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Charles Voisin Flies - History

Charles Voisin Flies - History

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Charles Voisin flew the "Voisin-Delgrange no 1" at Bagatelle on the outskirts of Paris. The aircraft was powered by a 50 horse power engine. The flight was stable and coverd a distance of 197 feet.


Historic Route 7
Manchester, Vermont 05254-0798

Telephone: (802) 362-1300
Toll Free: 800-548-9548
Fax: (802) 362-0141


Private Company
Incorporated: 1856 as C.F. Orvis Company
Employees: 1,200
Sales: $200 million (1997 est.)
NAIC: 454110 Mail-Order Houses 339920 Fishing Tackle & Equipment Manufacturing 713990 Fishing Guide Services 713990 Hunting Guide Services 721214 Hunting Camps With Accommodation Facilities 721214 Fishing Camps With Accommodation Facilities

Company Perspectives:

Founded by Charles F. Orvis in Manchester, Vermont in 1856, The Orvis Company specializes in fine quality fly-fishing tackle, wingshooting clothing and shotguns, traditional country clothing, artwork, and unique gifts. As the country's oldest mail-order company, Orvis pre-dates Sears and is the oldest fishing rod manufacturer in the world.

Founded in 1856, The Orvis Company, Inc. is the nation's oldest mail-order company. Through yearly mailings of more than 40 million catalogs--resulting in 70 percent of its sales--the company sells premium fly-fishing tackle, hunting gear, and shotguns, as well as clothing, artwork, and gift items for the country life. Orvis operates 16 retail stores in the United States and four in the United Kingdom, claims over 500 dealers worldwide, and offers fly-fishing and shooting schools as well as chartered vacations and lodging.

Charles F. Orvis and the Beginning of the Mail-Order Industry

In 1831, when Charles Frederick Orvis was born, life in Vermont still bore a strong flavor of frontier days. Children were trained to be ruggedly self-reliant. Charles Orvis developed an uncommon practical inventiveness along with an unusual business acumen. By the age of 20 he was skilled with hand and machine tools and had mastered the basics of mechanical engineering. Charles, like many rural boys, also developed an interest in field sports early in life. However, his love was not just for "the kill," but for the whole outdoors. He was eager to learn. As a boy he once watched an older gentleman who was an experienced fly fisherman demonstrate such artistry with the rod that it left Charles awestruck. That day Charles learned the value of experience and proper tools that he would carry with him all his life.

Charles carefully examined the best rods of the day and was soon building his own rods. It became a growing hobby for him. Both Charles and his brother Franklin became aware of the increasing tourism in Vermont and decided to reel in some business. In 1853 Franklin opened a hotel that later would become the famous Equinox House. Their lodging venture was profitable enough for Charles to turn his hobby of rod building into a business as well. In 1856 he formed the C.F. Orvis Company, with sales rooms in a small stone building next to the hotel. The Orvis family prospered as trains brought ever increasing numbers of tourists from New York and other cities to Manchester. These customers were great advertisements for the new fishing tackle company. The well-made rods and flies that were carried home by wealthy sportsmen generated repeat orders by mail. Building on his successful business, in 1861 Charles erected the Orvis Hotel on the same street as his brother's establishment. The brothers also invested in and promoted the resort industry which brought support to Charles's interests in the fishing tackle business. The community of Manchester, surrounded by the Green Mountains, gained recognition as a fine resort area. By 1861 and the beginning of the Civil War, Orvis had firmly established itself as a manufacturer of solid wood rods of superior quality. It also was becoming noted for its wide selection of flies, and had started a promising mail-order business.

The war temporarily halted expansion, but by the 1870s the company's prospects had brightened. With a growing network of railroads, thousands of sportsmen began to travel to faraway lakes and streams. Increased orders for fishing tackle prompted Orvis to relocate his business to the now historic white frame building on Union Street. He began to explore the ways to improve his business and his products. As yet fly reels were not invented. Most people simply used casting reels. Orvis studied what was needed and what emerged was his first great innovation: the first ventilated narrow-spool fly reel to be mounted upright. In 1874 Orvis received a patent on his new design in fly reels regarded as a landmark in American fishing tackle history. The perforations on the side plates, which lightened the reel considerably, permitted air circulation through the line when it was on the spool. The reel was first offered in the trout model, followed later by a second model which was a bass reel with a wider spool, and a line capacity of 70 to 80 yards, compared to the trout reel's 40 or 50. The two models, trout and bass, remained standard items for 40 years. Around 1900 the same reel was also offered in aluminum. Orvis was always conscientious about customer service, even when his product was not at fault.

From 1870 to 1900 Charles Orvis faced some very stiff competition. Hiram Leonard was producing fishing masterpieces, as were Shipley and Krider, Abbey & Imbrie, and Spalding. What Orvis did was excel in his production and marketing strategy. He made many personal contacts and received strong endorsements by well-respected sportsmen of his time. By the second half of the 19th century many woods were available to innovative rod builders. By 1870 the bamboo rod was being used in the United States as well. Although the split bamboo rod was recognized as superior to its solid wood forebears, no manufacturer could ignore the traditional materials. So Orvis experimented, well into the 1880s, with a wide assortment of materials. He eventually settled on lancewood rods and, after about 1876, bamboo rods. According to "The Orvis Story," "his rods were reliable, his service and repairs were widely known, and his prices were reasonable. As one Vermont Yankee put it, 'God made poles . Charlie Orvis makes fishing rods."'

Orvis rods received many unsolicited endorsements by leading anglers of the day, all of which helped the business to flourish. Orvis's contribution was not in producing large numbers of rods, but in producing a quality product and offering it at a surprisingly low price. He was getting testimonials at a time when some of his competitors were charging three times as much for their rods. Quality was critical to Charles Orvis. Every Orvis rod bore the seal of the master's hand.

The Real Ferguson: Standardizing Fly Tying in the Late 1800s

By the last decades of the 1800s, the expanding American frontier invited many anglers to explore new waters. As fly fishing became popular, new fishing flies were in demand. Yet there was no recognized standard, no way anglers could know that the fly they ordered would be what they wanted. It was at this time that Charles Orvis's daughter Mary Ellen began to make what would become a major contribution to the company. In 1876 Orvis hired one of the best fly tiers in the city to come teach his skill to Mary and the five to seven women that formed her Orvis fly production unit. Soon they were filling orders of flies made to exacting specifications. Mary, however, saw the deeper need for standardizing the fly tying industry. She heard from so many fishermen who were frustrated with being unable to get what they wanted. What one called a "grizzly king" was often far different from another's idea. One fisherman lamented, "I can't seem to get the right Ferguson." Meeting his need, the man wrote back gratefully, saying, "You are the first I have met in a long time who knew the real Ferguson." Over time, Mary would help many anglers find "the real Ferguson" and in so doing she would give her father's company a great boost in prestige and secure herself a permanent place in angling history.

By 1890 a full line of Orvis Superfine Flies were listed in the catalog under several classifications. They also offered standard as well as flies less generally known and not kept in stock. There were floating may-flies, and caddis flies made to order in any size desired. Bass flies were available in 80 patterns, along with richly dressed salmon flies. Fifty-six Halford dry flies completed the listing. In total, 434 patterns graced the catalog. Soon another catalog was needed. Mary's catalog or book, which appeared in 1892, immediately became the one source for fishing ties. Favorite Flies and Their Histories was the world's first illustrated classification and standardization of fishing flies. In 1893 she directed the assembly of an exhibit of Orvis flies and fishing photographs, taken by the nation's leading photographers in many states, for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. With the renown of the Orvis line of fishing rods and Mary Orvis's reputation for fishing ties, Orvis commanded a solid market share into the 20th century. The company expanded its mail-order catalogs into geographic areas as their tourism and resort business grew. The company also began advertising more in the major outdoor magazines and journals of the time.

The crash of 1929 and the Great Depression brought disaster to all the Orvis enterprises. The lathes and milling machines were silenced. By 1939 Orvis was down to two employees, "Bert" Orvis and Hallie Galaise, the last of Mary's fly tiers. Little inventory remained, and day-to-day money came in from repairing bicycles and tennis rackets. The romantic great outdoors was not accessible to most Americans. By the 1930s, north woods hotels were rotted and empty and few streams were visited by sportsmen. One by one the names of the old prestige tackle makers disappeared from the advertising pages of the sporting magazines. Orvis was well on its way to becoming a memory when Dudley "Duckie" C. Corkran arrived on the scene.

Corkran was an enthusiastic angler and golfer who had frequented the Manchester area over the years. In 1939 he learned of the Orvis operation and its struggles and arranged to purchase the company. What Corkran bought was a building, some well worn machinery, and a time-honored name. His first step was to hire Wesley D. Jordan as plant manager. Jordan, a veteran of the rod-building business, had started with the Cross Rod Company in 1919. Jordan shopped for good cane, rebuilt the Orvis milling machine, and developed a plan to improve the finish and durability of fly rods. However, just as Jordan nearly had the company on its feet, World War II began.

The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, turned the nation's businesses to war production. Within days, Corkran received a three a.m. telephone call from the Boston Procurement Office of the Army, ordering ski poles made from Orvis split bamboo sticks. The poles were painted white for camouflage and shipped to the West Coast and Alaska, where the first U.S. ski troops were in training and engaged in Aleutian Island patrols. While the war brought the ski pole contract, it also brought new orders for the old Orvis Glass Minnow Trap. Because of food rationing and the harassment of the saltwater fishing fleet by German U-boats, commercial freshwater fishing was in peak production along the Mississippi. The popularity of the trap carried over well into the 1960s, but it was during the war that it played a crucial role in the company's survival.

Up to the 1940s, fishing rods were built of various woods and varnished for protection. The varnishes were easily chipped or cracked, and exposed wood could rot and weaken quickly. Bamboo also cracked and split. Wes Jordan sought for a way to treat the bamboo deeper than its surface, to actually impregnate the fibers. After many tries, Jordan succeeded by sawing the cane poles in half, then tempering and impregnating them before gluing them together again and curing them. In 1946 the Orvis team led by Jordan patented the world's first impregnated bamboo rod, making rods completely waterproof and warp-proof.

Over the next two decades, Orvis experienced steady growth and, with the help of its expanding mail-order business, became a brand name in outdoor sports. In 1956, the company celebrated its 100th year of operation by entering the retail market with the opening of its flagship store in Manchester, Vermont. The store at that time boasted over 10,000 flies and a casting pool for testing rods. By 1965 the company had grown to annual sales of about $500,000.

New Ownership Under Leigh Perkins: 1965-92

As Duckie Corkran approached 70 years old he began to look for a buyer for his company. Through a friend he met Leigh H. Perkins. Corkran was very concerned with how the new owner would run Orvis. But Leigh Perkins was already an Orvis man. He had bought his first Orvis rod in 1948 while in college. As a businessman, Leigh Perkins was fascinated with mail-order marketing and its challenges, so he immediately began to explore the possibilities. The venerable firm, renamed The Orvis Company, Inc., grew rapidly as it increased its offerings. Its catalog doubled in size and then doubled again as new customers discovered Orvis. Perkins decided to broaden his base of customers further by moving into the training business. In 1966 Orvis opened the first U.S. fly fishing school in Manchester, Vermont. He planned to not only sell the rods, but teach people how to use them. He also continued the Orvis tradition of innovation. In 1967 Orvis designed and produced the world's first "Zinger" (pin-on reel) for anglers. As Orvis became a well-known brand name, the company experienced greater success. Perkins made the Orvis name synonymous with a way of life: a style of country living.

Perkins soon brought Baird Hall, an advertising executive, into the company to establish a company newspaper. Hall's enthusiasm for fly fishing and country life were matched by his business sense. Having ties to the forests of Georgia in its rod-making capacity, Orvis in 1970 started a line of firewood known as Georgia Fatwood Kindling. The company expanded its lines of apparel the following year and introduced the world's first brown camouflage hunting gear. Perkins and his staff insisted that the same uncompromising quality that was demanded of Orvis fly rods be present in the company's tweed jackets, Irish sweaters, and carbon steel cutlery. Innovation continued as well. In 1972 Orvis developed the first modern exposed-rim, skeleton frame, superlight fly reel, and named it the "CFO." Two years later, Orvis developed its first series of graphite rods. Perkins wanted to lure in the hunters as well. In 1973 he opened the country's first dedicated wingshooting school at its facilities in Manchester, Vermont.

By the late 1970s, with fly fishing enjoying a resurgence in popularity, Orvis started a program to broaden its retail presence. Orvis made agreements with retailers to become Orvis outlets, remain independent and, for a relatively small investment, profit by merchandising the complete Orvis line. By 1977 there were few sporting magazines and publications, commercial or nonprofit, that did not have an Orvis Shop advertisement in their pages. In 1982 Orvis established its mail-order and retail business in southern England near the legendary trout rivers. To support this expansion and overall growth, Orvis realigned its servicing centers, and opened a new major customer service and distribution center in Roanoke, Virginia, in 1987. By 1988 Orvis had developed an effective worldwide distribution system with 400 dealers worldwide.

To keep the public abreast of all its new products and services, The Orvis Company launched its own newspaper. The Orvis News grew out of the Record Catch Club, serving as an outlet for the growing number of photographs being submitted by customers. It included sporting and conservation features, worldwide sporting and travel stories, and advertisements for merchandise.

The 1980s were also marked by further research and product development. In 1984 Orvis introduced sporting clays to the United States through its Houston store. In the mid-1980s, the Orvis rod shop unveiled the Ultra Fine, the world's first two-weight graphite rod. By 1986 gross sales of the company reached $50 million. In 1987 Orvis introduced the first one-weight rod. A year later Orvis became the first in the industry to introduce a 25-year, unconditional fly rod guarantee. In 1989 Orvis rods were named the "No.1 Best Made Product of the United States in the 1980s" by Tom Peters, author of In Search of Excellence .

Leigh Perkins's son, Leigh "Perk" Perkins, Jr., came to the company just as Baird Hall retired. After his stint as editor of the Orvis News he directed the opening of Orvis's new retail store in San Francisco, and moved there in 1980 to become its first manager. Perk's younger brother David also entered the family business soon afterward, first as an instructor in the fishing and shooting schools, and then moving up to the dealer department, which coordinated business between Orvis and its many shops. To become a more important source for all the furnishing of country life, Orvis in the late 1980s purchased Gokey Company, a leading manufacturer of fine hunting boots, shoes, and luggage since 1850. In 1986 the company began its Orvis-Endorsed Lodges, Outfitters, and Guides Program as a recreational sporting outlet for a growing customer base. It defined and set the standard of quality and responsibility for sporting people that carried well into the next decade.

Education and Commitment: The 1990s

If the 1980s were characterized by expansion and innovation, the keywords for the 1990s would be education and commitment. The company went beyond selling products to promoting sporting traditions and the outdoor way of life. Orvis's mission was embodied in Leigh Perkins's words, "If we are to benefit from the use of our natural resources, we must be willing to act to preserve them." Orvis announced a challenge grant to benefit wetlands in the United States and raised more than $200,000 in two years. In 1991, Orvis raised $110,000 to benefit the South Fork of the Snake River in Idaho. The following year Orvis raised $163,000 in a challenge grant to benefit the Big Blackfoot River in Montana. Soon afterward, Orvis conducted a $100,000 challenge grant to aid in the restoration of Florida Bay. This, of course, generated a good deal of positive publicity for Orvis, whose sales continued to be strong. By 1993, gross sales exceeded $100 million.

In 1992 Leigh H. Perkins named his son "Perk" Perkins as president and CEO of Orvis. A year later Orvis purchased British Fly Reel, the largest single producer of fly reels in the world, securing its international leadership. The Orvis CFO III disc fly reel won the "Best in Show" at the International Fly Tackle Dealer Show. Orvis introduced the Trident series, the first fly rod to use MVR (Maximum Vibration Reduction) technology in 1995. That same year, the company bought and reopened the famed Sandanona Shooting Grounds in Millbrook, New York. In 1997 Orvis acquired a majority share in Redington Fly Rods & Reels of Stuart, Florida, best known for its value-priced, quality rods. Also in 1997, the company reached its $200 million mark in gross sales. The following year, Orvis introduced the Flex Index system to fly rod design, reaffirming its leadership in product design. To expand its influence, the company started a travel business in 1988, offering its customers Fishing Vacations ranging from fly fishing the Chalk Streams of England to salmon fishing on the Kola Peninsula in Russia. The Orvis Wingshooting Lodges offered customers the opportunity to hunt everywhere on the continent, from the Barton Ridge Plantation in Rockford, Alabama, to the Diamond J Guest Ranch in Ennis, Montana.

It also persevered in its mission to promote the preservation of the environment through its funding and restoration projects. The company raised public consciousness and taught deeper responsibility to its customers through its newspaper, the Orvis News , and its catalogs reaching over 40 million customers annually. In its growing fishing and wing shooting schools, nearly 3,000 students every year were taught not only the techniques and gear of fishing and shooting, but also the code of ethics and a high standard of sporting philosophy and resource conservation. The schools have been credited with being a major force behind the formalization of an American sporting code.

Throughout its long history, Orvis has stayed the course set by its founder: that of providing quality products to the outdoor sporting world. It also continued in its commitment to the environment. The company was named an "Environmental Leader" by the Direct Marketing Association and regularly donated five percent of its pretax profits to conservation efforts. Along with customer matching programs, this amounted to nearly $1 million raised annually for a wide variety of habitat restoration projects. Orvis also continued to forge partnerships with other conservation groups, including Trout Unlimited and The Nature Conservancy. As the 21st century approached, it could confidently be said that Orvis was as serious about educating sporting men, women, and children to maintain quality fish and wildlife habitat as it was about growing its business. After all, the two went hand in hand.

Dee, Libby, "Kinsley & Co. Adding Women's Clothing, Expanding Orvis Shop," Boulder County Business Report, August 1, 1998.
Fraser, Laura, "The Lure of Fly-Fishing, HealthDate, March-April 1995, p. 42.
Gill, Kathy, "Three Companies Forced to Halt Sales of Knock-off Products," PR Newswire, February 22, 1999.
"Is the Trident True?," Outdoor Life , December 1995, p. 80.
"Orvis Freezes Salaries, New Hires: Poor Pre-Holiday Mail-Order Sales Blamed on Global Uncertainty," Florida Times-Union , October 25, 1998.
"The Orvis Story," http://www.orvis.com/detail.asp?subject= 9&index=1.
"Orvis Will Promote Octoraro Campaign: National Firm Raising Money for Watershed," Lancaster New Era, December 17, 1997.
"Redington and Frisby Top Offer 'Smart' Headwear to Global Fishing Market," PR Newswire , September 10, 1998.
Towle, Michael D., "Pounding Swords into High-Tech Playthings: Cold War Gadgetry Goes Civilian," Fort Worth Star-Telegram, December 5, 1998.
Wagner, Wendy, "James Fishing's Fine River's Variety Can Please Anyone from Master to Novice," Richmond Times-Dispatch, August 2, 1998.
Zheutlin, Alan, "Columbia Sportswear Continues Aggressive Campaign Against Copycats," CPA Journal , December 1998, p. 58.

Source: International Directory of Company Histories , Vol. 28. St. James Press, 1999.

The Men

Ernest Archdeacon (1863-1957). Archdeacon (pronounced 'Arshdec') was a successful lawyer, balloonist, sportsman and founder member of the Aéro-Club de France. In 1903 he attended a lecture given by Octave Chanute on the Wright brothers' progress in gliding flight. Galvanised by a fear that an American and not a Frenchman would be the first to fly a practical aeroplane, in May 1903 Archdeacon set up the Aviation Committee of the Aéro-Club. In 1904 he experimented with a number of Wright-inspired gliders in collaboration with Gabriel Voisin, but all proved unsuccessful. Archdeacon also used his wealth to fund a number of prizes, all offered in October 1904. The Coupe Ernest Archdeacon for the first flight over 25 m (82 ft), and a cash prize of 1,500 francs for the first flight over 100 m (328 ft) were both won by Santos-Dumont in 1906. The greatest prize was the Grand Prix d'Aviation Deutsch-Archdeacon of 50,000 francs, jointly sponsored by Henri Deutsch de la Meurthe, for the first circular flight over a kilometre (1,094 yards). This prize was claimed in 1908 by Henry Farman, and on 29 May 1908 Archdeacon became the first aeroplane passenger in Europe when he made a brief hop in his company. Archdeacon, a great patriot, was also, along with Esnault-Pelterie and Voisin, a leading sceptic of the Wrights' achievements in the period 1903-08.

Louis Blériot (1872-1936). Blériot trained as an engineer, and developed a successful automobile headlamp business, which provided the means to finance his passion for aviation. Between 1900 and 1909 he built (and crashed) aeroplanes of widely varying configurations with undiminished enthusiasm - in the process gaining Pilot's Certificate No.1 from the Aéro-Club and the respect of his fellow aviators for personally test-flying his creations. Brief collaborations with Gabriel Voisin and Louis Peyret produced nothing that was capable of flight. However, in susequent years Blériot developed a workable tractor monoplane layout, and a successful cross-country flight of 28 km (17 miles) was made on 31 October 1908 in his Type VIII. A further collaboration with Raymond Saulnier produced the promising Type XI. By 1909, however, Blériot's financial position was becoming difficult, which in part prompted him to attempt the London Daily Mail's £1,000 prize for the first crossing of the English Channel by aeroplane. Success on 25 July 1909 instantly restored Blériot's finances and earned him undying fame. In August 1909 he took part in the Rheims Meeting before retiring from active flying to concentrate on manufacturing his designs. The Blériot Company had a good eye for publicity and employed the brilliant stunt flier Adolphe Pégoud as its first demonstration pilot. The control system adopted by Blériot (of a joystick controlling both pitch and roll and a rudder bar for yaw) has subsequently become the norm for all modern aircraft.

'Colonel' Samuel F. Cody (1861-1913). In an era when the British Army was supposedly at its most conservative, its employment of Samuel Cody as an aeronautical designer is hard to explain. In cowboy clothes and a stetson hat, with shoulder length hair and an extragavant moustache, the big Texan cut an outlandish figure. It was not hard to believe he had at one time been a performer in a travelling wild west show called 'The Klondyke Nugget' (as he had in the 1890s). However, it was this same man whose man-lifting kite design was accepted by the Army in 1904. Cody was subsequently retained at Aldershot to experiment with aeroplanes. On 16 October 1908, he rewarded his employer's faith by achieving the first flight in Britain, at Farnborough a few miles away. His machine was a massive Wright-based biplane nick-named The Cathedral. Cody's outgoing personality endeared him to the public and in 1909 he became a British citizen. In 1911, he entered the Circuit of Britain and gallantly completed the course despite having no chance of winning. Cody was killed in 1913 when a machine he was testing for that year's Circuit of Britain broke up in mid-air.

Jean Conneau (1880-1937). A lieutenant in the French Navy, Conneau was the most brilliant racing pilot of the pre-war period. He was the victor of three major races in 1911: the Paris-Rome race in May, the Circuit of Europe in June, and the Circuit of Britain in July. Because sport flying was considered unduly frivolous by the Navy he usually flew under the pseudonym "André Beaumont", which deceived no one! His real name and rank where even given in the newspapers. He usually raced the Blériot XI. His approach to flying was very different from that of his great rival, Jules Védrines. Conneau was careful and precise in everything he did. This was demonstrated by his application of naval skills to navigate in fog or cloud by compass and watch ('dead reckoning'). In 1912, he was involved in test flying the revolutionary Donnet-Léveque flying boat - a machine which would prove the model for all subsequent hulled aeroplanes.

Robert Esnault-Pelterie (1881-1957). Esnault-Pelterie trained as an engineer, and his scientific background enabled him to design aeronautical devices still in use today. However, his aeroplanes themselves were never that successful, generally having inadequate control surfaces. Before Wilbur's flights in 1908, Esnault-Pelterie was one of the leading sceptics of the Wright brothers' achievements. However, in 1904 he built a glider designed to support his theories which made practical use of ailerons for the first time. In 1907, he built a monoplane which lacked a fin or rudder and was consequently almost uncontrolable. Nevertheless, the radial engine he designed to power it was sound and proved to be the prototype for all future radial designs. His monoplane concept was refined, with the 1909 model flying at the Rheims Meeting, but again it was the minor details that proved to be important. Hydraulic brakes, seat belts, steel tube construction and stress testing are all innovations credited to Esnault-Pelterie. In 1910, a more conventional REP monoplane was produced under licence by Vickers and in 1911 one finished fifth in the Circuit of Europe.

Henry Farman (1874-1958). Farman was born to English parents living in Paris and lived almost all his life in his adopted country. He would often spell his name 'Henri' and he spoke more French than English. At an early age he became involved with cycle racing, and then graduated to automobiles. He was a successful motor racer, but he gave up the sport after a bad crash and turned to aviation, as it was 'safer.' In 1907 he bought one of the first Voisins to be produced and taught himself to fly. He discovered he had an aptitude for piloting and in January 1908 he won the Grand Prix d'Aviation by making the first kilometre circuit in Europe. He went on to set numerous altitude and endurance records and make Europe's first cross country flight. After falling out with the Voisin brothers, he designed his own aeroplane, the Farman III, which was one of the most popular early types and was widely imitated. He participated at the Rheims Meet in 1909 where he won the distance prize, but he then gave up active flying to concentrate on manufacturing with his brothers Maurice and Richard.

Roland Garros (1888-1918). Garros had been studying to become a concert pianist when he attended the Rheims Meeting in 1909. The result was to change his career path dramatically. He learnt to fly on a Santos-Dumont Demoiselle and quickly emerged as one of the leading sport pilots of the period. In 1911 he came second in both the Paris-Rome and Circuit of Europe races. In 1913 he made an epic flight from France to Tunisia, thus making the first aeroplane crossing of the Mediterranean - a distance of some 453 miles. In 1914 he maintained his connection with the sea by winning the main event at that year's Monaco seaplane meeting. When the First World War broke out Garros became a fighter pilot, but he was shot down and taken prisoner while testing an experimental aircraft at the front. He escaped in 1918, only to be shot down again, this time fatally. Roland Garros was a keen tennis player and the Paris sports club that he belonged to named the stadium which now hosts the annual French Open in his honour.

Claude Grahame-White (1879-1959). Grahame-White came from a wealthy English family and studied engineering at university. Inspired by Blériot's Channel crossing, he attended the Rheims Meeting in 1909 and learnt to fly, gaining British pilots certificate No.6. Grahame-White had an infectious enthusiasm for flying and a talent for self-publicity, which saw him become one of the most popular British pilots of the period. In April 1910 he was the gallant loser in the Daily Mail's London-Manchester competition, and six months later he won the Gordon Bennett Trophy for Britain at Long Island, USA. Grahame-White established a very successful flying school at Hendon, in north London, and produced several aeroplanes of his own design. In 1912, he campaigned to raise awareness of aviation in the UK by touring the country in a Farman boxkite with light bulbs spelling out "Wake up, England!" attached to the wings. Before the First World War he produced a 'charabanc' aeroplane, which could carry four passengers as well as a pilot, and experimented with fitting machine guns to military planes.

Gustav Hamel (1889-1914). Hamel was the son of a fashionable German doctor practising in London society. After coming down from Cambridge, he learnt to fly in 1910 and soon became one of the most popular British pilots. Flying a Blériot XI, he entered the 1911 Circuit of Britain, but, like most competitors, failed to finish. In the same year, he acted as a pilot for Claude Grahame-White when he organised the first air mail in Britain between Hendon and Windsor, in honour of King George V's coronation. Hamel earned a 'dashing' reputation for often flying with lady passengers, notably Miss Trehawke-Davies with whom he flew to Paris on 2 April 1912. In 1913, Hamel was the third British pilot to perform the loop (Hucks being the first), and took part in various aerobatic displays. He was planning an ambitious transatlantic attempt in 1914 when he disappeared during another flight over the English Channel. With war looming, it was popularly rumoured that he had flown back to Germany to lead bombing raids on England. In fact a body was recovered from the sea some weeks later which was almost certainly Hamel's.

Harry Hawker (1889-1921). Australian Hawker came to Britain specifically to seek a career in the infant aviation industry. In 1912, his wish was answered and he was employed by Tommy Sopwith. Hawker saved his wages to afford flying lessons and gained his licence in September 1912. The following month he won the British Michelin Cup with a grueling endurance flight of 8 hr, 23 min. Sopwith recognised talent when he saw it and Hawker was promoted to chief test pilot. In 1913, Hawker broke the British altitude record in a Sopwith Tabloid and won the Mortimer Singer Prize flying the amphibious Sopwith Bat Boat. He may also have been one of the first pilots to recover from an intentional spin, at Brooklands in June 1914. During the First World War, Hawker continued to test Sopwith machines, and in 1919 made an unsuccessful transatlantic attempt - being rescued by a passing steamer. He was killed in 1921 while practising for that year's 'Aerial Derby' (round London race).

Bentfield Charles Hucks (1884-1918). Apparently named after his birthplace of Bentfield, Essex, Hucks was generally known as "B.C." Originally a keen motorist, he came to aviation after being banned from driving for three years for a speeding offence. He was taught to fly by his friend Claude Grahame-White in 1910, and accompanied him to the USA in that year. On his return, Hucks was engaged by the Blackburn Company to test their new monoplane. He subsequently flew the type in the Circuit of Britain in July 1911. In August, he made one of the first air-ground wireless experiments in the UK at Swansea. Hucks was the first British pilot to loop the loop (at Buc on 15 November 1913) and he subsequently gave many aerobatic displays. On the outbreak of war, Hucks joined the Royal Flying Corps and became the chief test pilot for the Airco firm. In 1917 he invented the 'Hucks Starter', a mobile device for starting aero engines. He died of pneumonia a week before the Armistace.
[Purchase Hucks memorabilia: http://www.johnridyard.fsnet.co.uk/facsimiles.htm]

'Baronne' Raymonde de Laroche (1885-1919). Born plain Elise Roche, de Laroche adopted her more aristocratic stage name in order to aid her career as an actress. However, she soon turned her back on the theatre, becoming first an experienced balloonist and then, in October 1909, perhaps the first woman to pilot an aeroplane anywhere in the world. Her instructor was Charles Voisin. On 8 March 1910, de Laroche qualified for the first pilot's certificate to be awarded to a woman (No.36 of France). In July of that year, she competed in the Prix des Dames at the 1910 Rheims Week, but was seriously injured in a bad crash. However, she recovered to win the French Aero Club's Coupe Femina twice for long-distance flights in 1912 and 1913. In 1919, this Magnificent Woman held both the female altitude (4800 m/15,750 ft) and distance (323 km/200 mi.) records, before being tragically killed in July while co-piloting an experimental aircraft.

Hubert Latham (1883-1912). With something of the reputation of an international playboy, Latham was briefly one of the most colourful characters in early aviation. He was French, although with English grandparents on his father's side, and he studied at Oxford before making his home in France. In 1908 he witnessed Wilbur Wright's flight at Le Mans and asked his friend, Leon Levavasseur, to teach him to fly. Subsequently, he became Levavasseur's chief pilot and flew his Antoinette monoplanes to good effect during the breakthrough year of 1909. In that year he was unlucky to lose out to Louis Blériot in the race to cross the English Channel, but he performed well at the Rheims Meeting - winning over 40,000 francs in prize money. He is generally thought to have been gored to death by a buffalo in 1912 while big game hunting in the Congo, but there is also evidence of foul play. [Read more about Latham's death]

Léon Levavasseur (1863-1922). Levavasseur's early training was as a painter but he quickly turned to engineering instead, much to European aviation's benefit. In 1903 he designed an unsuccessful biplane, but in the same year he produced an innovative light engine. The 24 hp and 50 hp versions of the Antoinette featured evaporative cooling and fuel injection, and were designed specifically with aviation in mind. The motors powered both Santos-Dumont and Gabriel Voisin's early designs and so formed the bedrock of European success. In 1907, Levavasseur was the designer behind the Gastambide-Mengin monoplane, and it was this design which formed the basis of his successful and elegant Antoinette IV of 1909. In that year, Levavasseur's friend Hubert Latham almost snatched glory from Blériot by crossing the Channel first in an early IV. The type subsequently enjoyed widespread popularity. In 1911, Levavasseur submitted his futuristic Monobloc Antoinette for military trials, but the excellent concept was marred by insufficient engine power. It failed to fly and the Antoinette Company's fortunes declined, with bankruptcy following. But Léon Levavasseur's place in history was already assured.

Lord Northcliffe (1865-1922). Alfred Harmsworth began his career in journalism as a freelance writer. But a shrewd realisation that the British market was ready for American-style popular journalism saw him emerge as a successful newspaper proprietor. In 1896 he founded his own paper, the Daily Mail, and within a few years had brought its daily circulation up to one million. In 1904 he was created a peer, to become (literally) a 'press baron'. An important element in the Mail's success was its extensive coverage of aviation and Northcliffe was not averse to creating the news himself. In 1907 Roe won the paper's model flying machine competition, and in 1909 Blériot won £1,000 (first offered in 1906) for crossing the Channel. The next year, Paulhan won £10,000 for his flight from London to Manchester, and in 1911 the paper sponsored the Circuit of Britain, won by Conneau. A seaplane Circuit of Britain followed in 1913. Of course, the Daily Mail and other Northcliffe papers carried exclusive reports of all these events. Although Northcliffe's motive was mainly just to sell newspapers, it cannot be denied that his prizes acted as a spur to aeronautical development and produced some of the most remarkable episodes of the first decade of flight.

Louis Paulhan (1883-1963). Paulhan began his involvement with aviation by working for the French military balloon factory at the turn of the century. His interest was turned towards heavier-than-air flight by Santos-Dumont's hops in 1907, and in 1908 he won an Aéro-Club de France model aeroplane competition. His prize was a full-size Voisin biplane! Teaching himself to fly, he soon emerged as an excellent pilot and participated in several meetings and competitions, including the Rheims Meet and the Los Angeles Aviation Week. His most notable victory was winning the epic Daily Mail London-Manchester competition in April 1910. Earlier that year he had taken some of the first aerial photographs. After 1910, he became involved with designing sea planes and produced an innovative prototype.

Adolphe Pégoud (1889-1915). A brilliant aerobatic pilot, Pégoud began his career in aviation as a mechanic for the infant French Army Air Service. He then transfered his services to the Blériot Company, learnt to fly and caught Louis Blériot's eye when on 20 August 1913 he made the world's first parachute jump from an aeroplane. The aeroplane, being a single-seater, crash landed alongside the intrepid jumper! Pégoud was quickly employed as the Company's demonstration pilot, and on 1 September he showed off the Blériot XI's docility in unusual attitudes by flying inverted for several seconds. He topped all of this by looping the loop, again on a Blériot XI, on 21 September. This was only the second time the manoeuvre had ever been executed. On the outbreak of the First World War Pégoud rejoined the military and became the first pilot to be called an 'Ace' before he was shot down and killed, with 6 victories to his credit, in the summer of 1915.

C. Howard Pixton (?-1972). Pixton was taught to fly in 1910 by his friend A. V. Roe and quickly became the Avro Company's test pilot. He also assisted in setting up the Avro Flying School. In 1911, he joined the rival Bristol Aeroplane Co. to instruct military pilots at Larkhill. In July, he flew a Bristol Boxkite in the Circuit of Britain, but crashed near Harrogate in Yorkshire during stage two. He subsequently travelled for the company, demonstrating Bristol aircraft in Spain, Italy, Germany and Romania. In 1914, Pixton again changed employers and became the Sopwith Company's pilot in the Schneider Trophy competition of that year. Flying the Sopwith Tabloid seaplane, powered by a 100 hp Gnôme, Pixton won the Trophy for Britain. After the First World War, he rejoined Avro and went on to have a lengthy involvement in aviation.

Alliot Verdon Roe (1877-1958). After taking a degree in marine engineering at London University, Roe worked at sea between 1899-1902 before becoming interested in the problem of powered flight. In 1907 he won a £75 prize offered by the Daily Mail for model aeroplanes. With the prize money he erected a hangar at Brooklands and set about building a full size machine. The Roe I made a brief hop on 8 June 1908 but it was not recognised as the first flight in Britain - that honour going to J. Moore-Brabazon the following year. In 1909, Roe built a triplane, weighing only 399 lb. (181 kg) including himself, and powered by a tiny 9 hp J.A.P. motor. The surfaces were covered in thick paper rather than fabric because Roe was so short of money. In 1910, however, Roe successfully developed his design into a practical triplane and formed A. V. Roe & Company (known as "Avro"). Before the First World War, the firm created several advanced machines, including the Type F (a cabin biplane), the first British sea plane, and the Type 504 of 1913, which remained in service into the 1930s. Roe was knighted in 1929.

The Hon. Charles Rolls (1877-1910). The son of a peer, Rolls gained a degree in engineering from Cambridge and was a keen cyclist, motor racer and balloonist. In 1901 he helped found the Aero Club of Great Britain (which became the Royal Aero Club in 1910). In 1904 he was involved in the sale of motor cars when he met Frederick Royce, a manufacturer. Although they were from very different backgrounds, they became friends, and founded the firm of Rolls-Royce to sell and manufacture high-quality vehicles. In 1910 he bought an Ariel-Wright biplane and obtained British pilot's certificate No.2 (his friend J. Moore-Brabazon having gained No.1). On 2 June of that year Rolls made the first double crossing of the English Channel, flying from Kent to the French coast and back without landing. Sadly, he became Britain's first aviation fatality when he was killed on 12 July in a crash at the Bournemouth Air Meeting. He had fitted an auxilary elevator to his Wright Type A, which failed in mid-air preventing recovery from a dive.

Jules Védrines (1881-1919). Védrines' career in flying began as a mechanic for Henry Farman but his talents as a natural pilot soon stood out. He was one of the most successful racing pilots of the period and pitted his skills many times against fellow Frenchman Jean Conneau. In 1911 he managed to snatch the Paris-Madrid race from Conneau, but came second in the Circuit of Britain. In 1912 he was the first man to break the '100 mph barrier' by setting a new speed record of 104 mph (176 kph). In the following year he was the first pilot to succeed in flying from Europe to Egypt. Typically for this emotional and headstrong aviator, he became embroiled in an unseemly row with a rival team soon after arriving. In the First World War he became a fighter 'ace' and, unlike many of his contemporaries, survived to see Armistice Day. He did not outlive them by long, however, as he was killed attempting a forced landing on a Paris-Rome flight in 1919.

Gabriel Voisin (1880-1973). In 1904, Voisin assisted Ernest Archdeacon with his glider experiments acting first as pilot and then as designer. In 1905, he built a glider on floats for Louis Blériot which was towed above the River Seine. Blériot briefly went into partnership with Voisin, but with no significant results. In 1906, Voisin built the 14-bis for Alberto Santos-Dumont and subsequently set up a small factory with his brother Charles Voisin (1888-1912) to manufacture his own designs. Gabriel always remained the dominant partner. Early Voisins were flown by Henry Farman and Léon Delagrange, with the so-called 'Standard Voisin' becoming the mainstay of European aviation in 1908-09. Gabriel Voisin outlived all his contemporaries and caused much needless confusion among historians by willfully exagerating his role in the history of flight. He remained until his death a firm sceptic of the Wrights' claim to have flown first.

Graf Ferdinand von Zeppelin (1838-1917). Von Zeppelin was born into an aristocratic Württemberg family and went into the army. In the 1860s he was attached to Unionist forces in the American Civil War as an observer. In addition to meeting President Lincoln, he was impressed by the use of captive balloons for reconnaisance purposes. His belief in the importance of aviation in military affairs was strengthened during the Franco-Prussian War when French forces used balloons to communicate with the besieged city of Paris. Leaving the army with the rank of General, he decided to use his retirement to develop a practical dirigible for Germany, and in 1900 the first Zeppelin flew. Over the next 15 years he developed the concept (with government assistance) into a passanger-carrying craft, and a weapon of war. In 1915 he parted company with the military authorities over policy differences and ceased involvement in his brainchild. He died, at the age of 79, before he had to witness the total defeat of Germany in the Great War.

May 21, 1927 | Charles Lindbergh Flies Solo Across the Atlantic

Library of Congress Charles Lindbergh posed in front of the Spirit of St. Louis on May 31, 1927, just 10 days after his trans-Atlantic flight.
Historic Headlines

Learn about key events in history and their connections to today.

On May 21, 1927, the aviator Charles A. Lindbergh landed his Spirit of St. Louis near Paris, completing the first solo airplane flight across the Atlantic Ocean.

Lindbergh was just 25 years old when he completed the trip. He learned to fly while serving in the Army and was serving as a United States Mail pilot when the New York hotelier Raymond Orteig announced a $25,000 prize for the first pilot to fly nonstop from New York to Paris, or Paris to New York. Lindbergh received financial support from a group of St. Louis businessmen to build a single-engine plane to make the journey. He tested the plane, called the Spirit of St. Louis, with a record-setting flight from San Diego to New York.

In an interview with a New York Times correspondent shortly after touching down, “Lucky Lindy” explained the preparation that went into the flight. “They call me ‘Lucky,’ but luck isn’t enough,” he said. 𠇊s a matter of fact, I had what I regarded and still regard as the best existing plane to make the flight from New York to Paris.”

The New York Times described the joyous reactions Lindbergh received in France. A crowd of 100,000 people gathered at Le Bourget Airfield and charged toward his plane in what The Times called a “movement of humanity.” There was also a celebration in Paris. The Times described, “ Not since the armistice of 1918 has Paris witnessed a downright demonstration of popular enthusiasm and excitement equal to that displayed by the throngs flocking to the boulevards for news of the American flier.”

Lindbergh also received raucous celebrations when he returned to the United States. An estimated four million people attended a ticker-tape parade through New York City. In an article for The Times, Lindbergh wrote: “People told me the New York reception would be the biggest of all, but I had no idea it was going to be so much more overwhelming than all the others. … All I can say is that the welcome was wonderful, wonderful.”

Lindbergh’s post-flight fame was both a blessing and a curse for him. In his New York Times obituary it was noted: 𠇊 fame enveloped the 25-year-old American that was to last him for the remainder of his life, transforming him in a frenzied instant from an obscure aviator into a historical figure. The consequences of this fame were to exhilarate him, to involve him in profound grief, to engage him in fierce controversy, to turn him into an embittered fugitive from the public.”

In 1932, his young son was kidnapped and killed. In 1938, he was awarded a medal by the head of the German military air force, Hermann Göring, leading to allegations that Lindbergh was a Nazi sympathizer. He maintained isolationist views until the start of World War II, at which point he became a consultant for military aviation companies and participated in bombing raids over Japan. After the war, he worked as a consultant for the military, a passionate conservationist and an author, winning a Pulitzer Prize for his account of the 1927 flight.

Connect to Today:

The flight brought with it unwanted fame for Lindbergh, who struggled with living in the public eye the rest of his life. Of the other modern innovators who have attained instant-celebrity status, a few have chosen to retreat from the public eye, like the first man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong.

With the fields of aviation and space exploration long established, which present-day figures would you compare Charles Lindbergh or Neil Armstrong with? In today’s media environment, do you think it would be possible for somebody like Lindbergh or Armstrong to maintain their privacy after achieving fame? Why or why not?


Clancy Brown was born on January 5, 1959, in Urbana, Ohio, [1] and had an older sister, Beth (c.1957–64). His mother, Joyce Helen (Eldridge), was a conductor, composer and concert pianist. His father, Clarence J. "Bud" Brown Jr., was a newspaper publisher who helped manage the Brown Publishing Company, the family-owned newspaper business started by Clancy's grandfather, Congressman Clarence J. Brown. From 1965 to 1983, Bud Brown also served as a congressman, in the same seat as his own father, and later as Chairman of the Board of Brown Publishing. [3] The family continued to operate the business until 2010.

Brown graduated from St. Albans School in Washington, D.C., and Northwestern University. [4] At St. Albans, Brown performed the role of Deputy Governor Thomas Danforth in The Crucible. [5]

Due to his height and large frame, Brown is often cast in the roles of villains or authority figures. His career tends to alternate among mainstream television and cable major studio and independent movies and a large repertoire of voice work for animated and video game roles.

Film roles Edit

In Brown's first mainstream movie he was cast as Viking Lofgren alongside Sean Penn in the 1983 crime drama Bad Boys. Brown is known for his role as the Kurgan in the 1986 film Highlander, his role as Captain Byron Hadley in The Shawshank Redemption, Rawhide in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984), Frankenstein's monster in The Bride (1985), Army mercenary Larry McRose in Extreme Prejudice, the role of a band manager in Thunder Alley (1985), vicious killer Steve in Shoot to Kill (1988), the police officer in Michael Jackson's short movie Speed Demon (1988), Dead Man Walking, Sheriff Gus Gilbert in Pet Sematary Two, Sergeant Zim in Starship Troopers (a role he would reprise in the animated series Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles), and Captain William Hadley in The Guardian. He also played a role in Flubber as one of the evil henchmen that get harmed by uncontrollably bouncing sports equipment. In 1989, he appeared in the action thriller Blue Steel.

Brown has played prison officers in three films dealing with miscarriages of justice: the tyrannical Captain Byron Hadley in The Shawshank Redemption, the sympathetic Lt. Williams in The Hurricane, and Lt. McMannis in Last Light. In 2001, he played a magical character credited as 'The granter of wishes' in the Hallmark version of Snow White. In 2007, he played the Viking leader opposite Karl Urban in Pathfinder.

He starred in several independent films in 2008: The Burrowers, screened at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2008, and released in the United States on DVD in April 2009, and The Twenty. He appeared in Steven Soderbergh's 2009 film The Informant! opposite Matt Damon in which he played an attorney. He also portrayed Alan Smith in Samuel Bayer's 2010 remake of the horror film A Nightmare on Elm Street. [6] In 2011, he starred in Cowboys & Aliens (directed by Jon Favreau) alongside Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford and Olivia Wilde. He was cast as the voice of The Goon in the animated feature film. He also starred as Albert Marconi in the film adaptation of the David Wong novel John Dies at the End, directed by Don Coscarelli. [7]

Television roles Edit

Brown was a series regular on the science fiction series Earth 2 from 1994 to 1995, playing the role of John Danziger. Brown was notable as the sinister preacher Brother Justin Crowe in the HBO series Carnivàle. Though the series only ran for two seasons, Carnivàle has attained a cult popularity and his performance was applauded by critics for showcasing a new side to his acting talents. He also starred in the Showtime production In the Company of Spies and the HBO film Cast a Deadly Spell. [8] As conservative United States Attorney General Jock Jeffcoat, he was one of the primary antagonists in seasons three and four of the Showtime series Billions.

He has also made many guest appearances on various television series including ER, the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Desert Crossing" as Zobral, Lost as Kelvin Joe Inman, and former baseball player (and investment scam mark) Rudy Blue on The Riches. Brown also appeared as the frontiersman Simon Kenton, the key to America's westward expansion, in the 2000 Kentucky Educational Television production "A Walk with Simon Kenton". Kenton resembled Brown in stature and is buried in Brown's hometown. Brown most recently appeared as Hart Sterling, founding partner of fictional law firm Sterling, Huddle, Oppenheim & Craft in ABC's The Deep End. He also guest starred on the Leverage series episode "The Gone Fishin Job" and on The Dukes of Hazzard sixth-season episode "Too Many Roscos". Currently, he appears on The CW's TV production of The Flash in the recurring guest-star role of General Wade Eiling. He has also portrayed Ray Schoonover in the Daredevil episodes "Guilty as Sin" and "The Dark at the End of the Tunnel".

Voice-over roles Edit

As a voice-over actor, Brown has appeared in several video games, usually playing an antagonistic character. He lends his voice to several of the crystallized dragons in the PlayStation game Spyro the Dragon. He voiced the corrupt Baron Praxis in the PlayStation 2 video game Jak II Doctor Neo Cortex and Uka Uka in a number of the Crash Bandicoot video games Montross (a Mandalorian rival of Jango Fett) in Star Wars: Bounty Hunter Hades in God of War III Thrall in the cancelled video game Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans Scourgelord Tyrannus in World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King the conniving Alderman Richard Hughes in the Xbox 360 game Saints Row and the cynical, foul-mouthed Lt. Anderson in Detroit: Become Human. Contrary to popular belief, he was not the voice actor to the popular operator "Maestro" in the 2015 First Person shooter Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege.

For animated television series, he voiced several characters (Hakon, Tomas Brod and Wolf) in the series Gargoyles Tanuki Gonta in the English language dub of Pom Poko (1994) Raiden on the animated series Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm a Hessian trooper in The Night of the Headless Horseman (1999) billionaire Maxmilian Speil in Godzilla: The Series and five of the six members of Legion Ex Machina in Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot.

Since 1999, he has played the role of Mr. Krabs of SpongeBob SquarePants (as well as The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie and its two sequels The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water and The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run). From 2000 to 2005, he played several roles (Captain Black, Ratso and the animated moose doll Super Moose) on Jackie Chan Adventures. He also voiced Vice-Principal Pangborn in All Grown Up!, Barkmeat in Catscratch, Otto in Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!, which also stars fellow SpongeBob co-star Tom Kenny, who voices Gibson, and Gorrath in Megas XLR.

For Disney, he has played roles such as the Dark Dragon in American Dragon: Jake Long, the Ugly Bald Guy in the movie Recess: School's Out, as well as Undertow in The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, and he also made a guest appearance in the Kim Possible episode "Oh, No! Yono" where he played the titular character. In the Avatar franchise, Brown voiced corrupt Dai Li leader Long Feng in Avatar: The Last Airbender in 2006 and top gangster Yakone in The Legend of Korra in 2012.

He guest-starred in Dungeon as the Demon Cat and the narrator for the opening and closing quotes in the episode "Ocean of Fear".

Brown also voices Destro in G.I. Joe: Renegades Jeff Fischer's biological father in American Dad! Grune the Destroyer in the ThunderCats reboot and the recurring role of Agent Silas in Transformers: Prime.

From 2011 to 2013, Brown voiced Savage Opress, Count Dooku's new apprentice and Darth Maul's brother, in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

He starred as Chris "Dogpound or Rahzar" Bradford, Shredder's top henchman, in the 2012 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles television series.

From the third quarter of 2014, Brown began doing voice-overs as the main talent for Chevy truck national and regional television commercials.

On March 21, 2016, began voicing a new character to the series, Red Death, a parody of the Marvel villain Red Skull, in The Venture Brothers episode "Red Means Stop". He continued this role in season 7, and was signed to appear in season 8 before the show's cancellation.

DC Universe roles Edit

Brown is well-known for voicing the villainous Lex Luthor in various animated media for over twelve years. He first voiced Luthor in the DCAU, starting with Superman: The Animated Series (where he had originally auditioned for the role of Superman) and reprised his role in the subsequent animated series Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. He also voiced the character in the video game Superman: Shadow of Apokolips as well as The Batman cartoon series. Brown later again played Luthor in the 2009 animated film Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. He also voiced a character under the name Rohtul (which is Luthor spelled backwards) in Batman: Brave and the Bold (while Kevin Michael Richardson provided the voice of the actual character). Brown once again voiced Lex in the video games Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham and Lego DC Super Villains. From all these vocal appearances, Brown has played Lex Luthor longer than any other actor in history, including his own Justice League co-star Michael Rosenbaum (in Smallville).

Brown is also known for his voice work as villains in various DC animated series, movies, television shows, and video games: Charlie "Big Time" Bigelow on Batman Beyond, Trident on the Teen Titans cartoon series, Mr. Freeze and Bane on The Batman cartoon series, Per Degaton in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Parallax in the live-action Green Lantern film, King Faraday in the Young Justice cartoon series, and General Zartok in Green Lantern: The Animated Series. He appeared on The CW's The Flash recurring in the first season as General Wade Eiling.

Marvel Universe roles Edit

Brown has also voiced various Marvel characters in various animated projects: Sasquatch on The Incredible Hulk 1996 cartoon series, several characters (George Stacy, Rhino and Ox) on The Spectacular Spider-Man, Mr. Sinister on Wolverine and the X-Men, Odin in Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, and both Red Hulk and Taskmaster on Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. and the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon series. In Daredevil and The Punisher he plays Major Schoonover, Frank Castle's former commanding officer. In Thor: Ragnarok, he voices the fire demon Surtur. [9]

Brown has been married to Jeanne Johnson since 1993. They have a son and a daughter. [10]

12 March 2016

  • Offered from the collection of a marque expert
  • The iconic masterpiece design of a renowned engineer
  • Quality restoration with original bodywork and engine
  • Recently uncovered history, documented by Pierre-Yves Laugier
  • CCCA Full Classic

66 bhp, 2,326 cc sleeve-valve inline six-cylinder engine with single twin-choke Zenith carburetor, three-speed manual transmission with two-speed transfer box, solid front and live rear axles with semi-elliptic leaf-spring suspension, and four-wheel servo-assisted mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 126.8 in.

Gabriel Voisin has been described variously as a mechanic, engineer, architect, aerodynamicist, inventor, and industrialist he was also an artist, musician, poet, and philosopher. In short, he was remarkable. Born in 1880, he had studied architecture, but after witnessing demonstrations of wireless telegraphy and seeing the fanciful flying machine of inventor Clément Ader, he became transfixed with moving objects and resolved to devote himself to the nascent discipline of aviation.

Voisin built his first aircraft in 1902 and, two years later, joined with his brother, Charles, to open a factory. In 1911, he took the dramatic step of building all-metal airplanes, leading to the production of more than 10,000 airframes during World War I, as well as the manufacture of engines, licensed from Salmson and Hispano-Suiza, to power them. Only when left without aircraft contracts at war’s end did he turn his attention to automobiles.

The first Voisin automobile was designed by a pair of former Panhard engineers, who had tried to sell the design to André Citroën, who declined the offer. As it had Panhard roots, the car was powered by a Knight-type sleeve-valve engine, a type that Voisin made his own because of its attributes of silence and smooth torque, mimicking a steam engine. Subsequent models adopted four-wheel brakes, an advanced three-point engine mounting, and advanced body engineering and design, with outer panels in flat sheets of aluminum. The interior featured mechanical workings that were exposed rather than hidden behind wood or upholstery, emphasizing the beautiful mechanical quality of a Voisin’s engineering—similar to opening the back of a fine watch.

Few Voisin automobiles expressed his advanced genius better than the Lumineuse, or “Light,” so-named for the glassy greenhouse, with its angled windows, that permitted sunshine to illuminate the interior. This had come to be regarded as one of the foremost Voisin designs and is among the most desirable to avid collectors of his work.

According to a report prepared for the current owner, a well-known Avions Voisin historian, C14 Lumineuse number 28068 was first registered on June 17, 1930. Subsequently, the car passed to a new Parisian owner on August 8, 1945, and was subsequently re-registered under the “new” French system on April 20, 1955, under the number 7209 DU 75. Its owner at the time, unfortunately, is not known. However, by 1964, it had made its way to the Garage Weber, with which it was registered on April 22, 1964.

Around 1975, the car was acquired from André Weber’s facility, northeast of Paris near Pontoise, by André Colas, near Bar-le-Duc. According to Pierre Laugier, the body was complete and in good condition, with the interior in original blue/grey fabric a new engine, number 26758, had been installed, replacing the original, and the car was in good enough mechanical condition to make a few trips around the village, verifying it worked correctly. By 1980, it had been acquired by its next enthusiast owner, Gino Terzulli. Soon the car passed to the Bec Hellouin Automobile Museum, owned by Christian Chassaing of Borredon, for whom its coachwork was restored by the renowned facility of Lecoq.

Subsequently, the museum’s collection was sold in 1991, with the car being acquired by its present owner. It was reconditioned to make it a reliable road vehicle by Voisin mechanical specialist Jean-Pierre Becret, including rebuilding of the engine the following year with new connecting rods. The owner noted that, at the time, the original chassis number plate, number 28068, was not in the vehicle a new plate was subsequently made, carrying the same number. The front axle carries a brass plate, secured by studs on the left interior face, bearing the original number 28068. The bodywork retains its original panels, as verified by Laugier, who notes that the bonnet is also numbered 28068, confirming the originality of the body. The interior was redone more recently, in red fabric of a Voisin-type pattern common to the fascinating Paul Poiret-inspired Art Deco materials originally used in these automobiles, while the body was finished in a stunning all-black livery.

In 2000, the current owner had the opportunity to buy the car’s original engine, number 28152, from former owner Mr. Terzulli it was subsequently rebuilt and is currently installed in the car, returning it to its original configuration as it was delivered in 1930. Inspection of the engine shows that it retains the stamped 28152 on the upper side of the crankshaft, as well as a small brass plate labeled “M 11 Type Series No. 28152” nearby.

One of the few known surviving examples of this iconic Voisin design, chassis number 28068 is distinguished by the quality of the workmanship of its restoration, and with recent inspection by Pierre-Yves Laugier confirming the originality of its mechanical components and bodywork, as well as its ownership by a great connoisseur of the marque, it is guaranteed a very special place in the stable of its new owner.

Aviation Timeline

Greek myth of Icarus and Daedalus explores the desire to fly and the inherent dangers of it.[1]
c. 1000 BC
mythical flying machines called Vimanas are mentioned in the Vedas
c. 850 BC
legendary King Bladud attempts to fly over the city of Trinavantum, but falls to his death.[1]
c. 500 BC
the Chinese start to use kites.
c. 400 BC
the often-described pigeon of the Greek mathematician Archytas of Tarentum may have been a kite.
c. 200 BC
the Chinese invented the first hot air balloon: the Kongming lantern
c. 220 BC
the Chinese use kites as rangefinders.[citation needed]
Yuan Huangtou, Ye, first manned kite glide to take off from a tower — 559 [2]
c. 852
Armen Firman (possibly identical with Abbas Ibn Firnas) jumped off a tower of the Mosque of Córdoba using a huge wing-like cloak to break his fall. He survived with minor injuries. This was considered to be the first parachute.
c. 875
at an age of 65 years, Abbas Ibn Firnas became the first man in history to make a scientific attempt at flying.[3] He built his own glider, and launched himself from a mountain. The flight was largely successful, and was widely observed by a crowd that he had invited. Although he injured his back landing, his flight time was estimated to run for over ten minutes.

Aviation in 10th–16th centuryc. 1003

Jauhari attempted flight by some apparatus from the roof of a mosque in Nishapur, Khorasan, Iran, and falls to his death as a result.[4]
c. 1010
Eilmer of Malmesbury builds a wooden glider and, launching from a bell tower, glides 200 metres.[5]
The Mongolian army uses lighted kites in the battle of Legnica.
c. 1250
Roger Bacon writes the first known technical description of flight, describing an ornithopter design in his book Secrets of Art and Nature.[5]
Marco Polo reports on manned and ritual kite ascents.
1486 - 1513
Leonardo da Vinci designs an ornithopter with control surfaces. He envisions and sketches flying machines such as helicopters and parachutes, and notes studies of airflows and streamlined shapes.[5]
The Italian Mathematician Giambattista Danti is supposed to have flown from a tower.[citation needed]
c. 1500
Hieronymus Bosch shows in his triptych The temptation of St. Anthony, among other things, two fighting airships above a burning town.
Giambattista della Porta publishes a theory and a construction manual for a kite.
17th century1630
Evliya Çelebi reports, that Hezarfen Ahmet Celebi glided with artificial wings from the top of Galata Tower in Istanbul and managed to fly over the Bosphorus, landing successfully on the Doğancılar square in Üsküdar.
Evliya Çelebi reports, that Lagari Hasan Çelebi flew himself in a rocket artificially-powered by gunpowder.[6]
John Wilkins, Bishop of Chester, suggests some ideas to future would-be pilots in his book The Discovery of a World in the Moon.
Italian physicist Evangelista Torricelli manages to demonstrate atmospheric pressure, and also produces a vacuum.
Physicist and mayor of Magdeburg, Otto von Guericke measures the weight of air and demonstrates his famous Magdeburger Halbkugeln (hemispheres of Magdeburg).Sixteen horses are unable to pull apart two completely airless hemispheres which stick to each other only because of the external air pressure.
Jesuit Father Francesco Lana de Terzi describes in his treatise Prodomo a vacuum-airship-project, considered the first realistic, technical plan for an airship. His design is for an aircraft with a boat-like body equipped with a sail, suspended under four globes made of thin copper he believes the craft would rise into the sky if air was pumped out of the globes.[7] No example is built, and de Terzi writes: God will never allow that such a machine be built…because everybody realises that no city would be safe from raids…
Supposed flight of French locksmith Jacob Besnier with a flapping wing machine.[citation needed]
Italian physicist Giovanni Alfonso Borelli, the father of biomechanics, showed in his treatise On the movements of animals that the flapping of wings with the muscle power of the human arm can not be successful.
Isaac Newton (1642-1727) published the Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, basics of classical physics. In book II he presented the theoretical derivation of the essence of the drag equation.

A Canadian Family

Anne Girard was a Fille du Roi (see 2nd note below).

Charles Jobin | Marie-Madeleine Girard

February 9th, 1658 Paris, France

Jean Jobin | Marie Francoise Girard

October 9th, 1639 Paris, France

Variations and associated surnames

Birand – Breton – Brindamour – Bureau – De la Saudrais – DeCharlay – DelaSaudrais

Girardin – Godfoy – Guillot – Jean-Pierre – Jolicoeur – Lacroix – Langevin

Lapierre – Laplante – Larivière – Laroche – Lebreton – Lebrun – Loizeux

Maisonneuve – Miot – Pressé – Provençal – Renelle

Sanschagrin – Sansregret – Vimont – Voillier

This series of Early French Canadian Pioneer microposts is dedicated to the earliest settlers of Quebec. If you are new to the genealogy of French-speaking Canadians, please be aware that the earliest French settlers can also descend from the Acadian pioneers who originally settled in what are now Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. In addition, please note that any Native related links refer back to other posts citing census, marriage or other documents with indigenous or Metis individuals of that surname, however those individuals do not necessarily descend from these particular French Canadian settlers. All these posts are intended as Finding Aides – a place to find possible clues and start your own research!

Filles du Roi is the name that’s been given to about 700/800 women who emigrated from France to Quebec in the middle of the 17 th century. They were called the King’s Daughters because Louis XIV (King of France) had sponsored their trips to the New World. Each Fille received her passage, a hope chest and room and board until her marriage (read further at The Canadian Encyclopedia).

Anne Girard was a Fille du Roi. Anne was born on February 10th, 1630 and was from St-Cyr-du-Vaudreuil, France. Her parents were Michel Girard and Francoise Graffard. He was a labourer. Anne’s paternal grandparents were Marin Girard (also a labourer) and Madeleine Hebert. [for Quebec information see above] [Baptismal record]

A Brief History of Scotland Yard

The name Scotland Yard invokes the image of a foggy London street being patrolled by a detective in a trench coat puffing smoke from his pipe. But Scotland Yard has an easily muddled history, full of misnomers and controversy. Neither in Scotland, nor in a yard, it is the name of the headquarters of London's Metropolitan Police and, by association, has become synonymous with the force. The Yard doesn't serve the city either, but instead the Greater London area. With all this confusion, it's time to investigate the story of Scotland Yard and some of its most infamous cases, from Jack the Ripper to the 2005 London bombings.

Related Content

Making the Force

The London police force was created in 1829 by an act introduced in Parliament by Home Secretary (similar to the U.S. Secretary of the Interior) Sir Robert Peel—hence the nickname "bobbies," for policeman. The new police superseded the old system of watchmen. By 1839 these men had replaced the Bow Street Patrols, who enforced the decisions of magistrates, and the River Police, who worked to prevent crime along the Thames.

The responsibility of organizing the new police force was placed on Colonel Charles Rowan and Richard Mayne, who occupied a private house at 4 Whitehall Place, the back of which opened onto a courtyard: the Great Scotland Yard. The Yard's name was inspired by its site, a medieval palace which housed Scottish royalty on their visits to London.

The staff of Scotland Yard was responsible for the protection of important individuals, community patrols, public affairs, recruitment and personnel management. When the Yard sent out its first plainclothes police agents in 1842, the public felt uncomfortable with these "spies" on the streets. But the force's role in several important cases, and the charisma of many of its detectives, helped it win the people's trust.

One such personality, Inspector Charles Frederick Field, joined the force upon its establishment in 1829. He became good friends with Charles Dickens, who occasionally accompanied constables on their nightly rounds. Dickens wrote a short essay about Field, "On Duty With Inspector Field," and used him as a model for the all-knowing, charming Inspector Bucket in his novel Bleak House. Field retired as a chief of the detective branch in 1852.

In 1877, four out of the five heads for the detective branch were brought to trial for conspiring with criminals in a betting scheme. In an effort to repair the force's tarnished reputation, Howard Vincent submitted a restructuring proposal to the force. Soon Vincent was appointed director of criminal investigations and he reorganized Scotland Yard, strengthening its central unit. And with that, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), a respected unit of plainclothes police detectives, was born.

The turn of the century saw many monumental events at Scotland Yard. Britain's "Bloody Sunday" occurred on November 13, 1887, when 2,000 police officers disrupted a meeting in Trafalgar Square organized by the Social Democratic Federation, resulting in more than 100 casualties. A few years later, the force moved to its new building on the Victoria Embankment. The premises became known as New Scotland Yard.

Also during this time, one of Scotland Yard's most durable detectives, Frederick Porter Wensley (a.k.a. "the weasel"), began his 40-year post. Wensley joined the force in 1888, and his career was highlighted with many landmark cases, including the murder of 32-year-old French woman Emilienne Gerard, also known as the "Blodie Belgium" case. On the morning of November 2, 1917, street sweepers found Gerard's torso along with a note reading "Blodie Belgium." Wensley questioned Gerard's lover, Louis Voisin, asking him to write the message "Bloody Belgium." Voisin made the same spelling error, sealing his guilt.

Earlier in Wensley's career, he did minor detective work on the infamous case of Jack the Ripper, which had gripped London's East End. Jack the Ripper was the self-proclaimed alias of the serial killer (or killers) responsible for five murders between 1888 and 1891. The officers of Scotland Yard were assigned to apprehend the suspect who was responsible for 11 attacks on prostitutes in the largely impoverished Whitechapel area. Police determined the killer's pattern—he would offer to pay for sex, lure the women away and slice their throats—but struggled to track down the criminal.

Without modern forensic technology, the officers of Scotland Yard, namely Inspector Frederick Abberline, relied on anthropometry—or identifying criminals by certain facial features, such as brow thickness or jaw shape. More than 160 people were accused of the Whitechapel murders, ranging from Alice in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll to painter William Richard Sickert. The force received many letters from people claiming to be the killer two in particular gave detailed facts and were signed "Jack the Ripper." Still, in 1892, with no more leads or murders, the Jack the Ripper case was officially closed.

The Yard Today

Since its inception, Scotland Yard has always held a place in popular culture. The officers have appeared frequently as characters in the backdrop of mysteries, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories. On television and in magazines today, Scotland Yard "bobbies" can be found standing stoically behind the royal family and other dignitaries that they are assigned to protect.

In 1967, the force moved once again to its present location, a modern 20-story building near the Houses of Parliament. The CID has become well-known for its investigative methods, primarily its fingerprinting techniques, which have been borrowed by the FBI. Today, Scotland Yard has roughly 30,000 officers patrolling 620 square miles occupied by 7.2 million citizens.

Currently, Scotland Yard's reputation is in jeopardy, just as it was 130 years ago. On July 22, 2005, during the investigation of the 2005 London bombings, police officers mistook Brazilian electrician Jean Charles de Menezes for a suicide bomber and fatally shot him. Menezes lived in one of the flats the police were staking out, wore bulky clothing that day and, according to police, resembled an Ethiopian suspect that was later arrested for the bombings. Earlier this month, members of the Metropolitan Police Authority, Scotland Yard's watchdog, denounced Commissioner Sir Ian Blair for "not knowing where the truth lay." The commissioner has repeatedly stated he will not resign over the killing.


Codicology Edit

The codicology, or physical characteristics of the manuscript, has been studied by researchers. The manuscript measures 23.5 by 16.2 by 5 cm (9.3 by 6.4 by 2.0 in), with hundreds of vellum pages collected into 18 quires. The total number of pages is around 240, but the exact number depends on how the manuscript's unusual foldouts are counted. [12] The quires have been numbered from 1 to 20 in various locations, using numerals consistent with the 1400s, and the top righthand corner of each recto (righthand) page has been numbered from 1 to 116, using numerals of a later date. From the various numbering gaps in the quires and pages, it seems likely that in the past the manuscript had at least 272 pages in 20 quires, some of which were already missing when Wilfrid Voynich acquired the manuscript in 1912. There is strong evidence that many of the book's bifolios were reordered at various points in its history, and that the original page order may well have been quite different from what it is today. [13] [10]

Parchment, covers, and binding Edit

Radiocarbon dating of samples from various parts of the manuscript was performed at the University of Arizona in 2009. The results were consistent for all samples tested and indicated a date for the parchment between 1404 and 1438. [24] Protein testing in 2014 revealed that the parchment was made from calf skin, and multispectral analysis showed that it was unwritten on before the manuscript was created (not a palimpsest). The parchment was created with care, but deficiencies exist and the quality is assessed as average, at best. [24] The parchment is prepared from "at least fourteen or fifteen entire calfskins". [25]

Some folios are thicker than the usual parchment thickness, such as folios 42 and 47. [26]

The goat skin [27] binding and covers are not original to the book, but date to its possession by the Collegio Romano. [12] Insect holes are present on the first and last folios of the manuscript in the current order and suggest that a wooden cover was present before the later covers, and discolouring on the edges points to a tanned-leather inside cover. [24]

Ink Edit

Many pages contain substantial drawings or charts which are colored with paint. Based on modern analysis using polarized light microscopy (PLM), it has been determined that a quill pen and iron gall ink were used for the text and figure outlines. The ink of the drawings, text and page and quire numbers have similar microscopic characteristics. Energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) performed in 2009 revealed that the inks contained major amounts of carbon, iron, sulfur, potassium, and calcium and trace amounts of copper and occasionally zinc. EDS did not show the presence of lead, while X-ray diffraction (XRD) identified potassium lead oxide, potassium hydrogen sulphate and syngenite in one of the samples tested. The similarity between the drawing inks and text inks suggested a contemporaneous origin. [13]

Paint Edit

Colored paint was applied (somewhat crudely) to the ink outlined figures, possibly at a later date. The blue, white, red-brown, and green paints of the manuscript have been analyzed using PLM, XRD, EDS, and scanning electron microscopy (SEM).

  • The blue paint proved to be ground azurite with minor traces of the copper oxide cuprite. [13]
  • The white paint is likely a mixture of eggwhite and calcium carbonate. [13]
  • The green paint is tentatively characterized by copper and copper-chlorine resinate the crystalline material might be atacamite or some other copper-chlorine compound. [13]
  • Analysis of the red-brown paint indicated a red ochre with the crystal phases hematite and iron sulfide. Minor amounts of lead sulfide and palmierite are possibly present in the red-brown paint. [13]

The pigments used were deemed inexpensive. [24]

Retouching Edit

Computer scientist Jorge Stolfi of the University of Campinas highlighted that parts of the text and drawings have been modified, using darker ink over a fainter, earlier script. Evidence for this is visible in various folios, for example f1r, f3v, f26v, f57v, f67r2, f71r, f72v1, f72v3 and f73r. [28]

Text Edit

Every page in the manuscript contains text, mostly in an unidentified language, but some have extraneous writing in Latin script. The bulk of the text in the 240 page manuscript is written in an unknown script, running left to right. Most of the characters are composed of one or two simple pen strokes. There exists some dispute as to whether certain characters are distinct, but a script of 20–25 characters would account for virtually all of the text the exceptions are a few dozen rarer characters that occur only once or twice each. There is no obvious punctuation. [4]

Much of the text is written in a single column in the body of a page, with a slightly ragged right margin and paragraph divisions and sometimes with stars in the left margin. [12] Other text occurs in charts or as labels associated with illustrations. There are no indications of any errors or corrections made at any place in the document. The ductus flows smoothly, giving the impression that the symbols were not enciphered there is no delay between characters, as would normally be expected in written encoded text.

Extraneous writing Edit

Only a few of the words in the manuscript are thought to have not been written in the unknown script: [17]

  • f1r: A sequence of Latin letters in the right margin parallel with characters from the unknown script, also the now-unreadable signature of "Jacobj à Tepenece" is found in the bottom margin.
  • f17r: A line of writing in the Latin script in the top margin.
  • f70v–f73v: The astrological series of diagrams in the astronomical section has the names of 10 of the months (from March to December) written in Latin script, with spelling suggestive of the medieval languages of France, northwest Italy, or the Iberian Peninsula. [29]
  • f66r: A small number of words in the bottom left corner near a drawing of a nude man have been read as "der Mussteil", a High German[17] phrase for "a widow's share".
  • f116v: Four lines written in rather distorted Latin script, except for two words in the unknown script. The words in Latin script appear to be distorted with characteristics of the unknown language. The lettering resembles European alphabets of the late 14th and 15th centuries, but the words do not seem to make sense in any language. [30] Whether these bits of Latin script were part of the original text or were added later is not known.

Transcription Edit

Various transcription alphabets have been created to equate Voynich characters with Latin characters to help with cryptanalysis, [31] such as the Extensible (originally: European) Voynich Alphabet (EVA). [32] The first major one was created by the "First Study Group", led by cryptographer William F. Friedman in the 1940s, where each line of the manuscript was transcribed to an IBM punch card to make it machine readable. [33] [34]

Statistical patterns Edit

The text consists of over 170,000 characters, [14] with spaces dividing the text into about 35,000 groups of varying length, usually referred to as "words" or "word tokens" (37,919) 8,114 of those words are considered unique "word types." [35] The structure of these words seems to follow phonological or orthographic laws of some sort for example, certain characters must appear in each word (like English vowels), some characters never follow others, or some may be doubled or tripled, but others may not. The distribution of letters within words is also rather peculiar: Some characters occur only at the beginning of a word, some only at the end (like Greek ς), and some always in the middle section. [36]

Many researchers have commented upon the highly regular structure of the words. [37] Professor Gonzalo Rubio, an expert in ancient languages at Pennsylvania State University, stated:

The things we know as grammatical markers – things that occur commonly at the beginning or end of words, such as 's' or 'd' in our language, and that are used to express grammar, never appear in the middle of 'words' in the Voynich manuscript. That's unheard of for any Indo-European, Hungarian, or Finnish language. [38]

Stephan Vonfelt studied statistical properties of the distribution of letters and their correlations (properties which can be vaguely characterized as rhythmic resonance, alliteration or assonance) and found that under that respect Voynichese is more similar to the Mandarin Chinese pinyin text of the Records of the Grand Historian than to the text of works from European languages, although the numerical differences between Voynichese and Mandarin Chinese pinyin look larger than those between Mandarin Chinese pinyin and European languages. [39] [ better source needed ]

Practically no words have fewer than two letters or more than 10. [14] Some words occur in only certain sections, or in only a few pages others occur throughout the manuscript. Few repetitions occur among the thousand or so labels attached to the illustrations. There are instances where the same common word appears up to three times in a row [14] (see Zipf's law). Words that differ by only one letter also repeat with unusual frequency, causing single-substitution alphabet decipherings to yield babble-like text. In 1962, cryptanalyst Elizebeth Friedman described such statistical analyses as "doomed to utter frustration". [40]

Illustrations Edit

The illustrations are conventionally used to divide most of the manuscript into six different sections, since the text itself cannot be read. Each section is typified by illustrations with different styles and supposed subject matter [14] except for the last section, in which the only drawings are small stars in the margin. The following are the sections and their conventional names:

  • Herbal, 112 folios: Each page displays one or two plants and a few paragraphs of text, a format typical of European herbals of the time. Some parts of these drawings are larger and cleaner copies of sketches seen in the "pharmaceutical" section. None of the plants depicted are unambiguously identifiable. [12][41]
  • Astronomical, 21 folios: Contains circular diagrams suggestive of astronomy or astrology, some of them with suns, moons, and stars. One series of 12 diagrams depicts conventional symbols for the zodiacal constellations (two fish for Pisces, a bull for Taurus, a hunter with crossbow for Sagittarius, etc.). Each of these has 30 female figures arranged in two or more concentric bands. Most of the females are at least partly nude, and each holds what appears to be a labeled star or is shown with the star attached to either arm by what could be a tether or cord of some kind. The last two pages of this section were lost (Aquarius and Capricornus, roughly January and February), while Aries and Taurus are split into four paired diagrams with 15 women and 15 stars each. Some of these diagrams are on fold-out pages. [12][41]
  • Balneological, 20 folios: A dense, continuous text interspersed with drawings, mostly showing small nude women, some wearing crowns, bathing in pools or tubs connected by an elaborate network of pipes. The bifolio consists of folios 78 (verso) and 81 (recto) it forms an integrated design, with water flowing from one folio to the other. [24][41]
  • Cosmological, 13 folios: More circular diagrams, but they are of an obscure nature. This section also has foldouts one of them spans six pages, commonly called the Rosettes folio, and contains a map or diagram with nine "islands" or "rosettes" connected by "causeways" and containing castles, as well as what might be a volcano. [12][41][42]
  • Pharmaceutical, 34 folios: Many labeled drawings of isolated plant parts (roots, leaves, etc.), objects resembling apothecary jars, ranging in style from the mundane to the fantastical, and a few text paragraphs. [12][41]
  • Recipes, 22 folios: Full pages of text broken into many short paragraphs, each marked with a star in the left margin. [12][41]

Five folios contain only text, and at least 28 folios are missing from the manuscript. [41]

Purpose Edit

The overall impression given by the surviving leaves of the manuscript is that it was meant to serve as a pharmacopoeia or to address topics in medieval or early modern medicine. However, the puzzling details of the illustrations have fueled many theories about the book's origin, the contents of its text, and the purpose for which it was intended. [14]

The first section of the book is almost certainly herbal, but attempts have failed to identify the plants, either with actual specimens or with the stylized drawings of contemporaneous herbals. [43] Only a few of the plant drawings can be identified with reasonable certainty, such as a wild pansy and the maidenhair fern. The herbal pictures that match pharmacological sketches appear to be clean copies of them, except that missing parts were completed with improbable-looking details. In fact, many of the plant drawings in the herbal section seem to be composite: the roots of one species have been fastened to the leaves of another, with flowers from a third. [43]

The basins and tubes in the balneological section are sometimes interpreted as implying a connection to alchemy, yet they bear little obvious resemblance to the alchemical equipment of the period. [ citation needed ]

Astrological considerations frequently played a prominent role in herb gathering, bloodletting, and other medical procedures common during the likeliest dates of the manuscript. However, interpretation remains speculative, apart from the obvious Zodiac symbols and one diagram possibly showing the classical planets. [14]

Much of the early history of the book is unknown, [44] though the text and illustrations are all characteristically European. In 2009, University of Arizona researchers performed radiocarbon dating on the manuscript's vellum and dated it between 1404 and 1438. [2] [45] [46] In addition, McCrone Associates in Westmont, Illinois, found that the paints in the manuscript were of materials to be expected from that period of European history. There have been erroneous reports that McCrone Associates indicated much of the ink was added not long after the creation of the parchment, but their official report contains no statement of this. [13]

The first confirmed owner was Georg Baresch, a 17th century alchemist from Prague. Baresch was apparently puzzled about this "Sphynx" that had been "taking up space uselessly in his library" for many years. [9] He learned that Jesuit scholar Athanasius Kircher from the Collegio Romano had published a Coptic (Egyptian) dictionary and claimed to have deciphered the Egyptian hieroglyphs Baresch twice sent a sample copy of the script to Kircher in Rome, asking for clues. The 1639 letter from Baresch to Kircher is the earliest known mention of the manuscript to have been confirmed. [16]

Whether Kircher answered the request is not known, but he was apparently interested enough to try to acquire the book, which Baresch refused to yield. [ citation needed ] Upon Baresch's death, the manuscript passed to his friend Jan Marek Marci (also known as Johannes Marcus Marci), then rector of Charles University in Prague. A few years later, Marci sent the book to Kircher, his long-time friend and correspondent. [16]

Marci also sent Kircher a cover letter (in Latin, dated August 19, 1665 or 1666) that was still attached to the book when Voynich acquired it: [9] [47] [48] [49] [50] [51] [52]

Reverend and Distinguished Sir, Father in Christ:

This book, bequeathed to me by an intimate friend, I destined for you, my very dear Athanasius, as soon as it came into my possession, for I was convinced that it could be read by no one except yourself.

The former owner of this book asked your opinion by letter, copying and sending you a portion of the book from which he believed you would be able to read the remainder, but he at that time refused to send the book itself. To its deciphering he devoted unflagging toil, as is apparent from attempts of his which I send you herewith, and he relinquished hope only with his life. But his toil was in vain, for such Sphinxes as these obey no one but their master, Kircher. Accept now this token, such as it is and long overdue though it be, of my affection for you, and burst through its bars, if there are any, with your wonted success.

Dr. Raphael, a tutor in the Bohemian language to Ferdinand III, then King of Bohemia, told me the said book belonged to the Emperor Rudolph and that he presented to the bearer who brought him the book 600 ducats. He believed the author was Roger Bacon, the Englishman. On this point I suspend judgement it is your place to define for us what view we should take thereon, to whose favor and kindness I unreservedly commit myself and remain

At the command of your Reverence, Joannes Marcus Marci of Cronland Prague, 19th August, 1665 [or 1666]

The "Dr. Raphael" is believed to be Raphael Sobiehrd-Mnishovsky, [4] and the sum would be about 2 kg of gold.

While Wilfrid Voynich took Raphael's claim at face value, the Bacon authorship theory has been largely discredited. [17] However, a piece of evidence supporting Rudolph's ownership is the now almost invisible name or signature, on the first page of the book, of Jacobus Horcicky de Tepenecz, the head of Rudolph's botanical gardens in Prague. Jacobus may have received the book from Rudolph II as part of the debt that was owed upon his [ whose? ] death. [44]

No records of the book for the next 200 years have been found, but in all likelihood, it was stored with the rest of Kircher's correspondence in the library of the Collegio Romano (now the Pontifical Gregorian University). [16] It probably remained there until the troops of Victor Emmanuel II of Italy captured the city in 1870 and annexed the Papal States. The new Italian government decided to confiscate many properties of the Church, including the library of the Collegio. [16] Many books of the university's library were hastily transferred to the personal libraries of its faculty just before this happened, according to investigations by Xavier Ceccaldi and others, and those books were exempt from confiscation. [16] Kircher's correspondence was among those books, and so, apparently, was the Voynich manuscript, as it still bears the ex libris of Petrus Beckx, head of the Jesuit order and the university's rector at the time. [12] [16]

Beckx's private library was moved to the Villa Mondragone, Frascati, a large country palace near Rome that had been bought by the Society of Jesus in 1866 and housed the headquarters of the Jesuits' Ghislieri College. [16]

In 1903, the Society of Jesus (Collegio Romano) was short of money and decided to sell some of its holdings discreetly to the Vatican Library. The sale took place in 1912, but not all of the manuscripts listed for sale ended up going to the Vatican. [53] Wilfrid Voynich acquired 30 of these manuscripts, among them the one which now bears his name. [16] He spent the next seven years attempting to interest scholars in deciphering the script, while he worked to determine the origins of the manuscript. [4]

In 1930, the manuscript was inherited after Wilfrid's death by his widow Ethel Voynich, author of the novel The Gadfly and daughter of mathematician George Boole. She died in 1960 and left the manuscript to her close friend Anne Nill. In 1961, Nill sold the book to antique book dealer Hans P. Kraus. Kraus was unable to find a buyer and donated the manuscript to Yale University in 1969, where it was catalogued as "MS 408", [17] sometimes also referred to as "Beinecke MS 408". [12]

Timeline of ownership Edit

The timeline of ownership of the Voynich manuscript is given below. The time when it was possibly created is shown in green (early 1400s), based on carbon dating of the vellum. [44] Periods of unknown ownership are indicated in white. The commonly accepted owners of the 17th century are shown in orange the long period of storage in the Collegio Romano is yellow. The location where Wilfrid Voynich allegedly acquired the manuscript (Frascati) is shown in green (late 1800s) Voynich's ownership is shown in red, and modern owners are highlighted blue.

Many people have been proposed as possible authors of the Voynich manuscript, among them Roger Bacon, John Dee or Edward Kelley, Giovanni Fontana, and Voynich.

Early history Edit

Marci's 1665/1666 cover letter to Kircher says that, according to his friend the late Raphael Mnishovsky, the book had once been bought by Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia for 600 ducats (66.42 troy ounce actual gold weight, or 2.07 kg). (Mnishovsky had died in 1644, more than 20 years earlier, and the deal must have occurred before Rudolf's abdication in 1611, at least 55 years before Marci's letter. However, Karl Widemann sold books to Rudolf II in March 1599.)

According to the letter, Mnishovsky (but not necessarily Rudolf) speculated that the author was 13th century Franciscan friar and polymath Roger Bacon. [6] Marci said that he was suspending judgment about this claim, but it was taken quite seriously by Wilfrid Voynich, who did his best to confirm it. [16] Voynich contemplated the possibility that the author was Albertus Magnus if not Roger Bacon. [54]

The assumption that Bacon was the author led Voynich to conclude that John Dee sold the manuscript to Rudolf. Dee was a mathematician and astrologer at the court of Queen Elizabeth I of England who was known to have owned a large collection of Bacon's manuscripts.

Dee and his scrier (spirit medium) Edward Kelley lived in Bohemia for several years, where they had hoped to sell their services to the emperor. However, this sale seems quite unlikely, according to John Schuster, because Dee's meticulously kept diaries do not mention it. [16]

If Bacon did not create the Voynich manuscript, a supposed connection to Dee is much weakened. It was thought possible, prior to the carbon dating of the manuscript, that Dee or Kelley might have written it and spread the rumor that it was originally a work of Bacon's in the hopes of later selling it. [55] ( p 249 )

Fabrication by Voynich Edit

Some suspect Voynich of having fabricated the manuscript himself. [7] As an antique book dealer, he probably had the necessary knowledge and means, and a lost book by Roger Bacon would have been worth a fortune. Furthermore, Baresch's letter and Marci's letter only establish the existence of a manuscript, not that the Voynich manuscript is the same one mentioned. These letters could possibly have been the motivation for Voynich to fabricate the manuscript, assuming that he was aware of them. However, many consider the expert internal dating of the manuscript and the June 1999 [44] discovery of Baresch's letter to Kircher as having eliminated this possibility. [7] [16]

Eamon Duffy says that the radiocarbon dating of the parchment (or, more accurately, vellum) "effectively rules out any possibility that the manuscript is a post-medieval forgery", as the consistency of the pages indicates origin from a single source, and "it is inconceivable" that a quantity of unused parchment comprising "at least fourteen or fifteen entire calfskins" could have survived from the early 15th century. [25]

Giovanni Fontana Edit

It has been suggested that some illustrations in the books of an Italian engineer, Giovanni Fontana, slightly resemble Voynich illustrations. [56] Fontana was familiar with cryptography and used it in his books, although he did not use the Voynich script but a simple substitution cipher. In the book Secretum de thesauro experimentorum ymaginationis hominum (Secret of the treasure-room of experiments in man's imagination), written c. 1430, Fontana described mnemonic machines, written in his cypher. [57] That book and his Bellicorum instrumentorum liber both used a cryptographic system, described as a simple, rational cipher, based on signs without letters or numbers. [58]

Other theories Edit

Sometime before 1921, Voynich was able to read a name faintly written at the foot of the manuscript's first page: "Jacobj à Tepenece". This is taken to be a reference to Jakub Hořčický of Tepenec, also known by his Latin name Jacobus Sinapius. Rudolph II had ennobled him in 1607, had appointed him his Imperial Distiller, and had made him curator of his botanical gardens as well as one of his personal physicians. Voynich (and many other people after him) concluded that Jacobus owned the Voynich manuscript prior to Baresch, and he drew a link from that to Rudolf's court, in confirmation of Mnishovsky's story.

Jacobus's name has faded further since Voynich saw it, but is still legible under ultraviolet light. It does not match the copy of his signature in a document located by Jan Hurych in 2003. [1] [8] As a result, it has been suggested that the signature was added later, possibly even fraudulently by Voynich himself. [1]

Baresch's letter bears some resemblance to a hoax that orientalist Andreas Mueller once played on Athanasius Kircher. Mueller sent some unintelligible text to Kircher with a note explaining that it had come from Egypt, and asking him for a translation. Kircher reportedly solved it. [59] It has been speculated that these were both cryptographic tricks played on Kircher to make him look foolish. [59]

Raphael Mnishovsky, the friend of Marci who was the reputed source of the Bacon story, was himself a cryptographer and apparently invented a cipher which he claimed was uncrackable (c. 1618). [60] This has led to the speculation that Mnishovsky might have produced the Voynich manuscript as a practical demonstration of his cipher and made Baresch his unwitting test subject. Indeed, the disclaimer in the Voynich manuscript cover letter could mean that Marci suspected some kind of deception. [60]

In his 2006 book, Nick Pelling proposed that the Voynich manuscript was written by 15th century North Italian architect Antonio Averlino (also known as "Filarete"), a theory broadly consistent with the radiocarbon dating. [10]

Many hypotheses have been developed about the Voynich manuscript's "language", called Voynichese:

Ciphers Edit

According to the "letter-based cipher" theory, the Voynich manuscript contains a meaningful text in some European language that was intentionally rendered obscure by mapping it to the Voynich manuscript "alphabet" through a cipher of some sort—an algorithm that operated on individual letters. This was the working hypothesis for most 20th-century deciphering attempts, including an informal team of NSA cryptographers led by William F. Friedman in the early 1950s. [34]

The main argument for this theory is that it is difficult to explain a European author using a strange alphabet—except as an attempt to hide information. Indeed, even Roger Bacon knew about ciphers, and the estimated date for the manuscript roughly coincides with the birth of cryptography in Europe as a relatively systematic discipline. [ citation needed ]

The counterargument is that almost all cipher systems consistent with that era fail to match what is seen in the Voynich manuscript. For example, simple substitution ciphers would be excluded because the distribution of letter frequencies does not resemble that of any known language while the small number of different letter shapes used implies that nomenclator and homophonic ciphers would be ruled out, because these typically employ larger cipher alphabets. Polyalphabetic ciphers were invented by Alberti in the 1460s and included the later Vigenère cipher, but they usually yield ciphertexts where all cipher shapes occur with roughly equal probability, quite unlike the language-like letter distribution which the Voynich manuscript appears to have.

However, the presence of many tightly grouped shapes in the Voynich manuscript (such as "or", "ar", "ol", "al", "an", "ain", "aiin", "air", "aiir", "am", "ee", "eee", among others) does suggest that its cipher system may make use of a "verbose cipher", where single letters in a plaintext get enciphered into groups of fake letters. For example, the first two lines of page f15v (seen above) contain "oror or" and "or or oro r", which strongly resemble how Roman numerals such as "CCC" or "XXXX" would look if verbosely enciphered. [61]

It is possible that the text was encrypted by starting from a fundamentally simple cipher, then augmenting it by adding nulls (meaningless symbols), homophones (duplicate symbols), a transposition cipher (letter rearrangement), false word breaks etc. [ citation needed ]

Codes Edit

According to the "codebook cipher" theory, the Voynich manuscript "words" would actually be codes to be looked up in a "dictionary" or codebook. The main evidence for this theory is that the internal structure and length distribution of many words are similar to those of Roman numerals, which at the time would be a natural choice for the codes. However, book-based ciphers would be viable for only short messages, because they are very cumbersome to write and to read. [ citation needed ]

Shorthand Edit

In 1943, Joseph Martin Feely claimed that the manuscript was a scientific diary written in shorthand. According to D’Imperio, [17] this was "Latin, but in a system of abbreviated forms not considered acceptable by other scholars, who unanimously rejected his readings of the text".

Steganography Edit

This theory holds that the text of the Voynich manuscript is mostly meaningless, but contains meaningful information hidden in inconspicuous details—e.g., the second letter of every word, or the number of letters in each line. This technique, called steganography, is very old and was described by Johannes Trithemius in 1499. Though the plain text was speculated to have been extracted by a Cardan grille (an overlay with cut-outs for the meaningful text) of some sort, this seems somewhat unlikely because the words and letters are not arranged on anything like a regular grid. Still, steganographic claims are hard to prove or disprove, because stegotexts can be arbitrarily hard to find.

It has been suggested that the meaningful text could be encoded in the length or shape of certain pen strokes. [62] [63] There are indeed examples of steganography from about that time that use letter shape (italic vs. upright) to hide information. However, when examined at high magnification, the Voynich manuscript pen strokes seem quite natural, and substantially affected by the uneven surface of the vellum. [ citation needed ]

Natural language Edit

Statistical analysis of the text reveals patterns similar to those of natural languages. For instance, the word entropy (about 10 bits per word) is similar to that of English or Latin texts. [3] Amancio et al (2013) [64] argued that the Voynich manuscript "is mostly compatible with natural languages and incompatible with random texts." [64]

The linguist Jacques Guy once suggested that the Voynich manuscript text could be some little-known natural language, written plaintext with an invented alphabet. He suggested Chinese in jest, but later comparison of word length statistics with Vietnamese and Chinese made him view that hypothesis seriously. [65] In many language families of East and Central Asia, mainly Sino-Tibetan (Chinese, Tibetan, and Burmese), Austroasiatic (Vietnamese, Khmer, etc.) and possibly Tai (Thai, Lao, etc.), morphemes generally have only one syllable [66] and syllables have a rather rich structure, including tonal patterns. Other intriguing similarities are the apparent division of the year into 360 degrees of the ecliptic (rather than 365 days), in groups of 15 and starting with Pisces, which are features of the Chinese agricultural calendar (èr shí sì jié qi, 二十四节气/節氣). [ citation needed ]

Child (1976), [67] a linguist of Indo-European languages for the U.S. National Security Agency, proposed that the manuscript was written in a "hitherto unknown North Germanic dialect". [67] He identified in the manuscript a "skeletal syntax several elements of which are reminiscent of certain Germanic languages", while the content itself is expressed using "a great deal of obscurity." [68]

In February 2014, Professor Stephen Bax of the University of Bedfordshire made public his research into using "bottom up" methodology to understand the manuscript. His method involved looking for and translating proper nouns, in association with relevant illustrations, in the context of other languages of the same time period. A paper he posted online offers tentative translation of 14 characters and 10 words. [69] [70] [71] [72] He suggested the text is a treatise on nature written in a natural language, rather than a code.

Tucker & Talbert (2014) [73] published a paper claiming a positive identification of 37 plants, 6 animals, and one mineral referenced in the manuscript to plant drawings in the Libellus de Medicinalibus Indorum Herbis or Badianus manuscript, a fifteenth-century Aztec herbal. [73] Together with the presence of atacamite in the paint, they argue that the plants were from colonial New Spain and the text represented Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs. They date the manuscript to between 1521 (the date of the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire) and circa 1576. These dates contradict the earleir radiocarbon date of the vellum and other elements of the manuscript. However, they argued that the vellum could have been stored and used at a later date. The analysis has been criticized by other Voynich manuscript researchers, [74] who argued that a skilled forger could construct plants that coincidentally have a passing resemblance to theretofore undiscovered existing plants. [75]

In 2014, a team led by Diego Amancio of the University of São Paulo published a study using statistical methods to analyse the relationships of the words in the text. Instead of trying to find the meaning, Amancio's team looked for connections and clusters of words. By measuring the frequency and intermittence of words, Amancio claimed to identify the text's keywords and produced three-dimensional models of the text's structure and word frequencies. The team concluded that in 90% of cases, the Voynich systems are similar to those of other known books, indicating that the text is in an actual language, not random gibberish. [64]

The use of the framework was exemplified with the analysis of the Voynich manuscript, with the final conclusion that it differs from a random sequence of words, being compatible with natural languages. Even though our approach is not aimed at deciphering Voynich, it was capable of providing keywords that could be helpful for decipherers in the future. [64]

Constructed language Edit

The peculiar internal structure of Voynich manuscript words led William F. Friedman to conjecture that the text could be a constructed language. In 1950, Friedman asked the British army officer John Tiltman to analyze a few pages of the text, but Tiltman did not share this conclusion. In a paper in 1967, Brigadier Tiltman said:

After reading my report, Mr. Friedman disclosed to me his belief that the basis of the script was a very primitive form of synthetic universal language such as was developed in the form of a philosophical classification of ideas by Bishop Wilkins in 1667 and Dalgarno a little later. It was clear that the productions of these two men were much too systematic, and anything of the kind would have been almost instantly recognisable. My analysis seemed to me to reveal a cumbersome mixture of different kinds of substitution. [4]

The concept of a constructed language is quite old, as attested by John Wilkins's Philosophical Language (1668), but still postdates the generally accepted origin of the Voynich manuscript by two centuries. In most known examples, categories are subdivided by adding suffixes (fusional languages) as a consequence, a text in a particular subject would have many words with similar prefixes—for example, all plant names would begin with similar letters, and likewise for all diseases, etc. This feature could then explain the repetitious nature of the Voynich text. However, no one has been able yet to assign a plausible meaning to any prefix or suffix in the Voynich manuscript. [5]

Hoax Edit

The unusual features of the Voynich manuscript text, such as the doubled and tripled words, and the suspicious [ clarification needed ] contents of its illustrations support the idea that the manuscript is a hoax. In other words, if no one is able to extract meaning from the book, then perhaps this is because the document contains no meaningful content in the first place. Various hoax theories have been proposed over time.

In 2003, computer scientist Gordon Rugg showed that text with characteristics similar to the Voynich manuscript could have been produced using a table of word prefixes, stems, and suffixes, which would have been selected and combined by means of a perforated paper overlay. [76] [77] The latter device, known as a Cardan grille, was invented around 1550 as an encryption tool, more than 100 years after the estimated creation date of the Voynich manuscript. Some maintain that the similarity between the pseudo-texts generated in Gordon Rugg's experiments and the Voynich manuscript is superficial, and the grille method could be used to emulate any language to a certain degree. [78]

In April 2007, a study by Austrian researcher Andreas Schinner published in Cryptologia supported the hoax hypothesis. [18] Schinner showed that the statistical properties of the manuscript's text were more consistent with meaningless gibberish produced using a quasi-stochastic method, such as the one described by Rugg, than with Latin and medieval German texts. [18]

Some scholars have claimed that the manuscript's text appears too sophisticated to be a hoax. In 2013 Marcelo Montemurro, a theoretical physicist from the University of Manchester, published findings claiming that semantic networks exist in the text of the manuscript, such as content-bearing words occurring in a clustered pattern, or new words being used when there was a shift in topic. [79] With this evidence, he believes it unlikely that these features were intentionally "incorporated" into the text to make a hoax more realistic, as most of the required academic knowledge of these structures did not exist at the time the Voynich manuscript would have been written. [80]

In September 2016, Gordon Rugg and Gavin Taylor addressed these objections in another article in Cryptologia, and illustrated a simple hoax method that they claim could have caused the mathematical properties of the text. [81]

In 2019 Torsten Timm and Andreas Schinner published an algorithm that could have been used by a Medieval author to generate meaningless text which matches the statistical characteristics of the Voynich Manuscript. [82]

Glossolalia Edit

In their 2004 book, Gerry Kennedy and Rob Churchill suggest the possibility that the Voynich manuscript may be a case of glossolalia (speaking-in-tongues), channeling, or outsider art. [15] If so, the author felt compelled to write large amounts of text in a manner which resembles stream of consciousness, either because of voices heard or because of an urge. This often takes place in an invented language in glossolalia, usually made up of fragments of the author's own language, although invented scripts for this purpose are rare.

Kennedy and Churchill use Hildegard von Bingen's works to point out similarities between the Voynich manuscript and the illustrations that she drew when she was suffering from severe bouts of migraine, which can induce a trance-like state prone to glossolalia. Prominent features found in both are abundant "streams of stars", and the repetitive nature of the "nymphs" in the balneological section. [83] This theory has been found unlikely by other researchers. [84]

The theory is virtually impossible to prove or disprove, short of deciphering the text. Kennedy and Churchill are themselves not convinced of the hypothesis, but consider it plausible. In the culminating chapter of their work, Kennedy states his belief that it is a hoax or forgery. Churchill acknowledges the possibility that the manuscript is either a synthetic forgotten language (as advanced by Friedman), or else a forgery, as the preeminent theory. However, he concludes that, if the manuscript is a genuine creation, mental illness or delusion seems to have affected the author. [15]

Since the manuscript's modern rediscovery in 1912, there have been a number of claimed decipherings.

William Romaine Newbold Edit

One of the earliest efforts to unlock the book's secrets (and the first of many premature claims of decipherment) was made in 1921 by William Romaine Newbold of the University of Pennsylvania. [ citation needed ] His singular hypothesis held that the visible text is meaningless itself, but that each apparent "letter" is in fact constructed of a series of tiny markings discernible only under magnification. [ citation needed ] These markings were supposed to be based on ancient Greek shorthand, forming a second level of script that held the real content of the writing. [ citation needed ] Newbold claimed to have used this knowledge to work out entire paragraphs proving the authorship of Bacon and recording his use of a compound microscope four hundred years before van Leeuwenhoek. [ citation needed ] A circular drawing in the astronomical section depicts an irregularly shaped object with four curved arms, which Newbold interpreted as a picture of a galaxy, which could be obtained only with a telescope. [4] Similarly, he interpreted other drawings as cells seen through a microscope. [ citation needed ]

However, Newbold's analysis has since been dismissed as overly speculative [85] after John Matthews Manly of the University of Chicago pointed out serious flaws in his theory. Each shorthand character was assumed to have multiple interpretations, with no reliable way to determine which was intended for any given case. Newbold's method also required rearranging letters at will until intelligible Latin was produced. These factors alone ensure the system enough flexibility that nearly anything at all could be discerned from the microscopic markings. Although evidence of micrography using the Hebrew language can be traced as far back as the ninth century, it is nowhere near as compact or complex as the shapes Newbold made out. Close study of the manuscript revealed the markings to be artefacts caused by the way ink cracks as it dries on rough vellum. Perceiving significance in these artefacts can be attributed to pareidolia. Thanks to Manly's thorough refutation, the micrography theory is now generally disregarded. [86]

Joseph Martin Feely Edit

In 1943, Joseph Martin Feely published Roger Bacon's Cipher: The Right Key Found, in which he claimed that the book was a scientific diary written by Roger Bacon. Feely's method posited that the text was a highly abbreviated medieval Latin written in a simple substitution cipher. [17]

Leonell C. Strong Edit

Leonell C. Strong, a cancer research scientist and amateur cryptographer, believed that the solution to the Voynich manuscript was a "peculiar double system of arithmetical progressions of a multiple alphabet". Strong claimed that the plaintext revealed the Voynich manuscript to be written by the 16th-century English author Anthony Ascham, whose works include A Little Herbal, published in 1550. Notes released after his death reveal that the last stages of his analysis, in which he selected words to combine into phrases, were questionably subjective. [55] ( p 252 )

Robert S. Brumbaugh Edit

In 1978, Robert Brumbaugh, a professor of medieval philosophy at Yale University, claimed that the manuscript was a forgery intended to fool Emperor Rudolf II into purchasing it, and that the text is Latin enciphered with a complex, two-step method. [17]

John Stojko Edit

In 1978, John Stojko published Letters to God's Eye, [87] in which he claimed that the Voynich Manuscript was a series of letters written in vowelless Ukrainian. [54] The theory caused some sensation among the Ukrainian diaspora at the time, and then in independent Ukraine after 1991. [88] However, the date Stojko gives for the letters, the lack of relation between the text and the images, and the general looseness in the method of decryption have all been criticised. [54]

Stephen Bax Edit

In 2014, applied linguistics Professor Stephen Bax self-published a paper claiming to have translated ten words from the manuscript using techniques similar to those used to successfully translate Egyptian hieroglyphs. [89] He claimed the manuscript to be a treatise on nature, in a Near Eastern or Asian language, but no full translation was made before Bax's death in 2017. [90]

Nicholas Gibbs Edit

In September 2017, television writer Nicholas Gibbs claimed to have decoded the manuscript as idiosyncratically abbreviated Latin. [91] He declared the manuscript to be a mostly plagiarized guide to women's health.

Scholars judged Gibbs' hypothesis to be trite. His work was criticized as patching together already-existing scholarship with a highly speculative and incorrect translation Lisa Fagin Davis, director of the Medieval Academy of America, stated that Gibbs' decipherment "doesn't result in Latin that makes sense." [92] [93]

Greg Kondrak Edit

Greg Kondrak, a professor of natural language processing at the University of Alberta, together with his graduate student Bradley Hauer, used computational linguistics in an attempt to decode the manuscript. [94] Their findings were presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics in 2017, in the form of an article suggesting that the language of the manuscript is most likely Hebrew, but encoded using alphagrams, i.e. alphabetically ordered anagrams. However, the team admitted that experts in medieval manuscripts who reviewed the work were not convinced. [95] [96] [97] The claim was disputed on Hebrew language grounds. [98] [ unreliable source? ]

Ahmet Ardıç Edit

In 2018, Ahmet Ardıç, an electrical engineer with an interest in Turkic languages, claimed in a YouTube video that the Voynich script is a kind of Old Turkic written in a 'poetic' style. [99] The text would then be written using 'phonemic orthography', meaning the author spelled out words as they heard them. Ardıç claimed to have deciphered and translated over 30% of the manuscript. [100] [101] His submission to the journal Digital Philology was rejected in 2019. [102]

Gerard Cheshire Edit

In 2019, Cheshire, a biology research assistant at the University of Bristol, made headlines for his theory that the manuscript was written in a "calligraphic proto-Romance" language. He claimed to have deciphered the manuscript in two weeks using a combination of "lateral thinking and ingenuity." [103] [104] [105] Cheshire has suggested that the manuscript is "a compendium of information on herbal remedies, therapeutic bathing and astrological readings", that it contains numerous descriptions of medicinal plants [106] [107] [108] [109] and passages that focus on female physical and mental health, reproduction, and parenting and that the manuscript is the only known text written in proto-Romance. [110] He further claimed : "The manuscript was compiled by Dominican nuns as a source of reference for Maria of Castile, Queen of Aragon." [111]

Cheshire claims that the fold-out illustration [112] on page 158 depicts a volcano, and theorizes [113] that it places the manuscript's creators near the island of Vulcano which was an active volcano during the 15th century.

However, experts in medieval documents disputed this interpretation vigorously, [114] with the executive editor of Medieval Academy of America Lisa Fagin Davis denouncing the paper as "just more aspirational, circular, self-fulfilling nonsense". [110] Approached for comment by Ars Technica, Davis gave this explanation:

As with most would-be Voynich interpreters, the logic of this proposal is circular and aspirational: he starts with a theory about what a particular series of glyphs might mean, usually because of the word's proximity to an image that he believes he can interpret. He then investigates any number of medieval Romance-language dictionaries until he finds a word that seems to suit his theory. Then he argues that because he has found a Romance-language word that fits his hypothesis, his hypothesis must be right. His "translations" from what is essentially gibberish, an amalgam of multiple languages, are themselves aspirational rather than being actual translations. — L. Fagin Davis (2019) [114]

The University of Bristol subsequently removed a reference to Cheshire's claims from its website, [115] referring in a statement to concerns about the validity of the research, and stating: "This research was entirely the author's own work and is not affiliated with the University of Bristol, the School of Arts nor the Centre for Medieval Studies". [116] [117]

Many books and articles have been written about the manuscript. Copies of the manuscript pages were made by alchemist Georgius Barschius in 1637 and sent to Athanasius Kircher, and later by Wilfrid Voynich. [118]

In 2004, the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library made high-resolution digital scans publicly available online, and several printed facsimiles appeared. In 2016, the Beinecke Library and Yale University Press co-published a facsimile, The Voynich Manuscript, with scholarly essays. [119]

The Beinecke Library also authorized the production of a print run of 898 replicas by the Spanish publisher Siloé in 2017. [120] [121]

The manuscript has also inspired several works of fiction, including the following

Author(s) Year Title
Colin Wilson 1974 The Return of the Lloigor
Leena Krohn 2001
Datura tai harha jonka jokainen näkee
(Eng: Datura: or, A Delusion We All See)
Lev Grossman 2004 Codex
Scarlett Thomas 2004 PopCo
Michael Cordy 2008 The Source
Alex Scarrow 2011 Time Riders: The Doomsday Code
Jonathan Maberry 2012 Assassin's Code
Linda Sue Park 2012 The 39 Clues – Cahills vs. Vespers, book 5: Trust No One
Robin Wasserman 2012 The Book of Blood and Shadow
Jeremy Robinson
& Sean Ellis
2013 Prime
Dominic Selwood 2013 The Sword of Moses
Deborah Harkness 2014 The Book of Life

The "voynix", biomechanical creatures from an alternate future which transition from servitors to opponents in Dan Simmons' paired novels Ilium/Olympos, are named in reference to the manuscript. [ citation needed ]

Between 1976 and 1978, [122] Italian artist Luigi Serafini created the Codex Seraphinianus containing false writing and pictures of imaginary plants in a style reminiscent of the Voynich manuscript. [123] [124] [125]

Contemporary classical composer Hanspeter Kyburz's 1995 chamber work The Voynich Cipher Manuscript, for chorus & ensemble is inspired by the manuscript. [126]

In 2015, the New Haven Symphony Orchestra commissioned Hannah Lash to compose a symphony inspired by the manuscript. [127]

The novel Solenoid (2015), by Romanian writer Mircea Cartarescu uses the manuscript as literary device in one of its important themes. [128] [129]

In the third season episode of the CBS crime drama Elementary titled "Under My Skin", the character of Sherlock Holmes studies the Voynich manuscript, stating that he disbelieves theories that the manuscript is extraterrestrial in origin.

Images from the manuscript appear in multiple locations in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Blood and Wine. [ citation needed ]

The Voynich Manuscript also appears in the games Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag and Assassin's Creed Rogue and is cited as having been stolen from a man named Peter Beckford.

Watch the video: 30 mars 1907 Charles Voisin premier Français (July 2022).


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