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?

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Kommentare (14)

  1. #1 Largo
    11. Juni 2018

    Die Zahlen sind doch einfach nur fortlaufend diagonal angeordnet

  2. #2 Largo
    11. Juni 2018

    Das ist ein magisches Quadrat (magic square). Summe der Zahlen ergibt diagonal, horizontal oder vertikal jeweils 175

  3. #3 Norbert
    11. Juni 2018

    Obviously, it’s a magic square: each row, column and diagonal sums up to 175.
    Furthermore, the diagonal from the top left to the bottom right corner is the sequence 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28 (the sum of which is 175, as already mentioned).

  4. #4 Thomas
    11. Juni 2018

    A homophonic substitution cipher is also possible.

  5. #5 Norbert
    11. Juni 2018

    As to the rearside: 1252 must be a typo, I bet the correct figure is 1225.

    7, 49, 157 and 1225 are all attributes of this magic square: It has the size 7×7, contains 49 numbers, the rows etc. sum up to 157 and the overall sum is 1225.

    A propos, have a look here:

    This specific magic quadrat seems to have some (esoteric?/astrological?) connection with the planet Venus.

  6. #6 Norbert
    11. Juni 2018

    @myself: typo of my own: please read 175 instead of 157.

  7. #7 David Oranchak
    11. Juni 2018

    It is a magic square with sum 175, made with a simple rule:


    Why? I dunno.

  8. #8 Norbert
    11. Juni 2018

    Aha! It was Agrippa von Nettesheim (1486-1535) who, in his book “de occulta philosophia”, attributed certain magic squares (including this one) to the planets, moon and sun:


  9. #9 Hias
    11. Juni 2018

    perhaps the name of the dog was VENUS, given by an esoteric person.

  10. #10 Norbert
    11. Juni 2018

    @Hias: Yep, but if the owner is a true Agrippa follower, the dog’s name should be

    Hagiel Kedemel Bne Seraphim

    which are the “names answering to the numbers of Venus” (49, 157, 1252) – HA! Agrippa himself (or his typesetter) was the first to twist digits in the numbers 175 and 1225! And 450 years later, his error has not been fixed yet! Which inevitably means that the dog tag’s esoteric mission is condemned to fail! Arrrgh!

  11. #11 Klaus Schmeh
    11. Juni 2018

    John Lobert via Facebook:
    Why would anyone have a dog wear a magic square?

  12. #12 noname
    11. Juni 2018

    ja 157 muss wohl 175 bedeuten und die die summe der einzelnen zeilen sollten 1225 sein. ein doppelter zahlendreher 🙂

  13. #13 Bradley Glen
    14. Juni 2018

    Ancient magic square all lines and diagonals = 175 .The exact purpose to 175 is obviously unknown and perhaps some significance to the dog itself .
    The full-stop perhaps to make it more unknown to those looking into it .Crypt people like this – play a joke on the joker – leads to great laughter.