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Challenge "Unknown Author"

Challenge "Unknown Author"  

  By: admin on May 7, 2010, 2:36 p.m.

The author of the German book "The Art of Deciphering", written 1808 remains unknown. However, the editor signs the preface with a cipher (Semicolon Plus One Triangle Plus Circle Period). Is this the encrypted name of the author?
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 Last edited by: admin on Oct. 31, 2021, 2:54 a.m., edited 1 time in total.

"Unknown Author" -- Level X: Discussing possible solutions  

  By: be on Aug. 31, 2012, 9:14 p.m.

According to the "announcement", now possible solutions of level X challenges can be discussed publicly. I hope, we can solve this currently unsolved riddle together.

Idea: If we had a list of German authors we could find the matching one using the a word pattern program.

Assuming first, a mono-alphabetic substitution cipher produced the given 7-character ciphertext pattern “1234256” (see the challenge template page 3), and secondly, given a comprehensive list of names of old German authors. Then the rest can be done with the WordPattern template within "CrypTool v2 (CT2)".

We now "only" need to get an authors list, which could be used as dictionary. Then the according author could be found very quickly, if his name is part of the list.

I had a conversation with the author of the challenge and got the following further information: The book itself was printed in Leipzig. The content especially deals with German and also includes German specialties as the Umlauts ÄÖÜß. It includes lists of words with three and four letters – only in German. Therefore, it is very likely, that the author of the book was German. But that is an assumption. The author's name should fit into the time. A medical doctor for example probably would not necessarily deal with governmental contracts (what the book title says). Nevertheless: A mono-alphabetic substitution is likely, as the book deals about such a cipher in 90% of its pages. But that is an assumption as well. One example in the book uses the shown 7-character pattern, but this doesn't help, so maybe after substituting, the characters of the name were printed backwards? Other examples in the book show the Freimaurer (freemantles) code and the telegraph signals, unfortunately with a copper plate of the telegraph on top of the Louvre in Paris. So maybe a French author? Or someone who dealt with the French? ;-)

Re: Challenge "Unknown Author"  

  By: Veselovský on Sept. 15, 2012, 1:31 a.m.

I have got some questions:

  1. Is it possible to see the whole book "Die Kunst, geheime Schriften zu entziffern…"? (on the web?)

  2. Is the reproducing of the cipher of the book "Schicksale der vermeinten Gräfin Julie von Ortenburg" and the "signature" of unknown author the only places where the "strange" characters appear, or they also appear in some other places of the book?

  3. Was the reproduction done with exactly same characters as in original cipher of the book "Schicksale der vermeinten Gräfin Julie von Ortenburg" or the unknown author used his own characters, or he used the same characters but used a different substitution key?

  4. Was the ordering of letters of German alphabet in around 1800 the same as today?

Re: Challenge "Unknown Author"  

  By: argh on Sept. 15, 2012, 10:19 a.m.

The complete book is available at google books: http://goo.gl/4DJqM

Re: Challenge "Unknown Author"  

  By: Veselovský on Sept. 15, 2012, 1:54 p.m.

Thanks. Actually I found it yesterday too after posting, but then it was too late to edit my post…

So only the third one of the above questions is now relevant.

And some additional questions:

  1. How much of the book "Schicksale der vermeinten Gräfin Julie von Ortenburg" has been preserved to these days? (Can we see page 223 or 245?)

  2. Is it known who the author of the book "Schicksale der vermeinten Gräfin Julie von Ortenburg" was?

Re: Challenge "Unknown Author"  

  By: Veselovský on Sept. 15, 2012, 4:25 p.m.

Challenge solved!!!
The signature represents HINRICHS.
CH is treated as a digraph, i.e. represents one character. (H-I-N-R-I-CH-S)
The full name is Johann Conrad Hinrichs.
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johann_Conrad_Hinrichs

How many points will I get? :-)

Re: Challenge "Unknown Author"  

  By: tosch on Sept. 18, 2012, 9:13 a.m.

Reply to Veselovskýs post "Challenge solved"

Although you did not explain, how you found the proposed solution, the explanation does make some sense. Especially because Hinrichs was living in Leipzig in 1808, as he died there two years later.

But, there are also some doubts:
a) The "digram as one character" theory is not really convincing, as it is not referenced with any analogies
b) Hinrichs is not known for books or even papers about cryptography, rather than a catalogue
c) Hinrichs owned a publishing company as well as a book store due to Wikipedia - why would he use another (expensive) publisher?

How did you come up with Hinrichs? What was your way of finding that name as a possible author?

ToSch

Re: Challenge "Unknown Author"  

  By: tosch on Sept. 18, 2012, 9:42 a.m.

Another user emailed a solution to the Team: Jeremias Gotthelf aka Albert Bitzius (1797–1854)
User George compared the word pattern of the name "ABCDBEF" with a list of German authors and came up with "BITZIUS".

Without any question, George has done a great work. But there are significant doubts I have, so I would not consider the cipher as "solved".

a) The list of authors in Wikiepedia is far away from being complete (most of the important authors about cryptography are missing e.g. Klüber)
b) Bitzius (according to Wikipedia information) is Swiss and lived in Utzenstorf (Emmental) from 1805. In 1808 the authors normally were somehow living/working close to the publisher as sending manuscripts (including proof-reading) was not as easy as today (fax and email). The book was published in Leipzig.
c) Bitzius was only 11 years old, when the book was published
d) Bitzius has never written a single page about cryptography, as he is not listed in the two most comprehensive bibliographies (Galland and Shulman) about cryptography (same for Hinrichs by the way).

George, you did a great work and your idea is good. Although I can not proof you right or wrong, we discussed your proposed solution. Except the matching pattern, we do not see any other links between the book and Bitzius. Especially the young age of Bitzius raises doubts.

Anyhow, the team is discussing whether you can receive complementary points for the work you did as X-level challenges "live" from trying out different ways to find a (possible) solution.

Thanks!
ToSch

Re: Challenge "Unknown Author"  

  By: Veselovský on Sept. 18, 2012, 4:02 p.m.

a) The "digram as one character" theory is not really convincing, as it is not referenced with any analogies

In the book "Die Kunst…" itself there is a section where appearance of consonants in German words is explained… and "ch" is treated as a single consonant… and furthermore throughout the whole text of the book "ch" is not written as a sequence of "c" and "h" but there is a single special symbol for it. In most of example ciphers in the book there is "ch" substituted by two symbols, but it is nothing unusual to have "ch" its own single symbol… There are many more languages that threat "ch" as a single letter not just the German one. So it does not look very strange for me, the more if he wanted to confuse possible solvers by treating "ch" differently compared to example ciphers. If he used two symbols for "ch" then the patter of his name would be H-I-N-R-I-C-H-S (12342516) where this pattern is more special since we have two occurrences of 1 and 2 compared to the pattern H-I-N-R-I-CH-S (1234256) where we have only for 2 two occurrences. The pattern (12342516) would reduce number of possible names much more than pattern (1234256) so he might have thought that someone could identify him more easily.

b) Hinrichs is not known for books or even papers about cryptography, rather than a catalogue

Was there something special (some innovative methods in cryptography for that period) that it must have been a "professional" cryptographer? Couldn't it be just some enthusiast that had read several books on cryptography and then thought he might try to write his own book on the same topic?

c) Hinrichs owned a publishing company as well as a book store due to Wikipedia - why would he use another (expensive) publisher?

How do you know he used another publisher? I thought it was published by his company. (So, maybe another "camouflage" as with "Schicksale der vermeinten Gräfin Julie…"?)

Re: Challenge "Unknown Author"  

  By: tosch on Sept. 23, 2012, 1:07 a.m.

a) The "digram as one character" theory is not really convincing, as it is not referenced with any analogies

In the book "Die Kunst…" itself there is a section where appearance of consonants in German words is explained… and "ch" is treated as a single consonant… and furthermore throughout the whole text of the book "ch" is not written as a sequence of "c" and "h" but there is a single special symbol for it. In most of example ciphers in the book there is "ch" substituted by two symbols, but it is nothing unusual to have "ch" its own single symbol… There are many more languages that threat "ch" as a single letter not just the German one. So it does not look very strange for me, the more if he wanted to confuse possible solvers by treating "ch" differently compared to example ciphers. If he used two symbols for "ch" then the patter of his name would be H-I-N-R-I-C-H-S (12342516) where this pattern is more special since we have two occurrences of 1 and 2 compared to the pattern H-I-N-R-I-CH-S (1234256) where we have only for 2 two occurrences. The pattern (12342516) would reduce number of possible names much more than pattern (1234256) so he might have thought that someone could identify him more easily.

Indeed, you are absolutely right! What I wanted to say is, that your first post did not reference anything. It would have been helpful if a first post with a possible solution also includes the thoughts about how to get it.

b) Hinrichs is not known for books or even papers about cryptography, rather than a catalogue

Was there something special (some innovative methods in cryptography for that period) that it must have been a "professional" cryptographer? Couldn't it be just some enthusiast that had read several books on cryptography and then thought he might try to write his own book on the same topic?

Not neccessarily has it been an author who published more than that single book about cryptography. But as we may not proof any answer right or wrong - it would have been a plausible indication. That Hinrichs never published anything else on that topic, simply does not strengthen my feeling of a correct answer.

c) Hinrichs owned a publishing company as well as a book store due to Wikipedia - why would he use another (expensive) publisher?

How do you know he used another publisher? I thought it was published by his company. (So, maybe another "camouflage" as with "Schicksale der vermeinten Gräfin Julie…"?)

The book was published by "Joachim's Literarischem Magazin" as one can see on page 2 of the Challenge. Oh yes, it may be another camouflage, but again: it does not make the answer more plausible.

Here are my thoughts: The name matches the pattern and Hinrichs lived in Leipzig around that time - not less, but not more.
So it is possible, that he was the author, but we are missing an indication, that it is not only POSSIBLE, but LIKELY.
Even if (as for most X-Challenges) that might be impossible, I know.

Let me ask you directly: We will very likely find other authors living in Leipzig that time that also match the pattern. What makes Hinrichs more probable than these?

Anyhow, I will ask the team, to discuss giving you complementary points for your proposed solution - especially for your detailed description on the "CH" substitution that might be a new information to other users.

Thanks for your contribution!
ToSch

Re: Challenge "Unknown Author"  

  By: Veselovský on Sept. 23, 2012, 2:55 p.m.

The book was published by "Joachim's Literarischem Magazin"

What a strange name for a publisher… I mistakenly thought that it was published in some magazine by a publisher of a different name, but now I see that the word "magazin" has more than one meaning. So now it looks less likely that Hinrichs was the author, I admit. But anyway Hinrichs may be a good starting point to solve this challenge… I will explain below…

Now, what was the intention of the author to use cipher instead of a real name?

  1. If he did not want to be linked to his book,
    a. he could not provide any signature at all (not the real and not the cipher)
    b. he could use cipher in such a way, that noone will be ever able to prove that it was his name
    (for example if the cipher say only that "My name is 7 letters long and 2nd and 5th letters are
    same")
    c. he did not want to be publicly known, but he wanted to show off (boast) to his friends, so he
    still could say to his friends "look at the cipher signature, the pattern corresponds with my
    name, that is me who wrote that book"
  2. If he wanted to be linked to his book and to be publicly known
    a. he could use his real signature
    b. he could use cipher signature in such a way that average intelligent reader would be able to
    decode his name
    (for example if my name was "Mississippi" I could simply write my name as "*+//+//+–+" and I
    would expect that my name would be easily decoded, although his name is not such strikingly
    patterned, he still could leave additional clues to make it easier - I will explain later)

Now, to me suspicious fact… Why the author take the effort to mention that one (and only one) of training ciphers also appears in another book. Maybe he was author of both books? He does not provide only the name of the book, but he precisely specifies the pages where the reader can find the cipher. So maybe that is the additional clue to solve his signature? Maybe in the original cipher in the book "Schicksale der vermeinten Gräfin…" there are the same symbols used but a different substitution key, so the reader has to substitute his signature according to the book "Schicksale der vermeinten Gräfin…" and not according to the book "Die Kunst, geheime Schriften zu entziffern…". That is why I asked the question number 3 in one of my previous posts.

Now, why Hinrichs may be a starting point…
As we can read on Wikipedia Hinrichs's catalogue of new books was probably the best one of that period. So suppose that the author published another book in around 1800 and that that book also contained his real name… then he must be listed in the Hinrichs's catalogue.

We now "only" need to get an authors list, which could be used as dictionary.

Now we have a list, but not in format that could be easily checked for the author's name… all has to be done manually… (or does anybody know of good OCR program that is able to read this old style letters?)
Here is the link for the Hinrich's catalogue:
http://books.google.sk/books?id=j35NAAA ... &q&f=false
I think there are 7 catalogues in one file:
Jul.-Dec. 1804
Jan.-Jun. 1805
Jul.-Dec. 1805
Jan.-Jun. 1806
Jul.-Dec. 1806
Jan.-Jun. 1807
Jul.-Dec. 1807
Jan.-Jun. 1805

By the way both books "Schicksale der vermeinten Gräfin…" and "Die Kunst, geheime Schriften zu entziffern…" appear in this catalogues.

And here another catalogue by Wilhelm Heinsius
http://books.google.sk/books?id=KohFAAA ... &q&f=false
There should be books from 1700 to 1810 in Deutschland, this catalogue was published 1812 in Leipzig.
This catalogue contains only "Die Kunst, geheime Schriften zu entziffern…" but not "Schicksale der vermeinten Gräfin…" so Hinrichs's catalogue was indeed better.

 Last edited by: Veselovský on Sept. 23, 2012, 10:50 p.m., edited 1 time in total.

Re: Challenge "Unknown Author"  

  By: Veselovský on Sept. 23, 2012, 3:49 p.m.

I first did not want to post this, but take it just as a curiosity ;-)

If we substitute signature symbols with solution of level 1 challenge "Schicksale der vermeinten Gräfin…" we get nonsense as was mentioned also in description of this challenge (but it still can be an abbreviation/acronym of something).
Then I tried 25 possibilities for simple Caesar shift. The best one was "DUTQUSN" (others contained to many successive consonants or vowels). When I searched for "DUTQUSN" in google, google wrote "Showing results for DUQUESNE".
Then I found
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duquesne_Spy_Ring
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fritz_Joubert_Duquesne
Fritz Joubert Duquesne spied for Germany during both World Wars. (wrong time period)

Then I tired mirroring the picture of signature.
horizontally
[img]http://www.mysterytwisterc3.org/phpbb3/download/file.php?mode=view&id=12&sid=99b77e368c8f5bc5db60ca6809c9302a[/img]
vertically
[img]http://www.mysterytwisterc3.org/phpbb3/download/file.php?mode=view&id=13&sid=99b77e368c8f5bc5db60ca6809c9302a[/img]

Horizontal mirroring has simply effect of reading backwards because all symbols are pretty much horizontally symmetric. I have not found anything interesting reading backwards.

Vertical mirroring produces more interesting picture because there appear new symbols which are still present in the example cipher. ";" becomes "!" (or "?") and upright triangle becomes upturn triangle. Other symbols does not change because they are vertically symmetric. When I substituted for those new symbols I got nonsense. Applying shifts produced the best result: "GUTRUSN". Google found nothing about "GUTRUSN". Did anybody heard about surname "GUTRUSN"? Or a strange name "Gut Rusn"? "GUTRUSN" is also a transposition of "SURGUNT" which means "they get up, they arise" in Latin.
(It could be also "HUTRUSN" if ";" becomes "?")

So take it just as a curiosity, not that I am trying to say that one of the above is the right solution ;-)

Re: Challenge "Unknown Author"  

  By: tosch on Oct. 1, 2012, 10:45 a.m.

To Veselovský:

I like the way, you attempt to solve this cipher! Great job.

Indeed, the question why the author tried to hide his name is a good one. And maybe your other thought, that he was also writing another book (maybe "Schicksale der vermeinten Gräfin…") can get you one step further.
The book "Schicksale der vermeinten Gräfin …" was trashy literature. It somehow contained an erotic text for that time. That was literature to earn money, as these books were sold greatly. But anyhow, neither the publisher nor the author wanted to be named clearly and these books were sold "under the desk".
The book was printed in "Paris 1805", but that is definitely wrong - presumably it was printed close to / in Jena, so only 90km from Leipzig.
Is it likely, that the author is the same person? Yes, I think so. Why? The author definitely had "fun" using and knowledge about ciphers and he also definitely had read (or even written) "Schicksale der vermeinten Gräfin …" - otherwise he would not have been able to know the pages. It would also explain, why he did not mention his name and also, that the author was "used to" publish anonymously.

Unfortunately I personally have never seen a copy or the original book of "Schicksale der vermeinten Gräfin …" and do not know the authors name.

I liked your second post. Level-X challenges allow for so many different ways.
No matter, if that helps, but "Gut Rusn" can mean "Rusn manor" if "Rusn" was a family name.

Good luck, take care,
ToSch

Re: Challenge "Unknown Author"  

  By: freiburger on May 31, 2013, 12:20 p.m.

It has been quite a while since somebody was working on this challenge, or at least it looks like.

I am native German and had a look at the text and the historic surrounding.

Starting from the beginning, some members were working with the assumption, that the authors has to be a writer, because he has written a book. That has not necessarily to be the case. As from my own experience as a civil servant is Germany I know, that quite a large number of my old colleagues used to write a book after they retired and published them. You will find a lot of expert books in history written by government officials or high ranking members of administration. This leads me to my working thesis, that the author of this book was not a writer of prosa, such as the mentioned “Schicksale der vermeinten Gräfin…” but somebody who had to deal with encrypted letters in his job, such as a member of the secret police or maybe a notary with some side income. Reading the book of Umberto Ecco “The Prague Cemetry” gives you a short impression about how information was dealed and transported in that time and society. So I am not looking into writers but members of administration, which makes it even harder, because they are not so well known.

Another trace I followed was the fact that he mentioned the “Blumensprache” but that could be well known that time, so maybe not a real trace.

He stated himself at one point as “Herausgeber” and not as “Autor”. Herausgeber is a person who prepares a text for publishing, written by another person. So by using the term “Herausgeber” it is on top unclear if our mysterious person wrote that book or just prepared it for publishing. If he wrote that book, then why he calls himself “Autor”?

Something else which came in my focus was the “Konkordientag”. I could not find any reference to it, so it seems like this is a term not really used in modern German and I found only one reference in Google. Seems to be that the 18 February 1648 was one Konkordientag. It seems to be a term of the christian protestant church. Since he mentioned lots of time the Iluminati and keeping in mind that there was a lot of conspiracy going on these times, it might be possible that the writer was part of a clerical administration. But we have to keep in mind that even non administrative people were busy in the field of conspiracy and espionage.

In his opening statement he writes about different types of encrypted messages, like notes, letters, protocols and so on. So again I think that the unknown author is not just a writer, but somebody who dealed with decrypting letters in his job, so he had knowledge of all these different kind on papers and methologies.

These are the fact I found out yesterday. Don’t know if that will help, since as I said earlier it could have been written from anyone in the higher society such as civil servant, secret police, church administration or even a notary or any other person who was busy in the field of conspiracy.

As for now I want to try to find out more about the so called “Konkordientag”.

Re: Challenge "Unknown Author"  

  By: freiburger on May 31, 2013, 12:25 p.m.

One more thing,

everybody was working on a 7 character chiffre, but I think it is only 6. The last dot is no chiffre. It is simply a dot used to seperate name from date and place. Can be found elsewhere too.


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