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Must-Read Books on Cryptography


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I don’t want to start many ‘new topics’ as I can hardly keep up as it is, but I am not sure where to post this, so Rob, please move to the correct place and delete topic if you wish.

So I started reading Mercury Swift and Secret Messenger by John Wilkins more closely.

I only skip read it before.  It lists all the methods of hiding things and it’s led me down some fascinating new avenues. 0A88E0AD-F563-424A-A0B7-833971624682.thumb.jpeg.1d642d29c8b19b7eb319f4713372b329.jpeg

In this he mentions Della Porta, Trithemius and other cryptographers, but I Googled the names I didn’t know. 
This led me to two of the most fascinating books. 

If you want to know why all the dots are in the sonnets dedication and why it’s shaped like it is (and to better understand why Bacon used long words like honorificabilitudinitas and others), plus what acronyms and things may mean, you have to wade through all three. A huge effort but worth it (most people on here will have read Wilkins)DAF7FAEF-D177-4928-A3FC-7966E8A6E305.jpeg.d6dde13c516e2153cb1a9042c66b490f.jpeg

The 59-page one above is called:

De Scripturis antiquis compendiosum opusculum by Marcus Valerius Probus


Another much longer one, but a delight and marvel to look through is all about epigraphy and inscriptions. You won’t look at Shakespeare’s ‘tomb’ stone in the Stratford Church the same way, ever again! 👇

Inscriptiones antiquae totius orbis romani : in absolutissimum corpus redactae olim auspciis Iosephi Scaligeri et Marci Velseri

by Gruterus, Janus,


Wonderful engravings too.




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Hi Kate,

Great work. If I remember correctly the first 1641 edition of the Mercury contains some prefatory material not found in some of the later editions. I have copied over some information from my article 'Did Francis Bacon Die in 1626?' on this work and another work credited to Dr Wilkins which might be of some interest.

His invisible Rosicrucian Brotherhood were also busy working behind the scenes on the first full-length work in English on cryptography entitled Mercury, Or The Secret and Swift Messenger issued in 1641 attributed to the Bacon disciple and Rosicrucian Brother Dr John Wilkins, one of the key founders of the Baconian-Rosicrucian Royal Society. The work is dedicated to George, Lord Berkeley (1601-1658), son of Sir Thomas Berkeley and Elizabeth Carey, the daughter of George Carey, second Baron Hunsdon patron of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men to whom Bacon supplied many of his Shakespeare plays. It is prefaced by a series of dedicatory verses. One is addressed ‘To Mercury the elder, On the most learned Mercury the younger’ signed by the poet, translator and lawyer Sir Francis Kynaston (1586/7-1642), the founder of a Baconian Academy of Learning in 1635 at whose opening Kynaston presented a masque he had written before Prince Charles, the Duke of York, and other dignitaries entitled Corona Minerva printed later that year. It is followed by a very curious verse addressed ‘To the unknown Author’ in the name of Anthony Aucher, Esquire ‘By hiding who thou art, seek not to miss,/The Glory due to such a work as this;/But set thy name, that thou mayst have the praise,/Lest to the unknown God we Altars raise.’ In his biography Sir Francis Bacon Poet-Philosopher-Statesman-Lawyer-Wit Woodward maintained the work had been ‘fathered upon Wilkins’, and in reality it was written by Bacon, whose famous bi-literal-cipher is also set out in Mercury, Or The Swift Messenger 

As a member of Bacon’s Rosicrucian Brotherhood Dr Wilkins was privy to many of the secrets of his life and writings. In the Mathematicall Magick (1648) in a chapter discussing subterraneous lamps, its author makes the following remarkable statement:


Such a lamp is likewise related to be seen in the sepulchre of Francis Rosicrosse, as is more largely expressed in the confession of that fraternity.


The passage contains a deliberate error a device used by the Rosicrucian Brotherhood when disclosing a secret about Francis Bacon. The sepulchre with the lamp in its vault is described not in the Confessio Fraternitatis, but in the preceding first Rosicrucian manifesto, the Fama Fraternitatis with the passage cryptically indicating that Francis Bacon (‘Francis Rosicrosse’) was the secret founder of the Rosicrucian Brotherhood and the secret author of its two manifestos.

[A. Phoenix, 'Did Francis Bacon Die in 1626?, pp. 53, 56 at https://sirbacon.org/a-phoenix/]


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The Swift and Secret Messenger! Brings back memories! I had to find the book on microfiche at USF when I put it on Light-of-Truth. I had the only online copy for a few years.


Note on the right of that page the copy I found had a lot of mis-numbered pages. I studied this book and it was a treasure for me. I forgot everything now, but might still have notes. 😉


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157     www.Light-of-Truth.com     287
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