The infuriating Mr.Pelling and Old Coptic

OK.. OK… (whew!).. 74 seeks for this not-terribly-remarkable post. But ok.

Copyright seems to be sorted (fingers crossed)  so for the moment here it is again.


It is difficult to believe that anyone interested in the Voynich manuscript won’t know Nick Pelling’s

It is the closest thing we have to a Voynich-pedia. Some names are not there, or barely mentioned, but there is usually a link (or comment) telling you where to go. Very helpful.

But there’s a downside.

Every now and then, after I’ve fallen over another piece of interesting information, I write it up without checking ciphermysteries at all.

Not advisable.

It happened again last week. In the middle of writing up a series of posts about the Crimea and Georgia as nexus between

(a) the content of fol.86v’s northern roundel

(b) the ‘astrological’ roundels and certain other diagrams

(c) land routes  towards the east referenced in the larger part of fol.86v

and thus linking to the maritime routes implied by the content of

(d) botanical and ‘pharma’ section…

I noticed in passing a footnote to a script described as from the pre-Christian Crimea.

As a rule, I pass over references to scripts but this was in the right part of town (as it were).

As it turns out, the script is traced from a plank in which no-one places much faith – a plank also known as the ‘Book of Veles’.

And it connected in a vague way with the work done by  John Stokjo, some thirty years ago, a time when many readers may not have been born.

All I knew about him ~he was long before my time ~ was that his name sometimes comes up as a claimed translator of the Voynich, and that he had claimed it was ‘Vowel-less Ukrainian”. And I’ve seen mentions of it occasionally, but who knows where. Still..


His book is available online but priced at about the cost of a solid Brill.

So  without much hope (it was 30 yrs ago)  I turned to Nick Pelling’s site, to see if any more was included there.

Stokjo is mentioned there.

With a link to Stokjo’s old web-page.

And a reference to the same plank: all of it here.

But at least I could still add a link to the Novgorod Codex – which was now the only part left of my draft post which I could claim in any way original (I hope)!

Nor is this the first  occasion, by any means (she said through gritted teeth) that I’ve forged a path in Voynich research, only to find it opening onto a military-neat sort of camp, containing little but a table of dusty, long-emptied dishes, and a sign which reads (in effect):

“been here, seen that, moved on.

                                 … N.P” 😀

I think  the reason that only Nick Pelling’s blog has this infuriating quality is that most other Voynich researchers are focused wholly on the Voynich script and its decipherment.

Any discussion of the imagery is less a discussion of the imagery as such, than a use of it to illustrate the writer’s views of authorship, or of how the written text might be deciphered.

So as a rule there’s little or no overlap with my own work.

Not so with ciphermysteries.

Nick’s posts (few of late) consider not just his own views, but the Voynich as a whole and so also mention the views expressed by many other people about ciphers and cipher-texts generally, and not just ideas he agrees with, but ones ranging from the “seriously-to-be-considered” to the “would-you-believe-it?”

With this frank confession of my repeated embarrassments you’ll understand why I recommend everyone read ciphermysteries, and/or   The Curse of the Voynich.

There is little worse than finding, long after the fact, that your own work appears to the really old-time Voynich researchers not as the original work it is or that you think it is, but simply inspired by or lifted from someone else’s.

So do be kind to yourself. Read ciphermysteries and, if you can,  read The Curse!

You may, or may not be persuaded by the book’s overall argument.  I can think of no argument which has persuaded everyone involved in these studies, but if you have to chose between buying d’Imperio’s book and Pelling’s, I’d say buy The Curse.

d’Imperio’s online, anyway.

And because I’m interested in Old Coptic for other reasons, I’d thought I’d quote a picture of early (not Old-) Coptic (see citation attached to picture).

Comments on the three texts I’ve illustrated above will be very welcome.

(featured image is by Vitamindy)


13th November – the mysteries of search engines. Two weeks ago, my non-G/gle search engine found nothing but Stokjo’s book.

Today it turns up:

wikibooks; Elmar’s blog; ( – same passage quoted); world mysteries – same passage quoted …

and another 9 pages of  listings.

But it’s ok, my provider has explained it.. a collapse of the local network, apparently.


  1. I should have mentioned in this post too that the copyright question concerned the *header-picture* not anything in Nick’s posts. That header-picture (like most others) was evidently dropped for some obscure reason during the year I was away. Since I’d have to re-post the whole thing in order to reinstate the headers, I’m only doing so when the picture is part of a post’s argument.


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