Ruysschaert and De Ricci for dummies

I wrote this text for my own comprehension: my goal was to understand precisely the proof of the presence of MS 408 in Collegio Romano Library, before 1912. Indeed, as far as I am concerned, the available literature let some questions unanswered:
- The first source is Voynich himself, but we need another independent source.
- At present, we don't have any proof that Kircher received the manuscript, with a letter from Marci.
- Ruysschaert, in his manuscripts list transferred from Collegio Romano to the Vatican Library in 1912 (published in 1959), refers to MS 408 as one of the manuscripts preserved in Collegio. But the manuscript is identified by his reference in De Ricci, published in 1940, with the help of Anne Nill. This source may be dependent from Voynich.
- In 1963, H.P. Kraus met Ruysschaert, but his memory seemed weak.

I also found these kind of interrogations on VMS-list. This text may help to get a good understanding of sources and proofs we have now on that matter. Errors are possible and comments are welcome.

In fact, I show that Enrico Carusi's work, used by Ruysschaert, was independent of De Ricci and Voynich.

In other respects, it's obvious that MS 408 origin (Collegio Romano) is publicly known since October 1937, 23 years before the Ethel's letter, opened at her death. Anne Nill, with Ethel's authorization, has most likely given the manuscript origin to De Ricci in 1937 and probably just after the Voynich's death, on March 19, 1930.

Ruysschaert and De Ricci

In 1959, Mgr. José Ruysschaert, "scriptor" of Biblioteca Vaticana, publishes the Codices Vaticani Latini 11414-11709 (1).

These Codices are a list of manuscripts transferred from the Collegio Romano to the Vatican Library in 1912. Indeed, the first lines of the preface are (2) : " In 1912, pope Pie X gave the manuscripts described in this book, which belonged to Collegio Romano of the Society of Jesus, to the Biblioteca Vaticana, with Vaticanis Graecis 2341-2390, Vaticano Latino 13497 and Vaticano Turco 80. ".

Then Ruysschaert adds: " Some other manuscripts of the Collegio are preserved in American libraries, in which they have been transferred at the same time or more recently." (3).Ruysschaert provides the list of these manuscripts preserved in American libraries. Some of them are identified by their reference in the De Ricci' census (Others manuscripts are quoted ).

This census has been realized on a proposal of the American Council of Learned Societies, under the supervision of the Library of Congress, Division of Manuscripts (4). It began in October 1929 (5). Volume 1 has been published in July 1935 and volume 2 in October 1937. An index of the two volumes followed, in January 1940 (6).

For his job (7), De Ricci used the results of his own previous work (8). He also sent a survey to 4 000 private and public collections (9). The census is structured as follows :
- American states and Canadian provinces, by alphabetical order,
- towns, by alphabetical order,
- name of the collection,
- manuscript with his number in the collection, or a number given by De Ricci,
- description,
- information on the recent origins, and, eventually some references.
Therefore, the information recorded by De Ricci comes directly from librarians and collectors.

One of the collections recorded by De Ricci is the estate of W.M. Voynich (10) died in 1930. The legatees are his wife and Anne M. Nill. De Ricci registers 16 manuscripts from the estate, numbered from 1 to 16. Number 8 is MS 408.

The manuscripts list of the Collegio preserved in American collections according to Ruysschaert shows that :

1- amongst the manuscripts recorded by De Ricci, Ruysschaert identifies 20 manuscripts to have left Collegio to Americas.

2- 15 of these 20 manuscripts have belonged to W.M. Voynich (including the five found in his estate) (11).

3- Amongst the 20 manuscripts, only 6 are recorded by De Ricci as belonging to Collegio Romano (one of them is MS 408).

4- Consequently, when Ruysschaert identifies the Collegio manuscripts, he uses another source than De Ricci : to the 6 manuscripts recorded by De Ricci, he adds 14 manuscripts on the origin of which De Ricci gives no information. This fact seems to be the only ownership proof of MS 408 by Collegio Romano which is independent of Voynich himself.

5- In this point of view, the cases of Valturius' and Virgilio's manuscripts are interesting. From his independent source, Ruysschaert knows that a version of De re militari was owned by Collegio Romano, but, on the basis of De Ricci, he is unable to identify which one between MS 13 and 14 of the Voynich estate. Same situation with Vergilius' Opera, between the Robert Garrett's volume (12), from Baltimore, MD. and the Grenville Kane's book (13) from Tuxedo Park, N.Y., the two versions having been purchased to Voynich (14).

In fact, Ruysschaert's source is most probably Enrico Carusi, his predecessor (15). The cover of Ruysschaert's codices says (16) : " Codices Vaticani Latini - Codices 11414-11709 - collected by José Ruysschaert, scriptor of the Bibliotheca Vaticana from notes by Henrici Carusi - In Bibliotheca Vaticana - 1959 ".This source is confirmed by Jeanne Bignami Odier, who writes : Enrico Carusi " had partially prepared the description of Codices Vat. Lat. 11414-11709, which was resumed by Mgr. José Ruysschaert " (17).

Moreover Ruysschaert mentions in his foreword that Carusi done his work before 1926 (18), 4 years or more before Voynich's death, and more than 3 years before the beginning of the De Ricci 's census. The probability of an independent source increases.

Ethel's letter

De Ricci indicates the MS 408 origin (19) in his volume 2, published in October 1937. Therefore, this origin is publicly known since October 1937, 23 years before the opening by Anne M. Nill of the Ethel's letter, at her death.

Moreover, the index of De Ricci's census mention the Anne M. Nill's help, for the preparation of the index and also the editing of the census (20). Anne Nill has most likely given the manuscript origin to De Ricci in 1937 and probably before, just after the Voynich's death, on March 19, 1930. She probably got Ethel Voynich'authorization. Why do we think that the letter content was a real revelation for Anne Nill in 1960, even if Voynich promised to the Jesuits to keep the secret till his death ?

Kraus's visit

In his autobiography, H.P. Kraus tells about his visit to Mgr. Ruysschaert in 1963 (21). Ruysschaert thinks that MS 408 is still in Bibliotheca Vaticana. He had a weak memory, but this anecdote confirms that, in his mind, the manuscript he had soon belonged to the Collegio Romano.

Manuscripts purchased by Voynich to the Collegio Romano

As mentioned before, Ruysschaert identifies 20 manuscripts having left the Collegio to Americas, amongst the manuscripts recorded in De Ricci. According to De Ricci, 15 of these 20 manuscripts have belonged to W.M. Voynich (and most probably have been purchased by him to Collegio).

What about the five other manuscripts? At this time, it's not clear if they were also purchased by Voynich.

Other manuscripts non quoted in De Ricci

At the end of the manuscripts list recorded by De Ricci, Ruysschaert notes : "Other manuscripts from Collegio Romano are found or to be found elsewhere (22) : T. De Marinis, La biblioteca napoletana dei re d'Aragona, t. 2, Milano, 1947, pp. 3-5 (Aelianus; formerly belonged to S. Galli, Collectio Arnold Mettler; = Manuscrits ..., no. 2, nunc Bodleianus Latinus class. d. 38, ut refert The Bodleian Library Record, t. 5 (1956), p. 332); pp. 22-23 (Ausonius, Londinii, Collectio S. J. Hornby; = Manuscrits ..., no. 6); p. 105 (Iannotii Manetti De dignitate et excellentia hominis; Florentiae, Raccolta Principe Piero Ginori Conti; = Manuscrits ... no. 23); Manuscrits ... no. 11.".

Then : " To these manuscripts we have to add six other, biblical texts and two roman breviaries, as it is clearly indicated in an index, the photography of which is preserved in the Archivo Biblioteca Vaticana, t.109." (23).

Ruysschaert ends the list of the American manuscripts as follows (24) : " If I am not wrong, all the works of the bookseller W.M. Voynich (1865-1930) have emigrated in these various libraries ".


Notes :

1- 297 references.

2- "Codices manu scriptos olim Collegii Romani Societatis Iesu in hoc catalogo recensitos S. Pius PP. X Bibliothecae Vaticanae anno 1912 dono dedit una cum Vaticanis Graecis 2341-2390, Vaticano Latino 13497et Vaticano Turco 80 ".

3- "Nonnulli alii codices eiusdem Collegii servantur in variis bibliothecis Americanis in quas eadem sive recentiore aetate illati sunt. ". Others manuscripts had soon left the College. Indeed, Ruysschaert continues : " But others manuscripts had soon left this Collegio. As proved by a Collegio's ownership mark, they are now preserved in Bibliotheca Vaticana, on the one hand Vaticanus Graecus 1947 and Ottobonianus Graecus 406, on the other hand Ottoboniani Latini 553, 1267 and 1514 and also in Parma, in Bibliotheca Palatina where Graecus 5 has been found " (" Alii vero iam antea ex hoc Collegio emigraverunt. Nunc inveniuntur, nota possessionis Collegii Romani distincti, in Bibliotheca Vaticana, cum Vaticanus Graecus 1947 et Ottobonianus Graecus 406 tum Ottoboniani Latini 553, 1267 et 1514 necnon Parmae, in Bibliotheca Palatina, ubi reperitur codex Graecus 5. ").

4- Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada, by Seymour De Ricci, with the assistance of W.J. Wilson, New York. The H.W. Wilson Company. 3 volumes: 1935, 1937, 1940.

5- Introductory note to the volume 1, p. VI.

6- A supplement has been published in 1962: Supplement to the Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada, originated by C.U. Faye, continued and edited by W.H. Bond, New York, The Bibliographical Society of America, 1962, Kraus Reprint Corp, New York, published a re-issue in 1961 (for the volumes 1 and 2) and in 1977 (for the index). Two updates seem in progress, by the Connecticut Historical Society, and by the Uncatalogued Manuscript Control Center, Moreno Valley, California.

7- Presentation to the volume 1, p. VIII.

8- In 1922, De Ricci publishes a list of 89 Latin classical manuscripts preserved in American libraries, from four journeys in USA made as soon as 1918, and from sales catalogues. Voynich is never quoted in this list (Seymour de Ricci, A handlist of Latin Classical Manuscripts in American Libraries, Iowa Philological Quarterly, 1922, vol.1, pp. 100-108). In 1926, B.L. Ullman, University of Chicago, publishes a complement (B. L. Ullman, Latin Manuscripts in American Libraries, Iowa Philological Quarterly, 1926, vol. 5, pp. 152-156). 78 manuscripts are quoted, amongst them 14 have been obtained by their owners from Voynich. In 1928, Ullman publishes a second complement (B. L. Ullman, Latin Manuscripts in American Libraries, Iowa Philological Quarterly, 1928, vol. 7, pp. 6-8. 32 others manuscripts are added to the list, including four obtained from Voynich. MS 408 is never cited.

9- Only one unknown person did not answer the survey.

10- De Ricci, tome 2, p.1845 : The estate of Wilfrid M. Voynich, 45 Prospect Place, New York. " The late Wilfrid M. Voynich was a bookseller of very unusual character. His enthusiastic nature served him well and was much appreciated by his many patrons. We are much obliged to the Administrators of his estate for welcome information on several interesting manuscripts which he still possessed at the time of his decease and the ultimate disposal of which is still a matter of conjecture ".

11- The dates of acquisition by Voynich are as follows: two have been purchased in 1912 (including MS 408), two before 1915, one before 1920, one before 1922, one before 1923 and one before 1924. As far as the 7 other are concerned, there is no indication from Ruysschaert or De Ricci.

12- Robert Garrett was a good client of Voynich. De Ricci says that he acquired at least 28 manuscripts, including one about astronomy (p.884, MS.99) and one about medicine (p.891, MS.131).

13- Grenville Kane has also bough many manuscripts to Voynich, including a German treaty of astronomy (p.1899, MS.52).

14- The two Valturius's manuscripts were given later in consignment to H. P. Kraus, who sold them to Lessing J. Rosenwald : "Among the purchases (of Rosenwald) were two manuscripts of Valturius, De re militari, with drawings relating to the woodcuts of the 1742 edition from the Voynich estate (see Chapter 31). I got them on consignment and sold them to Rosenwald for $20 000. They became items five and six in the catalogue of his gift to the Library of Congress". Kraus, Hans P.: A rare book saga - The autobiography of H. P. Kraus. New York: Putnam's, 1978. p.122.

15- From " Dizionario bio-bibliografico dei bibliotecari italiani del XX secolo ", Enrico Carusi (born in Polluti, province of Chieti, Italie on February 1st 1878, died in City of Vatican on December 14th 1945), was Scriptor for Latin letters of the Biblioteca apostolica vaticana before Ruysschaert. He was appointed scrittore aggiunto of the Biblioteca apostolica vaticana on November, 1907 and scrittore effettivo on July, 1909 (see Jeanne Bignami Odier, infra). With Marco Vatasso (named scrittore effettivo of the Biblioteca in 1899), he published the Codices Vaticani Latini 9852-10300 in 1914 and the Codices 10301-10700 in 1920.

16- "Codices Vaticani Latini - Codices 11414-11709 - Schedis Henrici Carusi Adhibitis Recensuit José Ruysschaert, Bibliothecae Vaticanae Scriptor - In Bibliotheca Vaticana - MCMLIX ".

17- "La bibliothèque Vaticane de Sixte IV à Pie XI : recherche sur l'histoire des collections de manuscrits ", by Jeanne Bignami Odier, with the collaboration of José Ruysschaert. Bibliotheca apostolica vaticana, 1973, Studi e testi 272, p. 268, note 13.

18- "For this census, very useful for me was a small document with short descriptions prepared by Enrico Carusi, my predecessor, before 1926, as he had the same task of recording the same manuscripts ". " In his codicibus recensendis usui mihi magno fuerunt quaedam chartulae cum brevibus descriptionibus quas Henricus Carusi b. m., praedecessor meus, ante annum 1926 paraverat, cum et ipse munus haberet eosdem codices recensendi. " Ruysschaert, foreword, p. XXV.

19- De Ricci, tome 2, p.1847: " It was later in Collegio Romano, in Rome, and was obtained in 1912 by W.M. Voynich ".

20- " With two exceptions, the indices, which constitute this third volume, have been prepared by Miss Anne M. Nill, who also collaborated most effectively in the editing of the Census, and who has devoted herself to the work in a manner that has placed all users of it in her debt " De Ricci, volume III, preface, p.V.

21- " In 1963 we were in Rome and I visited Monsignor Jose Ruysschaert at the Vatican library. I knew that he had published the catalogue of the Mondragone library and I hoped to get information about the Cipher manuscript. To my great surprise he thought that the manuscript was still in the library. I asked him: " Can you show it to me? ". " Yes " he replied, and headed for the stacks. Soon he returned without it. I had to tell him that I owned the codex, and how it came to me". Kraus, Hans P. : A rare book saga -- The autobiography of H. P. Kraus. New York: Putnam's, 1978. p.222.

22- " Alii Collegii Romani codices reperiuntur alibi vel reperiendi sunt ".

23- " His codicibus addendi sunt sex alii, Bibliocos textus et due Breviarium Romanum praebentes, ut apparet e quodam elencho cuius imago photografica servatur in Archivo Bibliotheca Vaticanae, t. 109 ".

24- " Ni fallor, omnes opera bibliopolae Wilfridi Michaelis Voynich (1865-1930) in has varias bibliothecas emigraverunt ". From this sentence, it has been concluded that all the manuscripts quoted in note 3 of the Ruysschaert's preface had been purchased by Voynich. We find in T. De Marinis, La biblioteca napoletana dei re d'Aragona, supplemento, 1969, p. 274 : " Finally, we have to add that the '"Ausone" and the "Giannozzo Manetti" above mentioned, as the "Elien" described in De Marinis, II, pp. 3-5 (today in the Bodleian Library at Oxford), come from the Collegio Romano Library, through W.M. Voynich, as mentioned in J. Ruysschaert, Codices Vaticani Latini…11414-11709,Vatican City, 1959, p.vii, n.1". C. W. Dutschke, in Guide to Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Huntington Library, volume 1, Huntington Library, 1989, also says: " A number of Leoni books were in the library of the Jesuit College in Rome until ca. 1912, when approximately 27 of their manuscripts were sold to the bookseller W. Voynich...".

June 22, 2003