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VMs: Re: Inks and retouching

> [GC:] I look forward to your website update. 

I certainly owe that to you and to the list, but there are lots of
pages to check and so few spare time... With luck in a month or so,
but perhaps not until Christmas... 8-(

> [Stolfi:] As for the colored paints, not only the visual evidence
> but simple common sense point to them being the work of a later
> owner.

> [GC:] "Simple common sense" without credible evidence is insufficient
> for this task,

Please note that I wrote "point to" not "prove".

>From the very first color images that I saw, I got the clear
impression that the Painter who colored the figures was far less
careful and/or less dexterous than the Scribe who wrote the text and
drew the outlines. At the time, that impression was still tempered by
the observation that Scribe himself seemed to be rather sloppy/clumsy
in places. The higher-resolution images not only confirmed the
sloppiness of the Painter, but also showed that some if not all of the
Scribe's slopiness could be easily ascribed to a later Retoucher. 

Unfortunately I do not know how to objectively justify those
impressions in a way that would convince skeptics. Hopefully, someday
we will get images of much higher resolution, that will allow us to
resolve the issue.

> [GC:] As you've pointed out so many times, stating something
> extraordinary as "fact" requires extraordinary proof.

Indeed, but the problem here is that your "ordinary" explanation
seems "extraordinary" to me, and vice-versa. Bayes strikes again...

> The fact is that everything I've read on the composition of
> medieval/renaissance inks states quite clearly that the inks of the
> time were composed of varying compounds, a compound being more than
> one ingredient. [...]

I am aware of that, still I cannot believe that chemical/mechanical
phenomena can explain all the variations in stroke width and quality,
and all the apparent cases of under-writing -- whereas retracing seems
to be a simpler and easier explanation.  Bayes again...

Perhaps we can find other manuscripts of the time that show the same
chemical/mechanical phenomena?

Actually, I have my own version of the "ink chemistry" theory. I
suspect that the Scribe was not much an expert on scribal arts, as so
he used some original inks formulas -- like berry juices -- that
looked pretty nice at first, but after a few years had faded almost to
invisibility. I especially suspect that this happened on the Zodiac
pages, which to me seem the most primitive of the lot, and those that
underwent most retouching; whereas later sections, like Biology, were
probably written in more permanent ink and may not have been retouched
at all. But I need to look more closely at more pages before I am
ready to bet on that...

> Unless any one of you can reproduce these "retracings" with the
> accuracy we see in the Voynich in such a small scale,

That is a good suggestion, I will try to do it. I can tell you already
that point size itself is not a problem: with a sharp pen I can easily
retrace writing that is much smaller that nine-point --- *on smooth paper*.
The question is how rough the VMS vellum really is. It looks pretty 
rough, but that may be just the effect of grazing light...

> and I'm a little let down that you'd consider assigning your pizza
> delivery duties to someone else.

If you insist, I can promise to deliver it in person, but it may take
some time for the right conference to happen near you. Can I trust
that you will do the same when -- ok, if -- it is proved that the UFOs
came from China? 8-)

All the best,

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