Conference article

The Role of Base 10 in the Beale Papers

Viktor Wase
Stockholm, Sweden

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Published in: Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Historical Cryptology HistoCrypt 2020

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 171:19, p. 153-157

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Published: 2020-05-19

ISBN: 978-91-7929-827-2

ISSN: 1650-3686 (print), 1650-3740 (online)


The Beale Papers is an 1885 pamphlet claiming to contain the location of a huge hidden treasure. The only snag is that the message is encrypted and, as of writing this, unsolved. This study investigates the authenticity of the ciphers by comparing the distribution of the numbers in the ciphers to each other, in different bases. Humans are generally illsuited to the task of generating random numbers. As such, one might suspect that the behaviour of the distributions in base 10 would be widely different from the other bases if the ciphers were faked. The results of this study strongly indicate that this is the case.


Historical Ciphers; Beale Papers; Benford’s Law


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