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The last 30 Voynich blog posts from the community across the web... Posted on From
Final notes on Jean Keff and Pierre Keff…
Before moving on, I thought I ought to publish my last few notes on Jean Keff and Pierre Keff, in case someone passing happens to be trying to work out their family tree. (I should again stress what a good source of information filae.com is.) Children of Jean Keff & Reine Lichtenberger Note that in … Read More → The post Final notes on Jean Keff and Pierre Keff… appeared first on Cipher Mysteries.
Sat 08 May 2021
Nick Pelling
Cipher Mysteries

Sadly, Henry Debosnys was not Pierre Keff… :-(
I was certain the French archives would have good, solid information on historical prisoners, so went looking for them. And that’s how I found the official French archive site filae.com, which (modest paywall notwithstanding) was actually very impressive (To be precise, searching filae is a bit hit and miss, but the depth of the archives … Read More → The post Sadly, Henry Debosnys was not Pierre Keff… :-( appeared first on Cipher Mysteries.
Fri 07 May 2021
Nick Pelling
Cipher Mysteries

Jean Keff escaped Le Bagne de Toulon! (…sort of)
I wondered whether Retronews.fr (the BnF’s old newspaper site) might have anything to say on the subject of Jean Keff and Pierre Keff. To my surprise and pleasure, it did… Escape From Le Bagne de Toulon I quickly found two short news articles from 1872 concerning Jean Keff’s escape from Le Bagne de Toulon, in … Read More → The post Jean Keff escaped Le Bagne de Toulon! (…sort of) appeared first on Cipher Mysteries.
Tue 04 May 2021
Nick Pelling
Cipher Mysteries

Was Henry Debosnys in fact Pierre Keff?
A trawl through newspapers.com’s (paywalled) archive throws up various tidbits to do with fantasy-spinning wife-killer Henry Debosnys. For example, that his defence counsel consisted of Arod K. Dudley of Elizabethtown and Royal Corbin of Plattsburgh; that his brain “weighed fifty-two ounces“; and that on the day of his execution, “he commenced the day with his … Read More → The post Was Henry Debosnys in fact Pierre Keff? appeared first on Cipher Mysteries.
Mon 03 May 2021
Nick Pelling
Cipher Mysteries

d’Agapeyeff Cipher: how about a sorted frequency distribution search of Project Gutenberg?
Even if (and I would not disagree that it’s a big ‘if’) we accept that the 14×14 rearrangement of the d’Agapeyeff Challenge Cipher’s Polybius square output is a staging point on the reconstructive road back to the original plaintext, we’re still left with an unknown transposition of an unknown substitution. Which is not great. 🙁 … Read More → The post d’Agapeyeff Cipher: how about a sorted frequency distribution search of Project Gutenberg? ....
Sat 01 May 2021
Nick Pelling
Cipher Mysteries

Sektu and Henry Debosnys
Some interesting correspondence in the last few days has brought the case of hanged murderer Henry Debosnys (along with his curious unsolved ciphers and his not-very-credible autobiography) back to mind. It has also reminded me of a number of Debosnys-related things I’ve been meaning to post to Cipher Mysteries for ages… Sektu on the Portuguese … Read More → The post Sektu and Henry Debosnys appeared first on Cipher Mysteries.
Fri 30 Apr 2021
Nick Pelling
Cipher Mysteries

If not off-white, then what?
I’ve been thinking a lot about the off-white tie found in the suitcase the Somerton Man famously left at Adelaide’s railway station. Only an American gangster (or perhaps poor old Hector St Clair) would have a white tie to go with his black shirt: and what we’re looking at isn’t even a white tie, it’s … Read More → The post If not off-white, then what? appeared first on Cipher Mysteries.
Mon 26 Apr 2021
Nick Pelling
Cipher Mysteries

“The Codebreaker” on PBS America, Wed 28 Apr 2021…
If you are in the UK and have an interest in historical codebreaking, I’d recommend moseying over to PBS America (Freeview channel 84) this coming Wednesday evening (28 April 2021) at 8.40pm for “The Codebreaker“. First aired in the US in January 2021, this documentary is on Elizebeth Friedman (1892-1980), whom I expect most Cipher … Read More → The post “The Codebreaker” on PBS America, Wed 28 Apr 2021… appeared first on Cipher Mysteries.
Sun 25 Apr 2021
Nick Pelling
Cipher Mysteries

Somerton Man exhumation approved, late middlegame approaches…
According to a big story in today’s (24 Jan 2021) Adelaide Advertiser (a huge thanks to all the people who passed it my way, very much appreciated!), an application by South Australian Police last month to exhume the Somerton Man has just been approved by Attorney-General Vickie Chapman. The plan is to extract a full … Read More → The post Somerton Man exhumation approved, late middlegame approaches… appeared first on Cipher Mysteries.
Sat 24 Apr 2021
Nick Pelling
Cipher Mysteries

Introducing the “suffixity” metric (perhaps)…
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Sun 18 Apr 2021
Nick Pelling
Cipher Mysteries

Walthamstow’s Second Biggest Mystery
Though not quite as big a mystery as why boy band East 17 was so popular, Walthamstow now has its own cipher mystery: a series of curious graffiti-ed number codes. Reuben Binns started noting these back in 2018: Looking closely, you can see that these are typically 2-8-7 or 2-7-7 numeric codes, and that they … Read More → The post Walthamstow’s Second Biggest Mystery appeared first on Cipher Mysteries.
Sat 17 Apr 2021
Nick Pelling
Cipher Mysteries

Direct From The Source
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Sun 11 Apr 2021
Nick Pelling
Cipher Mysteries

Keane – What’s In A Name?
Imagine, if you will, that everything about the Somerton Man is somehow embedded in the name written on the back of the off-white tie found in the suitcase left in Adelaide Station. Can we decrypt the life hidden in this writing? Well… we can certainly try to, right? As normal, let’s examine it reaaaaally closely… … Read More → The post Keane – What’s In A Name? appeared first on Cipher Mysteries.
Tue 16 Mar 2021
Nick Pelling
Cipher Mysteries

Kean on ships…
I’ve been raking over Ancestry.com, trying to take the search for the Somerton Man back to archival basics. For example: we have a first initial (T or J) we have a surname (Kean or Keane) we have a rough date of birth (1900, plus or minus five years) we know he had no tattoos / … Read More → The post Kean on ships… appeared first on Cipher Mysteries.
Mon 08 Mar 2021
Nick Pelling
Cipher Mysteries

Can you decode Robert Walker’s code names?
James Robert Walker’s life story, smuggled out of Pentridge Jail just before his suicide, was sensationally serialized in the Argus in September 1954 to October 1954. If you want to read it, I edited it into a single downloadable file here. I found it of particular interest because in the early 1940s Walker ran his … Read More → The post Can you decode Robert Walker’s code names? appeared first on Cipher Mysteries.
Sun 28 Feb 2021
Nick Pelling
Cipher Mysteries

The Old Canton Cafe Baccarat School Timeline…
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Sat 20 Feb 2021
Nick Pelling
Cipher Mysteries

Notes on Balutz…
I was recently reminded that, having got sidetracked by Triantafillos & Stelios Balutis, I hadn’t got round to returning to the Balutz line of inquiry. So here are some notes on Balutz-surnamed people to keep you going. 🙂 By the way, even though you might think that “Balutz” came from the slum district of Bałuty … Read More → The post Notes on Balutz… appeared first on Cipher Mysteries.
Sun 14 Feb 2021
Nick Pelling
Cipher Mysteries

Why would a Lithuanian be called “Joseph Kean”?
This is, of the course, the single question that bothered me most after writing my most recent post on the Somerton Man. As you’d expect, almost all the Keans/Keanes I found were Scottish or Irish immigrants: but, sticking out like a sore thumb, there was a single British Joseph Kean with two Lithuanian parents. I … Read More → The post Why would a Lithuanian be called “Joseph Kean”? appeared first on Cipher Mysteries.
Sun 07 Feb 2021
Nick Pelling
Cipher Mysteries

The Somerton Man, Four Straight As, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the 1930 US Census…?
Ever the provocateur, Pete Bowes’ latest challenge concerns the fact that if you look at each of the four short uncrossed-out lines of mysterious text indented on the back of the Somerton Man’s Rubaiyat, the seventh letter is always A. Well, he says, what are the odds of that, then? So Let’s Run the Numbers… … Read More → The post The Somerton Man, Four Straight As, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the 1930 US Census…? appeared first on Cipher Mysteries.
Sat 06 Feb 2021
Nick Pelling
Cipher Mysteries

Was SM a boxer, a wrestler, or a clog dancer?
And yes, he could have been all three, or indeed none of them. But please bear with me, there’s a lot of ground to cover here. Boxing The background here is that I suspect that in the late 1930s to the 1940s, the Somerton Man ended up as some kind of criminal ‘heavy’ (e.g. a … Read More → The post Was SM a boxer, a wrestler, or a clog dancer? appeared first on Cipher Mysteries.
Mon 25 Jan 2021
Nick Pelling
Cipher Mysteries

“Mostly Harmless” now identified as ‘vaejor’…
In a recent post, I briefly mentioned an unidentified hiker known as “Mostly Harmless” who had been found dead in a tent in Florida in the summer of 2018. He had a fat wodge of cash in his pocket, a very distinctive scar, and some kind of connection to an online game called Screeps. As … Read More → The post “Mostly Harmless” now identified as ‘vaejor’… appeared first on Cipher Mysteries.
Sat 23 Jan 2021
Nick Pelling
Cipher Mysteries

The Tamarin Bay Cipher Mystery…
Mauritius has long had a surfeit of treasure hunters, though also a shortage of actual treasures. In fact, in Alix d’Unienville’s (1954) “Les Mascareignes: Vielle France en mer indienne“, M. Aimé de Sornay asserts (p.236) that almost all Mauritian treasure hunters focus on what we might call The Big Two: La Buse’s treasure and Bernardin … Read More → The post The Tamarin Bay Cipher Mystery… appeared first on Cipher Mysteries.
Sun 17 Jan 2021
Nick Pelling
Cipher Mysteries

Cipher mystery things I aim to find out in 2021…
Researching cipher mysteries is almost always ponderous and frustrating: it will doubtless take all of 2021 for the work I put in to the WW2 pigeon cipher and the Bernardin Nageon de l’Estang letters during 2020 to bear fruit. Yet what Dave Oranchak’s recent epic crack of the Z340 tells us is that if we … Read More → The post Cipher mystery things I aim to find out in 2021… appeared first on Cipher Mysteries.
Sun 03 Jan 2021
Nick Pelling
Cipher Mysteries

After Z340, which cipher mysteries could get cracked in 2021?
In the wake of Dave Oranchak’s epic crack of the Zodiac Killer’s Z340 cipher, which other unsolved ciphers might get cracked in 2021? For me, the way the Z340 was solved highlighted a number of issues: It seems very likely to me that other long-standing cipher mysteries will also require collaboration between entirely different kinds … Read More → The post After Z340, which cipher mysteries could get cracked in 2021? appeared first on Cipher Mysteries.
Wed 30 Dec 2020
Nick Pelling
Cipher Mysteries

“A Massive Hunt” – Clarkson, Hammond & May take on a Cipher Mystery…
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Sun 27 Dec 2020
Nick Pelling
Cipher Mysteries

Zodiac Z340 is CRACKED!
Dave Oranchak posted today about how he (along with Jarlve and Sam Blake) cracked the Zodiac Killer’s infamous Z340 cipher. Here’s his video: Unsurprisingly (to me), it turned out that code breakers had been (kind of) close for some time, with the single largest tell (than never quite told) being the curious results you get … Read More → The post Zodiac Z340 is CRACKED! appeared first on Cipher Mysteries.
Fri 11 Dec 2020
Nick Pelling
Cipher Mysteries

The Glut of Somerton Men…
The Somerton Man, found dead by the sea wall on Somerton Beach in the early morning of 1st December 1948, has had innumerable speculative theories pinned to his unnamed corpse over the years. Was he a Soviet spy, an international man of mystery, a former lover, an errant parent, a Third Officer, a gangster, a … Read More → The post The Glut of Somerton Men… appeared first on Cipher Mysteries.
Tue 17 Nov 2020
Nick Pelling
Cipher Mysteries

The Nageon de l’Estangs in 1760…
Here’s an official document (from 1760, according to my notes) from the Mauritian Archives that my French is just not good enough to read completely. Can a French Cipher Mysteries reader be kind enough to transcribe it for us all? Please post your transcription as a comment below, and I’ll update the post as quickly … Read More → The post The Nageon de l’Estangs in 1760… appeared first on Cipher Mysteries.
Sun 08 Nov 2020
Nick Pelling
Cipher Mysteries

Hidden treasure, Pointe de Vacoas, and 300 dead dodos…
In my last Cipher Mysteries post, I floated the idea that when Bernardin Nageon de l’Estang famously wrote that… j’ai naufragé dans une crique près des Vaquois … he may have been referring not to the town or inland area called Vacoas, but rather to Pointe de Vacoas on Mauritius’ South-Eastern coast, which was close … Read More → The post Hidden treasure, Pointe de Vacoas, and 300 dead dodos… appeared first on Cipher Mysteries.
Tue 03 Nov 2020
Nick Pelling
Cipher Mysteries

“Carte générale de l’Isle de France avec le détail de son Terrier et les noms des habitans par numéros”…
This “Carte générale” is a really great 18th century map of Mauritius held at the BNF, one that Cipher Mysteries commenter Anthony Lallaizon alerted me to. The BNF shelfmark is “département Cartes et plans, GE C-9307“. Note that the BNF also has a second map of Mauritius that seems to be an updated copy of … Read More → The post “Carte générale de l’Isle de France avec le détail de son Terrier et les noms des habitans par numéros”… appeared ....
Sun 01 Nov 2020
Nick Pelling
Cipher Mysteries

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