# A pigpen encryption on a Masonic coin

My friend George Keller has provided me pictures of a coin that bears an encrypted inscription. Can a reader decipher it?

Deutsche Version des Artikels (Beta)

George Keller from New York state is a friend of mine and a reader of this blog. The following picture shows him in Bletchley Park together with Winston Churchill:

Source: Keller

### An encrypted coin

While the Mr. Churchill on this photograph might be a fake, the following Freemason coin George informed me about is definitely genuine:

Source: Keller

The coin stems from the Wellington Mark Lodge No. 1678 in Whitehaven, Cumbria. This Freemason lodge closed in January 2018. The rear side of the coin is not relevant for us:

Source: Keller

As can be seen on the first picture, the said coin bears two cryptograms. In the middle, eight letters are written in a circle:

HTWSSTKS

According to a website I found, these letters stand for “Hiram, Tyrian, Widow’s Son, Sent to King Solomon”. These words refer to a certain Hiram, who was allegedly the chief architect for the Temple of King Solomon.

And then, there is a pigpen message on the coin. It consists of 21 symbols written around a triangle. The pigpen cipher, which has always been popular among the Freemasons, is based on a diagram like this:

Source: Schmeh

There are numerous variants of this scheme. For instance, the order of the letter in the four grids can be changed. Among other things, postcards were sometimes encrypted in a pigpen cipher:

Source: Schrödel

### Solution approaches

As pigpen ciphers are simple substitution ciphers, it is usually possible to break them, even if it is not known which of the many variants has been used. Frequency analysis and word guessing are the tools of choice for such a task.

However, in this case things are a little more complicated. The message on the coin consists of only 21 symbols, which is not enough to identify letters by their frequency. In addition, the start of the message and the word boundaries are unclear.

My guess is that we need to read the upper left part of the message first and that the five symbols of this part represent the first word, followed by a hyphen. We need to continue with the upper right segment, which consists of eight letters. Finally, we need to read the eight symbols of the bottom line (from right to left?). The period in the middle of this line indicates that we are dealing with two four-letter words.

I don’t know if my interpretation is correct. It mightas well be necessary to read the bottom line upside-down.

According to a Freemason George asked, the two passages on the slopes of the triangle use the same key, while the line at the base uses a different one.

Can a reader decipher this pigpen message? George Keller and I would be interested in learning about the plaintext.

Further reading: The world’s oldest crypto currency

## Kommentare (7)

1. #1 Richard SantaColoma
http://proto57.wordpress.com/
2. Dezember 2020

JOPPA-KEBRAOTH

These have meanings in Masonic Rituals.

So the pattern is # X # X, with dots in the last two. The X’s start K and X at the top, and run clockwise.

2. #2 Richard SantaColoma
http://proto57.wordpress.com/
2. Dezember 2020

“JOPPA, or Jaffa (from the Arabic Yafa), one of the most ancient sea-ports in the world, is situated 30 miles south of Caesarea, 12 miles north of Ashdod…”

“The Ritual continues: “The ancient word is Kebraoth alluding to the people and signifying companions of the mark; but in most lodges where the English language is spoken, the words “Mark Well” are substituted. Pass Kebraoth and mark well”.

3. #3 Richard SantaColoma
http://proto57.wordpress.com/
2. Dezember 2020

Then the bottom line is: MARK.WELL, as it uses the same pattern (# X # X, with dots in the last two. The X’s start K and X at the top, and run clockwise).

Well according to the above linked website, it explains that in some Masonic rituals, “Mark Well” is substituted for Kebraoth. So it could be repeated. But the whole quote from the site is “The Ritual continues: “The ancient word is Kebraoth alluding to the people and signifying companions of the mark; but in most lodges where the English language is spoken, the words “Mark Well” are substituted. Pass Kebraoth and mark well”.

… so perhaps both words are used in ritual, because they do have a different meaning. But like many Masonic and other ritual chants, it is sometimes difficult to derive the exact meaning. Heck it was probably mystical and enigmatic to the lodge members, too, which was probably part of the point. Anyway, the coin seems to read:

JOPPA-KEBRAOTH MARK WELL

Now put on your hoodies and light some candles.

4. #4 Richard SantaColoma
http://proto57.wordpress.com/
2. Dezember 2020

By the way, the design on the coin is the “Candlestick Chimney” at the old Wellington Lodge site (now a British Coast Guard base): https://www.visitcumbria.com/wc/wellington-pit/

There was a great tragedy in the mine in 1910, when 136 miners lost their lives in an explosion.

5. #5 Klaus Schmeh
2. Dezember 2020

@Rich: Thank you very much! This mystery is solved.

6. #6 David Oranchak
http://zodiackillerciphers.com
2. Dezember 2020

Nice job @Rich!

Here is a post from 2012 that came to the same solution:

http://www.rictin.com/mark-master-masons-pigpen-cipher

7. #7 Klaus Schmeh
3. Dezember 2020