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Found a code written on the back of a picture from WW1 era, assumingly around the time the Treaty of Versailles was signed. Can you help decode?!

1-3-221-21-1222-12-3-112-3-221-1-2-2-221-12-3-212-1121-12-12-2-122-12-22-211-2-333

It also has a symbol after it that looks something like HH, but with the center line connected. In other words, 3 vertical lines (with middle line ever so slightly larger than outer 2 lines) with a horizontal line through them.

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  • $\begingroup$ Can you provide a photo or a drawing of the symbol? $\endgroup$ – Tweakimp Dec 29 '17 at 15:17
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I noticed that

the only time 3s appear is all by themselves and at the end of the message. That implied to me that they were spaces (and the last part was an "end of message" mark).

The next step was

to replace them all with letters: this gives A CDEF G CAHHCF IJFFHKFLMH. Plugging this into quipqiup, an online cryptogram solver, gives a top result of I LOVE M LITTLE SWEETHEART. The M is likely meant to be a U, judging by the context of the message (since we don't have anything else to distinguish). So the message was I LOVE U, LITTLE SWEETHEART. (How cute!)

HH may have been the initials of either the sender or receiver of the message.

So how were we supposed to figure it out? I'm not entirely sure. Here's a list of symbols and letters from shortest to longest.

1    I
2    T
12   E
21   O
22   A
112  U?
122  H
211  R
212  S
221  L
1121 W
1222 V

More common letters have shorter codes, which is fairly reasonable. But it doesn't seem to have any obvious structure other than that, as far as I can tell. It may have been something like Morse.

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  • $\begingroup$ (For those curious, the code doesn't seem to be an obsolete variant of Morse either. I is .. in all versions of Morse, but here it is only one.) $\endgroup$ – Deusovi Dec 29 '17 at 15:44

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