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The Beale ciphers (wikipedia.org)
33 points by SuperChihuahua on Sept 28, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 9 comments

Had to double take at reading Robert Morriss (surely no relation..surely)

> Beale entrusted a box containing the encrypted messages to a local innkeeper named Robert Morriss

If it's just an unknown one time pad we're looking for, this is pretty damning:

> If the Declaration of Independence is used as a key for the first cipher, it yields alphabetical sequences such as abfdefghiijklmmnohpp and others

OTOH, there's nothing to stop a separate cipher key for the first text, and the author making sure that the key words chosen (there's always a choice, since only the first letters are used) map (roughly) to an interesting sequence in the Declaration of Independence - as a gotcha.

Here's a blog entry describing some small investigations into the Beale ciphers, which revealed a few surprises (for me at least): http://nibot-lab.livejournal.com/72614.html

I grew up in Roanoke county, neighboring Bedford. We had books that mentioned this treasure, and I've always harbored a dream of deciphering the text then casually buying the property where the treasure is. If it's not a hoax maybe I can spin up some AWS instances and get cracking :)

The treasure is supposed to be buried in iron pots. A 2-box metal detector should be able to find those to a depth of several feet.

I happen to have several maps of that area from the 1820s through the 1920s.

If you ever get serious about it, give me a call :)

I learned about the Beale ciphers in the 80s and wrote a simple program to try deciphering ciphers one and three using a given key text. I think it's probably a hoax, but the codes are fun to play around with.

Skeptoid has an interesting article which lays out a convincing case that they're fakes:


I remember reading about these in a book when I was a kid... _Alvin's Secret Code_ was the book I think? Always fascinated me!

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