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Re: VMs: How translucent is vellum?

It seems curious to me that the outer circles between f72r2 and f72r3 
exhibit an overlapping conjoined relationship. In addition, the outer 
circles of f72v3 and f72v2 also appear to be in contact. I wonder if this 
was done by design or if it was simply a miscalculation by the scribe when 
drafting the circles. I suspect that he knew what he was doing, especially 
since there appears to be room not to have contact if so desired. What could 
it all mean?

Dana Scott

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Ken W" <pyro@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <vms-list@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Saturday, August 02, 2003 12:06 PM
Subject: Re: VMs: How translucent is vellum?

  What follows is too much about circles...

  Has Sergio posted his observations to this list at any time in the past? 
I am mixed on the possibility that all the guide circles were hand traced. 
What is the actual process used to "trace" a circle in this manner?  Does he 
mean they were made from drawing around the circumference a disc of some 

  I sense that there is a mix of those traced or freehanded and those 
scribed with a compass.  Take, for example, the Pisces folio (f70v2).  The 
outermost circle is an example which is too perfect to have been done by 
hand in my opinion.  Plus, it shows telltale signs of compass use.  A right 
handed scribe starts in the natural position of the wrist twisted fully in 
its counterclockwise position (7 o'clock) and begins the arc.  At the point 
his wrist is at its furthest clockwise extent (2 o'clock) he picks up, 
repositions the compass on the center and makes the second arc to complete 
the circle.  The drifts (at the top left) and at the breaks are exactly what 
is seen when making large diameter circles using a compass.  Smaller circles 
tend to be cleaner because the artist can swivel the compass between the 
fingers without a stop to reset the wrist.  The same effect can be clearly 
seen on the outer rings of f72r2 and 73r.  If they were traced from a 
template, the start and end points wouldn't have the same drift because 
usually only the END of the stroke would tend to drift out as the stylus 
moved off the guide.  Besides, the author would have needed dozens of 

  My two caveats to this argument are:
  1. I'm not versed in 15th century drafting and writing implements. I'm 
simply working from experience.
  2. I'm not sure if I'm understanding the method of "tracing" Sergio 
described.  I assumed he meant from a template.

  From what I observed, though, the Zodiacs (f71r through f73v) each appears 
to be centered precisely to the Zodiac on the opposite side.  This makes me 
believe a compass was used and the centering was deliberate.  It could be 
coincidence or my miscalculation of image alignment but I'm not convinced of 
the former.

  Just a long thought

  PS I'll do a complete analysis of the Zodiac overlays soon.


  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Nick Pelling
  To: vms-list@xxxxxxxxxxx
  Sent: Saturday, August 02, 2003 4:09 AM
  Subject: Re: VMs: How translucent is vellum?

  Hi Ken,

  I guess it probably depends how much you stretch it, and (perhaps) on the
  age of the animal used to produce it. BTW, it was Sergio Toresella who
  pointed out that the VMS' vellum was very thin: he was also sure (and he's
  a very careful observer) that many of the circular diagrams weren't
  mechanically drawn, but were in fact hand-traced.

  I ask because as I've been compiling the registered versions of the
  >foldouts I'd flip the verso, paste it atop the recto and attempt to align
  >the two folios with distinctive features on the vellum.  What I noticed
  >was this.  The center of the zodiac pendants line up in every case.  OK,
  >so the author used the same point to scribe the circles.  In fact, if I'm
  >not mistaken the center point is easily seen on f73r and f71v.  But what
  >is also interesting is that there are only a few instances where a ring 
  >text overlaps the ring on the verso.  What you see is many concentric
  >rings of text.  Also, (and this may just be giddy hope of having
  >discovered something) many of the maidens appear to be holding the same 

  Interesting! Can you please catalogue the places where this happens & post
  your results to the list?

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