Action Line Cryptogram

The nine pages of text that make up the “Action Line Cryptogram” are in a leather-bound 9cm x 11cm booklet found in 1926 in the effects of Detroit lawyer Emil Snyder (born in Germany in 1867, perhaps as “Emil Schneider”). Fifty or so years later, the cryptogram was brought to the attention of the code-breaking community by an article in Cryptologia (vol. II, n. 4, pp. 368-370, October 1978).

However, various other copies of broadly the same cryptogram have surfaced in the last twenty years, so it seems that these may have enjoyed wide circulation within the Odd Fellows membership a century ago.

The Cryptologia article was recently resuscitated by affable German crypto-blogger Klaus Schmeh: he and his readers concluded that it was almost certainly a text describing various initiation ceremonies of The Independent Order of Oddfellows, a North American fraternal order founded in 1819 or 1843 whose membership peaked at about 3.4 million in 1915: the Detroit Lodge’s Temple was built in 1874.

In fact, it turns out that the plaintext is identical (with a handful of non-critical insertions) to the text in an Odd Fellows “cheat book” issued in 1899 by a fraternal press called Bullis & Holden of Cleveland OH, under the title “If You Have a Poor Memory, “Esoteric” Keep a Good Memorandum“. Included below is a full scan of my copy of this tiny booklet.

Klaus Schmeh also posted a page showing other acrostic masonic texts from North America from around the same time period.

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Action-Line-2-3

Action-Line-4-5

Action-Line-6-7

Action-Line-8-9

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4 thoughts on “Action Line Cryptogram

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  4. Pingback: Action-Line-Kryptogramm: Top-25-Krypto-Rätsel nach 78 Jahren gelöst – Klausis Krypto Kolumne

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