Two years ago I blogged about an encrypted certificate, which was found in the wall of a house. Nobody could solve this cryptogram. So, it’s time to have a second look at it.

Would you like to decipher a shorthand postcard from 1904? If so, look at the following one, which is currently discussed in a Reddit forum (thanks to David Allen Wilson for the hint):



This postcard is written in the Pitman shorthand. There were dozens of shorthand types before modern recording technology came up. If you type in “shorthand postcard” on Google you receive numerous hits. As Pitman was one of the most popular shorthands (especially in the English speaking world), there are still people who can write and read it. In addition, Pitman is explained on a number of websites. Reading the postcard above is therefore not really an act of codebreaking, but of applying an outdated writing system.


The seal cryptogram

The postcard above reminded me that two years ago I reported on another mystery discussed on Reddit. This one is an encrypted certificate:


Unfortunately, not much is known about the origin of this document (I call it the “seal cryptogram”). According to the Reddit post, somebody found it in the wall of his house. I don’t have a better photograph of it. A hand-made copy is available on Imgur:


Many comments, no solution

The writing system used for the seal cryptogram is completely unknown to me. Some of the letters are, in  my opinion, too complex for a script that is used in everyday life. My guess is that this script was invented by the authour of the encrypted lines. Unfortunately, the text is quite short, which makes frequency analysis almost useless. The certificate contains a stamp, but it’s unreadable.

The Reddit-Post was already two years old when I blogged about it. It received over 200 commentes, but none of them proposed an acceptable solution. Over the last four years no new comments have been published. My blog post from 2015 received a number of comments, too. Nevertheless, the mystery is still unsolved.

Can a reader say more about this cryptogram?

Further reading: Who can decrypt this postcard?


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Kommentare (11)

  1. #1 John
    United Kingdom
    28. November 2017

    Trying the bottom right to be ‘Signature’ in English I get:

    ?IIGN?? ????A???

    ?E ?A? A?



    – this does not help but i very much enjoy your blog and the challenges it brings

  2. #2 Klaus Schmeh
    28. November 2017

    > i very much enjoy your blog and the
    >challenges it brings
    Thanks, I’m glad to hear.

  3. #3 Klaus Schmeh
    28. November 2017

    Here’s a transcription:

  4. #4 John
    28. November 2017

    The large symbol at the top right might be a stylized version of your H, making the first word HABBCDE

  5. #5 John
    28. November 2017

    If English then CHCH and MDMD must be from:


    which seems unlikely

  6. #6 Klaus Schmeh
    28. November 2017

    Richard SantaColoma via Facebook:
    … that one drove me nuts at the time. Of course, like everyone else, I got nowhere on it.

  7. #7 Thomas Ernst
    29. November 2017

    Am guessing sth. far east, let’s say past Romania to Sri Lanka, Burma, including Arabia. The seal itself, as well as the signature, should reveal more than any guesswork on the upper part. A graphologist/linguist might be able to say sth. about the signature. The odd “l”-shape may indicate profession, such as “notary”. This really is a problem that a “Westerner” alone cannot solve.

  8. #8 Charlotte Auer
    29. November 2017

    Ich sehe das so ähnlich wie Thomas Ernst. Für mich sieht das nach Südindien aus, wobei es sich wohl um eine Umschrift handelt, mit Graphemfolgen in lateinischen Buchstaben und mit vielen diakritischen Zeichen.

    Keine Geheimschrift, nur eine angepasste Schrift für amtliche Vorgänge während der brit. Kolonialzeit, denke ich mal.

    Für Historiker mit dem entsprechenden Spezialgebiet sollte es kein Problem sein, das aufzulösen.

  9. #9 Jerry McCarthy
    England, Europa
    29. November 2017


  10. #10 Klaus Schmeh
    29. November 2017

    Kathleen Hellbarth
    via Facebook:
    I remember trying to solve it 2 years ago for days. But if it is some south indian certificate, like the blogcomments say – well – my indian isn’t the best.

  11. #11 John
    30. November 2017

    A few thoughts and observations:

    The Reddit page seems to suggest it was found in California

    The letter on the seal appears to be a traditional Latin-type upper case C

    I think the whole page looks fairly amateur or child-like: Top left symbol lacks neatness or sharpness, other symbols also appear to lack a professionalism in their neatness. Even the layout and use of space is poor. Also – lines are still present which were drawn to write along, which again suggests amateur or child-like

    A Reddit user mentioned that they could see indentations of letters on the page. I have played about with the photo but cannot detect these

    I do find it strange that the original poster on Reddit put the picture up then disappeared; not providing further information, better scans, details on how this was found.

    I wonder if it may be an internet joke …