Monday, October 13, 2008

Neither Snow nor Rain nor Gloom of Night nor PUZZLES

While Harriet Russell was a student at the Glasgow School of Art, she decided to put the local post office to the test. She sent herself a series of letters. On each envelope, she hid the address inside a puzzle or cipher.

It was only a game. She didn't expect the letters to ever arrive. But out of the 130 she sent, only 10 failed to reach her. The Glasgow postal employees, as it turns out, were happy to play along. Even as the puzzles grew more and more complex, the letters kept arriving.

(In an odd turn of events, Russell later discovered that her own great-great grandfather had engaged in a similar battle of wits with the postmen of his day. A private secretary to Queen Victoria, he regularly sent letters to his children with their addresses hidden inside elaborate illustrations.)

Russell's puzzles can now be found in a book entitled, Envelopes: A Puzzling Journey Through the Royal Mail. Read more (and see more illustrations) here.


Blogger TadMack said...

Oh, cool!
I've walked past the Glasgow School of Art, but haven't gone in to look around yet. I'm SHOCKED that her packages actually got to her; I sent a book to a friend in Canada and it vanished. Not sure whose fault that was!

10:20 AM  
Blogger Jin Ai said...

Oh my god. Another thing to do before I become boring. 8D

10:27 AM  
Blogger Kitty said...

I know Tadmack! Around this time last year, almost every time my family sends something , the postoffice loses it!!! oO I wanna try that.... *D

12:44 PM  
Anonymous PeaceReaper said...

I'm not good at coming up with puzzles and the like. Kinda stinks too. Think of all the challenges my characters will never face due to my lack of creativity in the puzzle department! As for losing things in the mail, I don't think it's ever happened to me. I prefer email.
So, my shirt is in the 80s, THANKS TO ALL OF YOU WHO VOTED!!! YOU GUYS ROCK!!! If you want to vote for my tee, or just check it out, visit Again, THANKS FOR THE VOTES!

1:51 PM  
Anonymous Patsee said...

I love ciphers!

1:54 PM  
Anonymous FantasyFan14 said...

That is super kewl i would LOVE 2 do something like that

4:02 PM  
Anonymous PeaceReaper said...

Quick update on the design contest. The voting is over, done, gone. I finished 86 of 2887. I just wanted to thank those of you who voted for me. I finished with a much better rank than I thought I would. I may not be eligible for any of the prizes, but I beat a lot of other people. Thanks for all your help! You guys are awesome! :D :D :D

(I really hope I win the gadget contest now)

5:28 PM  
Blogger Jin Ai said...

I'm happy for you, but next time you do something like that could you not advertise after every comment? Again, it's really annoying.

6:02 PM  
Anonymous liltomboyblue said...

That's awesome! I love to decorate my envelopes, but I never thought of something like that! Now, they apparently won't send it if it has been decorated to much. xP meanies!

6:52 PM  
Anonymous Undiscovered Universe said...

That is really cool! I am totally going to try to do that!!

Did anyone else see the blue angels this weekend? It's kind of dorkey, but I LOVE to watch them!

Peacereaper: Sorry you didn't get to go to London, but good job anyway! (I voted for you :)

7:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love a good puzzle. I was just shocked that the post office people went along with it.

p.s. is there a new book in the up coming future?

8:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


8:59 PM  
Blogger liltomboyblue11;) said...

UU: what are blue angels?

9:03 PM  
Anonymous Evil Hench Mistress said...

Liltomboyblue, the Blue Angels are a group of Navy fighter pilots who perform synchernized aerial stunts in blue jets at air shows. I've seen them a bunch of times. Seeing them is a military brat right of passage. :D

9:45 PM  
Anonymous eternal espionage said...

Well too bad that the post office near my house can't even seem to get normally written letters into my posession... It doesn't help their case that they are the absolute rudest people that I have ever met.

11:08 PM  
Anonymous Irregular Kiki said...

I have been really busy today and haven't sent in any entries. Tomorrow is the last day I can enter for the gadget contest, yeah? Not today? I can enter tomorrow (Wednesday)??

6:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

my favorite one was the comic with the person trying to get to england iin a NYC cab.

-max l.

5:51 PM  
Blogger liltomboyblue11;) said...

EHM: Oh, I had no clue! I actually learned something today! xD

9:49 PM  

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