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History of steganography and cryptography
- The Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (translated as ‘the strife of love in a
dream’) is a very puzzling and enigmatic book. Published by Aldus Manutius
in 1499, it contains a vast knowledge of architecture and landscape and
garden design, but also engineering, painting and sculpture. It also
contains one of the most famous authorship steganogram: the first letter of
the 38 chapters spelled out ‘Poliam frater Franciscus Columna peramavit’
(‘Brother Francesco Colonna passionately loves Polia’). Colonna was a monk,
still alive when the book was published...
Steganographia, Trithemius (1462-1516), 1499
- This is Trithemius’ most notorious work. It includes a sophisticated
system of steganography, as well as angel magic. It also contains a
synthesis of the science of knowledge, the art of memory, magic, an
accelerated language learning system, and a method of sending messages
without symbols or messenger.
- Here are some photos of one of the oldest book on steganography and
cryptography. Four hundred pages are dedicated to the subject. Most of the
ideas presented in this book had been already discussed in
Steganographia (Trithemius, 1499) and Polygraphiæ
(Trithemius, 1516). Many thanks to the Whipple Library in
Cambridge for lending this book.
Cryptology in the 15th and 16th century, T Leary, Cryptologia v. XX
no. 3 (July 96) pp 223–242
- This article discusses a number of cryptographic and steganographic
systems used in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Authors of books
such as histories often concealed their names in case their work offended
powerful factions; while a treatise on the subject was written by Bishop
John Wilkins, later the Master of
Trinity College, Cambridge. He devised a number of schemes ranging from
coding messages in music and string knots to invisible inks, described the
principles of cryptanalysis by letter frequencies, and argued against those
who opposed publication in the field: ‘it will not follow that everything
must be suppressed which may be abused’
The Pigeon Post into Paris 1870-1871, J.D. Hayhurst O.B.E.
- This paper describes how pigeons and microphotography have been used
extensively while Paris was besieged during the Franco-Prussian War of
- Although this paper is mostly about cryptography, it enunciates some
principles that are worth keeping in mind when designing a new
A mathematical theory of communication systems, Claude E. Shannon
- Les Filigranes, Charles-Moïse Briquet, Geneva,
- Historical dictionary of watermarks.
- About cyphers,
Francis Bacon and Shakespeare, Paul Dupuy J.
- ‘The knowledge of Cyphering, hath drawne on with it a knowledge
relative unto it, which is the knowledge of Discyphering, or of Discreting
Cyphers, though a man were utterly ignorant of the Alphabet of the Cypher,
and the Capitulations of secrecy past between the Parties. Certainly it is
an Art which requires great paines and a good witt and is (as the other
was) consecrate to the Counsels of Princes: yet notwithstanding by diligent
prevision it may be made unprofitable, though, as things are, it be of
Cryptology, Paul Dupuy, Jr.
- In order to understand better, the Shakespeare/Bacon problem, the
author review the important discovery of the history of cryptography among
which, many appear to be steganographic systems.
- So who wrote the work? you’ll find more in
The Second Cryptographic Shakespeare,
- Questioning the authorship of Shakespeare is very unpopular. Most of
what is ‘known’ about Shakespeare was invented by
Sir Sidney Lee [by
Edward D. Johnson, from Baconiana, Dec. 1958] and his many ‘we may assume,’
‘undoubtedly’ phrases. These are extracts from The second cryptographic
Shakespeare: a monograph wherein the poems and plays attributed to William
Shakespeare are proven to contain the enciphered name of the concealed
author, Francis Bacon, Penn Leary, Omaha, Nebr., U.S.A. : Westchester
House, 1990. Second edition. ISBN 0961791713.
- The Myth of the Skytale, T Kelly, Cryptologia v.
XXII no. 3, July 1998, pp 244–260.
- The author argues that the Greek word skytale did not originally denote
an encryption device, but a piece of material on which a plaintext message
was written, and which used a stick only for ease of transport.
Solved: the Ciphers in
Book III of Trithemius’ Steganographia, J Reeds, Cryptologia v
XXII no 4, October 1998, pp 291–318.
- The author shows that many of the number tables associated with magic
spells in the third book of the Steganographia can be deciphered by
reducing them modulo 25 and applying them to a reversed alphabet. Some
previous writers had though that only the first two volumes were about