7Privacy vs Secrecy Sex with your partner is private Sex with your tennis partner is secretOr, somewhat more cryptographically…Private = we can see it but we can’t read itSecret = we can’t even see it to read it
10So many cipher techniques! Yes… but it’s not actually a problem for us.Almost all clever cipher tricks never escaped from crypto theoreticians’ textbooks.Just about every pre-1800 cipher you’re likely to see follows one basic pattern…
11The Basic Cipher Key A simple format that was used for centuries! Letter Key (“homophonic” if >1 per letter)Gemine (to replace doubled letters)Nulle (nonsense letters)Nomenclatura (to replace groups / words)…plus any special tricks or hacks!
17Modern shorthand structure Letter key – one rapid stroke per letterTrick for writing vowels at speedVery short variant strokeDiscarding them completely (“abjad”)Direction (relative to word’s initial letter)Optional: logical word constructionOptional: many extra shapes (‘arbitraries’)
21Getting Started How old is it? If pre-1600, it’s almost certainly a cipher.If it’s all numbers, is each less than 100?If yes, probably a number cipher: else a code.Is it clearly designed for rapid writing?If yes, probably a modern shorthand.How many different shapes (approx)?If 25 or less, very likely to be a simple cipher.
22Common Transcription Pitfalls Things to remember at all times:The text might be miscopied (especially if printed)The ink might have fadedLater owners might have tried to restore itLater owners’ marks might be misinterpreted as originalBeware wear, stains, rips, tears, contact transfers, etcBifolios might have been shuffled or reversedKey question: what happened to it to leave it this way?
23Useful Transcription Tips Patiently build up your own symbol keyLook for ASCII similarities to keep it quickTranscribe shape variants defensivelyDon’t be tricked, particularly by punctuationTranscribe 25% well, not 100% badly!Note: this always takes longer than you think!