Kate Ebutt from England has found an encrypted bottle post in the river Don in Sheffield. Can a reader solve it?

James Simpson has posted an interesting comment in the Facebook group Codes & Classical Ciphers. He has come across an encrypted message on Instagram. This message was found by a woman named Kate Ebutt (katewhatiscalledkate) in a sealed jar weighed down the river Don in Sheffield, UK. Of course, I can’t guarantee that this story is true. However, if it is, we deal here with a kind of encryptd bottle post. I have blogged about encrypted bottle posts a few times before. This one is probably not related to one of the others.



As can be seen, the bottle post consists of two sheets, each containing a two line message. At the bottom the word “Bottle” is written. Both sheets were folded. Kate Ebutt didn’t provide a photograph of the jar the message was contained in.

At first view, the encryption used could be a MASC (mono-alphabetic substitution cipher). However, the letter resembling an “I” seems to appear a little too frequent.

I don’t think the script is a short hand, as the letters are not suitable for fluent writing.

Like with other encrypted bottle posts, I ask myself why it was made. A bottle that is thrown into the water usually doesn’t reach a particular person. I see no reason why a message that has no clearly defined recipient should be encrypted. So, the most likely explanation is that this and most other encrypted bottle posts are not more than nice gimmicks.

If you have a better idea on what this bottle post might be about or if you can solve the encryption, please let me know.

Further reading: The Top 50 unsolved encrypted messages: 50. The Cylob Cryptogram

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Kommentare (8)

  1. #1 Thomas
    26. Juni 2017

    There are only 11 different characters, 7 of which represent arabic numbers ( 1,2,3,5,6,8,9).

  2. #2 BREAKER
    27. Juni 2017

    Was thinking possibly there is Arabic MIXED with shorthand

    The message derived seems to leave a numerical result of a Kasiski Test, leaving the results as the answer to be run backwards through the method shown?

    The use of the Arabic Symbols shows that it gives the answers to be “read backwards”…..with a subtle undertone of spite noticed towards the Arab Language being read “backwards” as related to the English attitudes recently who all read “forwards”…..these subtle themes are important.

    The letters at the bottom DO NOT ONLY SPELL Bottle

    The “Message In A Bottle” is from the band POLICE.

    Now this seems to be quite a random location to find a message in a sealed jar.

    And the poster has a name that is not face front.

    KateWhatIsCalledKate was her name…..a few other posters added comments in the tone of friends who know her.

    Just doesn’t seem like it’s a love letter. Its for the Police….after their recent Sting in the UK that swept their hidden outposts.

  3. #3 Ulrich
    27. Juni 2017

    Dear Thomas, you were ever so right. They are all numerals, I read them as “Urdu” rather than “Arabic”. The numerals are very similar, but I think the “five” is the key.

    Both messages are the same, except chr number nine: a – slash in the upper text, and a ● dot in the lower text (which would fit in better with a list of numbers.
    78322109097451 141 128
    192 47 78?8? 84 136
    I think they are all telephone numbers. Before anybody starts dialing: most probably they read from right to left! Greetings

  4. #4 Ahmad
    27. Juni 2017

    A gps coordination in arabic 😉

  5. #5 Thomas
    27. Juni 2017


    You’re absolutely right, these are Urdu digits. I think there are two mistakes in your transcription of the first line:

    78321059097 451 141 128

    In the bottom line one character (7. and 8.) is not quite clear, maybe 66?
    192 47 7?? 84

  6. #6 Ulrich
    29. Juni 2017


    Thanks for spotting slips and reinstating “six” (I concur).
    Original: 78321059097451 141 128 // 192 47 76684 136
    European: 631 48667 74 291 // 821 141 15479095012387

    The “3-digit-groups” suggested country-, town-, mobile phone-prefixes to me. Endless possibilities ( 0821= a freephone, 0141 = Glasgow; 0631 = Kaiserslautern). Maybe a wrong guess.

  7. #7 Thomas
    29. Juni 2017

    I think the digits must not be reversed:
    Arabic numerals are arranged with the lowest-value digit to the right. That is identical to the arrangement used by Western texts using Hindu-Arabic numerals even though Arabic script is read from right to left (Wiki: Eastern Arabic numerals).

  8. #8 Breaker
    5. Juli 2018


    Looks like we won for now……who knows if they will continue these threats.