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Agony Column
« on: June 03, 2008, 04:59:13 AM »

Are you a Sherlock Holmes or an Inspector Clouseau?

Because there are many ciphers which I would read as easily as I do the apocrypha of the agony column -
such crude devices amuse the intelligence without fatiguing it [VALLEY OF FEAR] - Sherlock Holmes.


Included amongst the ciphers below are a few plain messages to show how the “Agony Column” got its name –
it is in these very columns following the introduction of the familiar red pillar-box in the 1850’s that the
mysterious messages began to flourish.

SMUDE eht tsop eciffo ta hgiel si dehctaw. Lotsirb lliw od. ekat erac. – The Times, Friday 12th July 1861

ECALAP Ardnaxela eht ta sekal elpirt eht no strecnoc ocserf la eht ot og syadrutas dna syadsruht syadseut no.
Evening Standard, Friday 16th June 1882

A LADY, whose parentage and connections entitle her to respect, if not to veneration, has reason to believe
that anonymous aspersions and improper letters (purporting to be written by her) are circulating to her
discredit. She earnestly hopes that the recipients of any such document will be cautious of the credence they
attach to it. - The Times, Fri 2nd Apr 1852

J.M.M. has received it. Wndr, wpng, nd wrshp fllw. - The Times, Thursday 23rd February 1854

CARNAGE.-JP and JL to Thetr Oupea Tmi L tonh Ill. – H.Y.T., or send all further applications respecting
the A. of H. to the D. of P. - The Times, Saturday 21st January 1854

AIBARA.- Twwrdsp zzlm. Cntb atrck fthtb sefllw, ndnt yrwnd ngint dysppr.-Fgnne, rstssrd I lvfrunly, ndhpe
ndfthin tme sstnm nmyprsnt wrtc hdlnlnss.-Btdr stdrln gtrsr, srly “hnr” sntin vlvdin sndngm nclue drctn
yrdrlylv dhnd. Fthus urpl yptne wrdn nebt yrsl fcdknw. - The Times, Friday 1st December 1854

M.D. The mother is still in the Asylum. Both the children died in the workhouse. The money remains
untouched – what is to be done with it? - The Times, 2nd April 1852

TUTO LULEONUNORURA. – Mumanunyuy gugoodud wuwisushushesus fuforur tuthushe nunewuw Yuyearur
tuto Yuyou alullul. - Evening Standard, Friday January 1st 1869

A.B. to M.N. – Tn dvcr trw rhtn yltcfrp drtln yln srsd t s uy dn trw t uy. -
Evening Standard, Thursday 21st October 1886

DAAER oter Ditheer ndaer Elenher. Ewer iveler taer Utneyper. Idneyser sier taer Radfleldber Ollegecer.
Erceyper taer heter Ospitalher. - Evening Standard, Thursday 1st August 1889

SGD Svn Nqogzmr vhkk qdstqm Eqnl Ozqhr hm z edv czxr. Vhkk ldds Ohdqqd sgdm. – Knthrd Zmc Gdmqhdssd.
The Times, Saturday 23rd November 1878

CAPTAIN B. You are mistaken in your estimate of the lady, for she, like many more of her class, is an
honourable English gentlewoman compelled, by circumstances over which she has no control, to
maintain herself and others by following the profession of an actress. –
WORLEDGE. Moreton-place, Pimlico. - Evening Standard, Sat 27th May 1876

L’ABBANDONATA. – Bmfybo esb Spdigpsu sfqpsufe efbe. J tbx zpv zftufsebz Npbuf wbjomz tfbsdife ufo
zfbst Mea culpa ! Mea culpa ! WRITE. - G.G. - The Times, Thursday 23rd June 1864

SKZPCJJY. Bcyp Dyllw, kccr wmsp bgqrpyarcb dpgclb zclcyrf rfc ugjjmu zw rfc jyic. Pmu slbcp rfc qrypq.
Amkkml qcy zpccxcq. Dcyrfcpucgefr. Wmspq Zgawajc. - The Times, Monday 11th October 1869

DID  20 21,23,10,19  my  26,19,8,8,19,6?  I  21,3,8  13,3,9,6,7.  Allright. I am 15,8  8,19,2  16,9,6,13  7,8.
Write. – W. - The Times, Tuesday 13th February 1855

ZIT. – Vd ypc zkk ucjj zmc zpytc enq wmsp rzjd. Ctcpwzmbw hr npywgle enq wms, vhkk jmtc xnt yjuywq.
Cn upgrc. Hr rfgq zfnmx rm kzrs jmle. Fnc zjcqq xnt slrgj ntq kccrgle zfzhm. -
Evening Standard, Monday 5th May 1890

Tig tjohw it tig jfhiiwola og tig psgvw. – F. D. N. - The Times, Tuesday 10th February 1852

DARLING MUMMY. – Poor Jim die finks, Mighty misrules, gets hoodman often. Do write. – Ever and for
ever yours. Evening Standard, Wed 12th Jan 1887

TO GIPSY LEILA. – 15a 1a 17a 9a 18x 19a 9a 11a 11x 12a 14a 13a 4a 1a 24x 4a 14x 24a 14a 20x 22a 1a 13a
19x 12a 14a 13a 5a 24x 1a 17a 5x 24a 14a 20x 22a 5a 11a 11x 5a 21a 5a 17x 24a 14a 20a 17x 14a 22a 13x
7a 14a 4x 2a 11a 5a 18a 18x 24a 14a 20x 4a 1a 17a 11a 9a 13a 7x 1a 13a 18a 22a 5a 17x 9a 13x 19a 9a 12a
5a 18x 28th. - Daily Telegraph, Monday 27th September 1869

5.95•1.3•6•5.- 1.55•4- 1449•51.1.- 1.59•96•3.1.- 5•55.1.- 2.6•- 5.9•92.5- 7•6•3•3•7.
Daily Telegraph, Tuesday 26th September 1876

DOMBROWSKY. – Z cugq aqup fcq lqvvueq yaml fcq vqu. Iaus pm omf hmaaqvimop xzfc uos luo xzfcmwf
smwa Yufcqav domxjqpeq. Om eqofjqluo xmwjp uzp smw fm pm vm. Zy smw fudq fczv zo emmp iuaf.
zovqaf fcq xmap “Thanks” wopqa fcq vulq cqup. U xqjj – xzvcqa. -
Evening Standard, Saturday 21st February 1874

Z.Z. – Gdvar8 dyj haay1 qhljzwd4. Hccywdjk 6r jwaa yq h4r. Vhddyj zhpr 6ylr 8w8jrl8 wdvy6r yda3 h7ygj
150 rhvz. Z 6g8j clypwkr. Vzhaqylk w6cy88w7ar hdk g8rar88. Hgdj3 2dy18. Kw84g8jrk. -
Daily Telegraph, Monday 7th May 1877

BNECWVSU. JVFU. - Daily News, Monday 27th April 1885

6dz6-c-dzj-z5-07xd!=8cbb9-jc7h5-8cbd-oh-27-g4cjz9.-dh-6zbk5-2g-f2clf-zy42zj. -
The Times, Friday 23rd December 1853

MA petite Marie, nod efto raur hsuf nke swoton gnihb tae. 8. 10. 9. 1. 21. 15. 7. seutno yadta 9.8. 7. - 22 – 13
niaw tidal orsei amo dneb ius eriw onll tliaf. – J’en suis. - Evening Standard, Mon 11th Nov 1872

X19212, 712121119xx, z04, 0, 204111114x, 20B25x, xcs7019, 20az, B1111c2019 18 19 2z, 2104xx1421 319,
x7m, z04, 204111114x, z67z, m04a, H042z, 1119za112, a2319xx, 18B1219, XB119. -
The Times, Saturday 2nd June 1866
E. ravc ramap eh efkvc devh qn cqzv wahhav. Ltc fqh hega sfhavaih sf cqzv eddaevefya? Tasvaii ja pexfap.
Tera xqva hvzih. I teww ewleci vaxesf ei zizew cqzvi qfwc. – V. - The Times, Friday 28th October 1870

HGWV. MA55At. FGVA. 5BB. MG5A. 1BT. VA. 5B. OB. 5B. NBW. FG22B5. W23ATE5GY3. GMM. B1. 5YA.
6BT3E. 8. 5Y829. 85. 4AE5. 5B. 6G85. W258M. NBW. GTA. EA55. MA3. 6T85A. BT. FG4MA. VA. 5B. 5Y8E.
G33TAEE. 282A5AA2. 4WTM. 82O5. B2. TBG3. EG825. E5ACYA2E. E0YGTA. 4GNE6G5AT. MB23B2. 5TN.
G23. 38E. OW8EA. NBWT. YG23. 6T8582O. VGT582AH. OGRA. 4GRA. 4GF9. NBWT. MA55AT. GMM. BWT. MBRA.
Daily Telegraph, Monday 19th December 1898

MIND the SHOP? How can I when you leave me all day with the baby? Daily News, Tue 9th Apr 1878

3 3 2 1 2 3 3 5 1 6 2 9 1 5 2 6 1 6 1 3 2 9 2 1 1 9 1 6 1 3 3 3 1 5 2 8 1 6 3 1 2 1 2 3 2 7 2 1 2 2 1 2 1 5 3 4 2 1 1 1 1 2
1 9 3 3 1 6 1 2 1 9 3 5 2 1 2 1 1 2 1 5 3 5 3 4 2 1 3 5 1 1 1 7 1 3 1 6. - Evening Standard, Monday 2nd April 1877

LOW WATER. – To Ghent river Albert ye Illinois embrace en Italie Wright Sotheran feels safe eu Artois Rsob
ten lent Ursula Young Venice look mystic Meat tomorrow Uelzen Truro Berwick lo Texas Holland So him en
Avranches Leicester Tobermory up Yoxford Theobald William Veitch Lorimer India Berwick Stafford Munich
no Matterhorn Tero Antwerp Steamer ready Strand Portsmouth So rest admired is all shame ended Sea Rsob
tell Leander Uraguay Youth ex Arctic up York So Miser in we hope up Young Lloyd telescope ntohol Carlsberg
Venice Lofoten no Owl mystic to Yeast msobol arable Rsope hen otter Church early inland Uraguay Hove So
out Citric Liberty debit ah nyons Mable Veitch Harry Lloyd William Wentworth. -
Evening Standard, Thursday 15th October 1885

tsfchwrhtethtifchsohtonfchtofchnofchtwhtofchbihtstfchlohtvif.Chwenptdirptmirptif. -
Daily News, Thursday 24th July 1879

CEM. – I e g c n e h d n h a o a s s b i s e r c g d h l i h u s a c c b k h e i e . - Evening Standard, Mon 31st Jul 1882

CEM. – Key 11. – L k e o i s v s t e s o e e m l d y o d b v e n s e d t p l i a a n a e g l m s l y h b r m n e b e m r s e a o u
t f W e y r w o i h o a e u v n l e y e. - Evening Standard, Saturday 5th August 1882

F h f a k e z g f j m u a n n b f e u n b q q y x r s i v r s l g a l i r q x p a o p w x h g s l c b y q g y b g o r n t i b k v x d q
n j n n j h g s l c b x x i l i f h f a h o u a r u n v a u t l y r p g n q q q x x e n q p x n n f i p e t h u d i t o n w i.
Daily Telegraph, Monday 26th April 1897
FLO. – 39454 6454401 214 739844 30 6307284446. 84314 51 2274 12 0214 943426 "326352 08585.” 9. 2.
8177327853. - The Times, Saturday 7th January 1854

No.ONE.- S. lmpi. F. npi. C. qgnl. mkqn. Fngli. lokg. pil. S. nlgi. F. nmkl. B. qglp. F hkom. C. qknp. Sh.-ll. Capn.
A. F. ngli. ikpg. C. kpn. F. pil. ogq. kmol. hnpo. hkom. hqon. iokg. C. on. F. pil. Eider. F. hqlk. npmh. qmkl. pil.
S. mng. F. oiph. ihmn. E. nolp. F. lgoq. mqho. olhi. C. hgo. F. iqkg. S. pgqm. - J. de W. -
The Times, Friday 1st March 1850

The above examples were taken from over a thousand secret messages in “The Agony Column Codes & Ciphers”
by Jean Palmer, (Bright Pen, AuthorsOnLine Ltd, 19 The Cinques, Gamlingay, Sandy, Bedfordshire. SG19 3NU; £9.95)

« Last Edit: June 03, 2008, 07:33:03 AM by tonybaloney »


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Re: Agony Column
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2008, 08:06:16 AM »
Ooh, fun! :D I like how there are varying degrees of difficulty.


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Re: Agony Column
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2008, 10:22:25 AM »
A solution not given in the above book is that to the cipher messages beginning FIDES in ‘The Times’ section – this is a dictionary code – the first number being the page number plus one!, the second number being the word number counting from the bottom upwards of the right hand column and then down the left hand column of each page. Also 1 represents ‘I’; 2 ‘you’ & 20 ‘comma or period’.

Having solved most of the message I went to the British Library to search for the dictionary – it was the forty-ninth one I looked at! -

‘Johnson’s Pocket Dictionary of the English Language’ published in 1862

The first of the messages –

FIDES. – DOCUMENTS will AWAIT your ARRIVAL at No. 3. on and after Tuesday next. Both of your letters to hand. (58.62) (171.53) (248.74) (152.79) (223.84) (25.21) (222.64) (132.74). James gone to Egypt instead. The Times, Wed 22nd Jun 1864

reads – ‘Darling precious weary oaf thou better than life’

* * * * *

Can anyone figure out what system was used in enciphering the following message & its reply from the Evening Standard (Mar 1863) – I give what I think the solution is  underneath (arrived at mainly by guesswork) but the actual method eludes me.

CAROLINE. Gd kzd lgsuoabzbt. Hjf pw Ebcvgfm, klv slxdzp t ugwxbz. Harry.
CAROLINE. We are discovered. Get to Denmark, and insert a cipher. Harry.

HARRY – U ponngf qw. G xtab io cwldf. Zhnc vh xwcd. – CAROLINE.
HARRY – I cannot go. I have no money. Send me some. – CAROLINE.