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Books once owned by Jacobus Horčický / Sinapius / de Tepenec


The Voynich MS bears the ex libris of of Jacobus Horčický de Tepenec on its first folio. In recent years, several additional books and manuscripts have surfaced which bear his ex libris with one version or another of his name. They are described in this page. For more information about Jacobus, see his biography .


The following Table presents an overview of the five books and manuscripts that are known today, including the Voynich MS.

Nr. Type Author Title Published Preserved at
1 Print Boethius Severinus (Interprete) Dialectica Aristotelis Lugduni, 1553 Czech National Library (Clementinum, Prague)
2 MS Bartolomeus Anglicus De Proprietatu Rerum Lugduni, 1480 Strahov Monastery Library, Prague
3 Print Petrus de Crescentiis Opus Ruralium Commodorum Argentinae, 1486 Strahov Monastery Library, Prague
4 MS (unknown) (Voynich MS) (unknown), early 15th C Beinecke Rare Book and MS Library, New Haven
5 MS Albertanus Brixiensis (1) De doctrina dicendi et tacendi (Czech translation) (2) (unknown) Charles University Library, Prague

Sequence Numbers

One conspicuous aspect of Jacobus' ex libris is that each book has been assigned a sequence number. They are indicated in the following Table, with additional information about the version of his name.

Nr. Sequence No. Inscribed Name
1 4 Jacobj à Tepenecz
2 7 Jacobi Synapij inscriptus Anno 1602
3 18 Jacobi Synapij anno 1602 inscriptus
4 13? / 19? Jacobj à Tepenecz
5 40 Jakuba z Tepeneze

The numbering appears to be neither alphabetical (by author), nor chronological. It strongly suggests that a list of his books should exist. This list or catalogue may also have been made as part of his testament. During Stefan Guzy's presentation of his 2022 Voynich conference paper (3) on 1 December, he indicated that his testament has been found, but not the list of books. It is now assumed to have been destroyed. It would have been of great interest to see the description of the Voynich MS in this list.


Dialecta Aristotelis, Clementinum, Prague
Bartolomeus Anglicus: De Proprietatu Rerum, Strahov
Petrus de Crescentiis: Opus Ruralium Commodorum, Strahov
Voynich MS, Yale, New Haven
Albertanus Brixiensis, De doctrina dicendi et tacendi,
Charles Univ., Prague

The number on the Voynich MS is not fully legible, and I personally hesitate between 13 and 19 (4).

Additional signature

An important additional reference is a signature of Sinapius on a legal document. This was discovered by K. Slajsna and J. Hurych already before the above ex libris. It dates from 1617, and is written manu propria. Several additional signatures have been found since, and are expected to be published in the near future (5).

Preliminary discussion

There are some obvious similarities and some obvious differences between the various forms of his ex libris. Even nrs. 2 and 3, which are almost identical and appear to have been written close together in time, show different forms of the initial capital J, which are also observed in his other ex libris. These two are both early forms, while the other four must have been written after 1608, given his use of 'de Tepenec'.

The signature nr. 1 is of great interest, as this is essentially identical to that on the Voynich MS.

For several of these books previous owners are known or indicated. The struck out name on the Aristoteles book (nr.1) indicates that the previous owner was called Wroblicius. Given that the year (1604) is surrounded by the initials A.W., we may assume that this is Albertus Wroblicius, co-author of "Disputatio Theologica De Verbo Incarnato" (1611). The document of Albertanus Brixiensis (nr.5) was previously owned by Jiri Berthold Pontanus (d.1614). As is well known, the Voynich MS was almost certainly previously owned by emperor Rudolf II.

The year 1604 written on the Aristoteles book appears in contradiction with the use of the title 'de Tepenec', but a false colour representation of the page (6) demonstrates that this year is written with the same ink as the ex libris that has been struck out, not in the ink of Jacobus' ex libris. The initials "A.W." are best visible in this false colour image.

Upon Jacobus' death his possessions were left to the Jesuits in his last will and testament. Consequently, all his books should have entered the library of the Clementinum. In effect, books 1-3 above all bear an ownership note of the Jesuit library, where books 2 and 3 must have passed to the Strahov monastery at a later date. I have personally scrutinused the entire first page of the Voynich MS under UV light, and can state that a similar line does not appear.


In addition to the acknowledgments in the main text and footnotes, I am grateful to the Czech National Library and the Strahov Monastery Library who kindly made available images of books 1-3 in the frame of the recording of the Austrian TV documentary (2009). Images of the Voynich MS were kindly made available by the Beinecke Rare Book and MS Library of Yale University, New Haven. The ex libris in book 1 was found by A. Sulzer. The ex libris in book 3 was found by myself. The ex libris in book 5 was found by R.Prinke and photographed by P.Kazil.


The author was previously known only as "Mistra Albertana", and I am grateful to Jan Hadrava of the Czech republic for identifying him.
Based on its incipit, the book title was previously listed as "Knihy Mistra Albertana", but the same Jan Hadrava identified it as a translation of of several of his tractates including  De doctrina dicendi et tacendi. Another copy is preserved in the National Library of the Czech Repulic with shelf mark XVII.E.11, and this may be browsed >>here.
The (soon to be published) paper: Guzy (2022) does not include these details. This additional work will be published in the near future.
While the image shown here seems to favour 13, visual inspection in 2009 favoured 19.
As part of unpublished research of Stefan Guzy.
I am grateful to Gabriel Landini for creating this image.

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Copyright René Zandbergen, 2022
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Latest update: 25/12/2022