Even though Elonka listed the 1933 Chinese Gold Bar Cipher case on her “List of Famous Unsolved Codes and Ciphers” page many years ago, it isn’t something I’ve ever covered here, simply because the link she gave (to an International Association for Cryptologic Research page) is enough to answer most people’s questions.

Annoyingly, though, the same information has been cut-and-pasted so many times in the Internet that it is almost impossible to find any genuine opinion or insight. So perhaps taking a fresh look at this is somewhat overdue!

Also rather annoyingly, there isn’t a definitive numbering system in place for the ciphertexts on the seven gold bars: and it’s not entirely certain which is the front and which is the back of individual gold bars. It’s all a bit shabby, if you ask me. 🙁

Anyway, I’ll start by laying out my thoughts on a single side of a single gold bar, and it should quickly become apparent what I think of this whole matter…

One Of The Gold Bars

5.1

My transcription (only very slightly different from the IACR transcription) of this is:-

    UGMNCBXCKDBEY           VIOHIKNNGUAB
                           HFXPCQYZVATXAWIZPVE
                            YQHUDTABGALLOWLS
                           XLYPISNANIRUSFTFWMIY
                           KOWVRSRWTMLDH
                           JKGFIJPMCWSAEK
                           ABRYCTUGVZXUPB
                           GKJFHYXODIE
RHZVIYQIYSXVNQXQWIOVWPJO         ZUQUPNZN
SKCDKJCDJCYQSZKTZJPXPWIRN       GKJFHYXODIE
MQOLCSJTLGAJOKBSSBOMUPCE
FEWGDRHDDEEUMFFTEEMJXZR

Note that the “GKJFHYXODIE” line is repeated twice here, and the bottom two lines are repeated on a different gold bar (“MQOLCSJTLGAJOKBSSBOMUPCE” repeats once and “FEWGDRHDDEEUMFFTEEMJXZR” repeats twice, side by side).

Cryptanalytically, the letter instance statistics for the above are very flat, which makes simple substitution ciphers and/or transposition ciphers highly unlikely: and yet entire lines appear to be repeated, which would seem to point away from polyalphabetic ciphers too.

  I  E  J  K  S  X  Y  C  D  O  P  U  W A F G N Z B H M Q R T V L
 13 11 11 11 11 11 11 10 10 10 10 10 10 9 9 9 9 9 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 7

I half-heartedly tried a number of well-known cipher solvers on it in CryptoCrack, but didn’t really believe any of them would produce anything plausible. And they didn’t. So… up close, it’s a bit of mess, right?

General Wang?

Presumably the military-looking man in the middle of this gold bar is “General Wang” of the alleged narrative.

is-this-general-wang

There’s another (slightly clearer but still rather scronky-looking) image of what appears to be a General on a different gold bar, which I’ll include here for the sake of practicality:

general-wang-again

One Redditor seems to have suggested (in a deleted comment) that this may be General Wang Jialie, though the Chinese ideograms beneath the picture look to me to be a different name (please correct me if I’m wrong!) And again, a rather different General Wang Yaowu wasn’t made a general until 1935, so the timing there seems wrong too.

Similarly, General Wang Sheng wasn’t yet a general in 1933: although he was instrumental in policing the introduction of the gold-backed Chin-yuan Chuan currency in China just after the Second World War, his life was a fairly open book, and I think it would be fairly surprising if there was an entire gold-bar-related chapter missing from it. 😐

Or could it have been General Wang Jun, who died in 1941? (But his shoulders look wrong?) Or General Wang Xidao who died in 1937? (But he was only promoted in 1936?) Yet again, I suspect we are looking at none of these generals, which is frustrating.

If this is a General Wang, which General Wang is it? I’d really like the opinion of someone able to read Chinese, in case the caption below the portrait on the gold bar is actually specifically naming him (as you’d hope).

possibly-wangs-name

A final note: I have to say I’m not feeling hugely convinced by the general’s hat as drawn: I’d have thought it ought to look more like General Wang Jun’s hat (in the link a little way above). So… all in all, I don’t think we’re doing hugely well here. 🙁

A 1933 Plane?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the image of a plane on this same gold bar also has me a little perplexed.

gold-bar-plane

The reason for my perplexity is that planes of the 1920s were almost all biplanes: while all the planes of the 1930s that I could find better matching this design (all-metal, single wing mounted underneath the fuselage, single propellor on each wing, modern-looking nose, door over the wing) were built closer to WW2. Even so, the Douglas DC-3 was in 1936 [but doesn’t have a door over the wing], the Lockheed Model 10 Electra in 1935 [but the tail is wrong for that]): so really, I couldn’t find anything similar that was in production in 1933.

Perhaps someone with more specialist knowledge of planes circa 1933 will be able to throw some light on this plane. But for now, this too is somewhat unsatisfactory.

And The Signature Too?

At the bottom of the image, there’s apparently a signature:-

gold-bar-signature

Is this “(Something) G. Denly”? “(Something) G. Dealy”? Beats me: any suggestions?

So, My Conclusion Is…

Numerous things about these gold bars have me stumped, not just its cryptogram-like text. If I were to sum up my feelings right now, I’d say that this looks like a post-WW2 fake (and probably even from the early-to-mid 1950s), trying to make something look as though it had been made in the 1930s, but not quite getting it right.

The situation in China and (what was becoming Taiwan) in the late 1940s and early 1950s was tense and intensely political: so perhaps these gold bars were intended for some kind of political propaganda purposes back then? I really don’t know… but perhaps we shall see!

(Incidentally, why was it that people were able to date these to 1933?)

45 thoughts on “That Chinese Gold Bar Cipher thing…

  1. Tricia on March 16, 2015 at 8:37 am said:

    The last letter of the first word in the signature is a “z”, I think. My elderly aunt used to write her ‘z’ that way.

    And – just a thought – it often happens that coins re-use earlier moulds, just changing small details on one or other side (sometimes both) but avoiding the cost of making entirely new ones. Might this explain the odd anachronism in these bars?

  2. SirHubert on March 16, 2015 at 10:12 am said:

    Dear Nick,

    I strongly suspect that these are not gold bars at all. As in, I don’t think they’re bars, and I don’t think they’re gold.

    Is there any evidence that a) anyone has seen them and b) had them assayed?

  3. Anton Alipov on March 16, 2015 at 11:49 am said:

    Don’t know how in China, but overall there were already a number of monoplanes on the verge of 1930’s, e.g. the world’s first full-metal mass-produced monoplane bomber, the two-engine Tupolev TB-1, was developed as early as 1925 and launched into production in 1929. However, the particular shape of the plane depicted limits the scope.

    Boeing B-247 seems to be a good match. Wikipedia says that one B-247Y (armed version) was exported to China.

    A page that I googled out,
    http://worldatwar.net/chandelle/v2/v2n2/china30s.html
    states that “a Boeing 247-D, called Bai-Ying or “White Eagle,” performed what was perhaps the most important aerial service of the Sino-Japanese conflict: it brought about a suspension of the civil war and allowed the Red and Nationalist armies to join forces against Japan. The airplane belonged to one of the most successful Nationalist generals, the fiercely anti-Communist, twenty-four year-old warlord Chang Hsueh-liang, called the “Young Marshall.” In 1935, Chang bought the stock Boeing as his personal staff transport. It flew him in and out of the combat areas and dropped supplies to his troops during the anti-Red purges and anti-warlord campaigns.”

    I think that the latter article messes B-247Y with a (more widespread) version B-247D, it was apparently B-247Y that was purchased by the “fierce anti-Communist”. But that was in 1935, they say, not 1933.

    Hope this helps.

  4. Joanna on March 16, 2015 at 12:57 pm said:

    I read it as Mangus Dowly. Mangus Tao-li (?)
    Cheers.

  5. renne on March 16, 2015 at 1:17 pm said:

    Hi Nick Pelling.
    He writes about the last war. The crisis in Cuba.

    The entry is used substitution.
    VION. ARNN. CUAB. ( Vision. Arénas. Cuba).
    The word war is – UAB – VAR- WAR.

    ( VION = VIZE). ( ARNN – AREN). ( CUAB = CUBA ).

    Importantly – C.K. ..J.F. HY. xodie.
    C- clan. K – Kenedy. J.F.
    HY = Hi.
    xodie = eidox = namo X. ( name X) ( X = Kenedy).
    xo die = xo …man. ( die = eid = had).

    ( also writes about Russia ).

    Hi Renne.

  6. SirHubert on March 16, 2015 at 1:51 pm said:

    Dear Nick,

    I am pretty sure that these are in fact banknote printing plates, but I am as sure as I can be that they’re not gold bars.

    Feel free to look up either Hell Money or Spirit Money on your search engine of choice, but in parts of the Far East it is standard practice at some funerals to either burn or bury copy banknotes with the deceased. I’ve seen plenty of them over the years; some are crudely made as woodblock prints, others from metal plates. They vary widely in how closely they resemble actual banknotes but often copy US and Far Eastern types.

    For the rest of this story, you might have a look here (and I hope the link works):

    http://www.aegisjournal.com/usa-1934-series-bonds/

    I’ve been approached on several occasions by people claiming to have either banknotes, bonds, treasury promissory certificates, gold bars or whatever else which were somehow involved with the US funding China in the 1930s or 1940s. It’s a scam. These stories have been around since the 1990s at least, and there may be a kernel of truth somewhere in there somewhere for all I know, but I’m afraid these objects weren’t anything to do with it.

    Sorry!

  7. SirHubert: that is indeed a huge scam, a way of separating the gullible from their (genuine) money. But is it really the same thing as these “gold bars”? The gold bars certainly resemble Spirit Money much more closely, but they’re different again.

    As I said in the post, it’s a mess. 🙁

  8. SirHubert on March 16, 2015 at 3:38 pm said:

    Nick: I think these are perfectly genuine spirit money banknote printing plates, and I think someone is trying to pass these objects off as gold bars. I also think the story behind them is a concoction, which has much in common with these other tales of US financial aid/bribery in China.

    There are good reasons why spirit money is quite crude and cartoonish – the engravers of the plates often don’t have English as a first language, and if they’re crude enough they avoid accusations of counterfeiting.

    It is indeed a mess, but there is so much wrong with this one that I don’t think it need detain one too far.

  9. bdid1dr on March 16, 2015 at 3:53 pm said:

    Nick (& Sir Hubert):
    I’m thinking along the same track — but much earlier: California and the gold rush. Most of our earliest Chinese immigrants to the US (Gold Mountain) were male. They worked at dynamiting passes through our mountains, laying track for the railroads, cooking food for the various camps……
    When they were paid, it was with gold. But only after they were first paid with paper — and threatened to dynamite the tunnels and track. Paper money was for burning in honor of their dead. Gold was the main object of the “Tong Wars” (whether in San Francisco or Sacramento, California — or New York City).
    Some of those gold bars were handed down through generations of Chinese-American families.
    It is most likely that some gold bars were used as dowries — and never exchanged for American paper money.
    When I gave my newly-wed daughter-in-law a set of Victorian gold bracelets, she never thanked me. She didn’t realize their value — because they were not ‘pure gold’. She didn’t understand their value as Victorian-era antique jewelry.

  10. The reason this is dated to 1933 is that the four characters below the portrait are the digits one – nine – three – three. It’s not the name of the person in the picture.

  11. Anton Alipov on March 16, 2015 at 10:33 pm said:

    SirHubert:

    Should not banknote printing plates have a “mirrored” appearance?

  12. Anton: the simplest questions are always the best, are they not? 😉

  13. Clay: thanks, that explains a lot.

    But… if the plates were anything to do with China before 1949, shouldn’t dates on the plates use the Minguo calendar, e.g. years of glorious revolution since 1912, so “1933” would have been written “21st year of the Republic”?

    The more I see of this, the more confused I get.

  14. Clay: a double correction! Firstly, 1933 was the “22nd year of the Republic”; and secondly, the Kuomintang used the Gregorian calendar for most official business, so “1-9-3-3” would indeed make perfect sense as a written year. Apologies!

  15. Anton: you’re absolutely right, I should have listed the Boeing B-247. But even though that first flew in 1933, Boeing only ever built 75 of them (they weren’t very economical to run), and as far as I can see only one B-247 (the armed B-247Y) made it as far as China.

    This was indeed General Zhang Xueliang’s – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhang_Xueliang – and he did indeed buy it in 1935.

    And the door over the wing is wrong!

  16. http://acepilots.com/pioneer/boeing_247.html
    “United Air Lines purchased 60 of the planes; the remaining 15 went to other customers including Roscoe Turner, Clyde Pangborn, and Lufthansa.”

  17. Atoqsaykuchi on March 17, 2015 at 5:27 am said:

    Wang Jialie’s name appears at the beginning of the Chinese text in this image. In the picture you highlighted, the text is not the man’s name, but simply “1933” (一九三三).

  18. SirHubert on March 17, 2015 at 7:21 am said:

    Anton: a perfectly sensible question and yes they should, if they are made properly. Spirit money plates and other kinds of copy sometimes don’t, because they’re made by people copying directly from the banknote.

    Three more sensible questions: i) where are these things, ii) why does anyone think they are gold, and iii) does anyone actually find a word of this story remotely plausible?

  19. Escher7 on March 17, 2015 at 9:41 am said:

    Plane is very likely a DC 3 as no other contemporary plane has that profile. The picture does not show a door over the wing, but the letter “D” (reverse profile in picture). The bottom picture at this link shows identical lettering:
    http://www.airliners.net/search/photo.search?album=5362&page=8&page_limit=15.

    No plane with the high front and low back end would have a door that high off the ground. The doors were always in the rear.

  20. Escher7 on March 17, 2015 at 10:00 am said:

    P.S. The mirror “D” lends credence to the plates being printing plates.

  21. Atoqsaykuchi: thanks very much, that’s a great help.

    I think it might now be a good idea to get better quality scans of the text. I’ll see what I can do…

  22. Anton Alipov on March 17, 2015 at 12:03 pm said:

    Escher7:

    DС-3 made its first flight only in December 1935, so that does not correspond to 1933 neither.

    I would say that a “1933” under the portrait would not necessarily mean the year in which the bar was produced. This may be some significant historical date related to the enciphered text. Or this may just denote the year in which the portrait was made.

    Anyway, depicting a plane in this context suggests that this is some “particular” plane – a plane of great importance or a plane which has some story behind it.

    SirHubert:

    OK, supposing these are improperly made banknote plates, where is the face value then? “1933”? Did Swift describe China under the name of Balnibarbi? 🙂

  23. SirHubert on March 17, 2015 at 1:29 pm said:

    Dear Anton,

    I appreciate that spirit money/hell money is not straightforward. Some types copy known banknotes fairly closely, others are essentially fantasy notes.

    Some of these plates have serial numbers and denominations. Others, which I assume are meant to be the backs, do not.

    Almost all of the images have dollar signs in the corners and serial numbers visible. They also have what are meant to be signatures. Some of them have rather poorly-executed vignettes of Chinese-style countryside. One has an extremely large denomination ($3bn or whatever) at the bottom. One function of spirit money is to allow the deceased to have a good time in the afterlife, hence large denominations are popular.

    If you would rather believe that a US bank has ever produced enciphered gold bars as deposit certificates, that is entirely up to you. And if you think that objects as crude and poorly-made as this could possibly be used for the purpose described, again, that’s entirely up to you. I’m not aware of any bank having done this, but am always happy to be corrected.

    To get some idea of what the US was actually doing with gold in the 1930s, you might have a look at Executive Order 6102 and the Gold Reserve Act of 1934.

    Cheers!

  24. Diane on March 17, 2015 at 1:36 pm said:

    😀

  25. SirHubert: I think we (or at least I) have the basic landscape in place now, and would heartily agree that, like the fakes and Spirit Money alike, this was without any real doubt not produced by a US bank.

    But at the same time, that’s really rather like saying the Voynich Manuscript is obviously a herbal because it so closely resembles late medieval / early modern herbals. Which is to say that while I think we have a landscape of similar objects, we’re still flying quite high above it. We have a lot of work to do yet! 😉

  26. SirHubert on March 17, 2015 at 4:03 pm said:

    Nick: not really a valid comparison.

    The Voynich Manuscript is known to exist, has been carbon-dated to the mediaeval period, looks like a herbal, and may in fact be a herbal (we’ll see as and when someone can read it).

    With these things, there is no evidence that they’re gold, we don’t know where they are or who has them, and we don’t know when they were made…but we do know that the story about Chinese warlords in the 1930s is already looking very, very weak. Even the IACR entry, which is the source of just about everything I’ve found about these items, is properly cautious about the accuracy of the claims it reproduces.

    Stil…what do I know?

  27. bdid1dr on March 17, 2015 at 4:34 pm said:

    Happy St. Patrick’s Day, y’all ! Are some of your grins (happy face icons) showing gold fillings?
    bdid1dr

    🙂

  28. Rick A. Roberts on March 18, 2015 at 7:57 am said:

    I have just been reading about the Chinese Gold Bars or Gold Plates. When I look at the signature on these, it appears to read, “Monty Dowdy”, with a “$” sign following the signature. There was a Monty Dowdy during the Korean War, who attended the Citadel for three years and was later in the U.S. Army, and later became an instructor there. I am trying to figure out what type of airplane is on the bars(plates). I am going to show this to my Dad, as he flew several years in the service. I have been working on the coded message and I attacked the single shortest piece first, “ZUQUPNZN”. I have came with “EMPMIRER”. I read an article about “YAMASHITA’S GOLD”, where there was a box of 20K gold bars that was found and opened and seven of the bars were sold. Could this all be tied together? This is very interesting and I am going to dig further. Thanks.

  29. Anton Alipov on March 18, 2015 at 11:21 am said:

    SirHubert:

    I know nothing about this stuff beyond this blog post (and the link therein provided), I just noticed that the assumption of these being banknote plates is highly inconsistent.

    Of course the story that’s been told is also inconsistent. Seven bars weighting 1.8 kg in total yield 257 g per bar (assuming equal size). Length to width ratio is about 1.9. Assuming even 585 gold (which is way far from the “pure” gold) with its density of circa 14 g/cm^3, we find that the item’s dimensions would be only 8.4×4.4 cm @5mm thickness or 13.2×6.9 cm @2 mm thickness. So either these are not gold, or they are not “bars”, rather “plates”. Maybe, some memorial jewelry crafted to commemorate certain historical events.

    The IACR page says there are 7 bars, but there are photos of 8 bars: seven in a row and another one in the upper right corner. Right margins of all bars are strangely cropped on all photos.

    I think the first step should be to interpret all Chinese inscriptions, that’s not as difficult as to solve ciphers. And the IACR page refers all those who are “seriously interested” to certain Messrs Tao and Bisno. Has nobody contacted them? Or do they dismiss all inquiries as not serious?

  30. Anton: I contacted Peter Bisno, who very kindly replied quickly to the effect that his company closed the file on this matter many years ago. I shall be contacting Bin J. Tao very shortly, to see if I can persuade him to tell his side of this story, which I am sure will be unexpected in many respects. 🙂

  31. SirHubert on March 18, 2015 at 6:21 pm said:

    Anton: I have in fact seen spirit money notes with retrograde inscriptions, caused by a printing plate or block being made with a ‘positive’ rather than a ‘negative’ image. It’s a feature found on many forgeries and imitations made over the centuries. There are even copies of Islamic coins made in Kievan Rus where the Arabic legends are literate but run from left-to-right instead of right-to-left.

    I suppose there is a passing resemblance between these objects and the Kim Thanh gold bars made in the 1960s and 1970s. There are described reasonably well here (again hoping the link works):

    http://www.rarecoincollector.net/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=10239

    There are fakes of these, and I can’t tell whether the pieces shown on this site are authentic or not from these pictures, although I think they’re OK. But you will notice that they have what you’d expect a sensible gold bar to have written on them: things like OR PUR, and the name of the place of manufacture. They don’t have pictures of aeroplanes, badly drawn Americans, wobbly signatures, or random dollar signs all over them.

    I think it is very instructive that the firm of Californian lawyers have closed their file on this some while ago, and it will be very interesting to see whether NIck can get any joy out of the other party named there.

    I should probably apologise for hijacking this thread and being rather bossy, but I do have some personal interest here. I’m pretty sure I’ve been approached about this stuff before by people who evaporated fairly quickly when we started asking difficult questions. I can’t justify spending much work time chasing a red herring, but it would be interesting to find out a bit more about it.

  32. SirHubert: to be honest, I suspect that the law firm closed its file more for financial reasons than for instructional reasons. But that’s just a guess.

    I also suspect that the secret history behind these anomalous objects will turn out to be the real gold in this whole story. Hopefully we shall see! 😉

  33. SirHubert on March 18, 2015 at 7:39 pm said:

    Pyrites, I fear. But you never know 🙂

  34. bdid1dr on March 27, 2015 at 3:24 pm said:

    So, all that commotion at Sutter’s Mill was about iron pyrites?
    (ironic — get it? )
    A gold-en smiley for you — but no gold fillings!
    😉

  35. Lemon on May 20, 2015 at 12:10 am said:

    With regards to the aircraft depicted on the plate;

    There were actually a good number of monoplane designs tried out in the 20s and before, with quite a few of them seeing successful service. However, the aircraft on the plate is a clearly streamlined design, something that started in the 20s but it wasn’t until the early 30s that you start to see aircraft with the features in the plate.

    Others have pointed to the obvious candidates but none of them match. The aircraft in the plate has the following features;

    Tail;
    Elliptical horizontal stabilizer
    Semi-elliptical vertical stabilizer with some slight blending or a minor fin extension into the fuselage

    Fuselage;
    Likely circular or ellipse cross section
    Possible door immediately aft of wing
    Door immediately in front of wing leading edge

    Cockpit;
    Mounted at extreme front
    Looks like the flight deck is probably raised higher then the passenger deck
    Flat panes of glass likely
    (note: this is a very unusual nose)

    Wing
    Straight or near straight trailing edge
    Slight sweep of leading edge (~5%?)
    Rounded square wing tips
    Not terribly high aspect ratio, probably 5-10 range (ratio of wing width to length)

    Engines
    Twin engined in tractor configuration
    Looks like the engines might be mounted high on the wing (odd feature)
    Cannot determine any other details, such as radial or inline

    From this list there is really no way this can be a Dc-1/2/3 or Boeing 247 – far to many details are wrong. There is very little this “gold plate” aircraft has in common with those planes besides sharing the same configuration.

    So what other candidates are there?

    Chinese aviation at this time is a big hot mess. Lots of warlords had their own aircraft or even personal air forces. Aircraft were being captured from the Japanese and Soviets in various skirmishes, and a decent number of various types were imported. So there is quite a bit of doubt about what exact types may have seen service in China, as well as when they first saw service.

    Running through the Japanese aircraft of the 20s nothing matches. Move things up to the 1930s and there are some candidate aircraft, but none that have every feature of the plate plane.

    As far as Russia goes, nothing close in the 20s and only a couple of contenders towards the late 30s, but again nothing close to a perfect match.

    Then we have indigenous Chinese aircraft of the time – a very sticky subject given how little has survived. But assuming the plane was put on the plate because it is some how important then this may be an area worth looking at.

    As far as Chinese aircraft that actually flew;

    CAFX-1 and 2 are the only aircraft matching in configuration; ie twin engine tractor low wing monoplane transport/airliner.

    It is possible that the plane may be meant to depict a Chinese design that was never built/finished, maybe a project undertaken by the General on the plates? Or it is an unknown plane or machine for which we have no surviving photographs or drawings of, a sort of lost airplane (not unheard of btw).

    So what do we have? An aircraft that matches no types known to me in the early 30s time period. Even skipping to the 1940s doesn’t get you a perfect match.

    In my opinion here are the following possibilities to explain this machine.

    1. It is a very obscure type that was either made in China or imported.
    -If it was imported then we can safely assume it was a very low production aircraft, possibly the single prototype sold to someone in china. (things like this have happened)

    2. It is meant to represent an aircraft that was either under construction or in the design process. The general may have had something to do with it.
    -If this is the case identifying it will be very difficult.

    3. The artist of the plates, working from a bad photo, made up details.
    -the problem is all of the details on the plane make sense, either the artist knew a thing or two about airplanes or just combined features from different planes.

    4. It is not a real aircraft.
    -The artist made it up for some reason, maybe because of the reason in part 3, or maybe he just wanted to play pretend aircraft designer
    -The artist used an image from some publication as reference (there are an innumerable number of fictitious aircraft published in periodicals during the late 20s and 30s. Everything from very fanciful designs cooked up by crack pots to very plausible designs. Most fictional designs during this time were streamlined)

    Of these options I think 4 is most likely. Assuming it was created in 1933 then there would have been many hypothetical aircraft very much like our plate plane being published in magazines, newspapers, ect. I wouldn’t be surprised if you can find “our” plane between the pages of popular mechanics or the like circa 1930-33.

    The possibility that it is a Chinese indigenous design are remote, but not ancient aliens level odds. China was a big mess during that time and its aviation industries activities then are poorly documented. If it is a Chinese aircraft then I’d bet design rather then something built or flown.

    I do not know of any foreign Aircraft like the one in the plate during this time. I will admit that I am not an expert on civil aviation during that time and there were many small manufacturers trying their hand at things back then. However, the size of the plane would mean that it would have to have some serious money behind it. This precludes almost every start up and home builder besides the best funded.

  36. Lemon: thanks so much for your detailed comment, I really appreciate it (it’s a nice historical puzzle, eh?)

    My best guess remains that the depiction of the plane is most strongly consistent with the gold bars’ having been made at a later date (for whatever reason). Which may be just as mystifying, but it is what it is. 😐

  37. Defiant on December 1, 2015 at 6:58 pm said:

    I, too, believe these to be printing plates. I saw one or two posts that mention the fact that the image on a plate would be reversed if it were meant for printing. I would offer that, in the days of photographic negatives, the images can be reversed by flipping the negative. I believe the original uploader of the images believed that the correct orientation of the picture was such that the text appeared readable, instead of reversed. So, he either deliberately, or accidentally, posted the images incorrectly; mirrored, as it were.

  38. omadhaun on March 24, 2016 at 6:10 am said:

    Does anyone know the name of the US bank with which these certificates are associated ?

  39. This article is fascinating! – in my opinion these are printing plates. Any luck with the name of the US Bank?

  40. Lucas: my Cipher Foundation page on the Chinese Gold Bar Ciphers 🙂 says that it was allegedly to do with the Shanghai branch of the National City Bank (later Citibank).

  41. SirHubert on March 24, 2016 at 3:06 pm said:

    Nick: your Cipher Foundation pages also says that the bars are ‘held by a “museum in the US”.’

    The IACR page to which you link actually says something rather different, namely: ‘The following mystery was brought to IACR by the curator of a museum in the US.’ Which means that a person who happened to be a museum curator brought the mystery to the IACR’s attention, not that the bars are held in that museum or indeed have anything to do with the museum itself.

    Or am I missing something, which is entirely possible?

  42. SirHubert: you are entirely correct that it is not necessarily the case that the museum in question is in the US. As I recall, though, the legal petition concerning the alleged claim to ownership of the gold bars was brought in the US, so that it would seem almost certain that they are held in the US rather than anywhere else.

    If you have any suggestions as to where I might look for more information about this, I’m all ears. =:-o

  43. SirHubert on March 24, 2016 at 4:09 pm said:

    Nick: just about everything I’ve found ultimately links back to the IACR page, the Chinese Patriot stuff, or (more or less directly) back to what you’ve written.

    According to the Chinese article these things appear to be in the possession of a Mr Tao, and if that’s the same Mr Tao who instructed the Californian lawyers, he’s described in the newspaper as a Chinese-American and seems to have had a US street address.

    There’s no way of knowing whether the bars were with him in California or back in China, or even whether he was acting on behalf of a third party; the article is curiously silent on how these things came into his possession. But I really can’t see that a museum is involved – that’s a red herring, I think.

  44. SirHubert: as I recall, I (Google-Translate) read the Chinese Patriot stuff as saying that Tao Ye (presumably Mr. Bin J. Tao) had made the legal claim for ownership rather than had had it made against him, but a definitive translation would be very helpful.

  45. SirHubert on March 24, 2016 at 6:48 pm said:

    Nick: I think he was trying to redeem it, not prove ownership. I’ve not seen anything about an ownership dispute mentioned.

    And, not surprisingly, he doesn’t seem to have got anywhere…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post navigation