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In the 1950s, a US company published weekly newspaper advertisements that included crypto puzzles. Here are three of these.
Advertisement campaigns that include encrypted messages have a long tradition. On this blog, I have introduced quite a few of them, including the following:
- New York shoe store advertisement from the 19th century
- Cryptograms in the advertisement section of a 1930s US newspaper
- 1931 cryptographic advertisement series by US shoe manufacturer
- Ovaltine TV spots
- Canadian chocolate bar ad from the 1980s
- Advertisement poster with crypto puzzle, announcing new TV series
- Advertisement poster of a New York spiritual consultant
An ad series from the 1950s
…, whom many of my readers know as a Zodiac Killer expert, has now made me aware of an advertisement series published in The Bakersfield Californian, a US newspaper, in the 1950s. I had never heard of these before. Here’s an example (from June 5, 1953):
The cryptogram introduced here was probably created with a simple substitution cipher (MASC). I’m sure my reader won’t have much trouble breaking it.
The ad series was published by a printing company named “Earl M. Price & Co”, which apparently doesn’t exist any more. Solvers of the above cryptogram could win a ream of paper imprinted with name and address.
Here’s another ad from the same series (January 12, 1953):
This time, the prize is $10. The encryption system used is not a pure MASC, as the ciphertext contains cleartext words and letters. Again, I’m sure this is easy to decipher for my readers.
The following ad contains another puzzle (August 17, 1954):
A few letters have been left in the clear. The cryptogram should be easy to break, and I wonder how many readers sent in the correct solution. If there were 200, did everyone get 5 cents as a prize?
More advertisements of this kind
David Oranchak has sent me many more links to advertisements of this series:
There are probably many more, as the weekly series ran at leat for a year. Too bad it’s too late to win any of the prizes.
Thanks David, for this hint.
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