Catokwacopa-bar

Two encrypted newspaper advertisements from 1875 puzzle cryptologists. Is the first ad the key to the second?

The book The Agony Column Codes & Ciphers by Jean Palmer (i.e., Tony Gaffney, a reader of this blog) is a treasure trove for everybody interested in codebreaking. This work presents over a thousand encrypted newspaper ads from Victorian England. While Tony has solved many of these cryptograms, some still wait to be deciphered. On Klausis Krypto Kolumne I have written about, some of these.

Many of these encrypted newspaper ads contain love letters. Others were placed by business people in order to provide certain information to partners and customers. Ignatius Pollaky, a successful private investigator of the Victorian era, communicated via newspaper ads, too.

 

Two ads from 1875

One of the most puzzling encrypted newspaper ad series described in Tony’s book was published in the Evening Standard in 1875.

Evening-Standard-2-bar

This series consists of two ads. The first one was contained in the May 8, 1875 issue:

W. Str 53. Catokwacopa. Olcabrokorlested. Coomemega. Sesipyyocashostikr. Rep. – Itedconlec mistrl. – Hfsclam 54, 3 caselcluchozamot. 1. 6. 9. Mopredisco. Contoladsemot. Iadfilisat. Qft. Cagap. Balmnopsemsov. Ap. 139. – Hodsam 55, 6. Iopotonrogfimsecharsenr. Tolshr. Itedjolec. mistrl. – Ding Declon. Ereflodbr.

Twelve days later, on May 20, a second ad of the same style was published:

W. – Umem 18. Poayatlgerty. Dpeatcnrftin. Nvtinrdn. Dmlurpinrtrcamur. Etd. – Atndngtnsurs. Otenpu. – Eftdorshpxn. 18. Ndtsfindseseo. Cotegr Tavlysdinlge. Ngtndusdcndo. Edrstneirs. Ui, Ndted. iolapstedtioc. A. P. 138. – Yxn. 18. 18. Wtubrfftrstendinhofsvmnr. Dily. – Atdwtsurs. Oatvpu. – Y Arati. Rileohmae. – This will be intelligible if read in connection with my communication published in this column on the 8th inst.

Note that the last sentence of the second ad is in the clear. If it is correct, the first ad could be the key that is necessary to decrypt the second (or the other way round).

I published a first blog post (in German) about these ciphertexts (I call them Catokwacopa cryptograms because of the first word in the first ad) in 2015. There were a couple of comments, but nobody came up with a solution.

 

A transposition cipher?

The Catokwacopa cryptograms look different from most other ads in Tony’s book. Words like “Catokwacopa” and “Olcabrokorlested” are pronounceable, which is unusual for most encryption methods. My first impression was that the number of vowels is higher than usual in a ciphertext, which is evidence for a transposition cipher (encrypting it with a substitution cipher typically lowers the number of vowels in a text). To check whether my suspicion was correct, I performed a frequency analysis with CrypTool 2. Here’s the result:

Catokwacopa-Frequencies

This frequency distribution is consistent with an ordinary English text. This makes it very likely that we deal with a transposition cipher here.

The question is now what kind of transposition the author of these ads used. My guess is that the two ads need to be mixed somehow (e.g., letter 1 from ad 1, letter 1 from ad 2, letter 2 from ad 1, letter 2 from ad 2, …). However, I haven’t found a mixing rule that makes sense, so far.

Can a reader find out more?

Further reading: The Top 50 unsolved encrypted messages: 30. The Harry-Caroline and the Tissie-Jabber messages

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Kommentare (32)

  1. #1 Lance Estes
    United States
    27. Januar 2018

    What strikes me are the similarities between ad 1 and ad 2 in a couple of specific spots, and the overall feeling that these may be very similar plaintext.

    In ad 1, “Itedconlec mistrl.” and “Itedjolec. mistrl.” are quite similar and in ad 2 in roughly the same spots we see “Atndngtnsurs. Otenpu” and “Atdwtsurs. Oatvpu.”

    Similar beginnings and endings in the pairs, and an exact match in the case of “mistrl”

  2. #2 seb
    27. Januar 2018

    gibts das auch irgendwo in deutsch?

  3. #3 Thomas
    27. Januar 2018

    The two messages are very similar regarding their construction. Maybe the corresponding words of both messages must be combined and anagrammed. E.g. line 4: Ding + y = dying, Declon + Arati = declaration.

  4. #4 Klaus Schmeh
    27. Januar 2018

    @seb:
    >gibts das auch irgendwo in deutsch?
    Bis Herbst 2016 habe ich auf Deutsch gebloggt, dann auf Englisch umgestellt. Leider schaffe ich es nicht, den Blog zweisprachig zu betreiben.

  5. #5 Klaus Schmeh
    27. Januar 2018

    Richard SantaColoma via Facebook:
    “Catokwacopa, east of Java”

  6. #6 Thomas
    27. Januar 2018

    In English texts Q is (nearly) ever followed by U. In line 3 there are corresponding letter groups Qft and Ui. Since “quift” is no word we can expect (at least in 1875), there must be yet another transposition pattern. But the Q and this U should belong together.

  7. #7 Thomas
    27. Januar 2018

    Statistics: As Klaus has pointed out, the letter frequency distribution of the two messages put together matches – more or less – that of English plaintext. But if we look at the messages separately, the first one has strikingly too much Os, the second one too much Ns and Ts. This might have to do with the fact that certain letters occur more frequently at certain positions in an word.

  8. #8 Klaus Schmeh
    28. Januar 2018

    Bart Wenmeckers
    Gruppenadministrator
    Its interesting that both cipher texts have similar layout/format..
    Bart Wenmeckers via Facebook:
    My interpretation of “This will be intelligible if read in connection with my communication published in this column on the 8th inst” is that these are independent ciphers/messages.

    Anyone else have any ideas?

  9. #9 JA
    30. Januar 2018

    Thomas has it. The third and second to last words are DYING DECLARATION. The messages have to be matched together and transposed.

  10. #10 Lance Estes
    United States
    31. Januar 2018

    I liked the idea Thomas proposed for combining Ding and Y for DYING and Declon and Arati for DECLARATION. However, as many have probably seen when they tried to do that with other pairs, it doesn’t seem to work out.

    I decided to take a closer look at a couple of specific pairs, Itedconlec/Atndngtnsurs and Itedjolec/Atdwtsurs. Based on common letters and the idea of combining the two parts I divided these into two similar “sentences”: ITEDATND CONNGTN LECSURS and ITEDATD JOWT LECSURS.

    One thought I had was that LECSURS might be LECTURES? Yeah, thats rather far fetched given the perfectly spelled DYING DECLARATIONS .

    And what about the first word of my sentences? If we are allowed to skip between the letters of ad 1 and ad 2 (as long as we keep them in order) I could make IATTENDD and IATTEDD. I ATTENDED perhaps, with a few letters missing? Crazy I know, but bear with me.

    Perhaps we have I ATTENDED ____ LECTURES? OK, so can we take the middle words of my sentences, CONNGTN and JOWT, and make words?

    Would you believe CONINGTON and JOWETT? John Conington and Benjamin Jowett were both working for the University of Oxford in the mid-1850s. (That may be quite interesting later.)

    CONNGTN also appears when you take the following pairs from the ads: Contoladsemot/Ngtndusdcndo . Might that read CONNGTN TOLD US ADD SECND MOTO (Conington told us add second motto)?

    And how about all of those numbers? If you consider the 18’s (which all occur in ad 2) three of them are in the right positions to match with 53, 54, and 55 in ad 1. Could the overall content be as simple as describing things of interest that happened to this person in the years 1853, 1854, and 1855? And if that answer is yes, it might be quite reasonable that they attended lectures by Conington and Jowett at Oxford.

    Other possible pairs and what they might say follow

    Catokwacopa/Poayatlgerty (“cap took away at colge party”)

    Coomemega/Nvtinrdn (convo “met me in garden”)

    Hfsclam/Eftdorshpxn (do you see “sclorship”?)

    caselcluchozamot/Ndtsfindseseo. (“candt” is seen later, and “motto” is there at the end)

    Mopredisco/Tavlysdinlge (something “in colge”)

    Iadfilisat/Edrstneirs (“i aded first line” satirs)

    Cagap/Ndted (There’s “candt” again)

    So its a fairly circumstantial case at this point, but perhaps others can be successfully push this further. (And many thanks to my friends that helped push this along to this point!)

  11. #11 JA
    31. Januar 2018

    Balliol is mentioned (Jowett’s college) “Balliol man posted…”, “Said simply your cap…”, “”old cap broke at…”

  12. #12 Dave
    London
    31. Januar 2018

    I obtained some potential partial solutions very similar to much of the above by combining the two messages:
    Str 53/Umem 18 (Sum term 1853) – Summer Term 1853
    Catokwacopa/Poayatlgerty (Cap took away at … party)
    Olcabrokorlested/Dpeatcnrftin (Old cap broke at corn left instead) corn. – corner?
    Coomemega/Nvtinrden (… met me in garden)
    Sesipyyocashostikr/Dmlurpinrtrcamur (Sed simply your cap in shorts trick … )
    Rep/Etd (Repetd) – Repeated?
    Itedconlec/Atndngtnsurs (I attended … )
    Mistrl/Otenpu (?) Mister O.Tenpu?
    Ladfilisat/Edrstneirs (Laded first line is arts)
    Tolshr/Dily (Told shirly) – Shirley?
    Balmnopsemsov/Iolapstedtioc (Baliol man posted … ) last word could be a surname: something like ‘Semsovic’ or could be a slightly jumbled/corrupted ‘semiotics’
    There certainly seems to be a theme there. I tried the same method on the rest of the message but lost the will when the results were even more fragmentary. This might be due to so many of the plaintext words being abbreviated or because they are surnames.

  13. #13 Thomas Ernst
    Latrobe
    28. Juni 2018

    What happened to the rest of the thread? Did it stop the end of January 2018?. And re # 6: yes, “quiffed” certainly was a word in 1875, if you look up “quiff” in the proper place. The writer often wrote phonetically, so you will get a devoiced plosive at the end of a simple past tense verb. He also skipped many of the silent “e”. – My mail to Leicester – with heavily revised readings of my lines – shall still go out. Then I shall know more.

  14. #14 Thomas Ernst
    Latrobe
    28. Juni 2018

    When I started commenting on this thread, I was completely unaware of Lance Estes’s entry # 10. Don’t know why I overlooked it. The names Conington and Jowett, of course, can be no accident, neither, then, can be “attended” and “lectures”. If I had read that entry, I would not have ventured onto the slippery slope of thieves’ slang. No email to JC. Apparently the whole thing IS someone’s bio for the years 1853-56. However, while apparently not necessarily thieves’ argot, it might be useful to consider a few contemporary colloquialisms for unscrambling the remainder of the text. I pass.

  15. #15 Thomas Ernst
    Latrobe
    28. Juni 2018

    I shall not pass without a more educated guess, building on the afore-posted. Modern English. “Cap” must refer to money. No idea about the “motto”. “Freemantles” is a free guess in coniunction with Jowett and the “dying declaration”. “xn” occurs twice, I think, and may still mean “Christian” …

    [1] SUMMER TERM
    [2] 1853
    [3] CAP TAKEN AWAY AT COLLEGE PARTY
    [4] OLD CAP BROKEN AT CORNER LEFT INSTEAD
    [5] CONINGTON MET ME IN GARDEN
    [6] SAID SIMPLY: YOUR CAP IS […]
    [7] REPEATED
    [8] I ATTENDED CONINGTON LECTURES
    [9] MOSTLY […]
    [10] HE […]
    [11] 03/1854
    [12] CAN’T SELL CLUTCH […] FIND ME A MOTTO
    [13] 1. 6. 9./co tegr
    [14] MOTTO […] IN COLLEGE
    [15] CONINGTON TOLD US SECOND MOTTO
    [16] I ADDED FIRST LINE […]
    [17] QUITTED
    [18] COUNTED CAP
    [19] BALLIOL MAN POSTED POSITION […]
    [20] Ap. 139. –/A. P. 138. –
    [21] Hod sa m/Y xn.
    [22] 1855-6
    [23] I W[…] IN SEARCH [OF A SUMMONER / END OF SUMMER]
    [24] TOLD SHIRLEY
    [25] I ATTENDED JOWETT LECTURES
    [26] MOSTLY […]
    [27] DYING
    [28] DECLARATION
    [29] MEMBER OF FREEMANTLES [???]

  16. #16 Thomas Ernst
    Latrobe
    29. Juni 2018

    A few more ideas, to make up for my previous catimurkers:

    [6] SAID SIMPLY: YOUR CAP IS HONEST CHARACTER
    [9] MOSTLY PRIVATE
    [10] HE FUNDED [CHRISTIAN???] SCHOLARSHIP
    [14] MOTTO PROUDLY USED IN COLLEGE
    [16] I ADDED FIRST LINE IS ARTS
    [17] [A?]QUITTED
    [26] MOSTLY PRIVATE
    [27] DOING [???; instead of DYING]

    [6] would explain [7]. “Cap” may mean sth. like tuition. Am sure – for a change – that [27] is not DYING. Am not sure about DOING. However, it would go with [26], and the notion that the writer had private lessons, as well as the idea of a scholarship. The significance of the “MOTTO” escapes me.

  17. #17 Thomas Ernst
    Latrobe
    29. Juni 2018

    This ought to answer [3]:

    [23] I FOUND OUT ON ROBBER[Y?] FIRST WENT IN SEARCH OF A SUMMONER

    That’s what he told Shirley about.

  18. #18 Thomas Ernst
    Latrobe
    29. Juni 2018

    [21] H od s am/Y xn: HE SAID AM CHRISTIAN. That’s the Balliol man from [19] speaking. “E” skipped, “SOYD” for “SAYD”.

  19. #19 Thomas Ernst
    Latrobe
    29. Juni 2018

    If the Bailliol man posted a position in [19], the “AP” in [20] means either “ANNUAL PAY”, or “ANNUAL PERCENTAGE”. Certainly a monetary amount this time, and not chronological. I favour “percentage”, if/since our man just counted his cap in [18].

  20. #20 Thomas Ernst
    Latrobe
    29. Juni 2018

    [11] cannot be “03/1854” (the summer term 1854 started late April) but, analogous to [22], means “1853-4”.

  21. #21 Thomas Ernst
    Latrobe
    30. Juni 2018

    Possibility for [12]: CANT [ELECT SUCH FUND] OR SEIZE A MOTTO. Conington taught at Corpus Christi, a college – unusual – with no official motto, just a frequently used toast, “Floreat antiqua domus”. The motto of his alma mater may have mattered professionally for our writer; I can’t see any other point. “FUND” for “FIND” may mean that our Oxford-man wasn’t eligible for Conington’s fund the second time around. – Jowett taught at Balliol. Both Corpus Christi and Balliol are Oxford colleges. Our Oxford scholar may have worked/taught for Jowett at Balliol

  22. #22 Thomas Ernst
    Latrobe
    17. Juli 2018

    For ease of understanding, here’s a combo of my # 15 and 16. Am still not sure about the “motto” and some other things. It would be nice to look at the original ads, since I suspect there to be a few transcription errors on top of the typos in the “Evening Standard”.

    [1] SUMMER TERM
    [2] 1853
    [3] CAP TAKEN AWAY AT COLLEGE PARTY
    [4] OLD CAP BROKEN AT CORNER LEFT INSTEAD
    [5] CONINGTON MET ME IN GARDEN
    [6] SAID SIMPLY: YOUR CAP IS HONEST CHARACTER
    [7] REPEATED
    [8] I ATTENDED CONINGTON LECTURES
    [9] MOSTLY PRIVATE
    [10] HE F[O?]UNDED [CHRISTIAN?] SCHOLARSHIP
    [11] 1853-4
    [12] CANT ELECT SUCH FUND [OR?] SEIZE A MOTTO
    [13] 1. [A] 6. [F] 9. [T]/cotegr
    [14] MOTTO PROUDLY USED IN COLLEGE
    [15] CONINGTON TOLD US SECOND MOTTO
    [16] I ADDED FIRST LINE IN [IS] ARTS
    [17] QUITTED
    [18] COUNTED CAP
    [19] BALLIOL MAN POSTED POSITION […]
    [20] Ap. 139. –/A. P. 138. –
    [21] HE SAID AM CHRISTIAN
    [22] 1855-6
    [23] I FOUND OUT ON ROBBER[Y?] FIRST WENT IN SEARCH OF A SUMMONER
    [24] TOLD SHIRLEY
    [25] I ATTENDED JOWETT LECTURES
    [26] MOSTLY PRIVATE
    [27] DOING
    [28] DECLARATION
    [29] MEMBER OF FREEMANTLES [?]

    Let me make it a little more exciting by suggesting that there are several – to be more precise, a handful – indicators that the author of this unusual autobiography was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832 – 1898), better know by his pen-name Lewis Carroll, author of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” (1865), and “Through the Looking Glass” (1871).

  23. #23 Thomas Ernst
    27. Juli 2018

    I finally took the plunge, and bought one month of access to the British Newspaper Archive. That means today I shall not eat. First checked the edition from 27 March, 1875. The ad can be found p. 1, col. 2, second row, and reads (numbers in [] added by me):

    W. [1] TITOLLUM [2] Endive [3] [Oonran/Ooman]. [4] Soomoom [5] Biff[?]ot. [6] Coxel. [7] Dritterfo. [8] Cardebog. [9] Wapalinok. [10] Sikrinad. [11] Sepp?

    Unfortunately, there are two light creases running through p. 1. However, as I suspected, there were previous transcription mistakes. The third word does not start with “Oe”, but with Oo”; the “m” could also be – my inclination – “nr”. There runs a crease between the “f” and “o” of the fifth word; the second “o” could be a “b”.

    My plans are now to find the other half that goes with the ad from 27 March; to proof the ads from May; to find additional ads of this kind.

    The same column, row 5, contains an ad that has nothing to do with our split pairs. However, it is to good not be quoted:

    PAPA’S PET WANTS HIM.

    All in capitals. Must have been urgent …

  24. #24 Thomas Ernst
    27. Juli 2018

    The ad from May 8, 1875 needs to be corrected in two places: it is not “Hfsclam”, but “Hrsclam”, and the “Ap.” amount is not “139”, but “138” (which aligns it with the second half). Similar to the ad from March 27, this one is to be found on p. 1, column 2; this time row 4. I refrained from adding numbers in []:

    “W. Str 53. Catokwacopa. Olcabrokorlested. Coomemega. Sesipyyocashostikr. Rep.– Itedconlec mistrl. Hrsclam 54. 3 caselcluchozamot. 1. 6. 9. Mopredisco. Contoladsemot. Iadfilisat. Qft. Cagap. Balmnopsemsov. Ap. 138.–Hodsam 55, 6. Iopotonrogfimsecharsenr. Tolshr. Itedjolec. mistrl.–Ding Declon.–Ereflodbr.”

    On to May 20.

  25. #25 Thomas Ernst
    27. Juli 2018

    There were seven mistakes to be corrected in the transcript of the May 20 ad, three at the beginning of “Etfdorshpxn”. Unfortunately, the single “Y” wasn’t one of them. The ad can be found in the same space as the two earlier ones, this time row 10. Spacing, capitalization, punctuation all original:

    “W. –Umem 18. Poayatlgerty. Dpeatcnrftin. Nvtinrdn. Dmlurpinrtrcamnr. Etd. – Atndngtnsurs. Otenpu.–Etfdorshpxn. 18. Ndtsfindseseo. Cotegr Tsvlysdinlge. Ngtndusdcndo. Edrstneirs. Ui. Ndted. Iolapstedttoc. A.P. 138.–Yxn. 18. 18. Wtubtrfftrstendinhofsvmnr. Dily.–Atdwtsurs. Oatvpu.–Y Arati. Rileohmae.–This will be intelligible if read in connection with my communication published in this column on the 8th inst.”

    Two rows above this one (no context) you can read: “If you can do anything do. Everything is so cheerless.” Must have been Papa’s Pet!

  26. #26 Thomas Ernst
    27. Juli 2018

    While double-checking the “Fact or Fiction” ads from 1879 – http://scienceblogs.de/klausis-krypto-kolumne/2018/07/24/the-fact-or-fiction-cryptograms/#comment-1068225 -, I noticed that all the “FACT or FICTION”-ads appear in the same space as the 1875 “Catokwacopa”-ciphers: “The Standard” (as the paper was titled back then), p. 1, column 2, top rows, with the occasional cross reference to an earlier post. I have positively no doubt that the author of the 1875 and 1879 “ciphers” was the same person.

  27. #27 Thomas Ernst
    27. Juli 2018

    Having checked all issues of “The Standard” of March and April 1875, I could not find another crypto-ad by our friend W. Thus the ad in the March 27 issue, which ends on a question mark, appears to be a self-contained singleton that has to be solved on its own terms.

  28. #28 Thomas Ernst
    28. Juli 2018

    Given my recent findings, my interpretations of the 1875 and 1879 ads in #22 need to be overhauled. – An additional find re the 1879 “Fact or Fiction” ads: the ad from 25 March 1879 also appears in the “Standard” of the following day, with unchanged letters. Perhaps a mistake by the “Standard” to run the same ad twice on consecutive days?

  29. #29 Thomas Ernst
    28. Juli 2018

    A re-worked version of the May 8/20 ads from 1875:

    [1] str/umem:
    SUM[MER] TERM
    [2] 53/18:
    1853
    [3] ca tok wa co pa/p o ay at lge rty:
    CAP TOOK AWAY AT COL[LE]GE PARTY
    [4] ol ca brok or le sted/d p e at cnr ft in:
    OLD CAP BROKE AT CORN[E]R LEFT INSTE[A]D
    [5] co o me me ga/n v t in rdn:
    CON[INGT]O[N] MET ME IN GARDEN
    [6] se sipy yo ca s host i kr/d ml ur p i nrt r camnr:
    S[AI]D SIMPLY[:] YOUR CAP IS HON[E]ST[Y] I[N] C[H]AR[ACTE]R
    [7] rep/etd:
    REPE[A]T[E]D.
    [8] i ted con lec/atnd ngtn surs:
    I ATTEND[E]D CON[I]NGT[O]N LEC[T]UR[E]S
    [9] m istrl/o tenpu
    […]
    [10] h r scla m/e tfd or shp xn:
    HE [O]F[FE]RD SC[H]OLA[R]SH[I]P [E]X[A]M[INATIO]N
    [11] 54. 3/18:
    1853-4
    [12] ca selc luch o z a mot/nd t s find sese o
    CAN[T] SEL[E]CT [M]UCH FUND O[R] SE[IZ]E A MOT[T]O
    [13] 1. 6. 9./cotegr
    […]
    [14] mo pred is co/ts vly sd in lge
    MOT[TO] PR[O]UDLY [U]S[E]D IN COL[LE]GE
    [15] con tol a dse mot/ngtn d us dcnd o:
    CON[I]NGT[O]N TOLD US A [S]EC[O[ND MOT[T]O
    [16] I ad fi li s at/ed rst ne i rs:
    I AD[D]ED FIRST LINE IS [IN??] ARTS
    [17] qft/ui
    QUIT[TED]
    [18] ca gap/ndted
    C[OU]NTED [C]AP
    [19] bal mn o psemsov/iol a p sted ttoc
    BAL[L]IOL MAN POSTED […]
    [20] Ap. 138. –/A. P. 138. –
    A[NNUAL] P[AY] 138[…]
    [21] hod sam/yxn
    H[A]D [E]XAM[IN]A[TIO]N
    [22] 55, 6/18. 18
    1855-6
    [23] i opotonrog fi msecharsenr/wtubtrfftrstend in h of svmnr
    I […]
    [24] tol shr/d ily
    TOLD SHIRL[E]Y
    [25] i ted jo lec/atd wt surs
    I ATTE[N]D[E]D JOW[ET]T LEC[T]UR[E]S
    [26] m istrl/oatvpu
    M[…]
    [27] ding/y
    D[O]ING
    [28] decl on/arati
    DECLARATION
    [29] ereflodbr/rileohmae
    […]

    Frankly, I do NOT understand the many mistakes. Two can be considered systematic: the use of abbreviations, and “phonetic writing”, such as “-e-” for both “-ea-” and “-ai-“, and the dropped “-e-” in weak past tense verbs. However, if [9] and [26] are meant to be the same, they indicate a high frequency of external mistakes. Then there are instances of poor English: TOOK must mean TAKEN; I suspect the same with BROKE for BROKEN. The colloquial exchange of a simple past tense for a past participle is sub-standard English. Unless this too was intentional. – While the overall construction of the two ads from May 8 and 20 1875 is obvious – you are supposed to join the two halves occurring at the same position in both ads – I am not sure whether we’ll ever arrive at a complete, final plaintext. Mistakes need explanation. While looking at the original ads in the “Standard” yesterday, I noticed no other typos in the surrounding texts. Of course, those were all plainly intelligible texts. But the type setters of the “Standard”, which came out daily (except Sunday) at 3:00 pm and cost one pence, appear to have been pros. Often, large blocks with numerals were printed, dealing with share prices or sth. of that nature – why would these guys butcher our ads? Unless, as I speculated earlier, it happened during a dictation process. Numbers, if dictated by one person to another, are processed more correctly than apparent gibberish. And the setters at the “Standard” certainly had to work fast to produce – at that time – 8 densely printed pages a day.

  30. #30 Thomas Ernst
    29. Juli 2018

    Dodgson’s diaries from before 1855 are missing (he supposedly kept diaries since he was ten), so are the ones from 1858 to1862. Dodgson’s diaries were edited in 1951 in excerpts. I am indirectly quoting from them through the preface of Hugh Haughton’s 1998 critical edition of “Alice” and “Looking-Glass”. Apparently, Dodgson called 1855 the most “eventful year of his life”, which he had begun “as a poor bachelor student” and ended it as a master and tutor (in mathmatics) with an income of “more than £ 300” a year. This may account for line [20] of the 1875 ads: “A[NNUAL] P[AY] [£] 318”. 1853, incidentally, was Dodgson’s third year at Oxford. – There’s still no accounting for the “ungrammaticality” of the participles TOOK for TAKEN, and BROKE for BROKEN. Unless they indeed are simple pasts – but then who is the subject? Dodgson was very much known to be a stickler for correct English. In 1892 he wrote: “I think newspapers are largely responsible for the bad English now used in books.” So perhaps – far-fetched idea – intentional mistakes??? – I do not have Dodgson’s selected diaries on hand; they may confirm or put to rest the idea that he authored the eight ads in the “Standard” in 1875 and 1879.

  31. #31 Thomas Ernst
    30. Juli 2018

    By putting system to the supposed errors, I may still get to the finish …

    “Cap” literally is an academic cap. Apparently it was of importance, as all those clown-outfit regalia at British and American universities still are today. Most European universities don’t need all that dangle. I once had a collegue in Spanish who, at commencement, couldn’t be lined up with the remaining faculty because his university in Spain had not endowed him with his own academic clown’s-outfit. True story! – Thus line [18] can be improved to C[O]N[INGTON] DEPA[R]TED. The departure (despite his recent arrival and the Latin Chair created for him) may have had to do with the death of his friend P. S. Worsely, to whom Conington had promised to finish the remaining translation of the “Illiad” – it was a promise made to “his dying friend” (vide “Conington” in the Encyclopedia Britannica 1911). – [21] may be HOSTED MY EXAMINATION (for the tutoring post), while [23] does definitely not begin with I, but – see list of intentional errors above – JOW[ET]T as IOWT. Moreover, the switch between J and I is also apparent in the two “Fact or Fiction” ads from 11 and 13 June 1879. “v” for “u” is also typical for the 1875 set.

  32. #32 Thomas Ernst
    30. Juli 2018

    Lines [9], [26]: MASTER PUPIL.