Some of the crypto mysteries I recently introduced on this blog were quite tough. As a change, here are a few easier ones from a 19th century children’s magazine.

Do you remember what you read in your childhood? Among my non-fiction favourites were the books of the Was ist Was series (known as How & Why in the English speaking world) and the Catholic youth magazine Weite Welt. And of course, I enjoyed the children’s novels of Enid Blyton as well as Die drei ??? (The Three Investigators).


The St. Nicholas Magazine

US children of the late 19th and early 20th century had other literature to read – e.g., the St. Nicholas Magazine. The St. Nicholas Magazine was a monthly children’s magazine, founded in 1873. It published work written by some of the country’s best writers (e.g., Mark Twain contributed the St. Nicholas Magazine). It ceased publication in 1940 (a revival was attempted in 1943, but to no avail).


I didn’t know the St. Nicholas Magazine until recently. I learned about it when I was browsing through the internet in search of interesting crypto history material a few days ago and came across the following cryptogram:


This encrypted message stems from an 1873 issue of the St. Nicholas Magazine. It is not very hard to solve. Can you do it?


Other St. Nicholas puzzles

In the Internet Archive scans of all St. Nicholas Magazine issues are available. I did not look at the content of this publication in much detail, but still my impression is that children’s literature of later generations was a lot better and better suited for the target group (i.e. children) than the St. Nicholas Magazine.

The cryptogram I introduced above was published in the “Riddle Box” column, which apparently was an integral part of the magazine. I checked the Riddle Box of the other issues of the same year and found a few more nice puzzles. For instance, here’s a letter that needs to be “decrypted”:


The other puzzles I found in the Riddle Box are of the rebus type. Here’s the first one:


Here’s another one:


And here’s the third one:


Of course, the solutions of all these riddles are known. However, I don’t want to mention them here. If you can solve any of the puzzles, feel free to leave a comment.

Further reading: Hidden message discovered on tombstone of famous cryptologist couple


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Kommentare (3)

  1. #1 Thomas
    7. September 2017

    The Isaak Walton rebus:

  2. #2 Hans
    12. Oktober 2017

    The solution of the writing on the column base is “INDEPENDENCE NOW AND INDEPENDENCE FOREVER”

  3. #3 Hans
    12. Oktober 2017

    By the way, this quote is taken from the closing words of Daniel Webster’s “Imaginary Speech of John Adams”. This famous text from 1826 begins with the words: “Sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish, I give my heart and my hand to this vote.”