Alchemy discussion forum Home
 Search       Members   Calendar   Help   Home 
Search by username
Not logged in - Login | Register 
Alchemy discussion forum > Request for information > Help required > Inscription in copy of Cheiragogia Heliana

Inscription in copy of Cheiragogia Heliana
 Moderated by: alchemyd  
 New Topic   Reply   Print 
AuthorPost
Laura OKeefe
Member
 

Joined: Fri Oct 5th, 2012
Location: New York, New York USA
Posts: 21
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Tue Jan 29th, 2013 08:32 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Our library holds a copy of George Thor's Cheiragogia Heliana (London : Humphrey Mosely, 1659).  One of the preliminary leaves has an inscription that my co-workers and I believe is in the hand of the previous owner, John Winthrop, Jr.  Thanks to the tables of alchemical symbols on this website, we read the heading as "Dissolution of sulphur in vitriol."  But what follows is a complete mystery to us.

Attached is a photograph of the inscription.  I regret the quality of the image: this book was badly rebound some decades ago and cannot be opened fully.  In any case, many thanks in advance to anyone who can help us decipher the text.

Attached Image (viewed 1011 times):

Book_59_text.jpg

Paul Ferguson
Member


Joined: Fri Feb 15th, 2008
Location:  
Posts: 1495
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Tue Jan 29th, 2013 10:25 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Hi Laura,

I have made a start on a frequency analysis. There seem to be 19 different characters. These are shown in the table below, along with the approximate number of times they occur in this brief sample.

Herbert S. Zim, in his classic introductory cryptography text "Codes and Secret Writing", gives the English letter frequency sequence as "ETAON RISHD LFCMU GYPWB VKJXQ Z", the most common letter pairs as "TH HE AN RE ER IN ON AT ND ST ES EN OF TE ED OR TI HI AS TO", and the most common doubled letters as "LL EE SS OO TT FF RR NN PP CC", but this text may not, of course, be in English.

Anyway, perhaps someone can take a closer look, as I will also over the next few days.

Attached Image (viewed 917 times):

Cheiragogia Heliana code.jpeg

Paul Ferguson
Member


Joined: Fri Feb 15th, 2008
Location:  
Posts: 1495
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Wed Jan 30th, 2013 01:55 am
 Quote  Reply 
I have posted a message about this at a cryptography forum:

http://www.aerobushentertainment.com/crypto/index.php?board=5.0

This is Winthrop Junior's handwriting here:

http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/british/images/vc15p1.jpg

Laura OKeefe
Member
 

Joined: Fri Oct 5th, 2012
Location: New York, New York USA
Posts: 21
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Wed Jan 30th, 2013 04:41 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Paul Ferguson, many thanks for your help and for taking such an interest in this inscription.

We think that the handwriting sample from the Library of Congress exhibition is actually that of Winthrop Sr., first governor of the Massachusetts Bay colony.  The L. of C. gives his dates as 1588-1649; Winthrop Jr.'s are 1606-1676.

This link:

http://library.nysoclib.org/record=b1183318

will take you to the bib. record for our copy of Paracelsus's Baderbuchlin, which includes an image of a leaf with a lengthy inscription in Jr.'s hand (below that of another former owner, John Dee).  That said, I now have doubts that the handwriting in our Cheiragogia Heliana is the same as that in Baderbuchlin.

Again, we very much appreciate your efforts on our behalf.

Tom Willard
Member


Joined: Mon May 5th, 2008
Location: Tucson, Arizona USA
Posts: 95
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Thu Jan 31st, 2013 05:43 am
 Quote  Reply 
Forgive me if I repeat what Paul or someone else has already written, but . . .

it might be helpful to check the articles on the alchemical library of John Wintrop Junior published in Ambix by Ronald S. Wilkinson in the 1970s. For further information see

http://www.levity.com/alchemy/ambixcnt.html

Ron wrote a long dissertation on Winthrop and prepared a book entitled "The Younger John Winthrop and Seventeenth-Century Science," which I read in page proofs in 1977. The British press folded, and the book seems never to have been published, but the proofs may be available from the Library of Congress, where he worked for many years. (He died a few years ago.)

Ron wrote two articles based on material about Wintrhrop in the Hartlib papers at Sheffield. He found that Wintrop obtained many of his alchemical books from Thomas Vaughan's friend Robert Child, or Childe. For a while, Ron thought that Winthrop was Eirenaeus Philalethes, author of the alchemical classic "Introitus Apertus," but he came to accept the stronger case for George Starkey.

Paul Ferguson
Member


Joined: Fri Feb 15th, 2008
Location:  
Posts: 1495
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Thu Jan 31st, 2013 09:27 am
 Quote  Reply 
Another thread started at the forum of the Voynich site Cipher Mysteries:

http://www.ciphermysteries.com/forum#/20130131/alchemical-cipher-2351424/

Paul

Paul Ferguson
Member


Joined: Fri Feb 15th, 2008
Location:  
Posts: 1495
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Thu Jan 31st, 2013 11:08 pm
 Quote  Reply 
We have a decipherment. Needs a bit of cleaning up when we get a better image:

http://www.aerobushentertainment.com/crypto/index.php?topic=242.0

http://www.ciphermysteries.com/forum#/20130131/alchemical-cipher-2351424/

Laura OKeefe
Member
 

Joined: Fri Oct 5th, 2012
Location: New York, New York USA
Posts: 21
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Thu Jan 31st, 2013 11:14 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Oh my goodness, that was fast!  Thanks so much to all involved.

I've asked our in-house conservator to remove the binding from this volume--once that happens, we can take better pictures of the inscription and make them available.

Thank you again,

Laura O'K.

Paul Ferguson
Member


Joined: Fri Feb 15th, 2008
Location:  
Posts: 1495
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Thu Jan 31st, 2013 11:45 pm
 Quote  Reply 

Attached Image (viewed 853 times):

George Thor cipher v5.jpeg

Last edited on Fri Feb 1st, 2013 08:57 pm by Paul Ferguson

Paul Ferguson
Member


Joined: Fri Feb 15th, 2008
Location:  
Posts: 1495
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Thu Jan 31st, 2013 11:48 pm
 Quote  Reply 
"...excellently well purefie
by Salt dissolve or melt it
downe in some convenient vessel
over ye fire then strow some
sulfur if[?] any metall leasuarly up-
pon it & soe by dagrees [sic] it
will melt in it & become
fusible."

Is this really Winthrop? Surely even by the capricious spelling standards of the time this is pretty rough. 'Dagrees'?

Last edited on Fri Feb 1st, 2013 09:08 pm by Paul Ferguson

Paul Ferguson
Member


Joined: Fri Feb 15th, 2008
Location:  
Posts: 1495
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Tue Feb 5th, 2013 06:12 pm
 Quote  Reply 
600 dpi scan of the Dissolution inscription available online at:

http://mail.nysoclib.org/Digital_Archives/misc/dissolution/nysoclib_dissolution.jpg


TIF image (also at 600 dpi) can be downloaded here:

http://mail.nysoclib.org/Digital_Archives/misc/dissolution/

Paul Ferguson
Member


Joined: Fri Feb 15th, 2008
Location:  
Posts: 1495
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Tue Feb 5th, 2013 10:58 pm
 Quote  Reply 
"Take excellently well purifie[d]
bay salt dissolve or melt it
downe in some convenient vessel
over ye fier then strow some
sulphur of any mettall leasuarly up
pon it & soe by dagrees it
will melt in it & become
fusible."

Bay salt = salt which has been obtained from sea water, by evaporation in shallow pits or basins, by the heat of the sun; the large crystalline salt of commerce.

Attached Image (viewed 840 times):

George Thor cipher v6.jpeg.jpeg

Laura OKeefe
Member
 

Joined: Fri Oct 5th, 2012
Location: New York, New York USA
Posts: 21
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Wed Feb 6th, 2013 01:18 am
 Quote  Reply 
Wonderful!  Once again, my thanks to Paul Ferguson, Tony B of the ancient cryptography forum, and everyone else who took an interest in this inscription.

Paul Ferguson
Member


Joined: Fri Feb 15th, 2008
Location:  
Posts: 1495
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Mon Apr 21st, 2014 07:44 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Nice little article about this by Laura on pages 6 and 7 of this newsletter:

http://www.nysoclib.org/sites/default/files/pdf/news2013-07.pdf

Tom Willard
Member


Joined: Mon May 5th, 2008
Location: Tucson, Arizona USA
Posts: 95
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Tue Apr 22nd, 2014 05:10 am
 Quote  Reply 
Nice work, Paul!


 Current time is 10:42 pm




Powered by WowBB 1.7 - Copyright © 2003-2006 Aycan Gulez