A Cipher Chart
Ahiman Rezon of Georgia,- and it is often used by those who are not initiated, as a means of amusement. However the use of these curious characters is common on the Royal Arch Ark of the Chapters and is officially recognized by the General Grand Chapter of the United States. In the instructions of the Oliver Ritual, purporting to be used in 1749 at London, there is this explanation, " You are also, my brethren, entitled as Master Masons to the use of an alphabet which our venerable Grand Master Hiram Abif employed in communications with King Solomon at Jerusalem and King Hiram at Tyre. It is geometriek in its character and is therefore eminently useful to Master Masons in general. By means of two squares and a mallet a brother may make the whole alphabet and even silently convey his ideas to another. That this geometriek alphabet may be easily learned and remembered, I will now entrust you with the key thereof."
Some present-day Lodge Boards have characters which must be read backwards. Brother Edward H. oring (Transactions, Quatuor Coronati Lodge, volume xxix, pages 243-64) has an article on "The Evolution and development of the Tracing or Lodge Board" in which he states that this reversal took place about the year 1825, and has been perpetuated ever since. On the old-time Lodge Board the dot is not used to indicate the second time the key diagram is used, and thus each character may stand for either of two letters.
Browne and Finch printed books intended only for Freemasons, and not as expositions, invented ciphers for their own use, and supplied their initiated readers with the key. Without a key, their works are un intelligible, except by the art of the decipherer.
Although not used in the first three degrees, the cipher is common in the advanced degrees, of which there is scarcely one which has not had its peculiar cipher. But for the purposes of concealment, the cipher is no longer of any practical use. The art of deciphering has been brought to so great a state of perfection that there is no cipher so complicated as to bid defiance for many hours to the penetrating skill of the experienced decipherer. Hence, the cipher has gone out of general use in Freemasonry as it has among diplomatists, who are compelled to communicate with their respective countries by methods more secret than any that can be supplied by a dispatch written in cipher. Edgar AA Poe has justly said, in his story of The Gold Bug, that ''it may well be doubted whether human ingenuity can construct an enima of the kind, which human ingenuity may not, by proper application, resolve. "
But there are some interesting instances of the use of a cipher outside the field of fiction (see Masonic Cipher Message, A Mysterious)
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