Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. September 27, 1777        British take possession of Philadelphia During the summer of 1777, the British army began an initiative to capture the colonial capitol of Philadelphia. British General Howe …

Colonial Spymaster (#5) — Pigpen Cypher

The Pigpen Cipher is another example of a substitution cipher, but rather than replacing each letter with another letter, the letters are replaced by symbols. The cipher has an interesting history: although its true origins are unknown, it has been used by many groups. Most notoriously, it was the cipher of choice for use by …

Samuel Adams was born on September 27, 1722

On September 27, 1722, Samuel Adams was born to Samuel Adams, Sr. and Mary (Fifield) Adams. Samuel was one of twelve children only three of whom survived past their 3rd birthday. Adams went on to attend Harvard College where he graduated in 1740 and after several failed attempts to make a career as a lawyer, …

Colonial Spymaster (#4) — Polybius Cypher

The Polybius checkerboard, is a device invented by the ancient Greeks Cleoxenus and Democleitus, and made famous by the historian and scholar Polybius, a Greek historian noted for his work The Histories, which covered the period of 264–146 BCE.  Polybius was well known to the Founding Fathers of the United States and was influential on …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. September 25, 1789        Bill of Rights On September 25, 1789, the first Congress of the United States adopted 12 amendments to the U.S. Constitution–the Bill of Rights–and sent them …

Historical Tidbits

When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few. September 25, 1775        Arnold’s March through the Wilderness. Early in the American Revolutionary War, Colonel Benedict Arnold led a force of 1,100 Continental Army troops on an expedition from …

Early Meteorology — Predicting the Weather 18th Century Style: scientific beginnings in England

The shift from superstition to scientific study of meteorology began when proper measuring instruments became available in the mid-17th century. By the early 18th century, Daniel Fahrenheit produced accurate mercury thermometers calibrated to a standard scale that ranged from 32 to 96 degrees (i.e., from the melting point of ice to body temperature).  Early work …

Colonial Spymaster (#3) — Ottendorf or Book Cypher

The Ottendorf Cypher, or Book Cypher, is a cyphertext is made up of numbers in groups of 3, and these numbers correspond to positions in a book (or other type of text).  Most often the numbers refer to Line, Word, and Letter.  To encode a message, the encoder needs only to find the word at …

Basic Colonial Brewing #18 — Proof your Whiskey, Sir

When it comes to arcane historical terms for spirits and other alcohol, proof is one of the frustrating ones.  In our modern vernacular, with the blessing of modern analytical chemistry as support, we simply think of “proof” as two times the alcohol by volume (ABV).  But why is this measure even a thing?  After all, …

Colonial Spymaster (#2) — Caesar Cypher

The Caesar cypher is one of the earliest known and simplest cyphers. It is a type of substitution cipher in which each letter in the plaintext is ‘shifted’ a certain number of places down the alphabet. For example, with a shift of 1, A would be replaced by B, B would become C, and so …