Tag Archives: Inks

The Voynich X-mas List

More Wishes – Straw in Return

gas chromatograph photo

Photo by Andy.Schultz

In a follow-up to my post on The Voynich Rebinding I would like to add gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) to the wish list. Say that word aloud while you type it into your preferred search engine and before you can catch your breath you will be presented with a find on Nick Pelling’s blog. So, again I’m not alone with the desire to locate the origin of some of the ingredients used in manufacturing The Voynich.

It is also healthy to get up to date what GC (w/ or w/o MS) cannot do for you, “CSI NY style”. Anyways the conducted material analysis and it’s fallacies seems to have been criticised enough and I’m afraid we won’t see more destructive tests anytime soon. But as always, the devil pearl straw nests way down in the comments of  Nick’s post: A Mr. Thomas Spande comments about palmierite, (K,Na)2Pb(SO4)2, a mineral that has been identified as possible ingredient in the X-ray diffraction run.

Luigi Palmieri

Photo: INGV

Palmierite is a mineral with very rare natural occurrence, named in honour of Sgr. Palmieri, director of the Mt. Vesuvius Observatory, who discovered it in situ in 1906.
I have nothing to add. Besides, the other place where natural palmierite in the same form is to be found lies in Kamchatka.
This time my smoking gun is represented by a non-smoking fumarole on Mount Vesuvius.

The Mccrone analysis report states that with all possibility the inks of the drawings and the ink of the writing are basically the same. That does not convince me at all. It may be the same ink, but nowhere does it say it necessarily came from the same flask.. The missing pages could hold a possible explanation: a) there was inappropriate pre-existing content (drawings) on them and b) they were used for anaLYSIS of the inks, which the remaining chemical stains of the attempted “enhancement” of the Tepenecz signature could account for. That story was really weak to begin with.

strohstern photo

Photo by catlovers

To some this may represent a straw only. Thinking of it I always really liked the straw-stars that are common as christmas tree decoration in southern Germany and Austria. How long ’till X-mas again?

Oh, and dare I whisper: Infrared reflectography.. Hey, it is non-desctructive.

Read more on the history of pigments.

Mysterious Mr. Voynich, Means & Motive

A Living Legend

Wilfrid Voynich seems to have been a man of many talents, one of which obviously was to evoke the air of myth & legend surrounding his person – a feat not many people achieve during their lifetime. Left out the finding of a curious manuscript his adventurous life story alone would have qualified him to be acknowledged by history. To some, the latter seems to have been one of his central ambitions (and it poses an excellent motive for a concerted manuscript forgery).

Karl May als Old Shatterhand.

Karl May as Old Shatterhand
Photo: Karl May Gesellschaft

Mr. Voynich also seemed to have a hunch on public relations. Almost all of relevant biographical information regarding him is brought to us courtesy of Wilfrid Voynich himself. The same applies to all information regarding the manuscript, by the way. I can’t help but get reminded on Karl May: Both men start their careers out of a prison, with a strong will to become someone else and a decisive strategy to generate the necessary background. Mr. Voynich seems to have had it all sketched out. That’s probably what makes his story appear somewhat schematic.

Another astonishing feat Wilfrid Voynich managed to pull off, perhaps unintentionally so, was to make the story of his finding “viral”. The Voynich Complex seems like the source code for an application that gets processed over and over again by it’s applicants, the researchers, theorists and interpreters. Unintentionally, because The Voynich probably failed to fulfil its function to Wilfrid Voynich, whatever his real intent may have been.

smoking gun photo

Photo by PG.NETO

It is interesting that Wilfrid Voynich did not always possess one necessary ingredient for grand undertakings, namely money. His swift progress from penniless dissident to respected book dealer is another remarkable transition.  To some, there is a temporal confluence of a lengthy stay in northern Italy, the arrival of considerable wealth, and the finding of the manuscript.

Whats more.. Voynich was a studied chemist and pharmacist, said to have been engaged in the matter of medieval inks and pigments during his studies. Purportedly he used cipher in his Warsaw dissident days (although not good ones since all of them got decrypted). By standards of his trade and his times he WAS a manuscript expert, with access to a wealth of scriptures perfectly suitable as source of inspiration for his masterpiece.  A possible collaborator, and also lover of Voynich’s wife, Georgi Rosenblum, a.k.a “Ace of Spies” Sidney Reilly is said to also have been studying the matter of ancient inks.

binary photo

Photo by mikecogh

The outlines of the marriage between Wilfrid and Ethel Voynich speak more of calculation than of romance. While some argue the marriage was a planned step-up for Voynich, it is also interesting to note that his spouse was daughter to the english mathematician, philosopher and logician George Boole. It may only be an odd coincidence, Boole died long before Wilfrid & Ethel met. Or it may have been another opportunity to get acquainted with some concepts that could prove useful later on, like the binary number system.

So much to my smoking guns. I deliberately left all the claims in this article unsourced because I don’t think most of them are of a lot of relevance to the matter of finding out what The Voynich actually is. Maybe some of the clues could help, like the Boole(an)-Connection.