This page presents a Proposal, and a related Parts List, with prices, for providing the first-ever digital scanning of a uniquely significant historical document, currently stored in Gardiner, Montana, USA.

Dr. Orville Owens of Detroit created the scroll-like document in the 1890’s out of canvas and the book paper of the period. It is fragile, and weighs more than 800 pounds. It is not currently mounted on rotating spooling-drums, as it was originally.

from Baconiana

At left is a very rare photo of the document unfurled.

from Baconiana

At left is the only known digital image of its content which is publicly available, presented at its full size.

The following article is by far the best available overview of the Orville Owens document. It has the distinction of having been written by none other than the former Director of the organization which has owned and has been storing the document since 2006, Summit University.

The relevance of the current page is that while Summit University has been keeping the document, they have not been showing it. It would be in line with the wishes of its donor that is should be available for study by researchers. To date, it hasn’t been.

A 332-page book is available through Summit University, The Shakespeare Code, and provides the most in-depth information about Dr. Owen’s Cipher Wheel invention.

A key paragraph from the referenced article from Baconiana reads:

Learning that (the owner) was looking for a good home for it, she offered to take it in. The old lady’s only stipulation was that the wheel must have a permanent home where it would be secure, appreciated and readily available for serious examination.

Later, in the same article:

There are no current plans in Summit University or its parent organization, The Summit Lighthouse, to engage in research on the cipher wheel. 

The article ends with:

In short, Dr. Owen’s cipher wheel is waiting for the next generation of Baconian researchers. Who will take on the challenge and make Mrs. Hovhaness and our dear Virginia Fellows proud?

The author (F.B.D) has been in occasional correspondence with the individual at the Summit Lighthouse who would seemingly have the executive authority to allow a researcher, such as me, to:

non-destructively capture digital images of the document, such that they should permanently reside in a internet archive that was freely available to researchers. But I have been rebuffed up till now, having been informed that they have someone already, and exclusively, under contract to do something with it. What that, is unknown.

One of the last paragraph reads:

I like to think that if Francis Bacon had addressed a “letter to the decipherer” to someone in our day and age, he might have said:

The easiest way to carry on the work is to
Take your desktop and digitize all our books,
And paste the pages into a giant text
Which scrolls and scrolls, and clicking away
With your mouse, first search for FORTUNE

The second of these, but in reverse, is of interest here, the original output (the physical document) is input to the next processing stage, so that the digitization outputs content for a single-purpose public Web page.

The final part of this Proposal goes into specifics of a custom non-destructive digital scanner setup which has a parts cost of less than $1000 US.

Below are additional links to the very limited body of publications which try to understand how the Word Cipher algorithms actually worked, in support of the effort to reverse-engineer them.

The Word Cipher on this website

Image Scanning

A commonly-used design in cinematic applications provides a camera rail supported by twin Tripods. A heavy-duty setup like this can cost up to $10,000.

Note the twin tripod rack mounts.

Our proposal would provide a bespoke digital image scanner for capturing a series of images.

fffeeeIllinois Shakespeare Festival Font
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