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VMs: Re: Re: Inks and retouching

Jorge wrote:
>   > [Glen:] Your first image of the retouched <iin>, it may have been
>   > retouched, and there may have been a crack in the quill.
> Hardly, the two inks are too different.
> Note that in a quill pen the ink flows down the slit, so there is zero
> chance that one half of the nib would get a somewhat different pigment
> mix than the other.

Zero chance?  Larger particulates may not be capable of flowing down a
smaller slit, and if we're talking a type of chemical base that "burns" or
etches the vellum, we'd get at least a similar effect, if not the same.
Anyway, I had already allowed that in this case the "m" *might* be retraced,
but offered evidence that other less visible glyphs were not retraced, and
asked how this fit into your theory.  You're not going to take me for a
stroll around the block on this issue, as you're prone to do.  We're going
to stay focused directly on the question at hand.  You said, and I quote:

"Apparently the retoucher's goal was to restore characters that had become
too faint to be read."

In your very first image, there are glyphs that are lighter on the whole
than the {m} you say is "retouched".  The one I pointed out was hardly
visible, yet showed absolutely no sign of "retouching".  This qualifies as
"too faint to be read", so why wasn't it also "retouched"?

>   > I also can't help but notice that most of what you've got marked
>   > as evidence are "o"s and strokes that go down and to the right.
> Perhaps the "o"s are more frequent than other letters, I haven't counted.
> If thy are, it may be because "o" and "a" are especially difficult to tell
> apart, so an owner who was trying to decipher the book may have felt
> the need to retrace those letters more often than, say, "p"s or "d"s.

What does retracing have to do with deciphering?  Are you trying to say that
a would-be decipherer felt a need to modify the glyphs in order to
understand them?  The desire to decipher implies that the owner thought the
book valuable, and how many people would intentionally alter something they
consider valuable or are tring intently to understand?  If you'd said that
someone was attempting to "restore" the manuscript, I'd bite, but then I'd
point to the above argument and ask why such "restoration" was sporadic to
the point of not even being applied to whole glyphs on the average.  What
are we down to - someone "doodling" on the VMS glyphs?  That's also hard to

> But they are hardly "most of" my examples. As for the strokes, the
> glyphs are designed for pen drawing, so of course most of the strokes
> go that way. Actually I see many suspicious cases where the Retoucher
> follwed a plume or left-stroke only part of the way; but I have not
> listed any of those because, as you say, those examples could be
> attributed to quirks of ink flow.

Most of the strokes in the Voynich go down and to the left?  Only if you're
stuck in the <iin> mode of thinking.  Strokes down and to the right have the
most pressure applied on the tip of a quill for a right handed person, that
simple.  o's and loops deform the tip of a fragile quill.  (There are two
types of o's in the manuscript, one forced into a loop or circle, the other
composed of two down-strokes.  Look at your examples and see which one
you're applying your logic to).  Let's go through the list, if you don't

1 - o
2 - down and to the right
3 - o
4 - don't know if you're pointing to the 8 or the whole word, but no
"retouching" in this example is evident.

1 - o8 - reinked pen - heaviest ink on the wider down strokes
2 - Hw - reinked pen - heaviest ink on the wider down strokes
3 - woe - reinked pen - all wide strokes
4 - o
5 - 8 - heaviest ink on wide strokes
6 - o
7 - you say o8, but I see the 8 as darker than the o

1 - Wo - word initials - reinked pen
2 - o
3 - o
4 - Wo89 - you think the word was retraced in its entirety - I don't agree.
The W is the end of a pen - faint.  The o is reinked, the 8 is a little
lighter, and the 9 starts to fall off in ink output.  Transitional, not
retouched.  The pen is apparently good for only a few glyphs, a couple words
at most, as becomes evident when counting re-inking positions on entire
5 - continue 4 to 5, we see the h as probably the end of a pen, and the
compound glyph following the work of a reinked pen.  The plume was added
after the ending 9 of the word is written, somewhat like dotting an "i".
6 - o
7 - o

1 - you list as a [control]?  Chemical burn on vellum, no pigment left. Age.
2 - o
3 - o
4 - o
5 - down and to the right
6 - Word initial
7 - down and to the right
8 - down and to the right
9 - o
10 - down and to the right
11 - heaviest ink down and to the right - compare with all other s' in this
image - virtually no difference.
12 - down and to the right
13 - down and to the right

1 -
2 -
3 -

Is this all you have to say on this image?  Heavy ink and a broad slit
throughout, too much ink being applied in places.  Poorly sharpened quill.

1 - down and to the right
2 - o
3 - reinking
4 - facial features - many things you didn't point out here.  Look at the
long line, starting out dark, and fading toward the end, especially when the
pen changes angles.  Transitional, not retouched.
5 - added on the end of an inking


good call on the possible erasure - I have several of my own.  You only have
one place on this image that is possible retouching, #1.  Again, down and to
the right, o8.  Re-inking.  Notice how the tail fades on a light pen when
the angle changes. I'm not going to total these up, that would be impolite.

>   > Beginnings of words, like those on your image f26v-1 are freshly
>   > dipped pen strokes, in this case an "over dipping".
> But then we would expect to see the ink to get gradually lighter
> along the word, as we do see in many places. However in my
> "suspects" the dark letters stand in isolation (and word-initials
> do not seem to be darkened more than other letters).

I don't find your scenario to be the case.  Primarily we're looking at o's
and isolated strokes, not entire glyphs, a function of the pen.  Notice that
the a's don't usually force the pen out of shape, so we have few examples of
this in the a.  Loops and strokes down and to the right that open the slit
enough to let heavier material be deposited - in initial writing, not
"retouching".  Some of what you're seeing as "text" beneath the heavier
pigment is the non-particulate chemical etching of the vellum.  Whether
there was pigment covering these segments at one time I don't know, and it
doesn't matter, because the simple mechanism is in place to explain
virtually all but "obviously" retouched glyphs, which I still hold as

I seriously don't understand why so many people need to added to the mix,
instead of trying to figure out how "one" person constructed this book.  It
took this man years to write this thing, you don't think he went back once
in awhile and made a mark or two in correction or clarification?  Your
evidence up to now supports my observations more than your own, and you have
only one glyph that has been obviously "retouched", something that could
have been done on the spot by the author himself.  You may be satisfied with
your evidence, but I have deep reservations.


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