Wilfrid Voynich

The Voynich manuscript, named after Wilfrid Voynich who had acquired it for his collection, is an illustrated codex hand-written in a mysterious language. Voynich was a Polish collector who originally went by the name of Wilfrid Wojnicz. The vellum in the book pages has been carbon-dated to the early 15th century (1404–1438), and may have been composed in Northern Italy during the Italian Renaissance.

The pages of the codex are vellum. Only about 240 pages remain as many are missing. The content is written from left to right, and various pages are accompanied by some sort of illustration. The book even appears to be divided into sections due to consistent imagery throughout select portions of it.

Many of the illustrations consist of plant-like objects and naked women bathing.

Here’s are some examples:

Voynich Manuscript Plants

Voynich Manuscript Plants

Voynich Manuscript Women

Voynich Manuscript Women

Although the Voynich manuscript has been studied by many professional and amateur cryptographers, including American and British codebreakers from both World Wars, the text has yet to be deciphered. This has given it fame in the history of cryptography. The mysterious content of the manuscript has ignited the popular imagination, making the manuscript the subject of novels and speculation. None of the many hypotheses proposed over the last hundred years has yet been independently verified. This dismay has even led to many people speculating that the writing might be mere nonsense.

The manuscript can be found at Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.