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Re: VMs: Updates and summaries

Nick wrote:

> Well... the top outside corner of folio 112 still looks like a copy of a 
> torn original to me, so once again things are ~perhaps~ not so cut and dry 
> as they might be. Opinions differ, but let's hope our evidence is the same. :-)

I certainly hope we're working off the same evidence as well...but there are no guarantees, are there? :-)

> For the record, I'm actually hunting for the original Voynichese beneath a 
> layer of emendations: for example, when I look at the asymmetric split 
> gallows on the top line of f100r as it appears now, I'm far from convinced 
> that this was what was originally written. Perhaps of more direct interest 
> to you would be those places on the same page where characters have two 
> "tails" - one long and faint, but one short and stubby (apparently over the 
> top of the faint one, and wider on both sides of the faint line). 
> Basically, is this odd penmanship or a botched restoration?

As to the split tails, I suspect you're refering primarily to the glyphs on the right side of the second paragraph?  Hoping we're examining the same evidence, I have a few plausible reasons for these, but nothing short of finding an expert in old books to examine the original would clear many of these things up once and for all, I'm afraid.

My problem with jumping to conclusions on such things is that we haven't catalogued all of this type of evidence as yet, or at least not enough to infer certain patterns inherent in the phenomenon.

This is not the only folio where this occurs by far.  In each case, this seems to be localized into a certain region on the vellum, and has to do with more of the black component of the ink being laid down, or at least absorbed, into the vellum than in other areas.  In each case I've observed, the strokes (like the tails) are darker in a certain direction than in others, which I think speaks at least partially to the mechanics of the stile used.  On this particular folio, the "e" at 100r.8.10 has a split that is obviously (at least to me) an indicator that there was a split in the stile, and here a small portion separated because of the pressure applied to the stile.  That's just my opinion of course, and I can't prove it without some expert help.

I'm just browsing my thumbnails and clicking on pages at random to see if this effect is backed up by observation.  f41v has several glyphs that demonstrate a heavy outlay on the right side of some, but not all characters, '8', 'e', and the right side of several gallows.  f30r has a similar phenomenon, located in each case to the right side of each of the two paragraphs.  Nothing here I would consider a correction or retrace, but there are signs of a light discoloration of the vellum in these areas.  In this case it seems that the discoloration is a light transfer of paint from the opposing folio (29v). The heavy/light ink of the glyphs on f39r tends to be all over the place however, but wherever there is a heavy glyph, it appears there is also too much ink laid down, which could mean too much pressure on the stile.

Of course we've been through this before on a general level, so it's nice to have the update and find my place once again.  So let's see if time has allowed me to phrase this argument better than I did before -

Factors to be considered -
1.  Quality of ink (do we agree that this is handmade ink, and therefore not always a consistent mixture?)

2.  Quality of vellum - with the MrSids especially, we see areas on most folios that are of an inconsistent coloration, areas where the scraping process was crude enough to be visible, etc.  Repaired tears are visible, and major holes have been drawn or written around, making it apparent that these flaws were extant before the writing process began on these folios.  All in all, what I would term "remnant" or "home-made" vellum, and not that vellum professionally manufactured, even for the time period.

3.  Chemical reaction of components used in the ink and paints.  As I pointed out on on folio above, there does seem to be some correlation between much darker sections of text and the paints used on the opposite or verso of the folios in question.  I'm not qualified to speak to this, but only observe the general correlation.

4. The effects of time, or more to the point, the effects of the environment (or environments) on the folios and the chemicals involved in their construction.  Heat, moisture, cold, etc.  There are signs of damp on many of the folios internally, and on almost all of them on the external edges.  The "darker" text is found on many folios nearer the outside edges than in the center or right edges.  Your f100r could fall into this general category, or at least if you add up all the affected characters by location.

As I said, an expert in these matters needs to examine the original if some of these things are to be cleared up, but I do have a couple of ideas as to tests that may be performed on the images to visually guage these effects.  They're far from scientific, but perhaps one of the image experts out there could come up with a way of calculating these in percentages, which would give us a better answer than our own observations - 

Paintshop Pro has the ability to turn an image into a transparency, where it can be flipped and laid over another image, say the opposing folio, and lined up by the spline to gain a visual guage on the effects of paints from the verso and opposing folios on the text.  The couple of folios I tried in my ad hoc experiment formed the basis for my understanding, but I admit that my informal observations are far from definitive proof in this matter.

One other factor in the argument for "retracing" is the size of the text, which I informally guaged as generally between 1/10th and 1/12th of an inch.  While the MrSids program does allow us to do relative coordinate measurements, there is no Sid (that I am aware of) that contains a color scale and ruler, which renders the tool useless for measurement.  My assessment of text size was made from the few jpg images available that actually contained rulers and color scales, but it would be nice if (again) an imaging expert could come back to us and give us a definitive answer on the actual size of the text.

I only bring this up because, in my own tests with a quill and stile, the difficulty for me in writing anything this small makes it quite difficult to accurately retrace.  This is not too apparent when it is that small, but when I scan my samples and magnify them 50 to 100 times, as we are doing with the Voynich, my retraces are very visible, where I seldom find like artifacts in the Voynich.  Someone pointed out a folio where this was obvious, but one folio does not constitute a concerted effort to modify or change the script, since these were nothing but "retraces", and not corrections and amendations.  

Once again, proper science would demand a set of controlled and reproduceable experiments to determine the actual nature of the phenomena we are observing before we can move our understanding from the simplest to the more radical of theories.

This is only my opinion, of course.

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