The British mail authority has issued a set of six stamps devoted to crime writer Agatha Christie. The stamps are packed with steganographic messages. Can you find them?
Using stamps for hidden communication is an old technique. For instance, the way a stamp is placed on an envelope may have a certain meaning. This method, which was especially popular among lovers, is explained on this marvelous web site.
According to a book I read in my youth (it’s a book about stamps from the “Was ist was” / “How and why” series, which is extremely popular in Germany), World War 1 spy Carl Hans Lody used a stamp code to send hidden information to his handler. While the story of Carl Hans Lody is well documented on Wikipedia and other sources, I haven’t found any information about his stamp code. I’m not even sure whether it ever existed. Maybe a reader knows more about it.
The Agatha Christie stamps
Royal Mail, the British mail authority, have now started a new chapter in the history of stamp steganography. They have issued a set of six stamps devoted to legendary crime writer Agatha Christie. Each stamp shows a motive from a famous Christie story (e.g., “Murder on the Orient Express”), and each stamp features one or several hidden messages.
Royal Mail didn’t say how these messages are hidden and what they are supposed to mean. Allegedly, techniques like microtext, UV ink, and thermochromic ink were used, requiring a viewer to utilize special tools to find the clues. On the other hand, it is quite obvious that at least some of the stamps contain hidden pictures. Some sources say that in each stamp a letter is hidden and that these letters form a word.
For more information about the Agatha Christie stamps, check here.
All six stamps are displayed in the following. Can you find the hidden messages? Do you know what they mean? If yes, please let me know.
Murder on the Orient Express
The Mysterious Affair at Styles
The Body in the Library
And Then There Were None
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
A Murder is Announced
I wish there were more stamps with a content related to cryptography or steganography. Maybe this series will inspire other mail authorities to issue similar stamps.
Further reading: The Henry Debosnys Murder Case FAQ