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VMs: Random discoveries in the library
I have added several interesting results from my searches in the Dutch Royal
Library. Slowly I'm finding my way around their huge collections. It's not
spectacular what I've found but I think there are some interesting
footnotes. Let's call them "near misses" - they don't look too much like the
VMs but there is some similarity.
The full set including long text is here:
1) A set of interesting (metrological / mathematical ?) characters from the
Liber Floridus. At first sight I thought I had found some characters from
one of the VMs rosettes but on close scrutiny I found only three common
2) There is a long tradition of rosette-like diagrams with characters around
their perimeter, the so called "rota paschalis" used to determine the exact
dates of Easter. Again a demonstration that our VMS-contemporaries might be
able to perform rather complex symbol manipulations:
I have found many more interesting rosette-like diagrams but haven't had the
time to scan them yet. I was surprised that old tarock-card sets had no VMs
like features (except a cosmological card describing the "primum mobile"
sphere of the heavens).
3) There exist many unexplained documents and engravings, the VMs is not
unique in that respect. For example the following two remain a mystery. Even
the highly schooled iconographers haven't been able to crack them. It's
interesting to read their speculations. It illustrates the difficulty of
interpreting VMs iconography:
4) In old Italian manuscripts there are several gallows-like characters.
Usually they are used as ornamentations in the signature of the scribe
("notarius") who made the contract.
5) As always the pictures that have the strongest VMs look-and-feel are the
German woodcuts (not the Italian engravings) that are usually much older
than the actual dating of the VMs. There must be some significance in this
fact but I don't dare to speculate.
Is it reasonable to suppose that the VMs author could have seen more
engravings and woodcuts than other manuscripts? Was printing technology
already so common in his time?
6) I have again looked at the photograph of the 9*9 picture in Kraus' book.
The quality of the photograph is excellent, much better than the copies I
posted. And when I tried to redraw some of the castle details (there is a
church and three towers that don't show in my scan) I found that there's a
sureness of hand in these details that I couldn't copy. The draughtsmanship
of the VMs author may be crude, but (s)he's still better than an amateur
like me. I'll probably try to make a photograph of the Kraus-picture.
7) And it's funny that between all the religious and cultural drawings you
can stumble on an original piece of Renaissance erotica (but that has no
relation with the VMs - boys will be boys ...)
Petr Kazil - Urban Adventure in Rotterdam