Tissie and Jabber as well as Harry and Caroline were two amorous couples, who exchanged encrypted messages via newspaper ads more than a century ago. Their encryption codes are unsolved to date.

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The book The Agony Column Codes & Ciphers by Jean Palmer (i.e., Tony Gaffney, a reader of this blog) is a very interesting one. It 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 covered, some of these.


Harry and Caroline

According to Tony’s book, the following ad was published in the Evening Standard on March 24, 1863:

CAROLINE . – Gd kzd lgsuoabzbt. Hjf pw Ebcvgfm, klv slxdzp t ugwxbz. – Harry.

Four days later, some Caroline replied:

HARRY. – U ponngf qw. G xtab io cwldf. Zhnc vh xwcd. – CAROLINE

To my knowledge, nobody has ever deciphered these two messages. After my first blog post about these cryptograms (in German) two years ago, I received a number of interesting comments, but no convincing solution.

Many of the encrypted messages in Tony’s book were sent by lovers. It is therefore likely that Harry and Caroline were an amorous couple. It would be very interesting to find out what they wrote each other. Maybe a reader can help.


Tissie and Jabber

Almost four decades after the encrypted Harry-Caroline conversation the following ad was published in the Daily Mail (September 14, 1901):

TISSIE. – Dano dbno dcno ddno dona donb donc donc dond onad onbd oncd ondd. – JABBER

Here’s the reply, which was sent two days later::

JABBER. – Nado nbdo ncdo nddo anod bnod cnod dnod onad. TISSIE

Again, this looks like an exchange of encrypted messages between two lovers. The solution is not known  to me.

I blogged about these cryptograms in July 2015 (in German). There were 25 comments, some of which were very interesting. Thomas Ernst  wrote that the four-letter groups (dbno, cnod, …) might refer to trifecta and superfecta horse bets. This is certainly an interesting hypothesis, as horse bets were very popular in Victorian England.

If a reader has other ideas how these cryptograms can be solved, please let me know.

Further reading: How a German World War II spy hid a message in a love letter

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Kommentare (5)

  1. #1 tomtoo
    27. Mai 2017

    Mal eine Frage an die Experten. Aber
    die Tissi/Jabber msg sieht mir gar nicht nach einem Sinnvollen txt aus. Eher wie Zahlenreihen ?

  2. #2 Thomas
    27. Mai 2017

    Harry and Caroline: Not to forget Tony himself guessed a solution : https://www.aerobushentertainment.com/crypto/index.php?topic=43.0

  3. #3 Thomas Ernst
    1. Juni 2017

    To expand on my comments from 2015: if – in the TJ-add – you replace the letters with numerals (taking “donc” for a typo“), that is a, b, c, d, n, o = 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 – you’ll find almost all six possible combinations of 4, 5, 6 – 456, 465, 654 with Tissie, 546, 564 with Jabber – covered:

    Tissie: 4156 4256 4356 4456 4651 4652 4653 4654 6514 6524 6534 6544.
    Jabber: 5146 5246 5346 5446 1564 2564 3564 4564 6514.

    The letters could, of course, stand for any array of the digits 1 – 9. Why the skip from “d” to “n”, and not sequential “e”, “f”? If you take a full-fledged 26-letter English alphabet, and repeat the numbers 1 – 9 underneath it, you’ll find that “5” comes to stand both underneath “e” and “n”, and “6” underneath “f” and “o”, whereby it doesn’t matter whether you start you sequence on “a” = “1” or “a”= “9”: “e”/”n” and “f”/”o” will always be identical numerals in a 26-letter alphabet. Since the average horse race doesn’t exceed 9 “contestants” – as if the poor things had a choice -, and in view of the repeated yet sequentially varied initial three numerals – four numerals, if you count Tissie’s final “6544” as a typo – it appears that these groups à 4 stand for trifecta + win bets, or, more probable, for superfecta bets. While decisive Tissie considers no. 4 the frontrunner, with second thoughts only to no. 6, a somewhat more reticent Jabber prefers no. 5, with half of his mind wandering all over the board. The only ways to verify this hypothesis, of course, are in finding similar agony adds, them being chronlogically close to a horse race. Should this race not have been local, but a once-a-year event, I’d first look for comparable adds in the same paper, a year earlier, and a year later.

  4. #4 Thomas Ernst
    2. Juni 2017

    “Harry and Caroline”: both H and C appear to use limited variations of monoalphabetic substitution. The first part of “DISCOVERED” (cryptologically) as well as “DENMARK” (semantically) don’t ring right.

  5. #5 Thomas Ernst
    4. Juni 2017

    H and C could be playfair, but it doesn’t really matter, since a playfair is nothing but a wayward, i. e. monoalphabetic substitution out of order. I don’t think there are any non-substituted letters in this conversation. Rather I think there is a regular change of alphabets. Since Tony guessed – and he can afford any guess – I add my own initial guess – nothing but! – for Caroline’s response: “I JIGGED IT. I WORK AT EIGHT. HAVE TO WAIT.” Whether “to jig sth.” is a proper Victorianism of 1863, is another matter. I agree with Tony that the two repeated letters stand for the same plaintext letters. “CALLED” would fit nicely from “LLED” into the same substitution alphabet, while “C” and “A” are jumpers. Not convincing.