It’s probably not a Christmas card, but at least an encrypted card that was sent on the occasion of a celebration. Can a reader decipher this cryptogram?

First of all, I wish all of my readers a merry Chrstmas and all the best for the new year 2020!


A French greeting card

My original plan for today was to blog about an encrypted Christmas card. To my regret, I am not aware of any I haven’t covered on this blog before. However, in the encrypted postcard collection of my friend and comedy hacker Tobias Schrödel I found a French card that bears the encryption “Bonne et heureuse Fête” (“Good and happy celebration”).

Source: Schrödel

This card is not dated and the stamp not readable, so I don’t know if it was sent on Christmas. Considering that the motive is not Christmas-related it probably was not.


Can you break this encryption?

Here’s the address side of the card:

Source: Schrödel

As can bee seen, the recipient was a woman named Valentine Carrey living in Landreville, a small town 200 kilometers south-east of Paris. The sender might have been the lover of the recipient. To my regret, I don’t know when this card was sent. I assume that it was in the early 20th century.

The message on the card is pretty short, but it contains spaces, interpuction and capitalization. In addition, it is clear that the plaintext is in French. All things considered, I think that this cryptogram can be solved easily.

Can a reader break this cryptogram? If so, we will hopefully learn which celebration the writing on the picture side of the card refers to.

Further reading: An “encrypt by numbers” postcard from Munich


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Kommentare (6)

  1. #1 Thomas
    26. Dezember 2019

    Sainte Valentine
    Quant-est-ce qu’on l’ abreuverat?
    Camille Brocard

  2. #2 Thomas
    26. Dezember 2019

    It’s the same as on May 15th!

  3. #3 Richard SantaColoma
    26. Dezember 2019

    Well done, Thomas. I had the “Ste Valentine”, and “Camille Brocard”… but was stumped on the “quant”. The first character I had for another “e”… tried “etant” (being), and “euant”, and so on… which messed up “qu’on”.

    Why do you suppose the “2-like” character is “e”, but switches to “q”? Is it a different cipher character?


  4. #4 Klaus Schmeh
    26. Dezember 2019

    @Rich, Thomas: Thank you very much!

  5. #5 Alex
    29. Dezember 2019

    Well done Thomas.

    As a French reader of this blog I suggest the plaintext should be “Quand est-ce qu’on s’embrassera?” (when will we kiss?) instead of “Quant-est ce qu’on l’abreuvera” which means “when will we water it (it= livestock for instance)”. However I think the lovers used a directory encryption system instead of a MASC. The “St Valentine” gives a “romantical” context for that letter that could match with the idea of kissing.
    Note that there are two grammatical in that hypothesis: “QUANT” should be written “QUAND” and the “-” should be placed between “2st” and “c2”.


  6. #6 Alex
    29. Dezember 2019

    Well done Thomas

    As French reader of this blog, I suggest a little improvement to obtain the correct plain text that could be “Ste Valentine, Quant-est ce qu’on s’embrassera Camille Brocard” which means “when will we kiss” and fits quite well with the idea of Valentine’s Day and/or a letter between two lovers.
    If that hypothesis is correct, the writers must have used a directory encryption system instead of a MASC.
    In that case, note that there are two grammatical errors in the plain text: “quant” should be written “quand” and the “-” should be placed between “2st” and “c2”.
    The sentence “quand est-ce qu’on l’abreuvera” would mean “when will we water it (it=livestock)”, which is a bit strange considering the context 🙂