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Bessler's Codes

During my research I stumbled on an amazing fact. Bessler had left full instructions for building his machine, but written in code. The code is hidden in at least two of his publications and there are additional clues in others. Examples of the code are numerous and there is no doubt whatsoever that it exists, but so far it has defied decipherment

The first item of code is obvious, as it has been discussed many times in various narratives of the legend of Bessler's wheel, although no reason for its existence has ever been offered before. He used the pseudonym "orffyreus" in place of his real name, "bessler". This was achieved by a simple substitution of the letters of his name, and is commonly known as the "atbash" cipher, well known in Biblical scholarship. He placed the second half of the alphabet beneath the first half, and substituted the letters above for those below and vice versa.

























You can see that B for Bessler is represented by O for Orffyreus and E for R and so on. I have ised the 24 letter German alphabet which has, as you see, alternatives for I and J, and U and V. Once I had hit on the possibility that there might be a code, I looked for further evidence of its existence and this is what I found.

In his famous Apologia Poetica one small clue lay in the quotation on the first page, which had been taken from the bible. It starts, "The secrets of Kings and Councillors, I will be silent about…". The implication being that Bessler, a Councillor of the city of Hesse, and his Royal master Karl, were privy to a secret. Another clue lay in the last quotation in the book. It also comes from the Bible and runs "and do ye still not understand?", implying that the reader has had an explanation placed in front of him and he cannot see it - not much to get excited about so far, but look what I discovered next

Apologia chronograsm
The whole publication is written in gothic script, as is still the case in some of Germany's printing. But Bessler did a most extraordinary thing with the font used in the above two quotations. He used Roman Capitals whenever a letter in the quotation could stand for a Roman Numeral. For example in the words Roman Numeral he might have substituted the letter m for an M, and the letter l for an L. It looks very odd even to today's unfamiliar eye. I added up all the "roMan nuMeraLs" thus exposed and discovered that the total was 1717, the year that the publication was published according to the front page. In the illustration above, which is taken from the last page of the book, the following Roman Numerals can be extracted from the gothic script (in the red underlined letters):- D.I.D.V.C.C.V.V.D.I. - Since D=500, I=1, V=5, C=100, the sum therefore = 1717, the year of publication of the work. The words say "..and do ye still not understand", which is taken from Matthew 15, verse 16. Why did he do this? Coupled with the atbash clue of his pseudonym and the odd hint here and there throughout his autobiography, the aim was to point the reader in the desired direction, making him ask questions. But the clues could not be too obvious otherwise the secret might be revealed prematurely. For instance, prior to a passage of free verse is the advice, "Those who are keen to ask questions, should ask them of this little book. My work will not be revealed prematurely. Should anyone wish to speculate on the truth, let him now ponder on the rich pageantry of words which I now cause to shower down upon him!" This particular passage describes the wheel's construction in metaphors.

Though the evidence is circumstantial, there are numerous other examples and taken together they provide convincing evidence of the inventor's intention to leave small clues behind should he die without having sold his secret. He wanted to ensure that he could prove that his machine was the first perpetual motion machine ever made, in case someone else should discover a way of producing an engine of similar ability, and so he sought to prove this by burying the proof within a published document much as did Gallileo and Sir Christopher Wren and others. He could then point to the code at a later date if the necessity arose, as proof of his priority. There is the odd passage of disjointed poetry in his book, which appears amidst a perfectly sensible account of the wheel. Before the appearance of each set of clues there are hints that study of the book will provide answers for the perceptive reader. There is the apparent random scattering of some 600 "X's" throughout the book always at the ends of lines, but in varying positions beyond the end of those lines, either one, two, three or four spaces from the final word on the line. There is the remarkable list of Biblical references totalling 145 and occupying seven pages of the book, which appear to have no profound insight to offer to explain their inclusion. Alongside the list is a narrow column of prose which appears at first sight to be linked to the adjacent Biblical references, but on further reading it is clear that only the first three or four can be definitely linked. Four of the references in the list are duplicated, which might indicate a difficult word was sought and only found in the one place? And lastly there are the mysterious drawings, which purport to be of toys, except that they are not toys. And the book in which they appear states clearly that although an explicit drawing of the wheel has been destroyed, a careful study of several drawings among the remaining 141, will still lead to an understanding and eventually to the successful construction of the secret mechanism

Copyright © 2011 John Collins