TABLE OF CONTENTS & Constant references.

Constant references are listed first.  Then the series of themes explored with a summary of the posts for each.

Bibliographies for the first  



  • Jim Reeds’ Voynich Bibliography (Voynich-related publications from 1914-2001).

  • Wilfrid M. Voynich, ‘A Preliminary Sketch of the History of the Roger Bacon Cipher Manuscript’, Transactions of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, Vol. 43 (1921).  p.415.

  • Professor Romaine Newbold, ‘The Roger Bacon Manuscript’Transactions of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, Series 3: Vol.43, (1921)  pp. 431- 474. Section occurs pp.456ff.

  • Katherine Ellison and Susan Kim,(eds),  A Material History of Medieval and Early Modern Ciphers: Cryptography and the History of Literacy, (2018).

  • Jim Reeds’ Mailing List –  for years 2000-2005. For Thread Index  (e.g. else search with year   (e.g. plus month (e.g.

  • The earlier archives (1991- 2001) are available zip files, ordered by year, at

  • FINDING MEDIEVAL MANUSCRIPTS – page from NYU.  Many links.
  • [pdf] Mary d’Imperio, The Voynich Manuscript: an elegant Enigma, NSA. (original file)

  • [pdfibid. A cleaned-up copy which was later made available.

  • The Classical Astrologer blog. Also contains sources for information about classical, medieval and comparative astronomy. Note – some translations from the Arabic (e.g. names for Ibn Arabi’s lunar mansions) have alternative names or alternative translations.

  • Robert Singerman, Jewish Translation History: A Bibliography of Bibliographies and Studies (2012)

  • Philip Neal’s site. Transcription, translation and commentary on the seventeenth-century documents plus bibliographies and more.  I suggest you bookmark it – though, for the record, I’m not endorsing Neal’s position on the manuscript’s origins, character or provenance. Addresss is

  • The Code Book: the science of secrecy from ancient Egypt to quantum cryptography – a freshman’s guide by Simon Singh (University of Califonia, Los Angeles). Downloadable pdf.

  • Information on recent codicological and palaeographic research see:

  • Vladimir Dulov’s blog (in Russian). A fresh scholarly voice providing acute observations and solid sources.  Not ‘hypotheticals’ or quasi-historical narratives. Highly recommended.

  • Lisa Fagin Davis, working with the Shoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies.  Involvement of the Shoenberg Institute, with its experts in comparative codicology has been at the very top of my personal Voynich ‘wish list’ for some years now, ever since I realised that the content – not the manufacture – speaks to regions, ideas and peoples outside Latin Christian Europe.  I’m sure the manuscript’s study will now move forward rapidly along the sort of careful, informed, conservative, non-hypothetical line that has been needed for so very long.  Cheers all round! (All we need now is additional input from Beit Arie.

  • Medieval Pigments: Creation and Analysis – a convenient basic guide – a bibliography of online links.  From University of Georgia, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

  • Codícología. A very good site for comparative codicology. In Spanish, but automatic Googletranslate does a fairly good job. You may get a notice in Spanish that you’ll must wait a few seconds for a page to adjust to your browser.



§1.The Study’s Past in Review. (Posts 1 – 10):

An enciphered text?; the “Bacon ciphertext” idea;  medieval Books of Secrets. The supposed ‘gunpowder cipher’. The Friedmans and Military cryptanalysts. Friedman meets the art historian Erwin Panofsky. Friedman presents his ‘Questions’ – Panofsky’s response in 1954.

§2.Specialist Opinions Re-examined. (Posts 11-17)

Panofsky’s privately-given opinion in 1932; Richard Salomon’s opinion on a line of marginalia;  ‘Not One of Mine’ – when specialists in medieval western European art, script and sciences were consulted – as they were before the 1960s, their conclusion was – unanimously – ‘not one of mine’.

Cultural and Psychological ‘Blocks’ affecting the Friedmans and d’Imperio’s Elegant Enigma.’ Posts 18 & 19.

Theory-driven approaches spread from cryptanalysis to all aspects of the study from the early 2000s.  (Post 20)

§3.Expert Opinion versus Materials Science (Posts 20-27).

Voynich myths; the Beinecke Library’s website; Beinecke’s codicological description of the manuscript; R.S. Brumbaugh, H. O’Neill and others who, though qualified in one field, assumed themselves competent to pronounce on all aspects of the manuscript. examples of persons qualified in one area assuming competence in all. Beinecke Facsimile edition’s ‘Materials Science’ essay – marred by an editorialising hand; ‘Weed seeded’ fictions in Voynich studies; Gap between the theoretical and the investigative approaches illustrated.

§4. (Post 50).  Lisa Fagin Davis and specialists at UPenn’s Lawrence J. Schoenberg Collection.

§5. What Magic? Where Magic? (Posts 51-59)  Investigating the roots of a ‘magic Voynich’ theory.

Not Wilfrid’s idea; not so much Newbold’s idea; not the Friedman’s idea.  Just an idea floated late in the NSA’s involvement. Made much of in d’Imperio’s Elegant Enigma. Blind Spots.

§6. Following the manuscript’s lead (Posts 60-62)… from magic to codicology and astronomy.

§7. “Pharma-“? (Posts 63-73) Re-considering the manuscript’s “leaf-and-root” section. 

Posts & sources


(Posts 1 – 5)

Post 1.  Cipher versus language – assertions and bundles’ (November 20, 2018)

Post 2.  ‘Provenance: Wilfrid-style and real-world’. ( November 24th., 2018).

Post 3. Wheat from the Chaff – ‘Bacon ciphertext’ (December 15, 2018)

[PAGE] Addendum to Roger Bacon and ciphers. …. 

Post 4.  ..  ‘Books of Secrets and the ‘Secretum secretorum’ (December 19th., 2018)

Post 5. ……….. Hime’s ‘gunpowder cipher’ (December 23rd., 2018



(Posts 6 – 10)

Post 6. Military cryptanalysts – Prelude (December 28th., 2018)

Post 7. …….: Interrogatories of 1954 (Jan. 3rd., 2019)

& Post 8. …….. The ‘Art Group Four (Jan.8th., 2019)

Post 9. ……..  Friedman and his questions (

Post 10. ………….  Panofsky’s responses of 1954. (Jan. 19th., 2019)

Panofsky’s identification of the month-names as ‘regional French’ followed up by later researchers

    • 1997 Dennis Stallings published a list of bibliographic and other items relating to Occitan in the first mailing list (10 Feb 1997) including the important note (later and independently stated by Artur Sixto  (comment to ciphermysteries, February 17, 2011) ) that Occitan and Catalan – or Judeo-Catalan – are closely similar.

    • 2004 Shaun Palmer looked at the orthography in detail in 2004.

    • 2009, Pelling credited Stolfi.   In other posts, Pelling thought it most like the dialect of Toulouse.  Pelling first, and others including Don Hoffman later, noted a closely similar orthography on astrolabe inscriptions dating to c.1400. 

    • 2011 Artur Sixto’s comment was made (February 17, 2011) at, saying he thought the forms closer to Judeo-Catalan, and commenting on use of that dialect among emigrees into north-western France. Because so many comments were made to the same post by Pelling I quote here the whole of Sixto’s comment:

    • To me the months [names] seem to correspond slightly better to Catalan than Occitan. June for instance, spelled with “ou” corresponds to Catalan pronunciation, in French writing. “ny” would be Catalan relative to Occitan “nh” or French/Italian “gn”. So the person might have ties with the North of Catalonia (and could have a French influence) …. Interestingly, many Jews in Catalonia spoke Catalanic, a Catalan dialect close to Shuadit, i.e. Judaeo-Provençal (i.e. Judaeo-Occitan).

    • 2015 Commenting at Stephen Bax’s blog (May 18, 2015 – 11:14 pm) ‘Don of Tallahassee’ [Don Hoffman] noted similar forms for month-names used in Picardy, his examples taken from calendars in fifteenth-century Books of Hours.

Panofsky quotes Richard Salomon’s interpretation of somemarginalia … “de Mussteil”-  followed up by later writers such as Koen Gheuens – see blogpost Der Musdel: Law in the Margins‘. and also see d’Imperio).



Specialist Opinions – Erwin Panofsky (Posts 11-15)

Post 16.  Specialist Opinions –  Richard Salomon. (Post Feb. 18th., 2019).

**Specialist Opinions. Post 17. ‘Not one of mine’ (Feb 25th., 2019).**

Summary, citing Panofsky, Fr. Petersen, Salomon, Barrett, McLean, Sprague, Singer, Thorndike.



Post 18. …. (Editorial) Fear of the unknown – and raft ‘Elegant’ (March 16th., 2019)

  • Abstract: “This post considers the effect on the manuscript’s study of excessive confidence when combined with social bias…”

Post 19.  …. Fear of the Unknown and raft ‘Elegant’. Pt 2 – the white wall.

Post 20. Theory wars – an illustration (April 7th., 2019)



posts 21 – 27

Post 21.     Voynich myths  (April 16th., 2019)

  • Example – the myth of ‘Roger Bacon’s telescope’. (and ‘spiral galaxy’ idea)

Post 22:   The Beinecke Library – its Voynich website – (April 16th., 2019) and Robert S. Brumbaugh.

Post 23 The Beinecke Library –description of the manuscript’s quires. (April 26th., 2019)

Post 24: _____ Pt 4:  working – or not working – within one’s capacities (April 16th., 2019)

      • Feynman: “It doesn’t make a difference how beautiful the guess is. It doesn’t make a difference how smart you are, who made the guess, or what his name is… If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. That’s all there is to it.”

Post 25:   Beinecke facsimile technical essay.  Codicological science versus the ‘editorialising hand’ (May 11th., 2019)

Post 26: ‘Weed seeds’ in Voynich writings. How  ‘canonised myth’ emerges. (May 24th., 2019)

Post 27: ‘Retrospective justifications’ On the gap between  theoretical and a technical approaches (May 25th., 2019


THE SKIES ABOVE – (Posts 28-49)

The Month-folios, with ‘March’ (f. 70v-1) as paradigm. 

This series contained original research by the present author. I’ve now (19/11/22) closed off most of it and removed the title-links to those posts.  The few which are still available are linked below with their abstracts. leaving a few (linked) plus abstracts and some readings.

Post 28:  Skies above  [Pt.1] – background and methodological legacy. (August 17th., 2019)

Post 29: ————mSkies above – Pt.2. ‘asteriskos’  Codicological details and thedetail folio 108r ‘asteriskos’ motif. (August 18th., 2019)

Post 30  ________ Part 3: ‘To tail or not to tail’ (August 27th., 2019)

Posts 31-49  Readers wanting more information can write to me  – (voynichimagery AT gmail dot com).

  • Post 31:  ________ Pt 4 Past studies (September 6, 2019).
  • Post 32: ________ Pt.5 bodies in baskets (September 12, 2019).
  • Post 33 ________ Pt 5b  Star and basket (September 21, 2019).
  • Post 34 ________  Pt 5c Proportion and desire in folio 70v (September 27, 2019).
  • Post 35 ________ Pt 6a  Adding and removing layers (October 4, 2019).
  • Post 36 ________ Pt 6b Due (pro-) portion. (October 12, 2019).
  • Post 37 ________ Pt 6c Methods, ideas and attitudes – and the ‘foreign’ in Voynich studies.   (November 10, 2019).
  • Post 38 ________  Elevated souls Pt.1 (moral character) (November 24, 2019).
  • Post 39  ________ Elevated souls Pt 2a. ‘Astro —-‘ (December 1, 2019)
  • Post 40 – Past studies Criticism, scholarship and reviews – an incidental post (November 5, 2019)
  • Post 41 ________  Elevated souls Pt 2b. ‘Astro —-‘Base bodies’ (January 11th., 2020)
  • Post 42  ________ Horoscopic charts or ‘clock o’ clay’ —-‘ (January 31st., 2020)
  •  Post 43 ________ Chronological strata Pt.1 (February 6th., 2020)
  •  Post 44 ________ Skies above – not astrological (
  •  Post 45 ________  Skies above: Certain measures Pt.1 (
  •  Post 46 ________ Skies above: certain measures Pt 2: presence and absence (
  •  Post 47 ________ Skies above: Certain measures Pt.3a Absences and avoidances. (

   hiatus – COVID break March 2020-May 2021 –



(Posts 50-62)


Post 50. Pt.1 – Wilfrid Voynich?  (

Post 51.  Pt.2 – Newbold? (

Post 52     3a: The Friedmans? (

Post 53. __3b: historical consciousness. (

Post 54. _ 3c: time shifts. (

Post 55. ___ 3d: Germanic opinion and German scholars. (

Post 56 _ 4. Whose magic? (Jul 5th., 2021). Putting a  Voynich notion to the test.

Post 57 __ 4.2 Whose magic? Byzantium – Spain. (Jul 11th., 2021)

Blind spots.

Post 58 ___ 5a: ‘occulted’ blind spots and artisans. (Jul 18th., 2021)

Post 59 ________  Recap of the [Magic?] series so far. (Jul 23rd., 2021)


From magic to codicology and astronomy. (Posts 60-62).

Post 60 __ 5c: Green stars (67v). Initial observations. (Jul 24th., 2021).

Post 61  __ 5c (Cont.) folio 67v Seeing as others saw. (Jul 29th., 2021)

Post 62. __ 5c: Green stars – concluded. (

Theme 7: “PHARMA-“??

(Following the evidence #2) Re-considering the ‘Leaf-and-root’ pages.

(POSTS 63-73)

Post 63. Potions and lotions – the ‘pharmaceutical’ section. Perfect antiquity and a Voynich legend. (

Post 64. ‘Pharma’ – Pt 2-i. the legend. (

Post 65. Pharma”? Pt 2-ii. glass? (

Post 66. Glass and the pearl band. (

Post 67.  ‘Pharma’ – the routes. (

Post 68.  the ‘Pharma’? section – Catalogue mode. (

Post 69  Pharma’? – getting the goods.(

Post 70.  Pharma? Red Cylinders. Bases. (

Post 71.   Two essential readings for Voynich revisionists. (

Post 72  ‘Pharma’? – and f.13r (

Post 73   Pharma? – What’s the problem? (



note - work in progress

Nov-Dec 2021.

Post 74.  Meme of the month: ‘Move on’.   (

Theme 8: Re-examinations

O’Donovan Notes 

Putting some widely-held ideas to the test on the principle that

“It doesn’t make a difference how beautiful your guess is. It doesn’t make a difference how smart you are,  who made the guess, or what his name is… If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. That’s all there is to it.” – Richard Feynmann on scientific method.

O’Donovan notes. #1  – How to Voynich –   

______________ #2b: the ‘4o’ Revised and updated edition.

“CONSIDER THIS…” series.  (Posts 78 –


in the past 30 days

Post 78. Anomalies – “consider this…”

Post 79 “Consider this.. (cont.). Numerals, networks, Spain and something of Kabbalah.

Post 80 _____ Doing the math.

map-carte-marine-detail-beccarius-1401-bar-scalePost 81  …Moving about, bringing gifts.

Post 82 _..  Kircher, scripts, languages & Aramaic.

in the past 30 da

Post 83 .. Jerome, Illyrian (brief note).

Post 84  .. Halts and stops.

Post 85 __.. for James (brief note).

Post 86 __.. . Lull, Kabbalah and ciphers.

Post 87 ..   Maths & memory Pt 1.

in the past 30 days

Post 88 _..Alphabet&numeral – updating d’Imperio.

in the past 30 days

Post 89 . – ‘4’ as numeral (concluded).


TABELLA PICTA series   (analytical-historical study of image on folio 5b)

folio-5v-flowers-1The ‘tabella picta’ and an image from Beinecke MS 408. Preface.

Tabula picta – folio 5v. Background.

Tabula picta f.5v – Plants in context. Pt.1.

Tabula Picta 5v* – Plants in context . Pt 2. Why Genoese? Why the Tigris?

Tabula picta 5v* – The plants.

Tabula Picta 5v* – The Plants. Uses. Pt.1

Tabula Picta 5v* – The Plants. Uses Pt.2  

Tabula picta 5v*. “Space ÷ Profit”

Tabula picta f.5v* katekhismos.

Tabula Picta f.5v* (conc.)- Stylistic echoes Pt.1.

Folio 43v* – Identification update  Cerastes) March 19th., 2022

Correction – re Ghizolfi.

Tabula Picta 5v* – (concluded.) Stylistic echoes Pt 2

THEME: Reading problematic drawings:

Insights into the philosophy, psychology and techniques of iconographic analysis.

O’DONOVAN NOTES continued:   

#3 Selecting a question.

#4 Vocabularies.

#5. Selecting your sources.

#6a Weighing images – Reading.

#6b – Weighing images; the analytical-critical approach.

 #6c: sources aren’t personalities.


#6f: Uses and abuses.

Another interruption – sorry.  

in the past

in the past 30 daysTabula picta – 5v. Habits, qualities and ‘hands’. Tabula Picta: fol.5v (Mnemonic devices – 1). Tabula picta – fol.5v (Mnemonic devices -2)Folio 43v* – identification update. 

Interim post: Panofsky and O’Neill’s paper.

O’Donovan Notes. #8.4: folio 67v-1. Peripheral motifs.

___________. #8.5 folio 67v-1 questions outstanding.  

___________. #8.6 – peripheral ‘North’ in fol.67v-1. 

___________.8.7 Confusion or chronology? laying out the pieces.

Iconographic analysis + historical investigations in Practice –

THEME 10: THE CALENDAR’S EMBLEMS – ‘July’ and ‘November’

 the calendar’s emblems –  November and July. Pt.1

________,– November and July. Pt.2  

________,– November and July. Pt.3    

________,  November and July. Pt.4.  

Correction, apology and ‘errmm’.

Interim post: ‘Simple logic’ and the bestiaries. .  

___________  ‘November and July’ Pt 5. (November conc).

___________    ‘July’ – The making of manuscripts.

___________   Pt 6. July’s Lobsters.

___________, Pt 6.2 – July and computistic lobsters.

___________  Pt.  6.3: of ‘Ausonian verses’ and Scythian bows.

___________ Pt. 6.4a – Who needs a zodiac?

___________ Pt. 7c Calendar [emblems]  Time and place.

___________,  [calendar emblems]  Pt. 7c.i –  Bodleian Douce 313.

___________, [calendar emblems] Pt.  7c.2 and 7c.3:  Why a crocodile? Why November? Why c.1350?

Interim post – the Calendar’s goats revisited.

Interim post: A Must-read: Tim O’Neill, ‘

2022 in Review

Investigations of 2022 – and what emerged.

“no one pours new wine into old wineskins”


THEME 11: Voynich Conference 2022 and the ‘Rudolfine’ issue.


Interim post: Quick brief note on pigments in the Vms

Why I bang on about wanting the full range of pigments described.

O’Donovan notes 8.1 – Angles of approach. The Voynich calendar’s archer.

THEME 12: Angles of Approach. (O’Donovan Notes resume)

 #8.2 [should have been 9.2,]   Angles of approach: physic and psyche.

– #8.3    Angles of approach – Medicine, Newbold and ‘astral spirits’ in the VMS (Pt 1)

 #8.3 Pt.2  Angles of approach – Medicine, Newbold and ‘astral spirits’ in the VMS  

Short note – About  crossbowmen post 1440.

 #9.1: [should have been 10.1] Plague, Medicine, Money and Secrecy.

#9.2: Plague, Medicine, Money and Secrecy (concluded).  Feb.8th., 2023