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From FLYNN's March 5, 1927


Edited by M. E. Ohaver

ERE it is, fans:

Meaning, of course, the first installment of the much heralded weekly cipher department.

Henceforth, if this plan is well received, you will only have to wait one week for the explanation of a particularly fascinating cryptogram. Reader ciphers, too, can now be discussed in more detail than has heretofore been easily practicable.

Representative historical ciphers, with methods of analysis, will continue to be published at intervals, as before. But an extensive program^of short items has at the same time been planned for the weekly series.

This adventure in a weekly department is due to the suggestions of our readers, and we would like to see its contents conform to their wishes. How does the idea strike you? We would appreciate your opinion.

To start things off with a bang, try your hand at cipher No. 1, for the first correct solution of which Mr. Davidson is offering a free year's subscription to FLYNN'S WEEKLY.

Your answer should be accompanied by a brief explanation of the cipher and your method of solution, and must be mailed not later than two weeks from the date of this issue.

Should two or more contestants be tied for first place, the year's subscription will be awarded to the entry accompanied by the best explanation and solution, address all answers to Solving Cipher Secrets, FLYNN'S WEEKLY, 280 Broadway, New York City, New York.

Mr. Davidson's cipher is entirely practicable in use, and is well worth knowing. A full explanation will be published four weeks hence, and any solvers will be listed as soon thereafter as practicable.

Here's the cipher, fans. Who wins?

CIPHER No. 1 (Kenneth Davidson, Montreal, Quebec, Canada).


Now that our ship is fairly launched, and before offering another cryptogram, it may be well to speak briefly of the real purpose of cryptography.

Of course, it affords instruction and entertainment of a high order in the construction and resolution of intricate problems. But also, as you may well know, cryptography is an important subject with a legitimate excuse for its existence.

Without it, organizations and individuals would have to search out other means of securing the real or supposed inviolability of their communications. And diplomatic, military, political, business, and personal messages in cipher, which probably aggregate thousands daily throughout the world, would demand expression through other channels.

The number of ciphers that have been devised for these various purposes is, of course, practically unlimited. But some of these ciphers are better than others. Which brings up the question of what actually constitutes a good cipher.

Quite naturally, cryptographers have been trying to decide this for centuries. For example, it was in 1605 in his "Advancement of Learning" that Sir Francis Bacon pronounced his much quoted three virtues of a good cipher. To these three Edgar Allan Poe added a fourth in 1841.

In 1883 August Kerckhoffs in "La Cryptographie Militaire" announced his famous six properties of military ciphers. To these six requisites H. Josse, French captain and author of a work on ciphers, added a seventh in 1885. and F. Delastelle followed in 1893 with an eighth.

Another French writer on the subject, E. Myskowski, published in 1902 in his "Cryptographie Indechiffrable" eight properties, for the greater part a review of what had gone before.

To assist our readers in the improvement of their own ciphers, and to better appreciate the work of others, we have coordinated these and other sets of regulations, restating some, eliminating duplicates, and throwing in a few other self-evident propositions for good measure.

The first of these rules and regulations will appear, with a short discussion, in next week's cipher department. Others will be published at intervals in our weekly series.

Now for cipher No. 2, for which we have prepared an example in the stroke cipher of Charles Ⅰ

The alphabet of this system, found at the British Museum among the royal manuscripts, is somewhat suggestive of shorthand, and is to be found engraved in dive's Linear Shorthand, published in 1830.

This cipher seems to have been a favorite with Charles Ⅰ, it being of especial interest from having been used in his letter of April 5, 1646, to the Earl of Glamorgan—afterward Marquis of Worcester—in which the king made certain concessions to the Roman Catholics of Ireland.

The cipher employs a simple substitution alphabet, each symbol fixedly signifying a certain letter, and a given letter always being represented by one certain symbol. The text of the present cryptogram is taken from a statement by an eyewitness of the execution of Charles Ⅰ.

Can you decipher it?

CIPHER No. 2. (in Charles Ⅰ stroke cipher).

Charles Ⅰ Stroke cipher

Send in your solutions to this week's ciphers, and look for the answer to No. 2, along with the complete alphabet, in the next issue of this magazine.

Have you a cipher of your own brewing that you would like to try on your fellow readers? If so, send it along, too; preferably with the solution.

Next week's installment, besides the first of the cipher rules and regulations, will also contain some interesting reader ciphers.

Don't fail to see them.

That readers of FLYNN'S WEEKLY have proved the vulnerability of the key phrase cipher, described in the January 22 issue, is clearly demonstrated by the list of solvers of these ciphers that is now accumulating, and which will be published in a later issue.

The key phrases and translations of these two ciphers follow:

CIPHER No. 1 (Key phrase in Old French: "Dieu, le roy, et le foy du Vaughn.") Message: In some curious examination of the carved woodwork above the library at Cragness, I hit accidentally upon a secret spring, distant six inches in a right line from the spear head of the knight in heraldic device there blazoned. Within the crypt, disclosed by the movement of this spring, I found the secret which, having driven my father to his grave, then turned back to fasten upon me, and will, as I am certain, never release me until I die beside him.

CIPHER No. 2 (Key phrase: Tell not your secret to an enemy.) Message: If one of my sons shall discover the secret place where is hidden this pistol and the confession of his father's follies and crimes, I counsel llrnoons should have read Imconsl him to lay the latter upon the fire, and to discharge the first into his own head. So best shall he shield the memory of his ancestors, and spare himself their inheritance.

The above messages are both quotations from a little known novel, "Cipher," an early work of the American author, Jane Goodwin Austin (1831-1894). This story was published serially in the Galaxy from October, 1868, to April, 1869, inclusive; and, as far as we have been able to learn, was never issued in book form.

The first message is an excerpt from a lengthy document that figures in the story. This document is given in English, but it is supposed to have been written in cipher, and to have been deciphered by an accidental discovery of the Old French key phrase already given.

The only actual cryptograms in the whole novel, however, are the two short specimens, "Edaolu oe oludluv," and " Ruyllye aol oludlu," which our readers can decipher, if they choose, by means of the Old French key phrase. As used by Austin, however, this key was applied only to the first twenty-four letters of the English alphabet, y and z being left to take care of themselves without any symbols.

Austin's use of the key phrase cipher may have been due to the influence of Poe, who had already described it in Graham's Magazine, and had set the pace for fiction writers, in this respect, by using a cryptogram in the Gold Bug.

Turning now to our November 13 list of solvers, no one succeeded in deciphering the photographic formula code, No. 7, and not without good reason. But all the rest fell swiftly before the attack.

December 18 ciphers seemed to offer a more stubborn resistance. Nevertheless, a number of fans succeeded in solving Nos. 1 and 2 of the " Castle Radio Contest" type, including Mr. Castle himself, who managed to get away with both of them.

The January 22 list will be published later.