It’s been a while, but the time has finally come round for another Voynich London pub meet, on Thursday 7th March 2013 at the Prospect of Whitby in Wapping, a pub with its own gallows and noose (though admittedly these days it’s Somali pirates who get all the press rather than privateers). I’ll be there from 6pm onwards, hope to see some of you there too!


The reason for the weekday (i.e. not the usual Sunday) is that German cipher mystery skeptic Klaus Schmeh is over in the UK for a very few days & the 7th is the only evening he can squeeze into his packed schedule. I can’t change that and would like to catch up with him, so what’s a Cipher Mysteries blogger to do? Make do with the cards he’s dealt, that’s what… it is what it is.

This has, of course, been Schmeh Week on Cipher Mysteries, what with The Gentlemen’s Cipher from Klaus’ blog and this week’s diplomatic cipher conference in Gotha. So if (like me) you’d like to chat with Klaus about the conference, or perhaps chat with me about cipher stuff (if reading all my posts isn’t a rich enough diet for you), then feel free to swing along to Wapping. WW2 cipher pigeon fans welcome too! Cheers! 🙂

Because people keep telling me nice things about Klaus Schmeh’s recently-started blog Klausis Krypto Kolumne (and there’s you thinking you couldn’t read German, tcha!), I thought a visit was a little overdue.

The first thing I saw there was his brief page on the Gentlemen’s Cipher, a cipher taken from “the papers of a gentleman recently deceased”, and printed in “The Gentlemen’s Magazine” in April 1748. (It was mentioned in Cryptologia in 1978)

At first glance it seemed an awful lot like a simple (monoalphabetic) substitution cipher; and the repeated 3-gram at the start of lines 4 and 5 was probably “THE”; hence I thought it would probably be easy to break. So for a pleasant change, rather than just passing it on to Tony Gaffney Baloney to break while his half-full kettle boils (as per normal), I thought I’d instead transcribe it and try to solve it myself. Which I did.

In the end, though, all I actually did was paste my transcription into WebDecrypto, which got sufficiently close to the plaintext in a matter of seconds that I could Google it. It turned out to be nine lines from a 1699 poem by Sir Samuel Garth – “To die is landing on some silent shore / Where billows never break nor tempests roar / etc”. All of which is somewhat coincidental: so perhaps The Gentlemen’s Magazine’s correspondent “R.M.” who submitted the cryptogram was having a gentle laugh, having concocted the story of the “gentleman recently deceased”? I think so, but make of it what you will.

Anyway, if you want to see the whole thing, I’ve put up a short page describing The Gentlemen’s Cipher here. Case closed! 🙂