In 1909, an unmarried woman in Newcastle, Australia, received an encrypted postcard. Can a reader decipher it?
Over the last five years, I have introduced quite a few encrypted postcards on this blog. Here’s another one:
I found this postcard on the website of US professor Nicholas Gessler. In my view, it’s an especially beautiful one. Here’s the text side:
As can be seen, the recipient was a Miss E. Bennett, living in Merewether, a suburb of Newcastle, Australia. The card is dated December 12, 1909 (this means that the message might contain a New Year’s greeting). I can’t read the date on the stamp. N.S.W. stands for the Australian state of New South Wales.
The title “Miss” indicates that the recipient was an unmarried woman. This means that this post card, like most others I have seen so far, was probably written by a young man to his spouse.
The cipher the sender used is probably a mono-alphabetical substitution cipher (MASC). Tom Juzek, whose work about the Zodiac Killer I introduced in my last post, uses the expression “one-to-one cipher”, which distinguishes this kind of encryption from “one-to-many” ciphers, i.e., homophonic ciphers.
The MASC used here looks similar to a few I introduced over the last few years:
The message on the Newcastle postcard consists of only 33 letters. Nevertheless, it should be possible to break this encryption. Can a reader do it?
Further reading: Who can decipher this encrypted postcard from Wisconsin?