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Published April 5, 2012

Beale Treasure Story
Blair's Article on "CIPHER"

  

In chapter 3 of Beale Treasure Story: The Hoax Theory Deflated, there is a discussion of an article on "CIPHER" written by Dr. William Blair. The article was published in Rees' Cyclopaedia. This lengthy tutorial on cryptography could have provided Beale with all the information necessary to construct his ciphers. There were two editions of Rees' Cyclopaedia, a British edition published in London [1] and an American edition published in Philadelphia [2]. The cyclopaedia was issued in "numbers" or parts, over a period of several years. The "number" with Blair's article on "CIPHER" was among the 79 "numbers" of the American edition offered for sale at the bookstore of Ward & Digges, Lynchburg, June 1819, just a few months prior to Beale's first visit to the city. 
   
For those readers interested in cryptography, or intending to "have a go" at trying to solve Beale's ciphers No. 1 or No. 3, Blair's article could offer a good starting point. Beale's cipher methods were most likely developed from Blair's article.
   
A pdf copy of Blair's entire article, taken from volume eight of the American edition of the Cyclopaedia, can be read online or downloaded. The pdf file also contains three plates "Writing in Cipher," taken from volume four of plates from the London edition. The plates were part of Blair's article, but bound separately. Unfortunately, the three plates were so tightly bound that they could not be copied without some loss. About a half inch of text is lacking along the left margins of plates I and III. A better copy of Blair's "alphabet and key," from the upper left corner of plate III, is also provided. 
    
It may take two or three minutes for the pdf file to load, so be patient and don't press any keys on your keyboard. If you still have trouble, try clicking "Tools" and then clicking "Delete Browsing History...." Some of the text appears light, but can be easily read by magnifying it to 150 or 200 percent with your Adobe Acrobat Reader.  
        

Click here to download Blair's article on "CIPHER"

    
[1] William Blair, article on "Cipher." In volume eight of Abraham Rees' The Cyclopaedia; or Universal Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and Literature, London: 1819.
  
[2] William Blair, article on "Cipher." In volume eight of Abraham Rees' The Cyclopaedia; or Universal Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and Literature, Philadelphia: Samuel Bradford, [1806-1822].
  
   
  
  
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