Ed Italiane

>ISBN/Price:   0-913298-95-6 Trade Cloth $42.00

I found that www.amazon.com had a shorter, paperback, version
of it for ... $4.50! And it seems to be pretty good according
to the review of it there. So what do you think? I ordered
a copy, of course. Search for it under Cappelli Adrianie.
Yes, "Adrianie" -- they misspelt his first name. But they
get it only special order, which means up to 6 weeks, or,
if it is no longer in stock, never.

At any rate, it seems to that, at long, long, long last,
we are getting somewhere with the VMS. 



From: Brian Smith
To: "'Jacques Guy'" , voynich@rand.org
Subject: RE: Cappelli, el cheapo edition
Date: Mon, 16 Jun 1997 18:53:03 -0700

The $4.50 version at amazon.com is just a translation of the
introduction to the full Dizionario.  It does not include the dictionary
proper, nor the plates discussed in the past week.  The introduction is
a useful discusion of the theory behind medieval abbreviation but not a
substitute for the whole thing.

*************************************************************************
**************** HUMANIST HAND ******************************************
*************************************************************************

From: "Jim Reeds" 
Date: Wed, 10 Sep 1997 10:51:40 -0400
To: voynich@rand.org
Subject: Re: Toresella

On Sep 10,  9:16, Dennis wrote:
about what I wrote about what Toresella said:


>    ....  What you had: "The VMS is, with certainty, authentic;
> not a fake.  It was manufactured in the period 1450-1460.  It was in
> France for a while: the month names
> on the zodiac diagrams are in French in a French handwriting.  The book
> itself comes from Italy; the mysterious writing is done in a round 
> humanistic style found only in Italy in the second half of the 1400's."  
> 
>       It would be interesting to know what specific "humanistic style" 
> he had in mind; does it have a name?  It always puzzled me how T. could 
> specify such a narrow time range, given the uncertainties here.  
> 

The shifting of the date range from 1450-60 to 1460-80 is a bit bothersome.

The "humanistic style" question is easy to answer. In about 1450 a new kind of
handwriting arose in northern Italy, consiously associated at the time with the
Humanist movement (Petrarch, the recovery & revival of classical MSS &
learning; the literary aspect of the Italian Renaissance). This handwriting was
based on classical Roman models (some MSS, I think, but also on samples seen on
stone monuments) and was a model for our printed "Roman" typefaces. Unlike the
"textura" (aka "bastarda" or "gothic") handwriting common througout Europe in
the period 1100-1400, which can be seen in Stofi's web pages), humanist hand is
easy for us to read. It fell out of popularity in a few decades, however, being
supplanted by the "Italic" hand, which is still in use. This brief period of
popularity is what allows Toresella's puzzling narrow range of dates. Unlike
the slanted Italic hand, the humanist hand is upright. Round letters seem
equally round on both sides. The book by Tradechino I mentioned earlier this
year is written in this kind of handwriting; there are samples in Bischoff's
"Latin Paleography". (Which I don't have at the office, so I cannot check any
of the details above.) After Toresella pointed it out to me I am completely
convinced that the VMS script was written by a user of the humanist hand.

From: "Jim Reeds" 
Date: Sat, 13 Sep 1997 10:50:09 -0400
To: voynich@rand.org
Subject: Humanist hand, 1400's dating, and so on.

I took a look at Bischoff's Latin Paleography book after posting my blurb about Toresella's
round humanist hand dating of the VMS, and it is clear that I oversimplified and overstated
things.  The humanist hand dates from the earliest years of the 1400's,  and was not instantly
supplanted on the invention of the Italic hand, so the time bracket for the VMS (if you believe the
VMS scribe was used to the humanist hand) is wider than the decade or 2 I suggested in my
earlier letter.  Unfortunately Bischoff does not say very much about the h.h. (it is at the very end
of his time period) so I cannot give more info here.  He does cite several books about the h.h.,
so there is clearly a lot more to know.


[From the Editor:  Some samples of humanist hand, from Rafal Prinke's page:
http://hum.amu.edu.pl/~rafalp/HERM/VMS/palgraf.htm
A page from Cracow castle court records (late medieval cursive) 1497
Humanist hand Italy (1453)


Humanist papal document (1462)


Another sample (1465)






*********************************************************************
******************* DATE OF COMPOSITION OF THE VMS ******************
______________________________________________________________________

        D'Imperio gives the time range of 1400-1550 for the VMs' composition,
probably late within that period (p. 8-9).  This is simply the majority
of scholars' opinions at that time.  More recently we have found evidence
placing it more narrowly in the late 1400's.


*************************************************************************
**************** HUMANIST HAND ******************************************
*************************************************************************

From: "Jim Reeds" 
Date: Wed, 10 Sep 1997 10:51:40 -0400
To: voynich@rand.org
Subject: Re: Toresella

On Sep 10,  9:16, Dennis wrote:
about what I wrote about what Toresella said:


>    ....  What you had: "The VMS is, with certainty, authentic;
> not a fake.  It was manufactured in the period 1450-1460.  It was in
> France for a while: the month names
> on the zodiac diagrams are in French in a French handwriting.  The book
> itself comes from Italy; the mysterious writing is done in a round 
> humanistic style found only in Italy in the second half of the 1400's."  
> 
>       It would be interesting to know what specific "humanistic style" 
> he had in mind; does it have a name?  It always puzzled me how T. could 
> specify such a narrow time range, given the uncertainties here.  
> 

The shifting of the date range from 1450-60 to 1460-80 is a bit bothersome.

The "humanistic style" question is easy to answer. In about 1450 a new kind of
handwriting arose in northern Italy, consiously associated at the time with the
Humanist movement (Petrarch, the recovery & revival of classical MSS &
learning; the literary aspect of the Italian Renaissance). This handwriting was
based on classical Roman models (some MSS, I think, but also on samples seen on
stone monuments) and was a model for our printed "Roman" typefaces. Unlike the
"textura" (aka "bastarda" or "gothic") handwriting common througout Europe in
the period 1100-1400, which can be seen in Stofi's web pages), humanist hand is
easy for us to read. It fell out of popularity in a few decades, however, being
supplanted by the "Italic" hand, which is still in use. This brief period of
popularity is what allows Toresella's puzzling narrow range of dates. Unlike
the slanted Italic hand, the humanist hand is upright. Round letters seem
equally round on both sides. The book by Tradechino I mentioned earlier this
year is written in this kind of handwriting; there are samples in Bischoff's
"Latin Paleography". (Which I don't have at the office, so I cannot check any
of the details above.) After Toresella pointed it out to me I am completely
convinced that the VMS script was written by a user of the humanist hand.

From: "Jim Reeds" 
Date: Sat, 13 Sep 1997 10:50:09 -0400
To: voynich@rand.org
Subject: Humanist hand, 1400's dating, and so on.

I took a look at Bischoff's Latin Paleography book after posting my blurb about Toresella's
round humanist hand dating of the VMS, and it is clear that I oversimplified and overstated
things.  The humanist hand dates from the earliest years of the 1400's,  and was not instantly
supplanted on the invention of the Italic hand, so the time bracket for the VMS (if you believe the
VMS scribe was used to the humanist hand) is wider than the decade or 2 I suggested in my
earlier letter.  Unfortunately Bischoff does not say very much about the h.h. (it is at the very end
of his time period) so I cannot give more info here.  He does cite several books about the h.h.,
so there is clearly a lot more to know.

*************************************************************************
**************** NYMPHS' HAIRSTYLES ************************************
*************************************************************************

Date: Fri, 14 Aug 1998 19:23:04 -0700
To: voynich@rand.org
From:  (Julie Porter)

Subject: Re: Date of VMs (Was: Re: Where are the numbers!!!?)

>On August 3, 1998, Julie Porter wrote:
>>
>> The VMS to me seems to say 1480 to 1520. I do not see
>> it as earlier than 1470 and 1620 on the late end.
>
>        You have different expertise from most of us, so I'm curious - what are
>your reasons for these dates?  My own guess is mid- to late-1400's,
>based on the "humanist hand".
Based on the hairstyles of the nyphs. I did a stint at the ren-fair here
for about 10 years. There is nothing that gives a decade away more than the
hair. The early dates are is the ms is mainstream, the latter if the ms is
provintial. I have not done a lot of study on the era. (My main intrest are
the time from 1770 to 1870 with the emphasis on the mid point late 30s
early 40s, which is where the real progress in mechanics were made, but
then I digress, see Charles Dicken's for more details).
What the costumer does have to work with are paintings and drawings
attributed to a given era. Many of my books cover wide ranges of times.
Back when I joined the list, I was asked this so I took some time and
scanned through my copy of petersen and my costume books. Granted much of
what is recorded is upper class so if things are provintal they may relate
to an earlier date than the mss.

-julieP


*********************************************************************
***************LOCALE OF COMPOSITION OF THE VMS ******************
______________________________________________________________________



Subject: Re: Historical Precedents I Missed
Date: Sat, 24 Jun 2000 10:47:43 +0200
From: René Zandbergen (Rene)
To: Dennis Stallings

Most important was the astronomical diagram in Vat. Gr. 1291, a 9th
Century Byzantine MS which has nude nymphs in a circle. While they
are artistically done, their postures are very much like in the VMs.
I lost part of the pictures in a web site crash but will rescan.

Check 
http://www.voynich.nu/vatg1291.html

By the way, what could be relevant is that Vat.Gr.1291 was in 
N. Italy in the second half of the 15th C, in Brescia to be 
precise, which is right in the middle of the area where the
castles look like the one in the Voynich MS. It is so easy
to speculate....

Subject:   Re: Sagittarius and crossbow
Date: Thu, 10 Aug 2000 22:20:07 +0200
From: René Zandbergen (Rene Zandbergen)
Reply-To: René Zandbergen
To: Dennis Stallings



Hi Dennis!

You wrote (quite a while ago):

>         Yes! I've seen several items which could help us
> to nail down the area where the VMs author(s) might have
> been, to wit:
> 
>         - Sagittarius and crossbow;
>         - Rene notes that the Ms with the nymph-like diagram in
>            Vat.Gr. 1291 was owned in the 15th Century
>            by two bishops of Brescia;
>         - Toresella notes Ms's of "alchemical herbals"
>            in Bergamo, Bologna, Firenze (Florence),
>            Genova (Genoa), Lucca, Napoli (Naples),
>            Padova, Roma, and Venezia (Venice). It's mostly northern
>            Italy, at the time of the Renaissance, which
>            helps some.
>         - The exact date when the humanist hand was first used in this
>            area.
>         - Details on when and where the hairdoes like those of
>           VMs nymphs were in fashion.
> 
>         A lot of these are weak and I'd like to see
> further examples. 

There are more!

1)
The little castle on the upper right circle in the rosetta. I've not
seen a castle that looks exactly like it, but there are plenty of
castles with such elements in Northern Italy. They date from the
14th-15th Century which doesn't help pinning the date down any
further, but the style of the crenellations is typical for N. Italy
(all the way from Aosta to Friuli / Trieste).
I even found a castle in the latter area for which there is a 15th
C drawing. It's called Villalta. Compare it with the modern
picture at (about 100k together):
http://www.voynich.nu/vilalold.jpg
http://www.voynich.nu/vilalnow.jpg

2)
Not the best possible source, but Brumbaugh has repeatedly stated
that the Sagittarius picture shows a man in a 15th Century 
Florentine hat. The hat is quite conspicuous, and noone seems to
ever have contested this identification. For what it's worth.

3)
In my opinion the most exciting possible identification, but 
highly contestable and not really a clear precedent: I think
that when the VMs artist drew f77v (Fig.2 in the Aesculapius
article) he had in front of him (either physically or mentally)
the text of one of the pages of the 'Balneis Puteolanis'
which describes the baths of Pozzuoli near Naples and which was
written some time in the 15th Century. This MS was brought to
our attention by Brian Smith. The text describes, one by one,
the pictures on the VMs page. 

http://www.balnea.net/museum/terme/gallerie/pietro/pietro5.html

  BALNEUM PETRAE, [...]

  Si chiama così perchè frange i calcoli; 
  [...]
  apre la vescica, libera i reni dalla renella, lava gli intestini.
  Vidi molti calcolosi che, bevutane l'acqua calda, ebbero l'urina
  pietrosa.

(Called like this since it breaks chalk /kidney stones I think/.
 opens the bladder, relieves the kidneys of , washes
 the intestines. You will see many 'with stones' who, after drinking
 the water, have urine with grains)

You really _must_ look at the VMs page and read the text to
get the full impact. Or maybe I'm just imagining things - I'd
like to hear your honest opinion.
The original text (presumably Latin) would constitute a great 
'known plaintext' sample. 

So that's three more :-)



*************************************************************************
**************** HISTORY FROM THE AUTHOR(S) TO THE PRESENT **************
*************************************************************************

        There is now a superb article with the latest information on the
history of the VMs from the author(s) to now:
Voynich MS history after 1600
by René Zandbergen and Gabriel Landini
http://voynich.nu/history.html

-----------------

From: Neal P
Date: Tue, 28 Jan 97 21:42:17 GMT
To: voynich%rand.org@seralph21.essex.ac.uk
Subject: introducing myself




3.  Andrew Watson has identified the page numbering as the work of John Dee,
and a man of his authority has to be believed.  It is a general rule that the
annotations and marginalia of manuscripts are added when the text is nearly
new (manuscripts, like printed books, were avidly read for 20 or 30 years and
then became obsolete).  It is also true that manuscripts were not usually
paginated by the original scribe, but by the first owner or the librarian of
the institution where it was first kept.  I therefore think that the Voynich
manuscript can be securely dated to the 16th century quite apart from the
question of the possible New World plants in the illustrations.



From: Neal P
Date: Wed, 29 Jan 97 22:01:59 GMT
To: voynich%rand.org@seralph21.essex.ac.uk
Subject: Moreover

Thanks to everybody for the response.  One or two things...

I stand by what I said about Andrew Watson's judgment:  he is a renowned
authority on the dating of manuscripts (responsible for the Dated and Datable
Manuscripts series about the major British collections) and is the author of
a monograph identifying surviving books from John Dee's collection.  I think
he is quite able to identify pagination by Dee and is not a man to advance a
poorly considered opinion (I have met him once or twice).



From: "Jim Reeds" 
Date: Sun, 2 Feb 1997 22:13:42 -0500
To: voynich@rand.org
Subject: Voynich obsns by Philip Neal

On Jan 29, 22:01, Neal P wrote:

> Subject: Moreover
> Thanks to everybody for the response.  One or two things...
>
> I stand by what I said about Andrew Watson's judgment:  he is a renowned
> authority on the dating of manuscripts (responsible for the Dated and Datable
> Manuscripts series about the major British collections) and is the author of
> a monograph identifying surviving books from John Dee's collection.  I think
> he is quite able to identify pagination by Dee and is not a man to advance a
> poorly considered opinion (I have met him once or twice).
>

I agree.  Watson is an authority on these things, and Dee's Arabic numerals
were indeed written in a very distinctive way.  Still, to a layman, it seems
amazing that one can be certain about this, just on the basis of the way
numbers are written.


> I forgot to ask about the evidence that the illustrations were created before
> the text.  This is a suspicious feature of the manuscript, being very unusual.
> Only a small proportion of mediaeval manuscripts were illustrated at all (of
> course these are the ones on show in museums) and even then, the practice was
> for a scribe to leave blank spaces which a purchaser could choose to have filled
> by an artist of his choice - usually.
>

Evidence for drawing before writing: In the botanical section the writing seems
to fill up the space disected by plant stems.  For a while I was sure I could
track ink depletion and inkwell dips in the color plates in Blunt and Rafael.
In particular, on f33v, two stems cross the paragraph of writing, dividing it
into 3 sections.  On the whole it looks like the left section was written first,
then the middle section, the right section: the pen gets less and less inky.
Also, the alignment of writing lines seems to mismatch between the 3 sections.

Evidence for writing before drawing:  on f112v there seems to be an indented
rectangular space in the upper left corner: the first 10 lines are indented
about 8 or 9 mm, as if to leave room for an illumination.

---------------
*** From the Yale University Beinecke Library entry for the VMs: (MS 408)

                                 ............ It is very likely
that Emperor Rudolph acquired the manuscript from the English
astrologer John Dee (1527-1608) whose foliation remains in the upper
right corner of each leaf (we thank A. G. Watson for confirming this
identification through a comparison of the Arabic numerals in the
Beinecke manuscript with those of John Dee in Oxford, Bodleian Library
Ashmole 1790, f. 9v, and Ashmole 487). See also A. G. Watson and R. J.
Roberts, eds., John Dee's Library Catalogue (London, The
Bibliographical Society, forthcoming). Dee apparently owned the
manuscript along with a number of other Roger Bacon manuscripts; he was
in Prague 1582-86 and was in contact with Emperor Rudolph during this
period. In addition, Dee stated that he had 630 ducats in October 1586,
and his son Arthur (cited by Sir T. Browne, Works, G. Keynes, ed.
[1931] v. 6, p. 325) noted that Dee, while in Bohemia, owned "a
booke...containing nothing butt Hieroglyphicks, which booke his father
bestowed much time upon: but I could not heare that hee could make it
out." 


Subject: another Horcicky's MS
Date: Sat, 08 Jul 2000 22:40:56 +0200
From: "Rafal T. Prinke" 
To: VMS 

I have added some more info to my Web site. There is a report
from my initial survey of published catalogues of manuscripts
in Prague libraries.

Most interesting is one MS signed by "Jakub z Tepence" 
on folio 1v - which has finally convinced me the erased
signature on the same folio of VMS was genuine
(I was uncertain of it before).

There is also included a sample of Raphael Mnisovsky's
handwriting (from a reference supplied by Jim Reeds).

I have also made a simple chart showing the VMS ownership
chronology for reference. All that and more at:
http://hum.amu.edu.pl/~rafalp/HERM/VMS/vms.htm
Best regards,

Rafal



**********************************************************************
***************************  THE END  ********************************
**********************************************************************