A message written 118 years ago in Aldino, Maryland, waits to be solved. Can you break this cryptogram?

After having been in some 20 archives and numerous libraries and after having read stacks of crypto litereature, I still can say: My most important source for finding interesting cryptograms is Google. This is because there are plenty of cipher mysteries that can be found on websites, most of which have nothing to do with cryptology.

My latest find came up when I typed in “encoded message” on Google. Of course, I was not looking for encoded messages, but for encrypted ones, but I knew from experience that many laymen don’t know the difference. What I found using this search term is a two pages encrypted letter dated 1900, presented by a user named sassyjordo on an Imgur page. Here is the front page:

Aldino-1

And here’s the rear side of the note:

Aldino-2

As can be seen, the letter starts with the two cleartext words “Dear Sister”, which tells us that the recipient was a woman. The sender is not mentioned, at least not in the clear. My guess is that this note was written by a man.

Apparently, the note was written in Aldino, Maryland, a small community north-east of Baltimore. Considering that the message stems from the USA and that the few cleartext words are in English, I assume that the plaintext is written in English, too. The dots probably indicate the word boundaries.

The encryption system used is probably a simple letter substitution (MASC). I’m sure, the sender was not a professional crypto user. Otherwise, he would have known that using a secret alphabet doesn’t improve security compared to a letter-for-letter substition. In addition, the secret alphabet contains a number of complex signs, which are quite annoying when one has to write a longer text.

Can a reader break this crypto mystery?


Further reading: Who can decipher these two very short postcard messages?

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Kommentare (3)

  1. #1 Armin
    5. Oktober 2018

    I WILL
    NOW WRITE
    YOU A FEW LINES
    BERTHA I WAN
    T YOU TO BE SUR
    E AND LET ME
    KNOW WHEN MR
    OALES IS GOING TO
    HAVE HIS PARTY
    WE ARE GOING TO
    HAVE EXAMINAT
    ION THIS WEEK
    AND NEXT WEEK
    MABY I WILL C
    OME DOWN HOME
    NEXT WEEK I WIL
    L NOT SAY FOR S
    URE BUT MABY
    I WILL BERTHA
    IF HE TARES
    THIS OPEN HE CAN
    NOT READ IT

  2. #2 Gerry and Andrea
    5. Oktober 2018

    It is indeed a MASC. The small dots are the word delimiters, the big dots represent the letter I. So the letter starts with “I will now write you a few lines”.

  3. #3 Klaus Schmeh
    5. Oktober 2018

    @Armin, Gerry and Andrea:
    Thank you very much and congratulations, this was fast!