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"On This Date in History" Calendar

1843: Publication of first installments of "The Gold Bug" by Poe

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

21 June 1843: Publication of the first installments of the influential cryptologic story, "The Gold Bug," by Edgar Allen Poe.

Poe had become aware of the public's interest in secret writing in 1840 and asked readers to challenge his or her skills as a code-breaker. Poe took advantage of the popularity of cryptography as he was writing "The Gold-Bug," and the success of the story centers on one such cryptogram.

Excerpted from Wikipedia:

The story involves cryptography with a detailed description of a method for solving a simple substitution cipher using letter frequencies. The cryptogram is:

53‡‡†305))6*;4826)4‡.)4‡);806*;48†8
¶60))85;;]8*;:‡*8†83(88)5*†;46(;88*96
*?;8)*‡(;485);5*†2:*‡(;4956*2(5*—4)8
¶8*;4069285);)6†8)4‡‡;1(‡9;48081;8:8‡
1;48†85;4)485†528806*81(‡9;48;(88;4
(‡?34;48)4‡;161;:188;‡?;

The decoded message is:

53‡‡†305))6*;4826)4‡.)4‡);806*;48†8
agoodglassinthebishopshostelinthede

¶60))85;;]8*;:‡*8†83(88)5*†;46(;88*96
vilsseattwentyonedegreesandthirteenmi

*?;8)*‡(;485);5*†2:*‡(;4956*2(5*—4)8
nutesnortheastandbynorthmainbranchse

¶8*;4069285);)6†8)4‡‡;1(‡9;48081;8:8‡
venthlimbeastsideshootfromthelefteyeo

1;48†85;4)485†528806*81(‡9;48;(88;4
fthedeathsheadabeelinefromthetreeth

(‡?34;48)4‡;161;:188;‡?;
roughtheshotfiftyfeetout

The decoded message with spaces, punctuation, and capitalization is:

A good glass in the bishop's hostel in the devil's seat
twenty-one degrees and thirteen minutes northeast and by north
main branch seventh limb east side shoot from the left eye of the death's-head
a bee line from the tree through the shot fifty feet out.

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