Category Archives: Voynich Physical Characteristics

Does Size Matter?

Dimensional Comparison

René Zandbergen posted an interesting diagram a year ago on the Voynichninja forum that illustrates the Voynich Manuscript dimensions as they compare to other documents. The VMS is listed as 225mm x 160mm (note that there are also larger foldouts), and is quite small compared to some of the other volumes. It’s a size that suggests portability.

I haven’t been keeping track of the dimensions of manuscripts to any great extent, I only record about 5% of those I come across, but I do sometimes note them down and, over time, have accumulated dimensions on about 50 manuscripts that are in the same general ballpark as the VMS.

Sleuthing Out Similar Sizes

Out of the reasonably close matches, there are 19 20 with the same dimensions as the VMS, variously produced on parchment, vellum, and paper. Materials and dimensions are not always listed, but a glance at the date can give a rough idea of what the writing medium might be (and if the scans are good enough you can usually tell from the digital images).

Very few of the documents fall within the same time-frame as the VMS. Those that do, tend to be reference manuscripts that are carried and consulted, such as breviaries/books of hours.

For those who are interested, here is a sample of the documents so far that are similar to the dimensions of the VMS, with information on repositories and shelf marks, and the approximate place of origin and date. The ones that come closest to the VMS are marked with asterisks:

Since this was not a systematic search for manuscripts with certain dimensions, merely a survey of some of the information I have in my files, one should not try to generalize too much from the results. Many of the manuscripts are from France, England, Germany, and Italy, but that might simply mean that Spanish or Arabic manuscripts did not include dimensions (or were not similar in size) or that the information was in a language, like Indian or Thai, that I couldn’t read. Nevertheless, it may be of interest and may yield interesting results as more data is added over time.

J.K. Petersen

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