In 1875, a man living in Vienna received an encrypted postcard from a family member. Can you break this cryptogram?

Once again, my friend and blog reader Karsten Hansky has provided me an interesting unsolved cryptogram. This time, it’s an encrypted postcard. It was sent in 1875, which makes it one of the oldest of its kind I have ever covered on this blog. Contrary to many later postcards, this one bears no picture. This shows that postcard culture was still in its infancy when this card was sent. Postcards (both encrypted and non-encrypted) reached their peak in the early 20th century.

Here’s the address side of the card:

The receiver of the card is a man surnamed Amon – a name that doesn’t sound German to me but appears to be common in Austria. His first name was probably Herbert. Herbert Amon lived in Großnondorf, Austria. According to Wikipedia, there are two places in Austria with this name. Both are tiny villages.

Let’s take a look the text side of the card, which contains both encrypted and non-encrypted passages:

Apparently, the sender of the card was named Amon, too. To be honest, I can’t read his or her first name. Most encrypted postcards I have seen were sent by young men to their loved ones, but this one is apparently an exception.

The cipher used by the sender is probably a substitution cipher (MASC). The first plaintext word could be “lieber” (“dear”). As Karsten wrote, the ciphertext might even be easier to read than the cleartext passages.

Can a reader say more about this card?

Further reading: A postcard from 1909, encrypted in a strange number code


Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Kommentare (7)

  1. #1 Thomas
    25. April 2019

    Lieber Bruder!
    Ich betaure mich sehr das mein driter Zan. auch noch beinach herraussen ist, aber ich hoffe das er wieder fest wird. Schreibe mir fiher wen du komst um acht Uhr nemelich von acht Uhr bis ein Uhr und von zweye bis fir Uhr, aber du must ?ormit schon kommen. Wan wir nach Ischl gehe, weis ich noch nicht. Bestimmt ich schreibe dir schon noch friher. Es grüße dich deine Schwester
    Leopoldine Ben… (?)

  2. #2 Thomas
    25. April 2019

    The adress:
    “Wohlgeborenen Herrn Hubert Amon
    k.k. Postexpeditor
    Nordban Stazion in Großnondorf”

    Maybe this was the same as the “Oberpostmeister Hubert Amon” mentioned here:

  3. #3 Engywuck
    25. April 2019

    as far as I can decipher the cleartext I would read a slightly different name (Hubert Amon) and address (G(e|ä)nserndorf). Do you have additional information that would make Großnondorf correct? (I read the second letter as a maybe-e-maybe-r, but the third and fourth don’t look like “oß” or “os” to me. But spelling was different then… In both options there live “Amon”s today according to the telephone book)
    Also it looks to be from a sister to her brother, but that of course may be a fake.

    first image:
    Adresse Herrn Hubert Amon (above perhaps: Wohlgeborene)
    k.k. Post(exp)editor
    No?db?n St?(z)ion (Nordban Stazion? = Nordbahnstation) Genserndorf(=Gänserndorf)

    [The Nordbahn goes from Vienna through Gänserndorf]

    second image:
    line six to line seven: um acht Uhr // ????lich (evtl: nemlich=nämlich) von
    line seven to eight: und // von (zwei) bis [cipher], aber du
    line nine ff: , wann wir nach ???hl(Ischl?) geh(n), // weis(=weiß) ich noch nicht bestimt(=bestimmt) ich schreibe Dir schon // noch friher (=früher), Es Grüße Dich Deine Schwester // (Leopoldina) Amon

    Except from some different spellings the cleartext is quite readable – for german current. Of course one sometimes has to guess what word could be meant and then search if the letters look right 🙂 That would be easier if the text was longer.

  4. #4 Engywuck
    25. April 2019

    Da waren andere schneller 🙁

    Ich würde auf der Vorderseite aber eher Genserndorf als Großnondorf lesen, zumal es ein Gänserndorf an der Nordbahn gibt. @Thomas: wie kommst du auf “Ben…” als Nachname am Ende? Ich lese da “Amon”

    Für deutsche Kurrent ist der Klartext erstaunlich einfach lesbar.

  5. #5 Klaus Schmeh
    25. April 2019

    @all: Thank you very much!

    >Do you have additional information that
    >would make Großnondorf
    No. Perhaps, Genserndorf is correct.

  6. #6 Thomas
    25. April 2019

    Klaus: We both misread the adress:
    It is “Gänserndorf” (where a station of the Nordbahn is located, not “Großnondorf”).

  7. #7 Thomas
    25. April 2019

    Ja, da hast du Recht, es heißt “Gänserndorf” in der Adresse und “Amon” hinter Leopoldine.