Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Bessler's Codes - why did he create them?.

Johann Bessler was christened Elias Bessler and added the other two forenames at about the time he exhibited the Merseburg Wheel, the one which could turn in either direction.  Although these additional names were added some time after the first exhibition, and they seem to have been part of a plan to leave information about this wheels hidden within certain documents he was publishing, his pseudonym, Orffyreus, was being used almost from the start.  This seems to indicate that he always planned to encode information about his wheels in published documents s.  

Why he felt the need to do this we can only speculate, but as patents were not available to him at that time we might assume that he undertook this action to try to establish, should it become necessary, his priority claim in the event that another should try to lay claim to being the first to invent the gravity-wheel.  Upon consideration, this action seems hardly worth the effort, because if someone else succeeded in duplicating Bessler's wheel before Bessler himself had sold it, then the result would be the same as if he had openly given away the secret of its construction.  The pretender would have to show how his wheel worked and Bessler would have to prove his priority by showing how his own wheel worked and that it was as described in the encoded information he had buried in his publications.  So perhaps there was another reason also.

He does say at one point that if he fails to sell his wheel he will be content with posthumous recognition. But this was written in 1715 when he had excellent prospects before him and such a plan at the age of 35 seems somewhat pessimistic, so perhaps there was a third and more compelling reason for the code.  Bessler certainly demonstrates that he had a deep and abiding curiosity about codes and the pleasure he derived from its use, drove him to tantalise us by dropping subtle hints in many places about the existence of codes and also leave obvious examples such as chronograms, and the ROT13 ciphers he used to establish his pseudonym, Orffyreus, from Bessler.

I think he would still have enjoyed pointing out his codes and their meanings in the event that he did have to prove his priority, even if it denied him the pecuniary rewards he sought.  But also the posthumous recognition desire was  self-evident so perhaps it was a bit of each reason that led him to devise his complex network of codes.

I'm aware of Øystein Rustad's work on deciphering codes and I look forward to seeing what he has done, and I have also deciphered a different set of codes and like Bessler, and Øystein, I think, I can't wait to share what I know!  There are other pieces of code awaiting someone's more  incisive analytical attention, such as the Bible references, and the whole of Das Triumphans,which I believe, contains some hidden gems.

Like many before, I too have found it useful to hide a little code containing what I call the Bessler-Collins principle.  It's not as if I would ever patent anything I found, but it would be good to know that I was first and could prove it, and that is what, in the end, I think was in Bessler's mind when he began devising codes.

There have been many illustrious scientists who used a similar idea to attempt to confirm their discoveries and thus receive their due honour, in the course of time; such people as Galileo, Sir Christopher Wren and Sir Isaac Newton, to name but three.




  1. John,
    I remember an episode of Luther, where the two bad guys sent coded messages to each other using a Gideon's Bible, a common book found in every hotel room.
    Just a thought.
    Yes, I know they weren't around then, but there were quite a few other common bibles, available to read in any church.

  2. Is that two opinions jso! Lol!


  3. Sorry John, don't know why my phone does that sometimes. Let's see if this reply posts more than once. :(

  4. I think John, that every one who has a secret has a hard time containing it - one way to release the internal psychological pressure is to write down hints (&/or details) as code - It's the old saying "I can keep a secret, you just can't trust the people I tell".

  5. Good to hear you making progress too. I am sorry to say that health issues have prevented me from doing any work since early December. I have been doing too much too fast and at the same time struggled with my sons health, and lastly I had to pay for it myself. I am having a break and will return in shape. Would you mind sharing what kind of information you have extracted? Is it decrypted messages from letters or numbers, or is it geometry or some kind of emphasizing of special mechanical parts? In which of his books have you found it? And lastly, I wish you all the best! Then and a simple example-question to jso etc: Do you think that when Bessler "improved" (changed) the Merseburg drawing, he happened to turn 24 --> "42" by inkblots and a simple mistake? And why would he turn all the 8s clockwise in the second drawing? I just don`t see where the inkblots enter. IMO: His set of codes would also have to explain this change.

  6. John, I would like to know if you think " everyone " will agree with your clue interpretations, or might there be shades of grey keeping some from believing your side? Is it 100% clear cut?

    Oystein, I have not seen anything from you that makes me believe you are on to something. You certainly could convince in the future. Until you release more information, I will remain skeptical. I don't blame you ( or John ) for waiting for the right time to show your hand. Please don't let pressure from me or anyone else make you prematurely tell too much.

    I wish both of you good luck.

  7. Sorry to hear of your health problems Oystein, I wish you well as quickly as possible. I'll share the information about where I deciphered codes in a few weeks, I'm still working on it, but I don;t think it is connected with your own work.

    JSO, I'm sure that everyone will recognise and agree with the so-called principle I found and also much of my interpretation of the encoded stuff, but until I can produce a working wheel it is nothing more than my interpretation of it. I have more than enough experience of the 'shades of grey' you mention in my previous attempts at deciphering Bessler's clues. I'll share more once I've tested my ideas out on a model. Shall I delete the double post (and my silly response)?


  8. NO JOHN! DON'T DELETE, it's a code. ;)


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