## Saturday 24 August 2024

### Johann Bessler’s Use of the 24 and 26 Letter Alphabet

In Germany and elsewhere in Bessler’s day it was customary to use a 24 letter alphabet and it has always been assumed that Bessler too, stuck to that tradition, but there is evidence that he used both forms of the alphabet.

It is clear that he was familiar with an old Hebrew albam code as this was self evident in the way he obtained his pseudonym, Orffyreus.  This system was also used extensively throughout history and was also known as the Caesar shift, and in modern times ROT13. ROT13 is a simple letter substitution cipher that replaces a letter with the 13th letter after it.

The image below demonstrates how BESSLER became ORFFYRE, which he then Latinised to become ORFFYREUS as was customary in his day.

In the above image matching alphabetic substitution letters share similar colours. Notice that the 24 letter alphabet includes two alternative letters I or J, and U or V.  But you have to work on the assumption that the two alternatives pairs of letter each have to remain in their number position as above.  If you use a 26 letter alphabet you get the pseudonym ORFFLRE instead of  ORFFYRE. This appears to confirm that Bessler used the 24 letter alphabet.

But at the same time that he adopted the pseudonym ORFFYREUS, Bessler added two more forenames to his Christened names.  He was born Elias Bessler, but added Johann Ernst to the former ones. So his new initials went from EB to JEEB.  Why?

Taking into consideration his use of the Caesar shift for his new name, when applied to JEE reveals itself as WRR, whether you use 24 or 26 letter alphabets. To explain this further we need to examine another code system.

In addition to alphabetic substitution Bessler also used alphanumeric substitution where each letter is replaced with its corresponding position in the alphabet.  For example A=1, B=2, C=3 etc.  in this case JEE becomes 9/10, 5,5.  WRR becomes 21, 17, 17.

In his first illustration in his book DAS TRIUMPHIRENDE (DT),  which shows an image of his wheel, Bessler, numbered all the parts from 1 to 24. This seems to confirm a 24 letter alphabet, at first sight.  Further examination of the image reveals the twelve hours of a clock with the eight o’clock line labelled with two 8s.  The labelling seems over generous leading to the suspicion that a specific number is sought.  Adding them together gives the total of 660.  When 660 is divided by the twelve hours of the clock, the number 55 appears.

This number is repeatedly indicated by Bessler and of course we just met it for the first time when we looked at the alphanumerical JEEB.  The two Es are the fifth letter in the alphabet, but what is the relevance?

I searched for the meaning of the number 5 and 55 within his books and this led to the discovery of some pentagrams hidden within some of Bessler’s illustrations.  The reason we can be sure of these conclusions and future ones is because Bessler always provided two or three ways of getting to the same solution through different ciphers, codes and clues. The number 5 is embedded in numerous places, too many to list here, but clearly it was important to him to make us aware of it.

I’ll leave the significance of the pentagrams for now, my aim in this post is to show why I think Bessler used both 24 and 26 letter alphabets.

There are four illustrations included in DT, we saw that the first one included a hidden clock face, the next one shows the wheel attached to an Archimedes pump, see below.  This illustration is also over labelled.  The letters when converted to numerals and added together total 324.  The number of letters actually used is 18 as we shall see in a moment and 324 divided by 18 equals 18, the basic pentagonal number.  Every angle in the pentagram is either 18 or a multiple thereof.

But there is a curious feature used within the above image.  There are three letters which appear to be ‘W’s but could also be 10’s - and in fact in the list which accompanies the image they are listed as ‘10’s which is strange because all the other labels are alphabetical. The letter ‘J’ is omitted and the letter ‘T’ is the last letter used and therefore U and V are absent leaving just the W/10.  In the above picture I red ringed the W/10s. Why would he appear to use the letter W to blend in with the other letters when he meant the number 10?  Why not use the letter J if he meant 10 anyway?

The number of letters used is 17 and T is the last letter used and is the 20th letter, but you can add the W and get the 18 you need. So yes, 324 divided by 18 gives 18.

Bessler omitted the U and V, by stopping at T.  And by the including the letter ‘I,’ as the 9th letter he reached 17 letters.  If he had included the J to get it to 18, it would have appeared to be the alternative letter to ‘I’, therefore not part of the count of all the letters used.  By calling the ‘W’ by the number 10, it enabled him to reach his desired total of 324, but also by making it appear as a W’ he could add it to reach his desired 18.

You would be forgiven for thinking this is far too complicated and fanciful but I can assure you that this method of providing clues to the importance of the pentagram and its associated numbers is repeated in each of his illustrations as I can prove.

Bessler was telling us that he used both alphabets sometimes and there is one excellent reason why he did this.

Remember his use of the Caesar shift for his new name, when applied to JEE reveals itself as WRR, whether you use 24 or 26 letter alphabets. Remember that in addition to alphabetic substitution Bessler also used alphanumeric substitution where each letter is replaced with its corresponding position in the alphabet.  For example A=1, B=2, C=3 etc.  in this case JEE becomes 9/10, 5,5.  WRR becomes 21, 17, 17.

If we change to the 26 letter alphabet a familiar piece of information is revealed JEE becomes 10, 5, 5, and WRR becomes 23, 18, 18. Why is this important? Due to Bessler’s insistence on the importance of the pentagram and the number 5 and its associated number 18, we must assume that his intention was to draw our attention to it.

It’s not easy to see but a careful study of the logo at the top of this page shows the ‘O’ of Orffyreus which also represents his wheel is supported on either side by the letter ‘R’ which means that the number 18, or the pentagram supports the wheel.  Notice also that the wording works in either direction just as his wheels did. RATH on the left side is written backwards.  It reads ‘RATH ORFFYRE’, Councillor Orffyre, his title when under the patronage of Karl, the Landgrave of Hesse Kassel.

Summary

At first sight there are most of the letters of the 24 letter alphabet present except both U and V are missing and J is also missing, although it’s atbash version is there masquerading as a ‘W’, but representing the number 10.  ‘i,’ is also present, representing the number 9.

In my opinion Bessler was telling us that he used both versions of the alphanumeric alphabet as well as the atbash cipher.

He used the name Johann to gain the J, this gave him the atbash version ‘W’.  Why was this significant?  He used the double V or interlocking Vs, to give in Roman numerals (which he also used frequently) two 5’s again.  There are other reasons which I won’t go into now for the need to show the letter W.

Of course he could have used the letter ‘I’, and used for example Ivan for his first name, but he needed the W and both ‘I’ and ‘J’ link to ‘W’, but in the 26 letter alphabet it is J that is the alphanumeric version which is needed, not I.

The letter R mimics part of the action in his wheel, as does the letter W. The ‘W’ as double ‘V’ represents the so-called ‘cross-bar’  but actually means the ‘cross’ or scissors mechanism.

Just to be clear there were five mechanisms in the early wheels.  Each mechanism had one weighted lever.  Each weighted lever worked with an adjacent weighted lever. Hence the obsession with the number FIVE, the pentagram, and its various angles all multiples of 18.

PS All of the above information has been posted in my blog over the last ten years but little notice is taken because almost everyone dismisses the idea that there were five mechanism required.  The reason for five mechanisms is simple.  With Bessler’s particular configuration he could get five mechanisms in the wheel which ensured a smooth rotation with no hesitation in each action.

JC