Blitz-bar

The Blitz Ciphers are an encrypted book allegedly found in London just after World War II. Only eight page scans have been published. Some of my readers consider the Blitz Ciphers a fake.

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It’s the kind of mysteries I love to write about: Just after World War II an unknown person found a number of wooden boxes concealed in the wall of an East London cellar that German bombing had exposed. The boxes contained a stack of encrypted sheets that appeared to predate the 1940s by some considerable time. For decades the existence of this unusual finding was kept secret.

 

The Blitz Ciphers

In 2011, finally, the owner of the encrypted papers (a descendant of the finder) consulted British crypto mystery expert Nick Pelling and provided him three page scans. Nick subsequently published a blog article about this cryptogram naming it the Blitz Ciphers. Three years later, Nick received another five scans from the owner. This means that eight pages of the Blitz Ciphers are publicly known. Here they are:

#1:

Blitz-Cipher-01

#2:

Blitz-Cipher-02

#3:

Blitz-Cipher-03

#4:

Blitz-Cipher-04

#5:

Blitz-Cipher-05

#6:

Blitz-Cipher-06

#7:

Blitz-Cipher-07

#8:

Blitz-Cipher-08

To my knowledge, the Blitz Ciphers have never been solved. I am not aware of an art-historical analysis of them. Nick Pelling has published a transcription of two pages:

#7

CAV~MrMmEewmDFT
BedaDeBCMmazMCTfr*TRE
rBe.qREmdp*&Y&bzMDEw;
jes.q&pCM.Ydfejqz
IgRD.JWqEED.aECMqul
*YdqeMBC.epRBmLTT
CeMEDBjEYAeNFLQXXqf%REqA
DkC.eEBRAYrlTjJEYWFvI
Mf.XaKQjeCy*zjMLQd
D.eDEQjlJa.IMdT
Tgj.DdQl.GzHu.wAdzY
Dp.z*kECEzEkCwmedYT
CMETCzDkCzrYDE&RgdVX
CMExLRpde&TrYjDEweedDC
CTMEDkEk&wMjqEArVSSdK
DCTkEISABeDdylbIdRMEDY
gQl@AeqEM*jRSMYwrdeDl
*eeqElYeSME*uVKk.elKLm.
eEDELCYLNTgRm:Jd..zaDtdM
VVDdgEDIRCgjm..erzd
DEDedgLCvkEMjD.z*kEjMLglE
REdf*EDRJBBDba.KIZEZpH
Cj.fDnzjE.aET.lE
jeeSq.zAE

#8

nedXYjEDbzqYaFIUS
tLpTQkEZBWJMHDAZE
KgRiBjGSbTJUCW
HIEnXciSgJIlaiA
kTQZYjYBjdDZl
HfsMCFHIcWTEDR
XYZqEGCpZ.QDJE
FIGqJbElDtUjS
MgHeEFjCHafXElb
dMEDSjFIDcjEj
eMDFZlpVnHeECe

 

A forgery or not a forgery?

After my first article about the Blitz Ciphers, several readers had a strong impression that they were a fake. E.g., Richard SantaColoma wrote: “Everything about this looks fake to me: The style of writing, the look of the ink and line, the ‘aging’ of the paper… and the background story, all look like a modern attempt to fool. I think someone is having a bit of fun with the cipher community. That is not to say that the prankster may not have included real information in here… perhaps it can be decoded. But for me, considering it is most likely a whimsical fake, I would not count on it.”

Nick Pelling replied: “Yet unlike Rich SantaColoma commenting on Klaus Schmeh’s page from a few days ago, I’m not yet ready to call this as an outright fake. Rather, what I’m saying is that the Blitz Ciphers seem to combine the instance frequency counts of monoalphabetic ciphers with the disorder of polyalphabetic ciphers and the inscrutability of homophonic ciphers. Two out of the three I could probably still feel comfortable with simultaneously (and work with), but having all three in play at the same time leaves me a bit… suspicious.”

According to Joe Nickell, a renowned forgery expert and (like me) a member of the skeptics movement, the most important criterion to check for when examining a potential forgery is provenance (i.e., the history of the object in question). There’s no doubt that the provenance of the Blitz Ciphers is not very conclusive. The current owner is not known. The finder is not known. There is no proof that the papers existed before 2011. The exact finding place is not known and has certainly undergone many changes in the last 70 years.

Pelling

Some have stated that Nick Pelling himself might have created the Blitz Ciphers. Of course, this is can’t be outruled. However, after having met Nick several times and after having had a number of curry dishes with him in London’s Brick Lane, I hope and trust that he is not a fraudster.


Further reading: The mysterious paintings and cryptograms of Charles Dellschau

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Kommentare (31)

  1. #1 Nick Pelling
    http://www.ciphermysteries.com/
    15. März 2017

    You thought they were genuine curries but… how can you be sure? :-)

  2. #2 Charlotte Auer
    voynichms.de
    15. März 2017

    To me these pages look like a relatively simple fake. The paper seems to be artificially aged (mostly with tea or coffee) mold paper that was never bound into a book. In case of an old book at least one side of each sheet (left or right) would have been cut and you would see the little holes of the stitching and other clear marks of former binding.

    Almost all “glyphs” are very well known symbols of medieval alchemy, medicine, astrology and hermeticism and can easily be decyphered. Such a decoding would show whether the text is meaningful or not, and what language is underlying it. At a first glance I don’t see any typical structure of a medieval kind of text. I guess it’s either complete senseless or phantastic nonsense in modern English.

    Perhaps a little joke just to test Nick Pelling’s cypher skills? At least the “making of” that funny fake was very time consuming and so would be the decypherment. I’m not shure if I should give it a try because the symbols are easy to identify, but obvoius fakes are boring me.

  3. #3 Nick Pelling
    http://www.ciphermysteries.com/
    16. März 2017

    Just for the record: I certainly didn’t fake the Blitz Ciphers (I only named them), and I found the pictures through a random web search – they weren’t placed there for me at all.

    I would be delighted if someone were to be able to prove them a fake, just as I would be delighted if someone were to be able to prove them genuine. But until either of those two splendid days arrive, I find it better to keep an open mind.

    Whatever the Blitz Ciphers are, they are not “obvious fakes”, and calling them that isn’t helpful.

  4. #4 Rich SantaColoma
    http://proto57.wordpress.com/
    16. März 2017

    Hi Nick: I was surprised by, “… I found the pictures through a random web search – they weren’t placed there for me at all.”

    Where are, or where they, on the web? I had misundertood… in the original report, Klaus wrote, “In 2011, finally, the owner of the encrypted papers (a descendant of the finder) consulted British crypto mystery expert Nick Pelling and provided him three page scans.”

    I took the above to mean not that you had found them on the web, as you say, but that the present owner approached you with them.

    But either way you came on them, I would question the source to find out more. Because I do agree they are “obviously” fake, they practically scream it from every pore. I agree with Ms. Auer, and Mr. Nickell, and am glad to see I’m not alone in thinking so. In fact I respect his opinion highly… one of his books is part of my extensive library on the history and forensics of forgery, and I value it.

    But to your point, “I’m not yet ready to call this as an outright fake. Rather, what I’m saying is that the Blitz Ciphers seem to combine the instance frequency counts of monoalphabetic ciphers with the disorder of polyalphabetic ciphers and the inscrutability of homophonic ciphers. Two out of the three I could probably still feel comfortable with simultaneously (and work with), but having all three in play at the same time leaves me a bit… suspicious.”

    Do you mean “suspicious” that it is authentic, or “suspicious” that it is a fake?

    • #5 Nick Pelling
      http://www.ciphermysteries.com
      16. März 2017

      Rich: they were on a photo upload site, but I’d have to trawl through my ancient notes to find out which particular one it was. Klaus got it (slightly) wrong, basically, but not in a hugely important way.

      Yes, I did question “the source” and posted up what he let me post, and kept silent on the (actually very small) amount of personal detail he didn’t want me to mention.

      Calling something “obviously” fake (whether we’re talking about the Blitz Ciphers or the Voynich Manuscript) doesn’t help understand it. Either way, it’s an artefact that was constructed by someone at some time, one which we should be able to use the same clear-thinking codicological toolbox to make sense of. It’s hard to see anyone who calls these “fake” on purely superficial, visual grounds without trying to do any of the hard work as anything but intellectually lazy.

      I meant “suspicious” that – just as with the Voynich Manuscript – its ciphertext is far more internally complicated and sophisticated than a hoaxer would need to make it in order to make it just plain fake. So it’s a curious knot that might or might not be real: presuming that I have formed a solid opinion one way or the other would be a mistake.

  5. #6 Charlotte Auer
    voynichms.de
    16. März 2017

    Hi Nick,

    sorry, this is really a misunderstanding. Like Rich SantaColoma I just followed the provenance of the scans as Klaus described it, and I never believed you to have faked them, of course.

    Now the whole story looks quite different since you explained that you found the cyphers through a random web search. No “owner or descendant of the finder” of a mysterious book consulted you? No verifiable source available?
    In that case it makes it even more probable to me, that the cyphers are faked.
    There are countless lookalikes of alledgedly medieval or elsewhere secret books cruising the worldwide esoteric communities and their websites.

    Without any comprehensible proof of their sheer physical existance, these pages remain in the thin air of phantasy. At least for me.

    And last but not least the most logical question: if someone discovers an old book written in strange cyphers, why shouldn’t he/she not do the most logical step and search for enlightenment in the next professional library?

    For the Blitz-Cyphers the list of proofs for fake seems to be much much longer than the list of proofs for authenticy. And yes, this comes from my own professional codicological and paleographic toolbox and the hard work – not from “superficial, visual grounds”.

  6. #7 Rich SantaColoma
    https://proto57.wordpress.com/2015/05/08/modern-voynich-myths/
    16. März 2017

    Thanks, Nick:

    “… they were on a photo upload site, but I’d have to trawl through my ancient notes to find out which particular one it was.”

    Too bad… but if you do remember, or come across your notes again, the information may hold some important clues… real or fake. Who posted it, and where it was found exactly, and the story they told you about it… all these things might have some import, because all provenance can be as important as the item itself, when trying to determine what the item might be. It’s just like any object being separated from an archeological site: the odds of identifying and/or authenticating it drop off drastically.

    “Yes, I did question “the source” and posted up what he let me post, and kept silent on the (actually very small) amount of personal detail he didn’t want me to mention.”

    Well that I also understand… but will point out that the sharer’s reluctance, in and of itself, is to me another powerful clue. In studying forgeries for years now, “reluctant” provenances are a very common attribute to forgery. So in my opinion, not only do we have the very questionable look of the item, but also, a common forgery provenance: A hidden, incomplete, reluctant, and/or poor one.

    “It’s hard to see anyone who calls these “fake” on purely superficial, visual grounds without trying to do any of the hard work as anything but intellectually lazy.”

    Well we could go around and around on that point, but I would go one more: I don’t feel it needs hard work to realize this. I do feel it fails on the superficial visual aspects. It’s not giving up in any way, it just does not, IMHO, pass the very first tests which would make one think it warrents consideration as real.

    But I accept that we disagree on that point. Perhaps you are correct, and I am wrong in closing the “real” door on it. That is what is good about having differing views… if we all had the same opinion on questionable items, we might all try the same thing. That would certainly not be good.

    “… its ciphertext is far more internally complicated and sophisticated than a hoaxer would need to make it in order to make it just plain fake.”

    Thank you for clearing up your view on this.

    The thing is, complexity, and/or underlying meaning, is no indicator of a work being a forgery. Many forgeries can be complex, and most have meaning. And of course complexity at the creation end is easy to impart, while even that much more difficult to unravel. I mean, it is not hard to encode in a complex cipher, even by a forger.

    Also, even if one allows it may have had a great deal of effort put into it, that too would not be an indicator of genuineness, any more than meaning would. Many forgeries have had a great deal of time and effort put into them… even when the forger does not intend on realizing a monetary reward.

    Look at us! All this discussion would be more than enough reward to a (potential) forger of these… or painful, depending on which way they think the discussion is going. But it certainly would be a payoff, and they are certainly reading it by now.

  7. #8 Rich SantaColoma
    https://proto57.wordpress.com/
    16. März 2017

    For the record, my last comment, and Ms. Auer’s, “crossed in the aether”. I didn’t see it before posting.

  8. #9 Ulrich
    Berlin
    16. März 2017

    Dear NIck, 1945/46 I have personally seen hawkers selling astological books / esoteric nick-nacks / even astrolical advice on street corners. In the background of their tables/booths charts like the “blitz ciphers” were hanging, and they pointed at them chanting “you may suffer a broken leg soon”. When I came by the next day, they used the same symbol for “you may inherit some money soon”. Some charts even had the Zodiac wrong. – So my strong guess is that we are looking at some astrologer’s/fortune-teller’s accessories. They don’t have to make sense as long as they look mystical enough.

  9. #10 Elmar Vogt
    Fürth, Germany
    16. März 2017

    To me, it seems a bit odd that scans #3 and #6 appear to have been written left-to-right, while #7 is justified like a right-to-left written text. (Nick, I reckon you already noticed that?)
    To me, that would point to a random text, ie a fake, although it may well be a “genuine WW II fake” like the one Ulrich mentioned.
    In general, I agree it looks like a modern work of fantasy rather than a genuine medieval alchemical tract or such, but I find it hard to put my finger on it *why* I have this impression.

  10. #11 Charlotte Auer
    voynichms.de
    16. März 2017

    Just crossing Rich in the aether, I should add a little handfull of principles for serious research on such Online-Cyphers.

    1) If there is no comprehensible proof for physical existence – just forget it!
    2) If provenance is secret – just forget it!
    3) If only a few sample pages of a mysterious old book are online available – just forget it!
    4) If your first impression of the sample(s) is that of a fake and if points 1) to 3) hold for true, than trust in your professional experience and – just forget it!

    That’s it and that’s the reason why professional researchers don’t waste their time with alledgely old cypher mysteries that only virtually cross the cyber space. There are enough real old manuscripts worth of examination left.

    • #12 Nick Pelling
      http://www.ciphermysteries.com
      17. März 2017

      Elmar: that image is rotated 180 degrees, and it was how the owner took the original photograph.

      Charlotte Auer: if all the evidence you have doesn’t suit your high-minded principles, then feel free to forget it. But you may find better ways to go about things than trying to impose those principles on other people.

      Rich: you don’t see the need to do the hard work on something that is “obviously” a fake, good for you. But you may find better ways to go about things than trying to impose your intellectual laziness on other people.

      Ulrich: for sure, there are many strange things in the world that are fake. But until someone can prove to me that this particular set of ciphers is fake for any reason apart from “well, it looks a bit fake to me, so therefore it can only be a fake”, I’m happy to keep an open mind.

  11. #13 Charlotte Auer
    voynichms.de
    17. März 2017

    Nick Pelling,

    I am really far from trying to impose my own understanding of common scientific principles in the field of codicology and paleography on other people. It’s just amazing and amusing to see how fiercely these “other people” defend their cypher babies without having seen them ever before with their own eyes. Evidence? Yes, this would be helpful, but up to now there is none.

    However, don’t worry and stay as open minded as you are. Time will tell.

    • #14 Nick Pelling
      http://www.ciphermysteries.com
      17. März 2017

      Good luck in your quest to develop an open mind.

  12. #15 Elmar Vogt
    17. März 2017

    @Charlotte: “If it looks fake it is a fake” to me is the antithesis of “scientific principles.”
    But then, I’m only a humble physicist by education…

  13. #16 Rich SantaColoma
    http://proto57.wordpress.com/
    17. März 2017

    “you don’t see the need to do the hard work on something that is “obviously” a fake, good for you. But you may find better ways to go about things than trying to impose your intellectual laziness on other people.”

    Well it may appear that way to you, but the hard work was done by me and others before hand, by taking the time to learn the world of forgery. It takes anything but lazyness, considering the shear volume of information that needs to be collected and absorbed in order to see this is most likely a fake. In fact, I’d counter that the laziness comes in purposefully avoiding the very hard work of learning about the pervasive and distasteful problem forgery actually is.

    The problem is that the history of forgery has been ignored, either purposely, through the inherent distaste of the subject, or by simple disbelief that it could be much of a problem in the first place. The real problem forgery presents is rarely mentioned among the vast majority of those who write about almost every other facet of art and literature. In turn, this effect has allowed some really obvious and atrocious forgeries (and some very good ones, too) to infect museums, libraries, and private collections around the world, by giving the false impression it is not a serious problem. Among the reasons it is ignored are fear for the good reputation of the writer, institution, art critic, or dealer in the works, which are immediately impugned by holding, buying, selling, or simply being duped by, a fraudulent work. There are many hundreds, probably thousands, of manuscripts, art and sculpture in collections today, many of which are still represented as real by those instutions, even when they, themselves, know them not to be, solely to avoid “tainting” their reputations by disclosing a fraud in their collections.

    Forgers know this. They know they can offer the worst examples, with the most glaring faults, and have them glide by the best of the field, and even be fiercely defended as real. In fact, your reaction, and the nature and tone of them, to our suggestions, right here on this comment thread, are practically a case study of how a forgery claim is dismissed by the intellectual community. This is how even the very worst of them continue to succeed. Aware of it or not, we are watching the process of forgery enabling in action, real time. We are playing out, repeating, a conversation that has gone on for centuries…. and I’ve no doubt, with the same end result: A work which deserves no consideration, being protected from dismissal as a fraud.

    I feel free from this insidious cycle, and only offer this advice as a “life line” to anyone open to grab it. Part of that is an education on the subject, but rather than list my own bibliography of forgery books on Klaus’s comment section, I’ve prepared a file, for those interested:

    http://santa-coloma.net/Forgery_bibliography.docx

    But as to the nature of forgery, here is a short list off the top of my head. The pages in question exhibit several of these traits:

    1) Multiple, contrary expert opinions as to time of creation and/or place of origin.
    2) Poor and/or missing provenance.
    3) Reluctance to reveal previous origin and/or ownership and/or owners.
    4) Content from a historically incorrect range of age and geography.
    5) Misuse of iconography by the forger (i.e., a plow is a weapon).
    6) Anachronisitic content (different from 4, as it can stand alone, with no range).
    7) Improper tools, methods, and/or materials used in construction.
    8) Looks “too new”, or “too old” for age, purpose, and/or location of claimed origin.
    9) Refusal to produce, and/or test, original
    10) Claimed disappearence of original

    And for the defense of forgeries as real, they are not in and of themselves “tells” to a fraud. But they protect forgeries from disclosure. As you see, they are also often contradictory… that is, for example, I’ve seen both “too expensive” and “too cheap” both used to defend the same forgery!:

    1) Cost: It was too expensive, or too inexpensive, to be made as a forgery.
    2) Effort: It was too hard, or too easy, or took too much time, to be made as a forgery.
    3) It looks too fake (they would have done better); it looks too real, to be a forgery.
    4) It is too high a quality, and/or too low a quality, to be a forgery.
    5) I trust the seller and/or previous owner (the finest people in the world have created and knowingly sold forgeries).
    6) There must be a historically unique culture, discipline, to explain its unique nature (rarely happens).
    7) Expert testamony (almost all forgeries have solid expert and amateur defense).
    8) No proof (forgeries by their nature are constructed to lack condemning evidence, and may have none. Lack of proof is not proof of real).
    9) No one else suspected it (there is always a first time/person for every forgery reveal).
    10) The seller/dealer sold no other forgeries (many forgeries are one-time deals. And how does one know there are not more from the source?)
    11) The seller asked for no money (profit is not the only, nor the most important nor frequent motivation to forge).

    So no, it is not lazyness that would cause me to suspect this as a forgery, but really years of studying the nature of the problem, historically and contemporaneously, and most importantly, studying the methodology, and reasoning, of dismissal of the overall problem and individual cases, which allow and encourage frauds to perpetuate.

  14. #17 Charlotte Auer
    17. März 2017

    @Elmar

    This is exactly the kind of dispute that leads to nowhere.

  15. #18 Thomas
    17. März 2017

    Has anybody yet mused on the content, esp. the meaning of the drawings in the manuscript, may it be genuine or false? If it is a forgery – what does it pretend to be?

  16. #19 Charlotte Auer
    17. März 2017

    After a little while of deep thinking I decided to post here my last comment on this somewhat misleading topic in form of a strictly personal little summary.

    To begin with the background: every reasonable estimation of the subject will alomst fail when the provenance of the subject fails. This was the case when Nick Pelling declared here on this blog that he found the scans “at random” in the web. No secret owner or finder consulted him especially in the first place.
    As well as Klaus Schmeh in this article he avoided to mention this fact on his own blog. The distinction between “found at random” or “being consulted” makes the difference. As long as there is no trustworthy proof of the physical existence of the manuscript pages every speculation on its contents remains obsolete.

    For a first glance and just for fun: the glyphs are well known symbols from many different sources in such a huge meaningless conglomeration that a medieval origin seems very implausible. The same counts for the drawings.
    Without any examination of existing origins I prefer to stay on the hoax side of the speculation.

    So, to be open minded does not necessarily mean to ignore facts and expertise. Since I feel no need for further subtle insultings or cynical comments: I’m gone. Just take it or leave it.

    • #20 Nick Pelling
      http://www.ciphermysteries.com
      17. März 2017

      Rich: having studied hippopotamuses in depth doesn’t mean that your neighbour has one. All the things you mention are neither necessary nor sufficient conditions for fakes, forgeries and hoaxes: your list seems to have been culled from your many years of calling out the Voynich as a fake. But… you still don’t seem to have realized that it takes every bit as much effort to prove something is a fake as it does to prove it is real. Just callin’ it so ain’t nearly enough, hoss.

      Charlotte: thank you for sharing your baseless speculative theories concerning the Blitz Ciphers. And good luck with all your other ones.

  17. #21 Rich SantaColoma
    https://proto57.wordpress.com/2016/03/23/the-modern-forgery-hypothesis/
    18. März 2017

    Hi Nick:

    “having studied hippopotamuses in depth doesn’t mean that your neighbour has one.”

    Of course you are correct. But continuing with your analogy: what a thorough study of hippopotamuses does do, is enable one to inform their neighbor they own a hippo, not a horse. It is better to know, than not know, I mean (especially when the kids try to ride it).

    “All the things you mention are neither necessary nor sufficient conditions for fakes, forgeries and hoaxes:”

    I beg to differ there… those “things”, the knowledge and history and case studies in those books outline exactly that… what it is that tells one what they look like, how they are presented, how they are percieved, how they are made and sold, and how they are not recognized. Also, how and why they are defended as real, when they don’t deserve it.

    So no, those points are exactly correct in the use I propose: Knowing a forgery when one sees it. Now it would be a different thing if you, or anyone, wants to explain why the Blitz does not fall into the common categories of forgery. So far it very much does. For instance, rather than complain about my take on this, why not find those images, and grill the owner? Get some answers from them, and fix that broken (forgery-like) provenance.

    “… your list seems to have been culled from your many years of calling out the Voynich as a fake.”

    Well those books were not written with me, nor the Voynich, in mind… nor are the lists tailored to any particular case, so that is also not correct. Yes I gradually came to study the world of forgery… as much as I or anyone the history of calligraphy, of herbals, the zodiac, vellum production, and so on and so forth, because I began to learn the Voynich’s ideosyncracies were best explained by it being a forgery.

    But the real question would be why does the mainstream avoid educating themselves on this topic? The answer to that question is in those books, too, if you are ever interested in reading them.

    • #22 Nick Pelling
      http://www.ciphermysteries.com
      18. März 2017

      Rich: I’ve bought and read a fair few of the books you listed on your website, so I’m really not as uninformed as would be convenient for your narrative.

      There is a difference between causality and correlation: what you seem to have learned from the hoax literature is how to talk about things that have already been proven hoaxes (i.e. features that correlate with hoaxes), not about how to prove those things hoaxes in the first place.

      And *that* requires doing all the practical, gritty, boring work that you sought to avoid in the first place by calling out the Voynich as a hoax.

  18. #23 Charlotte Auer
    18. März 2017

    Ok Nick,

    this last one for the road: it’s yours to proof the Blitz Cyphers real, not mine to proof them fake.

    • #24 Nick Pelling
      http://www.ciphermysteries.com
      18. März 2017

      Charlotte: no, it’s both of our responsibilities (a) to keep an open mind, and (b) to find the right way of approaching the subject to resolve these questions.

      So far, you seem hell-bent on proving that you don’t really grasp (a) or (b). If your whole “just forget it!” thing is in any way different to putting your fingers in your ears and saying “la la la I can’t hear you la la la”, you’re obviously thinking far more subtly than your typed words can communicate.

  19. #25 Rich SantaColoma
    18. März 2017

    Nick!

    “… not about how to prove those things hoaxes in the first place.”

    Charlotte’s answer pretty much agrees with my view, too… and I was not setting out to “prove” anything to you nor anyone else, nor claiming a proof any more than you are, from the start: I was only pointing out that these Blitz ciphers look to me… and others… as obvious fakes, and why.

    You don’t, and don’t have to agree, you can continue to think what you want of them.

    But I think it would be helpful… as you are our one source of information of any kind, and the only source of the images… it would be helpful, and also normal procedure, for you to find out more. It interests me mightily that while you criticize my assessment, you don’t seem to have done anything to prove me wrong… when the possibility to do so may be right at your fingertips. Maybe I am different, but I’d be on a train or plane if necessary, and be camped out in these people’s driveway or hallway, and beg them for answers.

    Why have you not done this? Philosophical arguments are one thing, but nothing beats hands on research. I know you’ve gone to collections in the States, and otherwise far and wide to dig in archives yourself… and, as I understand, the “Blitz” originals are in London, no? So I would ask you, why not try and see them?

    Or the link to where you found them online? You say it would take much work to find the source, but I would imagine it would be worth it: The URL of the site hosting them, the owner of the site, or like that, can offer us important clues.

    Ironically, I would not hesitate to look, even if the risk was proving my own self wrong… I would not be afraid to do so. But I cannot do it… it would be up to you. You have the best chance of fixing this very suspicious provenance, and I will cheer you on if you do. And until you do, I will continue hold that these are most probably just bad fakes that are getting far more interest than they probably deserve… to the glee of the forger, who as I said, is probably reading all this, and having a laugh.

    So how about some leg work?

  20. #26 Charlotte Auer
    18. März 2017

    Ich bitte um Entschuldigung für die vielen Fehler in meinen englischen Kommentaren zu diesem Thema, aber ich war einfach zu empört, um sie mir vor dem Absenden nochmal in Ruhe durchzulesen. Sorry.

    Gute Nacht!

  21. #27 Nick Pelling
    http://www.ciphermysteries.com
    18. März 2017

    Rich: you wrote (near the top of these comments) “Because I do agree they are “obviously” fake, they practically scream it from every pore.”

    From my understanding of the literature, proving something is a fake or a hoax is either very simple (once you twig the right way to look at it) or very complex. There remains a vast gulf between ‘suspecting’ A == B (which is all your comments here actually boil down to) and having the ability to demonstrate precisely why this is so.

    Generally, the reason I find your comments so frustrating is that you seem to invest the bulk of your effort into rhetoric rather than directed research, and into contradiction rather than genuine argument.

    Anyway, I’ve put forward all of the things the current owner told me that I could pass on. The Blitz Ciphers may well be fake, but I don’t believe (from what he told me) that he made them himself. I fully acknowledge the difficulties and limitations of what I have posted, but until better information emerges, what we have is what we have.

  22. #28 Rich SantaColoma
    https://proto57.wordpress.com/2016/03/23/the-modern-forgery-hypothesis/
    18. März 2017

    Hi Nick:

    “From my understanding of the literature, proving something is a fake or a hoax is either very simple (once you twig the right way to look at it) or very complex.”

    The problem is, in many cases, it cannot be proven one way or the other. And even if some think it proven, there are some others who believe an item real. The Vinland Map is a great example, it teaches us “there are no proofs”, if one wants to believe something real.

    As I said above, it is the very nature of a forgery to be indeterminate: That is the goal of the forger. They try to create it without proofs of their own fraud, and they know how to do it, usually. So what we are left with, usually, are forgeries which are technically, empirically, defensible on each element, and are only revealed through experience and understanding of the list of points I’ve outlined in the above posts, and then even, only a matter of opinion. Again, this is the game… how they manage to pass off some really bad items.

    And this is why I found this converstation so interesting and valuable to me. It shows an important factor in the “why and how” they still get away with it, because the most important part of a forgery is not the forgery itself, but an intellectual community which is structured in such a way so as to allow them to succeed.

    And I admit, it is a very difficult problem.

    “Anyway, I’ve put forward all of the things the current owner told me that I could pass on.”

    Well you do know his name, and so, his address probably. And I assume, his email address. And from those, so much more. The point is, again, there is a trove of valuable information you can pursue, even if you can’t pass on the details. Again, also, it surprises me you don’t pursue those leads. I’m chomping at the bit to get at them.

    And also, have you asked to see the originals? I would assume you did ask, or if not, then ask, “Why not?”. And if he says they are lost, or simply “no”, then we have another valuable clue. So I’m asking you, directly, to ask him to see the originals, to see what he says. That would not violate your agreement with this person.

    “The Blitz Ciphers may well be fake, but I don’t believe (from what he told me) that he made them himself.”

    What did he say that makes you feel this way? And if they are fake, who do you think made them?

    “I fully acknowledge the difficulties and limitations of what I have posted, but until better information emerges, what we have is what we have.”

    How will “better information emerge”, unless you are proactive and seek it, or the nameless owners reveal it? And if not, I ask again… since you are the key player in this mystery: “Why are you not pursuing the very valuable leads we do have, in an attempt to learn more, and possibly see the original documents?”

    • #29 Nick Pelling
      http://www.ciphermysteries.com
      18. März 2017

      Rich: I don’t agree that the Vinland Map does not teach us “there are no proofs”. Rather, I think it teaches us that:
      * both proof and disproof can be extremely hard
      * uncertainty is the starting point for all historical enquiry
      * without open-mindedness, you’ll get nowhere

      As far as the Blitz Ciphers go, I know the name the owner used, but I don’t know whether or not it is real. I know the story he told me, but I don’t know how much of it is true. And what he asked me not to say, I haven’t said. I have asked the owner for a little more information, but have not received any response for a while. The photos were released in two sets, and I suspect many more will come in future.

      It’s about time I returned to the Blitz Ciphers, because there’s a whole lot of sensible, clear-headed observations and insights to be had there, that all stand well apart from the boringly polarized issue of whether they are real or fake. :-)

  23. #30 Rich SantaColoma
    https://proto57.wordpress.com/2016/03/23/the-modern-forgery-hypothesis/
    18. März 2017

    Hi Nick: Just to clarify, my entire line was, “The Vinland Map is a great example, it teaches us “there are no proofs”, if one wants to believe something real.”

    My point being that no matter what level of evidence is offered, there will be some who still disbelieve it. And yes, I am aware that some might accuse me of the same, or anyone in this field, in a multitude of cases.

    The Vinland Map is a perfect example, though, because after studying it in minute detail, and conversing with various authors (including Seaver) about, and students of it, I am certain it is a fake. So I have that as a landmark, an “acid test” so to speak, when discussing, or reading about, the issues of forgery proof with others. For instance, if someone tells me both that the VM and the VMs are real… well you see the point.

    Also for the record, I disagree that the issue of “real or fake” is at all boring: I’ve increasingly found it one of the more exciting areas of cipher… and art, literature, culture and history for that matter, and have come to understand it has a far more important impact than it is getting credit (blame?) for. It is not only important to individual objects, but far more to the histories based on them, and all the implications of getting that wrong. It also goes to our approach to solving all unknown problems, and how errors can find their way into determine the truth of any issues… even outside of forgery.

    I’m glad you are returning to the Blitz questions, and wish you the best of luck. I’ll wait with interest for any news you turn up. All the best, Rich.

  24. #31 Nick Pelling
    http://www.ciphermysteries.com
    19. März 2017

    Rich: Seaver’s book is interesting and challenging, but given that it only offers a candidate and a possible story for the VM, it falls well short of being either a proof of a hoax or a disproof of genuineness. For me, there are far better hoax “acid tests”, like the Donation of Constantine (which I mentioned in Curse in 2006).

    I don’t think you’ve really grasped what I mean when I talk about “real or hoax” being boring. In order to get to the point where you can even ask that question sensibly, you first have to do a whole load of work to understand the object on its own terms – that’s the hard work I referred to above.

    So whenever people (such as Charlotte Auer above) lunge towards a simple “real or fake” answer without doing any of the hard observational and analytical work beforehand, it makes them look superficial and glib.