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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:



An ad series from the 1950s

David Oranchak

Source: David Oranchak

…, 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):

Source: The Bakersfield Californian

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):

Source: The Bakersfield Californian

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):

Source: The Bakersfield Californian

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:

  • https://www.newspapers.com/clip/51861650/earl-m-price-cipher/
  • https://www.newspapers.com/clip/51861659/earl-m-price-cipher/
  • https://www.newspapers.com/clip/51861661/earl-m-price-cipher/
  • https://www.newspapers.com/clip/51861667/earl-m-price-cipher/
  • https://www.newspapers.com/clip/51861671/earl-m-price-cipher/
  • https://www.newspapers.com/clip/51861675/earl-m-price-cipher/
  • https://www.newspapers.com/clip/51861678/earl-m-price-cipher/
  • https://www.newspapers.com/clip/51861682/earl-m-price-cipher/
  • https://www.newspapers.com/clip/51861686/earl-m-price-cipher/
  • https://www.newspapers.com/clip/51861687/earl-m-price-cipher/
  • https://www.newspapers.com/clip/51861691/earl-m-price-cipher/
  • https://www.newspapers.com/clip/51861696/earl-m-price-cipher/
  • https://www.newspapers.com/clip/51861715/earl-m-price-cipher/
  • https://www.newspapers.com/clip/51861719/earl-m-price-cipher/
  • https://www.newspapers.com/clip/51861722/earl-m-price-cipher/
  • https://www.newspapers.com/clip/51861726/earl-m-price-cipher/
  • https://www.newspapers.com/clip/51861731/earl-m-price-cipher/
  • https://www.newspapers.com/clip/51861735/earl-m-price-cipher/
  • https://www.newspapers.com/clip/51861739/earl-m-price-cipher/
  • https://www.newspapers.com/clip/51861742/earl-m-price-cipher/
  • https://www.newspapers.com/clip/51861745/earl-m-price-cipher/
  • https://www.newspapers.com/clip/51861747/earl-m-price-cipher/
  • https://www.newspapers.com/clip/51861750/earl-m-price-cipher/
  • https://www.newspapers.com/clip/51861755/earl-m-price-cipher/
  • https://www.newspapers.com/clip/51861760/earl-m-price-cipher/
  • https://www.newspapers.com/clip/51861761/earl-m-price-cipher/
  • https://www.newspapers.com/clip/51861764/earl-m-price-cipher/
  • https://www.newspapers.com/clip/51861765/earl-m-price-cipher/
  • https://www.newspapers.com/clip/51861769/earl-m-price-cipher/
  • https://www.newspapers.com/clip/51861772/earl-m-price-cipher/
  • https://www.newspapers.com/clip/51861774/earl-m-price-cipher/
  • https://www.newspapers.com/clip/51861778/earl-m-price-cipher/
  • https://www.newspapers.com/clip/51861779/earl-m-price-cipher/
  • https://www.newspapers.com/clip/51861782/earl-m-price-cipher/

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.

If you find a solution, please share it in the comments section.

Further reading: A hidden message on a EU election ballot

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