The trail of the Green Man

In a section of my research work, I have been focusing on a woodblock print of a Green Man with rings in the mustache. This particular design of a Green Man presents itself again and again in historic publications I investigate in the context of Oak Island. I am not alone to have discovered this Green Man design in the context of alchemical and cryptographic texts, many have before me.

This specific design consists of a face with decoration to the left and right, and two long mustaches with hanging rings. There are some variations to the theme, but the two rings are very distinct. This design is present in Rosicrucian manifestos, pamphlets, in books on cryptography and in some quarto prints of Shakespeare to name a few places. I have tried to check some of these Green Man prints to see if they come from the same individual woodblock, and have found interesting connections;

The Uraniburg – Plotzkau connection

The first publication known to mention the Rosicrucians by name, is the Alchemical book collector Adam Haselmayer’s answer to the Fama Fraternitatis from 1612, printed in a secret printing facility in the Anhalt-Plotzkau region of present Germany, according to expert Tobias Churton.

The exact same woodblock was also used by Tycho Brahe’s (Danish astronomer and alchemist) own printing facility at Uraniburg, Hven, Denmark (now Sweden) 16 years earlier in 1596. Brahe used the Green Man in a book containing the outlines of his observatory at Hven, and astronomical correspondence between himself and Wilhelm IV, Landgrave of Hesse. The book was titled Epistolae astronomicae Libri. Uraniburg was located around 700 km, or 434 miles from Plotzkau.

I did a quick image analysis, and found that both prints come from the same woodblock (see below). This connection is interesting. I have thus proven that the printer at Uraniburg took this woodblock down to the Plotzkau region to be used 16 years later in a book on Rosicrucianism. Or, that Uraniburg printed at least the title page of the Haselmayer answer, as this is the page where the Green Man appears in the 1612 publication.

During my investigations of this woodblock design, I also found a block that seem to have been shared between the illicit printers John Wolfe and Valentine Simmes. This Green Man was used in books on cryptography and in works of poetry like some quartos of Shakespeare. This connection needs to be investigated further.

I would like to expand my research on this subject as a side-project to writing my book (this subject has now been lifted from my book as it is too much work for one man). I, together with fellow enthusiast Paul Lappin, have initiated a collaborative on-line investigation of this woodblock print. The project is titled “The trail of the Green Man”, and has come into existence with the purpose of tracing this one particular woodblock design only. No other design of Green men is of interest (but variations can be interesting).

We have assembled a closed group dedicated to the study of its composition, location and timeline of individual woodblocks. We hope this project will bring light to the true intention of this woodblock design, if any other than decoration. We also hope it can reveal some interesting previously unknown relations between people in renaissance Europe.

As of the 5th of January 2015 this investigation have gone beyond expectations. We have gathered 214 prints of the Green man with rings in the moustache, and I want to thank everyone who participated. I myself had little time to participate, but Paul Lappin, Mary Beth Ensor, Paul Ferguson, Laura O’Keefe, Louis Giliberto, Henning Hanson, Knut Skofteland, Richard Tingestad all contributed to this vast collection. We are much grateful for their performance.

Method

To join the investigation, any enthusiast can apply for a membership to our closed Facebook group “The trail of the Green Man” (see below). Membership is completely free of charge. An application simply consists of a standard Facebook apply for membership. If you don’t use Facebook, just send me an email on: info@oakislandproject.com

In the files section of the Facebook group (We can email you the links also), you will find links to a spreadsheet where members can catalogue each publication and enter details. Members can also upload high-res scans of Green Men to an on-line folder. On a custom google map members plot the printing location of the publications, and enter scans and data. After image analysis, this map will contain colored lines between plots if the same individual woodblock was used to print the Green Man. There are plenty of room for comments on the map.

It is most of the time very easy to see if a print used the same woodblock as another. It is also possible in some cases to see which print was done before another, if specific damages on the block are introduced in one of the prints.

When our moderators find no more contributions for some time, we will write a conclusion of the project, and send this to each contributor. All contributions will be gathered on shared documents, and all info will be public domain (except the scans which are owned by libraries in most cases). But this means information can be used by any of the contributors for any purpose, as long as all contributors are credited.

Please feel free to join the investigation. Apply for membership here:

Facebook group, The trail of the Green Man

Daniel Ronnstam
Amateur historic cryptographer

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