A 230-year-old mystery has recently been solved, thanks to an avid viewer of the popular TV programme, Antiques Roadshow.
A trinket box dating back to 1785 was presented on Antiques Roadshow. The box was covered in lots of numbers in what appeared to be a secret code. According to the owner, the box had been purchased by her father for around £20 in Petticoat Lane as a gift for her mother. The item was presented to expert Jon Baddeley, who said that the box was likely to be a cosmetic box, most likely intended to hold rouge and originally given by a man called J Jones.
Speaking to the owner, Baddeley said that although there were lots of questions which he hoped he could answer for her, he thought he would be unable to answer the question about the code on the box. Eventually, Baddeley valued the box between £800 to £1,200, saying the item had immense sentimental value.
Viewer Paul Wisken, 61 years old, was watching the show and decided to have a go at cracking the code. A fan of puzzles and crosswords, Wisken set about producing a spreadsheet which would correspond numbers to letters. He finally solved the puzzle and contacted the Antiques Roadshow team, asking if they could pass on the translation to the owners of the antique cosmetic box, which read:
“the gift is small but love is all”
The owner may want to display the antique box in an antique bedside cabinet or other piece of 18th century furniture.
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