Thursday, 13 February 2014

Update on Bessler's Code

This is a general update on my efforts to decipher Bessler's codes.

Everyone is surely familiar with his first code which involved using the simple substitution cipher from the Hebrew 'atbash' system to convert his name, Bessler, to Orffyre, and thence to Orffyreus. He intended future researchers to ask why he did this and provoke them into looking for further examples in the rest of his publications. His second example included the drawing of his wheel which he published in his first book, 'Gruendlicher Bericht'.  The drawing contains a number of extremely clever clues, but the first and most easily found is the hidden pentagram defined by the rope passing behind the right hand wheel.  There are a numberof numerical clues included as well as evidence of the use of the Golden Mean or Golden ratio, 1.618.  This was produced before his most intriguing work his Apologia Poetica, which was published between 1716 and 1717. At the bottom of the page Bessler writes the date of publication as 1716, two dashes and 1717. The dashes could be construed as just decoration, however the existence of several more similar dashes in part two of Apologia, suggests that the blanks represent the word ‘zu’ which means ‘to’. Adding together the 17, 17, 17 and 16 totals 67. add the u/v from zu which represents 5 and you get 72, the main pentagon number; 5 times 72 =360. The coded information which litters this work is so numerous and varied that it would seem impossible that no one has so far deciphered at least some of it.

In this publication (AP) there are the numerous 'ec's which in the Fraktur font look like 'x's.  'ec' stands for et cetera in German printing, but still their sheer ubiquity (684) draws attention to them and seems to be asking us the examine their presence and find out why they are there, since they don't appear at all in his other two publications.

The abbreviation for et cetera, ec, which looks like x.
The final page of Apologia Poetica contains a simple diagram which appears to represent the wheel.  It too contains a number of ingenious clues which again point to the pentagon.  Above this illustration is a quotation from the Bible, in which Jesus asks of his disciple, 'do you still not understand?'  Another hint that we should be looking for understanding, and elsewhere Bessler states that the answers can be found in his Apologia Poetica.  The quotation itself takes the form of a chronogram. Chronograms were particularly popular in Germany in this period and were often used on buildings to establish the date of their construction.  In this case there are several Latin uppercase letters D, I, D, V, C, C, V, V, D and I, from within the quotation, and assuming they also represent Roman numerals, added together they total the figure 1717, the year of Apologia Poetica's publication. The final line of the paragraph contains two blanks as if words had been omitted, but it is simple to add them as the whole book is in rhyming couplets and the missing word, Teufel contains the U/V alternatives which in Roman numerals represents the number 5.  The sheer number of encoded 5's, V's or their numeric/alphabetic equivalents such the letter E for being the 5th letter, is so overwhelming that one has to assume that the five and all things associated with it, such as the pentagram,  is of prime importance.

The last Chapter in the first part of Apologia Poetica is numbered 55, no surprise..  It contains 55 rhyming couplets, but just these 55 are rhymed ABAB rather than AABB as the rest of the book.  The same 55 verses contain 141 Bible references.  Research indicates that these have no relation to their actual quotations and in some cases the verse numbers exceed those actually present in any of the numerous Bible extant at that time. The references consist of the Book, the Chapter and the Verse.  My ongoing research indicates that verse number indicates the line in which a coded letter may be found.  This implies that the lines must all be numbered up to 220 (55 x 4).  However, as I have explained elsewhere, there are four empty lines which will throw the numbering out if the blank lines are not counted.

The bible book quoted has one upper case letter, the first one, and the others are lower case.  The first letter can be deciphered using the 24 letter alphabet, and its alphanumeric equivalent.  The books are all abbreviated so that there only a few letters indicating which book is meant.  These lower case letter must simply be counted and added to the numerical equivalent arrived at from the first letter.  So 'Matt' for 'Matthew' would be M=12, plus 'att' = 3 and therefore 12 plus three equals 15, thus 15th line.  As the verse number has already given you the line in question, the Book gives you the position on the line of the required letter.  You will see that the abbreviations vary and this is so that each required line can easily be indicated despite the fact that Bessler can only use a limited number of the possible books available, and also because there are more than 24 letters in most of the lines - usually around 30.  I have found that some lines require counting from the end rather than the beginning and I am sure there is an indicator which tells us if it should be done this way but so far I have not found it.

There is also an indicator that the letters should be Caesar-shifted back by five, so that the letter 'A' becomes equivalent to the letter 'V' but I'm not sure at this point whether the numerical equivalent is meant or simple the alphabetical substitution.

The so-called 'X's, that I mentioned at the start may indicate a line which contains a letter for deciphering and the possibilities which I have not yet exhausted include equidistant letter sequences (ELS) relating to the number 5 again.  I was not aware that this method of encoding information was familiar to anyone in those days, other than in the Hebrew Bible, but it turns out that it was widely used by Francis Bacon and John Dee among others and so it cannot be ruled out.

This blog scarcely scratches the surface of the encoded material and I shall return to the subject at a later date if there is sufficient interest.




  1. Fascinating, and really good work John excellent.
    I note that most full stops are tiny crosses, on the last page the Matt quote has crosses and fully round 'points', there are a few on earlier pages including some semi colons ; that have both cross and round.
    Unsure if this is intentional or printing/rendering descrimination limit, I dont have a copy good enough to inspect closely.
    All power to your elbow.

  2. I agree with some of your basic work and I applaud it when it is correct! But in a friendly tone I have to say I disagree with the final directions you are bringing it. (the work I know of) Obviously I don`t know all you work, so I will only make some friendly tips about what I see presented in public. You are right that 5 and 55 is important numbers in Besslers hidden system, but those numbers are only "bricks in the wall" in the full number-system. My first tip is that the pentagram you found in GB/Merseburg drawing is "false". This is not a real pentagram you have drawn, as the outside pentagon needs to have all its sides of equal length. (IMO) You can`t manipulate the geometry to fit without "getting into trouble". When a clue is false you will not be able to find the next step. Bessler was extremely accurate. And about the 1716 - - 1717 The word is most likely "zu". I agree in "zV" on the front page! Good work. But how would you then defend that - - means teVfeL on the last page? In the first case - - equals two hidden letters, and in the last case - - equals 5 letters? I don`t say its wrong but it is obviously not fully "deciphered". And if you say that - - equals teVfeL = 55 then what about zu? Then "zV" equals 5 and then - - equals one number and in the other scenario, two numbers, so then the deciphering is not consistent! My opinion, friendly notes and applaud. Keep up the good work!! By the way, my health is improving and I am now up to working about 1 hour a day on Orffyreus Codes again. I really hope to fully recover through the next couple of weeks.

  3. All fair comments Øystein, and it's true I have speculated a little in places. As for the pentagram there is more than meets the eye to the one in the GB/Merseburg drawing and that's all I can say at the moment. The blanks are a puzzle not yet accurately worked out but the basic idea is correct, the blanks have to be filled in and by rhyming words which contain the Romanised numerals as letters as per the chronograms. The two blanks under the AP wheel could also stand for 'und' or 'and' which arguably contains U/V and D for 505. You can see how many are the variables.


  4. Thank you for you feedback. Could you please direct me to "The two blanks under the AP wheel". I use this link:
    and can`t find it.

  5. Sorry Øystein, I was referring to the two blanks above the AP wheel; the blanks we have been discussing all along.


  6. Ok, I see, thank you. As you know, I claim to know the "truth" behind those. Both on the front pages and the last page. On the front pages, 1716 - - 1717 has at least 4 consistent hidden meanings, where you have found one of the answers. On the other hand I have not solved all of the other blanks. I don`t believe all the - - are of the same importance. On the last page I am certain that you are correct about "teufel". On the other hand, teVfeL has more than two letters. You may speculate that Bessler meant VL or 55 but it makes no sense, it takes us nowhere. Nobody would have reasons to agree that VL = devil. It will take us no closer to "the devil inside Besslers wheel." Still I believe that - - is a substitute for two letters. To confirm that - - is a substitute for two letters, you may look at Apologia Part 2 page 10 and fill in the blanks - - . I have reasons to believe that many of the - - is for training and confirmations and some are for solving the code on the page. Best wishes and keep up the good work.

  7. Here's a weird thought,
    what if the 2's and the C's, or X's are not letters or et ceteras ?
    The 2's could represent a man squatting on his haunches.
    The C's representing a man standing with his legs and arms extended.
    A perfect kiiking action !

  8. It is almost impossible to tell if a design replicates the Bessler Wheel. which I am of the opinion was influenced by Gottfried Leibniz, or possibly even commissioned by him? I think the pendulum mechanism, shown in illustrations, is critical. The wheel must run at a steady r,p.m. Also I believe the motive power to be intermittent. and governed by the pendulum. Possibly a heavy cylinder is released at each half oscillation? these cylinders roll back and forth in synchronous unison on one side of the wheel. The result is that on one side, the pendulum force of centripetal acceleration alternates between zero and full strength. The 'weight' of the wheel is intermittently greater on the downward side of rotation. When it is less than the rising side, when the cylinders are static, a ratchet mechanism prevents reverse rotation. It is conceivable that this intermittent rotation would have given the game away? so a coil spring attacked to the ratchet would smooth out the rotation...silently! if well greased. These are my speculations derived from reading contemporary accounts from witnesses. About 20 for the big wheel would be consistent with this speculation. A perfect drive mechanism for an Archimedes screw pump.


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