Bessler’s Use of Codes

I will begin to post Bessler’s clues and my interpretation of them, in my weekly blogs.  As each new blog appears, I will copy and post my previous one in the ‘pages’ which can be accessed at the top of the panel on the right side of the blog. This will provide easy access to each blog-page and none of the ‘pages‘ will have comments, although the blogs themselves will still allow comments, which will save time for anyone who wishes to read the earlier blogs. I’ll add a copyright notice to each of the ones in ‘pages’.

What follows is my take on why Johann Bessler decided to embed numerous clues in his publications, even though no one was supposed to decipher them before the inventor had received payment for his device

When Bessler set out to discover how to design and build a Perpetual Motion (PM) machine, he had read that such a device would be ‘worth a ton of gold’.  But during the long years of research he  also spent time in considering how to actually obtain a large amount of money for the secret of his machine, should he be successful - sound familiar?

His first and over-riding concern was to keep the secret of his wheel’s construction secure, until he had won his ‘ton of gold’.  Once he had constructed his working wheel he approached a number of wealthy persons of high repute, but he would not share his secret for fear of being cheated, which fact prevented him from obtaining documented verification of his claim. Eventually, as we know, he submitted to the demands of Karl, the Landgrave of Hesse and permitted him access to the interior of the wheel, upon the swearing of an oath. Karl verified the machine and Bessler’s claim.

I believe that for many months both before and after his first successful wheel, Bessler planned a publication extolling the virtues of his machine and later a more impressive account of his journey to success.  This was designed to provide a printed back up of his machine’s design which he could call upon as evidence of the priority of his claim, should the need arise, but he embedded the information within a number of clues.

I think he had already decided on placing coded information about the wheel in his books, long before he decided to allow Karl to see how his wheel worked. This would explain why he put so much time and effort into developing and inserting his coded information, even though he had had his claim validated by the highest authority - before Karl verified his claim, his only guarantee that he could prove his priority lay within the coded information.  He seems to have considered the possibility that he might never sell his machine and thus die without ever receiving acknowledgement for his achievement, so it had an additional purpose although not one he would have expected to happen.

He had become familiar with codes during his time in Prague, and had learned much about several different ciphers.  If he needed to pique someone’s interest about the codes in case of illness, death, imprisonment or some other incapacitating event,  he devised a straightforward clue to initiate the curiosity of a knowledgeable person with the right credentials who would wish to dig deeper, and so he adopted the pseudonym, Orffyreus.

This he created from his name, Bessler, using a well-known mono-alphabetic substitution cipher called atbash,  originally used to encrypt the Hebrew alphabet.  The Caesar shift cipher was similar as is the modern algorithm known as ROT13.  The pseudonym was further refined by the addition of two extra forenames, Johann Ernst, in addition to his given name, Elias.  To the curious eye with some knowledge of the atbash cipher, the three initial letters of his forenames, J.E.E., might spark the idea that here was another cipher but this time it was an alphanumeric one.

Initially one can see that E is the fifth letter and J the tenth. I’m aware of the argument that in Bessler’s day the German alphabet consisted of 24 letters rather than 26, but in our case it doesn't affect the findings of the atbash cipher. JEE becomes WRR, using atbash, which does not seem useful, however we know of another cipher in which letters can represent Roman numerals. The letter W if seen as two ‘V’s, can also represent 5 and 5.  But R is either the seventeenth or eighteenth letter of the alphabet, which doesn’t matter because Bessler decided that the atbashequivalent of E was R, which makes R the 18th letter, so he used the 26 letter alphabet.  The reason for this, as we shall discover is that all these numbers are key angles within the pentagram, and 18 is the base number, but more of that later.  The letter ‘R’ also has another role to play, hence it’s inclusion in the Bessler’s logo as seen above.

So Bessler showed his knowledge of several ciphers and implied that he would be using each of them, plus some others which have not yet been deciphered, in his publications.

Bessler created numerous chronograms which were popular at the time.  One chose certain meaningful quotations from the bible, which contained suitable letters within the text that could be read as Roman numerals.  These when added together gave a relevant date. They were often written above the entrance to a building, to provide an establishment date. This technique was also used by the inventor.


The presence of ciphers was meant to inspire someone to search and find and then decipher each clue. But they could not be made too simple in case someone deciphered them too soon, before the inventor got his money. I have no documentary evidence of this but it was said that Bessler requested and was granted permission for a family vault to be built in his garden at Bad Karlshafen. It seems reasonable to assume that this vault might provide pointers to the hidden information and offer some additional help in deciphering them, to aid those who came after his death, looking for clues about his machine. Unfortunately his vault has never been found. But fear not for I have identified enough clues and deciphered enough of them to reconstruct Bessler’s wheel!

I have posted pointers over the years to the places I looked and found and deciphered clues, and I’ll discuss the specific clues which led me to the solution, with illustrations in the future blogs and this will hopefully spur me on finish my construction, which I have to do in order to prove two things; firstly that this wheel is of the same design as a Bessler’s and secondly the clues I’ve found and my interpretation of them is correct.  As I’ve said before, if the wheel fails, I will continue to post my clues because I believe they are correct.

On that point, I have often said that the mechanism is complex and difficult to build, but on the other hand Karl said it was so simple a carpenter's apprentice could build one if he was given time to study it.  It is difficult to build, at least for me.  If you can see a finished product with all parts in their correct place and all the measurements accessible to you, then yes it could be accomplished more easily.  But working from a huge variety of clues which take time to interpret and then you have to build with a certain amount of trial and error, it is not easy.  The concept is easy to understand and perhaps this was the initial action that Bessler found which encouraged him to keep going.  But getting that action without other actions cancelling out any advantage is a little more difficult.  So even when you think you know the secret you’re only half way there.

Please note that there are no suggestions of links with Rosicrucians, FreeMasons, Numerology, Hermeticism,  Kabbalah, or any other cults, religious factions or other weirdness, they are not required to solve the clues.

‘til next time then.


                                   Copyright © 2020 John Collins

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