Monday 17 April 2023

Cipher me this, Shagsper

Puzzle mavens, ahoy!

Following on from my solution to a 100 year old postcard cipher, I draw your attention to a plea for help from the Old Library at Trinity College Dublin. If they really wanted help, they'd have send out a call to the TCD Alumnus Association which is chock-a-block with old academically-inclined buffers holding, collectively, a very wide range of knowledge and intellectual wrangling tools. But they didn't do that, so I only heard about problem from RTE last week.

There are 250 known extant copies of the First Folio edition 1623 of Wm Shaxpere's collected works; and Trinity has one of them. None of the existing First Folios is still in its dust-jacket and they all have been 'used' to some degree. In contrast the second half of my 24 volume Complete Works of Walter Scott: none of the previous owners had even cut the pages, the 16-page signatures of the books had been folded and sewn together leaving the task of separating the outer edges of the pages to the reader.

The TCD First Folio has a burn mark - where someone allowed a candle to topple over? and muddy doggy paw-prints on another page. But the most intriguing unique feature is 20 lines of squiggles on the reverse of p.305 [see L]. Their top minds haven't been able to crack what it means. Can you help. I can't find a good copy of the relevant page on the interweb - what you see is what I screen dumped from the RTE video.

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