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Re: VMs: Re: Re: Inks and retouching
Hey John, wondered where you went! Good to see you back.
Usually I just state my piece and go away, but this is one of those subjects
I'm not about to let alone. Many have noticed that my statements tend to be
general, and I make them so to protect the work I've put into this thing.
If you want a sandwich, you gotta get up and go to the kitchen. But since I
think this topic will linger, I need to be a little more specific about the
foundations of my own theory concerning the dark and light inks. Not
specifically "retouched" glyphs, "corrections" in my book, one of which we
have as example. My theory in a nutshell:
While there is an indelible quality to the ink, the darker portions
remaining appear to be a component that is very sensitive to moisture. Some
time ago I examined this phenomenon on color jpegs, and reached the
conclusion that the two portions of the ink in question did not mix well
together. The indelible portion appears to be an organic non-soluble,
possibly an organic oil or acid of some sort, capable of etching the vellum.
I'm not up on my ink chemistry, so the exact chemical nature of the
indelible compound is an assumption. The dark portion(s) in question appear
to be water soluble. The two together have separate absorption properties,
and I wouldn't be surprised to find that most "retouching" evidence is
caused by this dual-based ink and the effects of age on the two. I still
stand by this conclusion.
Why would I reach such a conclusion? If you remember in an earlier email I
asked why the dark ink tends to run in "veins"? Let's take f3v as
demonstration that my theory has basis in observable fact. There's more
than one mechanical (or chemical) effect observable on this folio, but right
now I'm only interested in one. Here we see the image of the paint from
f3r, and notice that the moisture from the paint on the other side of the
folio causes some of the soluble portion of the ink to adhere better,
causing the ink to appear darker. We see many dark portions on the edges of
the painted image, and in a few places we see a glyph split between the
painted image and regular vellum, where the portion of the glyph inside the
painted image is dark, but that outside is faded. f3r, line 5, the <ch> in
word 2. (f3v.5.2 for reference.) The o and <s?> in f3v.8.2. (not up on my
EVA). The last glyph in f3v.9.1 and the first half of the o beginning
f3v.9.2. And most exemplary, the ending compound gallows and the o in
f3v.11.2. This series gets dark EXACTLY at the border of the painted image.
Many dark glyph effects occur inside the painted image.
You can barely see the red ink from the opposite image, but the effects tend
to work here as well, once again probably because the paint was water based.
In addition, there are discolorations in areas of the vellum, and within
these discolorations the ink exhibits different adherance qualities. Are
these discolorations the effect of moisture or damp? It fits the theory.
The above described effect works in conjunction with the observed fact that
certain pen strokes lay down a larger amount of the dark ink. These tend to
be able to weather time better, and apparently much better after having been
exposed to moisture or damp. The more water-soluble portion of the ink
present, the better its chances of survival after being exposed to moisture.
This is just one page, but the effect holds for other pages as well. In
some cases, if you want to know why certain portions of text are darker when
no reverse image is present, mirror and overlay the preceding page. I'm not
certain if the paint itself absorbs and retains moisture in damp locations,
but I suspect it does, as it has had an affect on the text over the years.
Certain other folios have clear stains on them, and the ink within these
sections exhibits similar properties. These stains were probably made in
the first two hundred years or so of the manuscripts life, just as a guess.
I looked at this problem some time ago, said "ahah" and moved on to
something more meaningful. But now that it's back as a topic, I'm not about
to jump to the conclusion of "retouching", or the suggestion that these
effects required human intervention in order to exist. If the retouching
theory is to stand, certain groundwork must be done to isolate suspected
The ink and its various compounds has to be identified. The fact that color
techniques demonstrate two types of ink may simply be that there is more
than one component to the ink, and it depends on which component survived
the best in the area you're examining. Without this identification, and
relying solely on imagery to make the case, one would have to go through
every glyph on each folio, catalog it and eliminate all possible physical,
chemical or mechanical influence. That would leave a very short list of
suspects, and should ultimately alter any reasonable view of who retouched
what and when.
The answer is simple - no one went through and touched up a portion of a
glyph here, a portion of a glyph there. The ink itself has a minimum of two
incompatible components, and one of them did not survive well. Incompatible
as the components are, even their ability to exist in solution for any
period of time is questionable. What may have appeared to be a uniformly
pigmented application when new is now discovered to be somewhat less than
uniform, as the water-soluble component (the pigment portion), was rarely
mixed well enough to be applied uniformly. Those pigments exposed to
moisture early on had a better chance of survival, and when the ink was
thicker, as in the down strokes or o's, the chances of survival increased to
There are many physical variables to contend with, and Jorge or someone else
*might* say that I've covered all the bases in being able to "explain away"
other ideas. It's not that simply dismissed. Scan the folios and look for
examples of the "moisture effect". They're on every page. Look for heavier
ink outlay - the o's and "down and to the right" strokes are quite
prominent. Look for stains, discolorations, etc., that may be moisture
damage, and see what happens to the ink in these areas. Some gets lighter,
some gets darker, but it becomes evident that moisture has little effect on
the indelible portion of the ink. It only affects the water-soluble
portion, and this to varying degrees. it also becomes evident that the two
portions of the ink were rarely in balance. The pigmented water-based
portion did not apply evenly, probably many larger particles and/or an ink
base not in true suspension.
I have over 200 pages of physical evidence to support my conclusion, and a
great deal of time involved in examining these pages. I don't understand
the need to introduce "copyists" "painters", or even "retouchers" when
considering the physical evidence, but I've seen other more misguided ideas
take hold. I don't know who I will convince on the evidence itself, as it
is rarely brought to bear on a problem. But I know that only one person
wrote this, one person drew it, one person colored it, that no other hands
were present in its creation. Everything else can slide but the text.
----- Original Message -----
From: "John Grove" <4groves@xxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Tuesday, July 27, 2004 6:49 PM
Subject: RE: VMs: Re: Re: Inks and retouching
> >Somewhere I recently read - possibly Jorge's site? - where
> >water has washed away portions of the text. This is an incorrect
> >observation. There is no portion of the manuscript that cannot be read
> >using the MrSid files, including the damaged section of f103r, which
> >more as rust or some other disturbance than water. f1r was chemically
> >damaged under Voynich's instruction, so that page doesn't even qualify.
> >Demonstrate one instance where water damage has washed away the text.
> Nick:>>>I've previously gone through looking for evidence of water damage
> and understand the bleedacross phenomenon: the worst ones are f93r (which
> appears to be a water spill) and f103r (which appears to be a paint or ink
> spill). This is an ms that has (thankfully) been kept dry. :-)
> As fate would have it, I've been flipping through the images looking at
> edges and other signs of bleed-through and water damage etc.. and happened
> to ponder
> the fate of f93r as well. It's quite interesting that the water or diluted
> did NOT soak through the thin folio as it doesn't show at all on f93v.
> even if
> it didn't soak through - it should have affected the facing page - which
> f90r -- which it didn't so one 'MIGHT' assume that the damage happened
> f92 was
> still present.
> Several pages in the 40's have some interesting bleed-through along the
> the dark green leaves showing their mark several pages away... I'll have
> check again
> which ones were affected.
> Anyway, I'm still sitting out on a limb believing that the evidence isn't
> there yet to look at different people and different times. I'm still
> to believe
> that the author wrote all the pages, drew all the pictures, edited the
> with fresh
> ink in spots before binding, and coloured the images before binding as
> and lastly
> that he wrote the quire signatures. I do agree there is sufficient
> that somebody
> else wrote the folio numbers and the non-VMS text.
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