A Reddit user has posted a postcard from Sweden written in 1910. Can a reader decipher it?

Once again, an interesting cipher mystery has been published on Reddit (thanks to David Allen Wilson for making me aware of it). This time the mystery is about an encrypted postcard that was written in 1910. Here it is:


The recipient of this card lived in Axvall, a small town in Southern Sweden. The recipient’s address starts with “Beväringsmann”, which is, in my view, not a name but a title (I didn’ find a translation on Google, however). The words “Kampaniet” and “regemente” suggest that the recipient was a soldier. “Bernhardsson” is probably not the name of the recipient but the name of a military unit or building.

While most encrypted postcards I have covered on this blog were written by young men to their spouses, this one appears to be an exception (of course, it is also possible that recipient was a woman who lived in a military base).


The name of the sender of the card is not mentioned in the clear. The place from where the card was sent is unknown, too. As far as I can see, the postmark on the stamp is not readable.


As the postcard was sent to a place in Sweden and as the stamp is Swedish, I assume that the message on the card was written in Swedish.

The cipher used is probably a simple one-to-one cipher (MASC). The spaces between the words are indicated by commas, which makes breaking the encryption easier. Altogether, I am pretty sure that this cryptogram is solvable. Can a reader decipher it?

Further reading: Unsolved: A strange encrypted postcard from Newton, Iowa

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Kommentare (21)

  1. #1 Larry McElhiney
    Carmel, Indiana
    16. August 2018

    Hi Klaus,

    Maybe “military conscript”? In the USA, known as “The Draft”.



  2. #2 Norbert
    16. August 2018

    Looks like a job for Torbjörn Andersson!

    As far as I can see, the writer mixes cipher symbols with cleartext letters. Thus, the three words

    ?Y=H!:, T9=H, før

    certainly mean

    Mycket tack för

  3. #3 Nils
    16. August 2018

    I dropped in on this interesting website a few times in the past, but I could never contribute to the articles, but this time I got an idea that might be helpful:
    “Beväringsmann” could mean “conscriptee” (Wehrpflichtiger in German, see https://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bev%C3%A4ring). As this refers to many people, maybe “N. 196 Bernhardsson” could indeed be the Number/Name of an individual person.
    “Beväringsmann” is probably not the full text of this line, as it seems to continue under the stamp (see closeup of the stamp), as well becaus the stamp has been placed as close to the edge of the postcard as possible and not onto the marked square.
    I hope this could be helpful in any way.

  4. #4 Thomas
    16. August 2018

    In line 4 I can figure out: the first word: “utmärkt” (excellent), the last two words: “att omtala” (to tell)

  5. #5 Gerry and Andrea
    17. August 2018

    There are three lines at 90 degrees (the end of the letter). First word on line 1 seems to be „hälsningar“ (greetings), and the last line could be „Hulda“ (sender’s name).

  6. #6 Thomas
    17. August 2018

    The beginning (thanks Norbert!), no guarantere!

    “Mycken tack för brefvet som jag fatt. Undgar hur du mar hoppas bra … mar jag utmärkt nyheter har jag Inga att omtala vi har haft en bal ja det vet du nog ty Julius har vist skrivit brev, nu kommer du väl snart hem men som du vet att anni ej var hemma när dom andre kom sa var vi …j, dä och mötte sä vägar vi …

  7. #7 Thomas
    17. August 2018

    The senders name was “Hulda”, she might have been the girl friend or wife of the recruit (beväringsmannen).

  8. #8 Gerry and Andrea
    17. August 2018

    The last three lines at 90 degrees: „hälsningar från flickorna i adels[?][?] mee [b?]äst från Hulda.“
    I don’t know Swedish, google says something like „Greetings from the girls in ?, best from Hulda.“

  9. #9 Gerry and Andrea
    17. August 2018

    The first line of the letter (with the date) could read „Adelsön den 8.11.1910“ meaning the town Adelsön (near Stockholm) on the date 8.11.1910. So the last three lines reads … the girls from Adelsön…

  10. #10 Thomas
    17. August 2018

    ej ga och mötta nu det blir för mycke bal du frag om Julius var i fyllan när han kom undar om du blir lik ..nnom man far väl vetta det framdeles.

  11. #11 Thomas
    17. August 2018

    “A Delsbo” is the town

  12. #12 Torbjörn Andersson
    Kalmar, Sweden
    17. August 2018

    You people are far too fast for me, so my contribution will only consist of some clarifications, a transcripton and translation.

    A “beväringsman” [beväringsmannen in definite case] is indeed a term – of an older date – for a conscript in Swedish (nowadays it’s “värnpliktig”). His last name was “Bernhardsson” – conscripts are usually known and referred to by their last name and a prefixed number (196 in this case).
    The spelling is in old orthography, with quite a lot of misspelled words and bad grammar (as if the writer is putting her text into cipher directly, without a previously composed plaintext to work from).

    No. 196 Bernhardsson
    13 Kompaniet
    Vestgöta regemente

    [The conscriptee
    number 196 Bernhardsson
    13th company
    The Västgöta regiment

    “Mycken tack för brefvet som jag fått.
    Undrar hur du mår hoppas bra själf mår jag
    utmärkt nyheter har jag inga att omtala vi
    har haft en bal ja det vet du nog ty Julius
    har vist skrivit brev, nu kommer du väl snart
    hem men som du vet att Anni ej var hemma när dom
    andre kom så var vi ej då och mötte så vågar vi
    ej gå och mötta nu det blir för mycke bal
    du frågar om Julius var i fyllan när han kom undar om
    du blir lik honnom man får väl vetta det framdeles.

    Hälsningar från flickorna i Adelsbo men mäst från Hulda”

    [Great thanks for the letter I got.
    Wonder how you are? Good I hope. I myself am
    excellent. News I have none to speak of. We
    have had a ball, well, that you surely know, because Julius
    have apparently written a letter. Now you’ll soon be coming
    home, but as you know, that Anni wasn’t home when the
    others came, so were we then not [there] to meet [them], so we dare
    not go to meet now, it’ll be too much ball.
    You ask if Julius was drunk when he came. Wonder if
    you will be like him? One will probably learn in the future.

    Greetings from the girls in Adelsbo, but mostly from Hulda.]

  13. #13 Gerry and Andrea
    17. August 2018

    @Thomas: Oh, I thought there was an error in the code, because I could not find Adelsbo on google maps, only Adelsö and Adelsön starting with the letters Adels..

  14. #14 Thomas
    17. August 2018

    @Torbjörn Andersson
    Thank you, there were some words I couldn’t find out. Do you know where Adelsbo is? BTW: How can I type the a with the small circle?

    @Gerry and Andrea
    I wasn’t sure, for there is also a Swedish town “Delsbo” which can be found on Google maps.

  15. #15 Jerry McCarthy
    England, Europa.
    17. August 2018

    For Thomas #14.
    For all of my accented letters, including å and Å, I use some freeware called AX from https://vulpeculox.net/ax/ .
    I use it for typing German, Czech, Polish, Swedish and French, and occasionally even Japanese Katakana.
    It is only for Windows, however, and I haven’t yet tested it on Windows 10.

  16. #16 HF(de)
    17. August 2018

    “How can I type the a with the small circle?” Alt 0229 = å on my comp.

  17. #17 Gerry and Andrea
    17. August 2018

    There is an Adelsbo in a swedish census of the town Hålanda, Älvsborg, Sverige on familysearch and a girl named Hulda Emilia Eriksson, born 14.1.1890 (so age 20 in 1910): https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSGH-4QHP-Z?cc=2790465

  18. #18 Bonsai
    17. August 2018

    Beväringsmannschaft seems to be the text where you assumed a title …. “schaft” is behind the stamp! (=conscript)

  19. #19 Thomas
    18. August 2018

    @Gerry and Andrea
    Good find, I’m pretty sure that it was her.
    There was a certain Albert Rikard Bernhardsson born 1889 also in the parish of Halanda, maybe he was the recipient.

  20. #20 Klaus Schmeh
    18. August 2018

    Thank you to all commenters! The cryptogram is deciphered, the meaning of the address is clear, and even the sender and receiver have been identified. Great job!

  21. #21 Torbjörn Andersson
    Kalmar, Sweden
    23. August 2018

    Thomas & al. – on writing the Scandinavian letter ‘Å’:
    You got a few very good tips from other readers, which I might use myself for other letters with diacritics (for ‘Å’, I have a special key on my keyboard, so it is easy for me to write). Another way is to write ‘aa’, since this is the origin of the letter (and it was written thus in Danish and Norwegian until quite recently). Back in medieval times, someone came up with the idea to put one of the a’s on top of the other to save space, and thus this letter was born.

    As for Adelsbo, there are more than one place with that name in Sweden, so I can not say for certain which one is intended.

    “Beväringsmannschaft” isn’t Swedish at all – the title IS “Beväringsmannen”.