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Famous Unsolved Codes & Ciphers. By Sohel Saleem. Four popular cipher texts. - Dorabella Cipher - Voynich Manuscript - D’Agapeyeff cipher - Beale Ciphers. Features Encrypted letter written and edited by Edward Elgar (Romantic composer) to Miss Dora Penny in 1897

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Four popular cipher texts

- Dorabella Cipher

- Voynich Manuscript

- D’Agapeyeff cipher

- Beale Ciphers



Encrypted letter written and edited by Edward Elgar (Romantic composer) to Miss Dora Penny in 1897

She was never able to decrypt

87 characters

3 lines

Alphabet of 24 symbols

1,2,3 approximate semicircles.

8 directions

Small dot: significance unknown

simple substitution cipher: fruitless

Expected to be much more complex.

Dorabella Cipher


Voynich manuscript


Book named after Wilfrid M Voynich who acquired in 1912

Written between 1450 – 1520

Unknown author

Unidentified script

Intensely studied by American and British code breakers of World War II but all failed to decode even a single word.

This string of failures made it famous

Elaborate hoax?

Meaningless arbitrary symbols.


D’Agapeyeff Cipher


Written by Russian born English cartographer Alexander D'Agapeyeff

Available in First edition of his Codes and Ciphers published in 1939.

Offered as “challenge cipher” at the end of book.

Not included in later editions.



Beale ciphers are a set of 3 cipher texts

Letter 1: Location

Letter 2: Worth

Letter 3: Next of Kin

2nd letter deciphered using US Declaration of independence book as it’s key.

Letter says Gold and Silver worth 30million US dollars.

Was owned by Thomas Jefferson Beale in 1818.

Let to 30 adventures.

In Iron box

To Robert Morriss in 1822.

Opened in 1832

Friend deciphered 2nd letter using...

Public in 1885


Deciphered second letter

“ I have deposited in the county of Bedford, about four miles from Buford's, in an excavation or vault, six feet below the surface of the ground, the following articles, belonging jointly to the parties whose names are given in number "3," herewith:

The first deposit consisted of ten hundred and fourteen pounds of gold, and thirty-eight hundred and twelve pounds of silver, deposited Nov. eighteen nineteen. The second was made December, 1821, and consisted of nineteen hundred and seven pounds of gold, and twelve hundred and eighty-eight pounds of silver; also jewels, obtained in St. Louis in exchange for silver to save transportation, and valued at US$13,000.

The above is securely packed in iron pots, with iron covers. The vault is roughly lined with stone, and the vessels rest on solid stone, and are covered with others. Paper number "1" describes the exact locality of the vault, so that no difficulty will be had in finding it. “


Which book was used as a key to decipher Beale’s second letter?

  • A) United States Declaration of Independence.