As noted in my videos, Peter Skelton made one exception to his vow of secrecy when studying the Vinland Map, involving his friend Prof. Eva Taylor of Birkbeck College, London. The material she gathered in the course of her studies of the Map can be seen today at the British Library (Add. MS 71873 0). Dozens and dozens of the items in the collection are tracings of maps of North America, Greenland etc., from sources old and new, gathered to test her theory that different parts of the Vinland Map outline were copied from different maps. As also indicated in the videos, the 2012-3 discoveries of John Paul Floyd, combined with my own work on the use of photography in creating the Vinland Map outline, suggest that the main Old World landmass was all copied, with deliberate distortions, from a single map known to Skelton, but other maps were indeed used for the major islands in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
A letter from Skelton included in the collection, dated 3 July 1963, confirms that he had showed her the very first draft of his essay on the Map for the official book "The Vinland Map and the Tartar Relation" about a year earlier (and that, having delivered his final draft to Yale in February 1963, he expected his co-authors' essays to reach the printer later in July). Anticipating publication of the book, Eva therefore worked in August and September on her own response, an essay on "Cartographic Evidence of Forgery" on the Vinland Map. Her first draft opened:
"Now that old maps and atlases change hands at very high prices their forgery has become profitable. It is therefore no longer safe to accept a 'newly discovered' map of the sixteenth century or an earlier date as genuine unless something of its past history is known."Completion of the official book was delayed, but Prof. Taylor stated her position anyway, without specifically mentioning the still-secret Vinland Map, in a letter published in the London Times on 14 November 1963. Two days later, a response from Skelton (also not mentioning the big secret) was published, arguing that:
"If the content and form of the counterfeit map are to pass for genuine, its author must be at once an accomplished scholar and a resourceful craftsman, since his work has to survive the critical scrutiny of experts in various fields of knowledge and technology."While that was, of course, true, it did not take account of the phenomenon I have called "vicispiracy"- a chain of people following the original creator of the hoax, with their own incentives to help it survive or dodge critical scrutiny. However, it was purely accidental that the eventual delay of nearly two years in publication of the book (Skelton to Taylor, 20 May 1964: "The other contributors delayed the operation ... I rather doubt now whether it will be out this year") meant that by the time it did appear, Eva was terminally ill and living in a nursing home. She did write again to The Times, offering her full proof of forgery, but the typescript was still at Birkbeck, and its custodian, her former student Eila Campbell, was working in Poland (as Eva apologetically explained in a letter on 18 October 1965). The college authorities managed to locate the illustrations for the article, but not the typescript itself.
"The purchase is believed to have been underwritten by the American millionaire Paul D. Mellon for a sum in the region of £100,000"- not until 1996 did Mellon admit that he was indeed the anonymous donor, and the £100,000 figure (then roughly $300,000) is significant because Yale's publicity when the Map was revealed just 20 weeks earlier had hinted that its value was not far off a million dollars, a discrepancy very important in analysing the progress of the vicispiracy.