Still unsolved: Nine prize puzzles from 1982

In the 1982 book “The Secret”, twelve puzzles describe the location of hidden boxes. Only three of them have been found.

Deutsche Version

After more than one and a half years and quite a few online presentations, I finally got to do a face-to-face event again last week – at the Signaturtag in Berlin. It was a nice feeling to face the audience again.

Quelle/Source: Schmeh

Online lectures still exist, of course, and these have the advantage, as we all know, that you can watch them from anywhere. Next Sunday, October 3, at 6 p.m. (German time) I will be lecturing again with Elonka Dunin at the ICCH Forum. This time it will be about historical encryption methods and how to solve them.

Quelle/Source: Schmeh

As always, anyone who wants to can participate. The dial-in link is available via the ICCH mailing list. If you are not subscribed, please send me an email and I will forward the link. Participation is free of charge. Unfortunately, the talk is not yet shown on the ICCH website. But that doesn’t mean anything and will hopefully change today or tomorrow.


The Secret

Let’s move on to something else. Although I’ve been blogging now since 2013, I still encounter topics today that make me wonder: why haven’t I written about this before?

For example, that’s how I felt when I read a Facebook post by F Michael Lewis in the “Cryptograms & Classical Ciphers” group yesterday. This post refers to the 1982 book “The Secret”, written by the US writer Byron Preiss (1953-2005).

Quelle/Source: The Secret

In “The Secret” twelve puzzles are described, each of which reveals the location of a box. These boxes were all hidden in the United States or Canada, each representing a person or people who played a role in the history of the two countries. Anyone who finds a box can trade the contents for a valuable prize.

After Preiss’ death in 2005, his heirs took over responsibility for the prizes. According to Wikipedia, only three of the 12 boxes have been found so far. Apparently, Preiss left no written records of the hiding places. So the guesswork may or must continue.

I have heard about “The Secret” many times. My blog readers have also pointed it out to me. Why I have never blogged about it before? I don’t know. Today I’m doing it.


The address cryptogram

In the meantime I got “The Secret” as an e-book. It may well be that I blog about it more often. Today, however, I would like to support F Michael Lewis as a prelude. He published the following excerpt from the book on Facebook, which refers to one of the nine unsolved puzzles:

Quelle/Source: The Secret

To this end, he writes:

The repetitive numbers have us stumped. Anyone have a suggestion on different ciphers we could try in order to decrypt this message?

So it’s about the numbers that appear in the text. These are declared as part of an address which consists only of numbers (they so the future from?). The recipient is a Mr. 639 7644.

But it could also be a camouflaged coded message. Already Johannes Trithemius came up with such an idea more than 500 years ago, as blog reader Thomas Ernst once found out, why shouldn’t Byron Preiss have created something similar.

Can a reader make sense of these numbers?


The punch card code

And here’s another mystery from “The Secret” that F Michael Lewis is working on right now:

Quelle/Source: The Secret

F Michael Lewis wrote about this picture on Facebook:

We believe the punch card is some sort of cipher, but the obvious one is the string of symbols in the body of the text. Can anyone suggest a place to start with these? Not looking for a handout, but a hand up would be appreciated. We are willing to do the heavy lifting, just looking for ideas on where to even begin.

So F Michael Lewis suspects that the punch card shown holds a secret. Can a reader say something about it?

Of course I would be pleased about any hints, F Michael Lewis probably likewise. Whether the latter is willing to give away some of the prize if he has found a box is unfortunately not known to me.

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

Further reading: Ungelöst: Zwei versteckte Nachrichten aus dem Zweiten Weltkrieg


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