Golden Alice 2021: Here are the winners

At the end of 2021, I will again award the Golden Alice for outstanding achievements in crypto history and code breaking. Here are the winners!

Deutsche Version

The Golden Alice is traditionally awarded in eight categories. I congratulate all the winners and wish them a Happy New Year in 2022.

Golden Alice 2021 for the best deciphering performance

Once again, there were impressive decryptions to report on my blog in 2021. Here is a partial selection:

In my opinion, however, the greatest code-breaking achievement of the year came from Jarl Van Eycke.

Quelle/Source: Van Eycke

Jarl solved the 400-year-old “Langrenus cryptogram”, which describes a method for determining longitude.


Quelle/Source: DataVis

The Langrenus cryptogram was unfortunately not too well known, even though I reported about it several times on Cipherbrain. It is an extremely exciting encrypted text. However, the longitude method described in it might not have worked.

Thanks also to Thomas Bosbach, Norbert Biermann and Christof Rieber, who added to the initially incomplete description of the solution.


Golden Alice 2021 for the best book

I can especially recommend my recently published comic book “Versutus”, which is available for purchase on Amazon. The price is 17,01 Euro . As a PDF, you can even download the entire comic adventure for free!

However, this work only marginally has something to do with encryption. Besides, it could be interpreted as biased if I were to award this in-house production a Golden Alice.

Fortunately, that is not necessary. The Hungarian historian Benedek Láng has published a book about the Codex Rohonci in 2021, which deserves a prize. You can read more about it here.

Quelle/Source: Pennsylvania State University Press

Not only because the cover features a photo created by me, I award the book “The Rohonc Code” by Benedek Láng the Golden Alice for the best book 2021.


Golden Alice 2021 for the best television documentary

Next year, there will probably be an exciting TV documentary about famous ciphers, in which I participated. Unfortunately, I cannot reveal details yet. Some TV appearances of mine, which have been made some time ago, can be found here.

I would have liked to report here about a crypto-related television documentary that was first seen in 2021. Unfortunately, I am not aware of any such. If any reader knows of one, I would appreciate a reference. Until then, I’m afraid I can’t award the Golden Alice 2021 in this category.


Golden Alice 2021 for the best event

Unfortunately, as far as I know, no face-to-face event on crypto history took place this year either. The Corona pandemic prevented it. Also the HistoCrypt in the planned form had to be cancelled again. Instead, there was a free online light version of the HistoCrypt, which was quite worthwhile.

The highlight was a talk titled “Solving the Zodiac Killer’s Cipher”, held by Dave Oranchak, Jarl Van Eycke and Sam Blake.

Quelle/Source: Oranchak/Blake/Van Eycke

The workshop on the Codex Rohonci was also interesting. Levente Király and Gábor Tokai presented their solution to the codex, which I reported on a few years ago. After there had been some doubts about the correctness of this decipherment in the meantime, most of the audience was impressed by this presentation and considered it as a proof of the correctness of the solution.

HistoCrypt 2021 was mainly organized by Dr. Carola Dahlke from the Deutsches Museum in Munich and by Prof. Arno Wacker from the Universität der Bundeswehr in Munich. I hereby award them and all other participants the Golden Alice for the best event of the year.


Golden Alice 2021 for the most interesting encoded book

Encrypted books are one of my favorite topics. In 2021, my Encrypted Book List has grown from 106 to 111 entries thanks to some new discoveries. Unfortunately, this time the whole big pearl is not included. Therefore, I would like to award the Golden Alice in this section to the already mentioned Codex Rohonci. Due to the works of Benedek Láng, Levente Király and Gábor Tokai, this book was in focus in 2021.

Quelle/Source: Hungarian Academy of Science

The Codex Rohonci is completely unjustly overshadowed by the Voynich Manuscript, and I hope that this will change with the new developments.


Golden Alice 2021 for the most interesting encoded postcard

In 2021, encrypted postcards were again among my favorite topics on Cipherbrain, and as always, my readers solved almost everything there was to solve in this regard. However, there is one exception: the encrypted postcard of George Furlong.

George Furlong, a soccer official, wrote this card to his sister Lizzie on October 19, 1873. Three years ago, his great-great-grandson Andrew Furlong published this cryptogram on Reddit, which Thomas Bosbach brought to my attention at the time. In the meantime, I have blogged about this postcard several times and reported on it in my lectures. I have also exchanged several mails with the owner Andrew Furlong. But in vain: The postcard is still unsolved.

Quelle/Source: Furlong

It is not even clear to me what typeface George Furlong used over 140 years ago. Is it a secret script he invented himself? Or is it an exotic script that is not normally used for encryption? As before, I would appreciate any enlightening hints from my readers.

Since no other postcard has engaged me as much as this one during the course of this year, I award it a Golden Alice.


Golden Alice 2021 for the most interesting new discovery of an unsolved cryptogram.

In 2021, I again received numerous hints about unsolved ciphers from my readers, which of course makes me very happy. Google and Reddit have again proven to be interesting sources in this regard. It would have been no problem to compile a list of the 100 most important unsolved cryptograms without getting bored. For the time being, however, my Top 50 list will have to suffice, which does not yet include many recent discoveries.

I consider the most exciting new discovery of 2021 to be William Hale’s coded newspaper advertisement from 1889. Thomas Bosbach thankfully brought this story, which was discussed on Reddit, to my attention as well. After the company “Gun Wa” founded by Hale, I speak of the Gun Wa cryptogram in this context.

Quelle/Source: Denver Times

William Hale was an entrepreneur, quack, and swindler who sold his fellow man a miracle cure that supposedly originated in China. I hope to share a bit more about the biography of this illustrious figure in the new year. Already, this story has everything a blogger’s heart desires: the Wild West, crime, an unsolved encryption, and even pornography. It would be all the more interesting to crack the Gun-Wa cryptogram. However, this has not been achieved so far. Therefore, this encrypted message rightfully deserves the Golden Alice in the New Discovery category.


Golden Alice 2021 for exceptional achievements

This year I would like to award the Golden Alice in this category to all Cipherbrain readers who have published comments on my articles. It goes without saying that these contributions add tremendous value to my blog. Many thanks to all of you!

If you want to add a comment, you need to add it to the German version here.


Further reading: My visit at the Cheltenham Listening Stones