Bob Leonard forwarded these thoughts about the Beale Ciphers, purported to hold the key to the location of a large treasure trove in Virginia. Thanks!
I first heard about the Beale Ciphers about 20 years ago and joined the Beale Cipher Association in May 1983, foolishly thinking that I would be able to crack them and find the treasure. As a member, I received their newsletter and ordered various studies published by them. Here's what I learned:
1. The version of the Declaration of Independence given in the Beale Papers pamphlet, and used to decode the first cipher, has errors: For example, the actual Declaration of Independence has "Right of the People to alter or abolish it" (words 142-150), while the pamphlet has "right of the people to alter or to abolish it" (words 142-151). And it gets worse from there: miscounts occur for all entries after 480. The wonderful story of the value of the treasure is "decoded" from this defective source. All efforts by members of the Beale Cipher Association to locate a similar defective printing of the Declaration of Independence have failed.
2. Cipher No. 1, giving the locality of the vault, is said never to have been decoded. But if you decode it using the pamphlet version of the Declaration, with some obvious numbering errors corrected, you get: AABADAAABBCDEFFABBBCCCCDD etc. In other words, it is quite capable of being deciphered, but it is a dummy message.
3. Cipher No. 3, which supposedly gives the names and places of residence of 30 men, is only about 600 characters long (cannot readily find the exact number)--about 20 characters each. These men would all have to have had very short names and addresses--or to be brothers living at the same address--for this to be possible.
4. There are a number of anachronisms in the story. Beale claims to have exchanged jewels for silver in St. Louis in 1819-21 to the value of $13,000. Now in 1885 when the pamphlet was published, St. Louis was an important city, with the Eads Bridge over the Mississippi (population 312, 814 in 1870, with 32 jewelry stores), but in 1821 it was but a small river town. Whatever silversmiths there then would not have had "jewels." Diamonds, for example, did not become popular in the United States until the 1850s. There are other fatal anachronisms as well.
The only possible conclusion: the "Beale Treasure" is a hoax.
Others have suggested that it was the author of the hoax who (perhaps accidentally) misnumbered the master copy of the Declaration he used to encode the message text. That would explain why no such defective printing has ever been located.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
THE FAMOUS BEALE CIPHERS
THE BOOK BAZARRE
DAVID SKLOW - FINE NUMISMATIC BOOKS
offers Mail Bid Sale No. 17 on
October 6, 2012, including:
Rare 1910 ANA Yearbook, the only year one was produced
PH: (719) 302-5686, FAX: (719) 302-4933. EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org
. USPS: Box 6321, Colorado Springs, CO. 80934. Contact me for your numismatic literature needs!
Wayne Homren, Editor
The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization
promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at coinbooks.org.
To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor
at this address: email@example.com
To subscribe go to: https://my.binhost.com/lists/listinfo/esylum
Copyright © 1998 - 2020 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
All Rights Reserved.
NBS Home Page
Contact the NBS webmaster