University of Michigan discovers Galileo manuscript in its collection is fake

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The University of Michigan has discovered that a jewel in its collection is a fake. After conducting an internal investigation, the unit concluded this Wednesday that the manuscript Astronomer and engineer Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) that it was actually a forgery made in the 20th century. Definitive evidence is the characters seen in the document’s watermark (the engraving which attests to its authorship and place of production) proves that it could not be earlier than the 18th century, roughly the death of its presumed author. 200 years later. The letters BMO, corresponding to Bergamo, are read on the brand. According to the University of Michigan, there are no watermarks associated with that city prior to the year 1770.

It is suspected that the Italian professional counterfeiter Tobias Nicotra is behind this false manuscript, who in 1934 was sentenced to two years in prison for similar actions, including copies of other papers attributed to Galileo. The document includes a draft of a letter about the official presentation of the telescope built for Galileo. doge of venice in 1609. There are also notes on his observations of Jupiter’s moons between January 7 and 15, 1610, which challenged the ancient notion that everything in the universe revolved around the Earth. The counterfeiter was auctioned off in 1934 as part of philanthropist Roderick Terry’s belongings. According to the catalogue, that sheet was attested by Cardinal Pietro Maffei, Archbishop. Pisa. From, after comparing it to a letter from Galileo that was already in his collection. The manuscript was acquired by a Detroit businessman named Tracy McGregor, whose foundation, managed by his successors, was donated after his death to the University of Michigan.

Suspicions about the falsity of the document, which had been in university collections for nearly a century, were first raised by American historian Nick Wilding. The specialist paid attention to the details of the monogram in 2020, when he was preparing a new biography of Galileo that he has yet to publish.

In 2012, Wilding identified it as a copy of the book. siderius nunciusalso preserved by Galileo in national library of spain, During his documentation work for the biography, he also pointed out the falsity of a letter attributed to Galileo at the hands of the Morgan Library in New York, which would actually be Nicotra’s work as well. “My spider sense was activated as soon as I ran into Nicotra,” Wilding said of his investigation. The professor was astonished by other details such as the use of certain words in the text, which he did not associate with Galileo’s style, and the fact that the ink in the early and final portions of the writing was very similar despite the fact that he believed that he Wrote months apart. “It just draws attention. It must be two documents that are on the same sheet. Then why do they have the same brown color?”, asked the expert.

Wilding himself also investigated the fraudsters. He discovered that the professional was also selling fake missives and musical scores to support the Seven Lovers. Apart from Galileo, other famous personalities like amadeus mozartoLorenzo de’ Medici and Christopher Columbus could have been victims of the Italian’s fraudulent actions. In an article by several experts warns new York Times On the possibility that more imitation pieces will be found in larger collections.

The interim dean of the university’s bookstores, Donna L. Hayward has talked about the fuss. “It was devastating to learn that our Galilee was not really Galilee”, assured the manager, who also believes that hiding this reality “under the rug” would be against his values. In a University of Michigan statement regarding the investigation, those responsible say they are “grateful to Professor Wilding for sharing his discoveries” and that they are working on “rethinking the role of the manuscript” in his collection.

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