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I was researching an historical figure on the Isle of Man, Capt George Quayle (b.1751 - d.1835), and in amongst the museum's papers was this numbers grid which was part of his effects. The museum said they'd not been able to work it out. Amongst other things George Quayle was a politician, army captain, smuggler, traveller and supposedly a spy for British intelligence. He had hidden areas and rooms in his home and office building and built an elaborate safe that could only be opened by placing cannon balls of different weights in a basket in the correct order. He's very much an enigma and I'd appreciate help with this grid. Thanks in advance.

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ the second cell from top left should read 56 and not 58, it looks like someone overwrote the lower values with black ink $\endgroup$ – sousben Sep 26 '17 at 13:24
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    $\begingroup$ preliminary comments: lower numbers are consecutive from bottom to top cells and from right to left. 8 consecutive upper numbers appear on each row but not in consecutive order. the order of the rows is 3,2,1,4,5,8,7,6 $\endgroup$ – sousben Sep 26 '17 at 13:28
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    $\begingroup$ It certainly looks like a transposition cipher or a grille. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grille_(cryptography) $\endgroup$ – LeppyR64 Sep 26 '17 at 16:05
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you sousben and LeppyR64. Yes you are right about the 56/58 as I see 58 is already there. Thank you for the link too. $\endgroup$ – Breebeg Sep 30 '17 at 8:53
  • $\begingroup$ Has a correct answer been given? If so, please don't forget to $\color{green}{\checkmark \small\text{Accept}}$ it. If not, a response to the answerer to help steer them in the right direction would be helpful. $\endgroup$ – Rubio Oct 11 '17 at 14:21
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When I was a kid I had an encoder bracelet made out of copper that was similar to this but much less powerful and versatile. The rotating outer ring of the bracelet had a row of very small alphabet characters and numbers 0 through 9 as well as several special characters. It also had four rows of numbers that were all rather randomly organized something like this (partial):

a b c d e f g h i j k  l  m  n  o  p  q  r  s  t  u  v  w  x  y  z  +  *
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28
3 4 5 6 8 9 0 1 2 7 15 14 13 12 20 19 18 17 16 28 27 26 25 24 23 22 21 10
9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 28 27 26 25 24 23 22 21 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11
6 5 4 3 2 1 0 9 7 8 10 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 16 17 18 19 20 12 13 14 15

You could write a message using the numbers that matched up to a sequence of letters by rotating the outer part of the ring with the letters to line them up with the predetermined starting point on one of the sets of numbers. Then even if someone else got the bracelet they would have a very difficult time deciphering the message because of the large number of different number sequences and the unknown starting point as well as the directionality of the encryption. As I recall my dad looked for that bracelet for a long time and when he found it I never got it back.

Quayle's encryptor looks like it could do the very same thing only much more powerfully. The person encoding would have a prearranged starting point and direction that the person decoding would know about. The message would be encrypted and sent to the person receiving who would arrange the characters of the message according to the table and they would be able to decipher the message. Without knowing the starting point or the direction it would be extremely difficult to read the message. Quayle's encryptor could even be used diagonally and a person could use a system of direction changes to further complicate the encryption scheme.

I used Quayle's system to write a simple message. Only I know the starting point and the direction. Can you decipher it?

17 30 36 18 45 60 13 4 34 17 30 15 4 46

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  • $\begingroup$ I hope you don't mind my edit to square the coder array and highlight the backpuzzle, Dr t, it can easily be undone but I thought this excellent answer would benefit from it. $\endgroup$ – humn Sep 27 '17 at 22:15
  • $\begingroup$ @humn your edit is much appreciated $\endgroup$ – Dr t Sep 28 '17 at 0:45
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you humn. I'm hopeless with numbers and it's a lot for me to take in. Appreciate the time you've taken to try and understand and work out what it is. Thank you again. $\endgroup$ – Breebeg Sep 30 '17 at 8:52

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