Postcard-Gunner-bar

In 1906, an unknown person sent two beautiful postcards encrypted in a pigpen cipher to a man in Kent. Can a reader solve these two postcard cryptograms?

Frequent readers of Klausis Krypto Kolumne certainly know the pigpen cipher (also known as Freemason’s cipher, because it was popular among the Freemasons). As reported recently, the pigpen cipher has been used for centuries to encrypt gravestone inscriptions, treasure maps, certificates, mug inscriptions, beer labels, postcards and other things.

Freimaurer-Pigpen-bar

 

The pigpen cipher

The pigpen cipher is known in several variants. Usually, the cipher alphabet is derived from four tables in the following way:

Freimaurer-Pigpen-3

There are many variations of this scheme. For instance, the order of the letters in the tables can be varied. The following is an old French pigpen variant:

Pigpen-Scovell

 

Two unsolved pigpen postcards

On a genealogy blog, I recently discovered two nice pigpen postcards. They were written in 1906. Here’s the first one:

Postcard-Gunner-1-pic

Postcard-Gunner-1-tex

Here’s the second one:

Postcard-Gunner-2-pic

Postcard-Gunner-2-tex

The recipient of the postcards was a gunner (i.e., a soldier who shot guns) named H. Cooney living in Sheerness in Kent, UK. The picture motives suggest that the sender and the recipient were lovers. This is not unusual, as at least 95 percent of the encrypted postcards I know are love messages. However, it is very unusual that the recipient is a man, which suggests that the sender was a woman. Usually, it’s the other way round.

After these cards were published on the genealogy blog mentioned above in January 2016, a number of reader tried to break the encryption, but none of them was successful. Can a reader of this blog do better?

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/13501820
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/763282653806483/

Further reading: Marie-Antoinette’s encrypted letters to Axel von Fersen

Kommentare (13)

  1. #1 Largo
    2. Dezember 2016

    First attempt with some mistakes:

    Dear Fred
    just alive to let you know that i arrived in north (h)ampton quite tacc hope you are quite well as i
    t y leaves me atoresent with cond love from Daisy

  2. #2 Dampier
    2. Dezember 2016

    it is very unusual that the recipient is a man, which suggests that the sender was a woman.

    Really?

  3. #3 Largo
    2. Dezember 2016

    Corrected version:
    Dear Fred,
    Just aline to let you know that i arrived in ni(o)rth hampton quite safe. Hope your are quite well as it ?leaves meat present with fon(d?).
    Love from daisy

  4. #4 Thomas
    2. Dezember 2016

    I think Daisy used a modified pigpen cipher:

    A C E
    G I K
    M O Q

    with dots:
    B D F
    H J L
    N P R

    S
    U W
    Y

    with dots:
    T
    V X
    Z

  5. #5 Thomas
    2. Dezember 2016

    The first card (some characters are quite difficult to decipher, corrections appreciated):

    Dear Fred,
    just a line to let you know that I arrived in Northampton quite safe.
    Hope you are quite well as it leaves
    meat (?) present with
    ond (?) love from Daisy

  6. #6 Largo
    2. Dezember 2016

    Second one:

    Dear Fred
    I am having a delightful time here. Mr and Mrs Wood send their kind regards to you.
    With fond love and kisses from daisy

  7. #7 Thomas
    2. Dezember 2016

    the second:

    I am having a delightful time here. Mr. and Mrs. Wood send their kind regards to you with fond (?).
    Love and kisses from Daisy

  8. #8 Thomas
    2. Dezember 2016

    You´re right, it was my fault: “fond” belongs to “love”,

    … With fond love (and kisses) from Daisy

  9. #9 Thomas
    2. Dezember 2016

    I think in the first card she meant:

    “Hope you are quite well as it leaves
    me at present.” ?

    Maybe a native speaker can help.

  10. #10 Klaus Schmeh
    2. Dezember 2016

    @Largo &Thomas:
    Thank you very much for the solution! Great job!

  11. #11 Tony
    2. Dezember 2016

    ‘hope you are quite well as it leaves me at present’
    this is correct – just another way of saying –
    ‘hope you are quite well as I am at present’

  12. #12 Thomas
    3. Dezember 2016

    Thank you, Tony, I didn’t know this phrase.

  13. #13 Ulrich Haevecker
    Berlin
    16. Dezember 2016

    Congratulations also from Berlin. Neither of you mentioned the garlands of “X”es (13 on card 1; 11 on Cars 2: all of them kisses ! Nor the spelling mistakes of Daisy: “LROM” instead of “FROM” (both Cards)