The Ricardus Manuscript

In brief

While working on the Voynich manuscript, I thought it would be interesting to produce my own illustrated manuscript. The Ricardus manuscript will be about 230 pages long when complete; it contains encoded text. I'm planning to make it available to would-be decipherers once it's finished; I'm still working on the details of how best to do that.

Ricardus Manuscript Thumbnail

What does it look like?

Here's a sample page, unfolded. It's "copyleft": you can reproduce it and the other samples here, provided that the reproduction states that it's copyleft Gordon Rugg, and that the reproduction is not for commercial purposes (so no mugs or T shirts!)

Pages in higher resolution

Click on image to viewer larger version.


One of the things that interests me is how a given technology biases us towards some ways of tackling problems, and away from other ways. Modern cryptography has moved increasingly towards machine-readable formats. However, there are interesting things that you can do with hand-written formats that you can't do with machine-readable formats. The Ricardus manuscript is an example of this.

Answers to likely FAQs

No, this doesn't contain a super-code. I expect professional cryptographers could crack it pretty swiftly if they felt so inclined. No, it doesn't contain the location of buried treasure. No, I don't plan to get into correspondence about this, give any hints, or discuss proposed solutions . I already get large quantities of email about my other work. If you want to discuss this with other like-minded souls, I'd suggest getting in touch with them via a posting on an appropriate Usenet group, and then setting up a mailing list or Usenet group. This is intended to be a source of harmless fun, not a serious challenge. Yes, I'll post higher resolution pictures some time, when the legendary spare moment arrives. No, I don't have a machine-readable version of the text: it's quite deliberately hand-written so that I can do things that are difficult or impossible with machine-readable ciphers.


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