The solution of an anamorphic I reently found online might be considered obscene. I’m going to cover it in this article anyway.

In my new book Codebreaking: A Practical Guide, co-written with Elonka Dunin, an encrypted message written by a prison inmate is covered. One of our proof-readers made us aware that the plaintext of this note contains the “N-word”. It might have been okay to leave this passage in the book, as it is a quote, not a statement made by the authors. Anyway, we finally decided to delete the paragraph in question in order to avoid misunderstandings.

I was in a similar situtation when I recently found an anamorphic on Reddit. The solution of this puzzle might be considered obscene. However, as I don’t find it extremely disgusting, this time I decided to publish it. I will introduce this anamorphic at the end of this post.



An anamorphic is a puzzle based on a certain kind of secret writing. Here is an example on a postcard from 1905, provided to me by Tobias Schrödel:


Source: Tobias Schrödel

To read the message, we need to compress the writing. Here’s what we get after a horizontal compression (turned by 90 degrees):


And here’s the result of a vertical compression:


Here’s another anamorphic postcard Tobias provided me (this one is from 1905, too):

Source: Tobias Schrödel

Here’s the solution:

Another anamorphic postcard was provided to me by Karsten Hansky:

Source: Karsten Hansky

The plaintext is a German patriotic parole from the First World War:

The following advertisement puzzle from 1904 represents an anamorphic, too:


Source: Derby Daily Telegraph

You certainly can solve it yourself.

Blog reader Horst told me that German comedian Karl Valentin (1882-1948) sometimes signed his name as an anamorphic (source):


Source: Yandex

The following is an anamorphic Christmas greeting (source):


Source: iFunny

Here’s another postcard with an anamorphic (source):


Source: Cabinet Magazine

Blog reader Tony Gaffney sent me another puzzle of this kind:

Source: Gaffney

Blog reader Karsten Hansky once provided me a scan of yet another anamorphic postcard:

Source: Hansky

The solutions can be seen here:


Another anamorphic

All the anamorphics presented in this article have been published on this blog before. Let’s now come to a new one. It’s the anamorphic I mentioned at the beginning of this article. I found it on Reddit. To my regret, I don’t have any information about the background of this puzzle:

Source: Reddit

Good luck solving it! And don’t blame me for the solution.

Further reading: The Top 50 unsolved encrypted messages: 4. Kryptos


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Kommentare (11)

  1. #1 Tobias Schrödel
    29. Oktober 2020

    HAHA Klaus, are you really in such a need. I’l send you a private E-Mail … just in case 😉
    Very nice topic!

  2. #2 Gerry
    29. Oktober 2020

    The original (just compare the lines and borders!) is from Cindy Ho, a designer who sells this as laser cut silver foil on etsy:

  3. #3 Klaus Schmeh
    29. Oktober 2020

    @Gerry: Thanks, now we know where this artwork is from.

  4. #4 Richard SantaColoma
    30. Oktober 2020

    Nope. Not sending nothing to nobody. Well… I’ll think on it.

  5. #5 Magnus Ekhall
    30. Oktober 2020

    Klaus: Message received and understood! 😉

  6. #6 Klaus Schmeh
    30. Oktober 2020

    @Tobias, Gerry, Rich, Magnus: It seems, you have solved the puzzle. Congratulations!

  7. #7 Bill Briere
    Wyoming, USA
    30. Oktober 2020

    I’m working with an artist to create an encrypted piece for a client. The artwork will contain secret messages enciphered or hidden in several ways. And now it will include one more method, thanks to your inspiration, Klaus! This simple form of steganography hadn’t even crossed my mind, but it will fit in perfectly.

  8. #8 Martin Klausen
    30. Oktober 2020

    „ One of our proof-readers made us aware that the plaintext of this note contains the “N-word”. It might have been okay to leave this passage in the book, as it is a quote, not a statement made by the authors. Anyway, we finally decided to delete the paragraph in question in order to avoid misunderstandings.“

    Nap? Negligence? Notch? Navel? Night? Nobody? Non-censoring textbook?

    Yes, there are censors everywhere. And those who are abjectly and mindlessly complying to their demands. The german „Blockwart“ points even better to those unpleasant people.

    A feeble exuse one must expect today: we lost the war, our peoples are dead because our cryptologists have deciphered the attack plannings but they didn’t pass censorship so we got caught pants down, which also didn’t pass censorship so the war is lost, all are dead and no one knows why.

    For someone who publicates on SCIENSCEblogs this is a shame.

  9. #9 Bill Briere
    Wyoming, USA
    31. Oktober 2020

    @Martin: In Comment #8, you seem to criticize Klaus’s and Elonka’s decision to eliminate an offensive section of a cryptogram in their upcoming book.

    Rather than this being a case of censorship, you might consider that it’s just a case of editing to improve the writing for a mainstream audience. As Klaus pointed out, “it might have been okay to leave this passage in the book, as it is a quote, not a statement made by the authors.”

    No one forced them to cut out the section with the N-word in it. It was strongly suggested to them, based on editorial considerations, and they made a judgment call to remove it.

    A case could certainly be made for including authentic material–no matter how offensive it might be–in certain types of books. Much of what makes this or any other word appropriate is the intent and the context. For example, it might have a place in a niche professional training program (e.g., law enforcement, prison management, gang-related intelligence, etc.), but not in a book consisting primarily of recreational cryptograms for a general audience.

    This isn’t about political correctness or bowing to censors or being overly sensitive. In the case of this particular word, which is loaded with much more than its dictionary definition, there is rarely any justification for its use. In the United States–and this may vary in other countries–the word is generally considered “beyond offensive.” Simply uttering the word can reflect badly on the user’s judgment, intelligence, understanding of history, and basic humanity.

    When used as a pejorative, it is almost always used by white supremecists–including the everyday, armchair variety. The authors were smart to distance themselves from that element and to not share this item, especially since it would have added nothing to the cryptologic lessons being demonstrated.

    An author might make thousands of changes during the writing of a book. No one would challenge a writer for fixing a typo, cleaning up a poor grammatical construction, or recasting a clunky phrase. It’s the same thing with other distractions that take away from the reader’s experience. Why, then, should anyone insist that once the N-word has been considered for inclusion in the manuscript, that it is now somehow exempt from the editing process and has to stay?

    Klaus and Elonka considered many, many pages of other material that ended up not making the final cut. And we’ll all be better for it. If they had kept the N-word (In. This. Particular. Book.), it would have been a mistake, in my opinion.

    Martin, you implied that Klaus’s action was less than scientific for cutting out this awkward part of a cryptogram. But surely we can agree that the racism that’s loaded into the word’s meaning is something that definitely goes against science. On the other hand, the artful, judicious, and sometimes scientific process of writing can be used to counter the unscientific ideology of white supremacy.

  10. #10 Klaus Schmeh
    31. Oktober 2020

    >And now it will include one more
    >method, thanks to your inspiration, Klaus!
    Great to hear that my blog has inspired you. I hope your encrypted piece will be published. Perhaps, I can cover it on this blog.

  11. #11 Bill Briere
    Wyoming, USA
    1. November 2020

    @Klaus: It’s a one-off personalized wall hanging for a celebrity’s home, so it will likely stay private. The messages encrypted in it wouldn’t hold much meaning to anyone outside his household.