Folger Update

Hey, folks.  Much going on here, and much that’s not really blog-worthy.  Nonetheless, I thought I’d touch base on the Folger material.  After some discussion, we decided that I should go ahead and work on some of part 3, most notably the newly discovered material at the very end with various short incantations.  I’m finding this to be very slow going, largely due to the code.

Remember those substitution ciphers you’ve done in puzzle book activities, way back when?  Pretty easy, especially when they gave clues and filled in some of the letters for you.  Now, imagine the whole thing is written in a difficult handwritten script.  Now, imagine that the spelling is highly idiosyncratic.  Now, imagine that every so often something in Latin gets tossed in.  Now, imagine that occasionally the author forgets what cipher he’s using and makes a mistake.  Now, imagine that parts of the cipher are missing due to wear at the edges of the page.

I think you get the idea.

What’s more, I don’t even really see the point of this whole affair.  It’s not as if someone’s going to be fooled and think this isn’t a book of magic.  It could be intended to keep out the eyes of casual observers – but really, shouldn’t the owner just keep his manuscript away from aforesaid observers to begin with?  And why in this section?  Why include clear-cut instructions for summoning Satan, but put a beauty recipe in code?  Perhaps we’ll find an answer to these questions.  Perhaps not.

At any rate, that’s where we are.

Published in: on March 7, 2011 at 11:47 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. One approach that could prove useful is mapping out each character you see in the MS to a letter or symbol on your keyboard and digitizing the whole thing. Then, solving the cipher can be left to a computer program (e.g. This should also reduce the chance of making translation errors, provided that you entered the ciphered version correctly.

    I used this method on another ciphered ms (not related to Folgers). Although I did my own translation by hand first, having a second, automated translation helped me to catch a few mistakes that I made. It’s not a bad way to double check things.

    Feel free to email me if you want further clarification on this method.

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