Two postcards from the early 20th century are written in Morse code or something similar. One of these cryptograms is still unsolved.

Writing a postcard in Morse code is certainly not the most secure way to keep the postman or the housemates of the recipient from reading it. Still, this method a lot better than no encryption at all. After all, not everyone who can take a short glance at a postcard is fluent in Morse code.

 

A homosexual love message?

The following Morse code postcard I found in an online discussion forum was sent in 1906:

Postcard-Bern

Apparently, both the sender and the receiver were located in Berne, Switzerland. A member of the discussion forum found the solution:

? gäll, sei nicht böse dass [du] vergebens
an die bahn gelaufen [bist],
es ist auch nicht meine schuld, erhielte
erst heute abend eine [t]depesche, dass [ud]du
fehlbar am mittwoch kommen soll[test]
mehr kann [ich] dir nicht sagen [wi], zürne nicht
süsses p..u

This translates into:

Hey, don’t be mad that you ran to the train in vain.
It wasn’t my fault at all, I only got the message tonight
that you failed to arrive on Wednesday.
I can’t tell you more, don’t be mad lovely p..u

According to the poster, the message is not written in pure Morse code, but in “Gericke code”. To be honest, I don’t know what this is. I couldn’t find any information about a “Gericke code” online. Does a reader know more?

A forum reader wrote, that this postcard was written by a man. If this is correct, the sender and the recipient might have been gay – something considered scandalous in the early 20th century (homosexual activities were legalized in Switzerland in 1942). However, I don’t see where the gender of the sender is mentioned on this card.

 

An unsolved Morse message

Here’s another Morse code postcard I found online:

Postcard-Plymouth

This one was sent from Plymouth, Indiana, to Clinton, Ohio (a distance of about 500 kilometers). I don’t know whether this message is encoded in standard Morse code or American Morse code. In both cases, the last line decodes to GAW. Of course, it could also be something else, like encrypted Morse code or the afore-mentioned Gericke code.

Can a reader decipher this postcard?


Further reading: The Top 50 unsolved encrypted messages: 16. The train station robbery cryptogram

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Kommentare (7)

  1. #1 Armin
    19. April 2018

    Indeed it’s American Morse Code (didn’t even know that exists!). It reads:

    ARE
    YOU MARRIED
    YET?
    NEITHER AM
    I HA! HA!
    NOT YET
    BUT SOON
    SO LONG
    GAW

  2. #2 Klaus Schmeh
    19. April 2018

    @Armin: Thank you very much! You posted the solution 18 minutes after the article was published. This is a new record!

  3. #3 Armin
    19. April 2018

    I haven’t heard of Gericke code either, but a quick glance at the first card suggests that regular Morse code was used, with the additional procedure of mirroring Morse sequences that contain both dots and dashes (“.-..” becomes “..-.”), and inverting Morse sequences that contain only one kind of symbol (“…” becomes “- – -“).

  4. #4 Armin
    19. April 2018

    The question mark at the begin of the plaintext could then be replaced with “M L”.

    Mein(e) Liebe(r)?

  5. #5 Armin
    19. April 2018

    Ok, one correction: the additional procedure for the first card is as follows: if the Morse sequence for a letter is symmetric, invert it, otherwise mirror it.

    Example:
    Letter K has Morse code “-.-“, which is symmetric and is inverted to “.-.”
    Letter L has Morse code “.-..”, which is not symmetric and is mirrored to “..-.”

  6. #6 Andi
    20. April 2018

    The code of the first card would be a “Gerke-Code”. Gerke revised the original Morse code which by the way was invented by Alfred Vail.
    See
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedrich_Clemens_Gerke#Revision_of_Morse%27s_Code
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Vail#Morse_code

  7. #7 Klaus Schmeh
    2. Mai 2018

    @Andi: Thanks, “Gerke Code” appears to be the correct expression.