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VMs: John de Foxton's "Liber Cosmographiae"...
While browsing through the shelves at the Warburg (next to all its Voynich
books!), I found "The Cipher Alphabet of John de Foxton's 'Liber
Cosmographiae'", by John Block Friedman, excerpted from Scriptorium -
International Review of Manuscript Studies, XXXVI, 1982, pp.219-235.
John de Foxton's cipher is simple, and used 135 times in his book to hide
sensitive words or concepts - 12 of them relate to "sexual, gynaecological,
or obstetric matters", for instance.
He also has a section on steganography, hiding his own name in "fortissime
Xro tonante" - ie, FO-rtissime X-ro TON-ante. [*] Friedman remarks that
this seems to correspond best to John Erghome's "octava occultatio", and
gives an example of it (which I failed to copy down, sorry). Erghome was a
significant book-collector of the 14th century, and (IIRC) one of John de
When looking for analogous texts, Friedman namechecks the VMS a couple of
times (though in a despairing "so much has been written elsewhere that I
really don't want to say anything myself" kind of way), as well as Giovanni
Fontana's books in cipher - but wasn't able to name any further examples.
Cheers, .....Nick Pelling.....
[*] Perfection lies low in Germany, right? :-)