A dog tag introduced by a Reddit reader bears an inscription that looks like encrypted text. Can a reader solve this cryptogram?
Over the last five years, I have covered many interesting crypto objects: encrypted letters, encrypted postcards, encrypted gravestone inscriptions, encrypted notebooks, and encrypted dedications – to name but a few examples. Blog reader Rallinger has now drawn my attention to something I have never written about before: a cryptogram engraved on a dog tag.
A number sequence on a dog tag
This dog tag cryptogram is currently discussed on Reddit. The following picture of it was published by Reddit user ipchristian1:
Here’s a transcription:
22 47 16 41 10 35. 4 5 23 48 17 42 11 29 30 6 24 49 18 36 12 13 31 7 25 43 19 37 38 14 32 1 26 44 20 21 39 8 33 2 27 45 46 15 40 9 34 3 28
According to the Reddit post, the rearside of the tag looks like this (no scan is available):
7 ______ 49 ______ 157 ______ 1252 ______
The cryptogram turns out to be an anagram
ipchristian1 writes: “Unfortunately, the person who emailed this over to me is unable to tell me anything about the history of this, so I can’t comment on the language, history, or provide any useful clues. It seems that after the dot in the above code, are numbers – perhaps this indicates an order? The first part of the code doesn’t have a starting single digit. Once rearranged, other strange patterns start to appear too, more numbers appear in sequential orders, with the numbers in that first row being ‘missing’ from the sequences.”
Later, the owner of the dog tag published the following comment: “I believe this is English but it’s possibly Lithuanian as that’s where the man’s parents were from. I have no evidence but I also think it may be biblical.”
When I read the Reddit comments and took a closer look at the number sequence on the tag, I realized: this cryptogram consists of the numbers from 1 to 49 with each number appearing exactly once. In other words: it’s an anagram of the numbers from 1 to 49. Of course, this means that this number sequence is not a text encrypted in a substitution cipher.
What else can it be? Here are a few possibilities:
- It might be a key of of transposition cipher.
- The numbers might represent the pages of a book.
- There are lotteries that involve 49 numbers in Germany, the UK and other countries. Perhaps, there is a relationship.
Still, I don’t know why somebody would engrave something like this on a dog tag (if it was used as a dog tag at all).
Can a reader make sense of this cryptogram? If so, please leave a comment.
Further reading: Who can decipher this encrypted inscription on a cigaret case?