Brainboxes have helped solve a 180-year old puzzle after an appeal in the YEP by a Leeds museum got the whole nation thinking.
We reported last week that historians at Abbey House Museum were asking for help to solve the early 19th century conundrum, actually an advertisement for a lottery with a £30,000 jackpot - £1 million in today’s money - in the form of a pictogram.
But after a huge response from across the country following the YEP appeal - and a flood of emails to the museum - the mystery is solved (see full solution above).
And it has emerged the poster was actually designed by a pioneering “marketing genius” regarded by many as a godfather of modern advertising techniques.
Social history curator Kitty Ross said: “Thanks to all who replied to this appeal and helped solve the riddle. A number of other online agencies picked it up so I had a lot of response.
“We apologise that we can’t offer a £30,000 prize!”
The advertisement, currently on display as part of the ‘Fate and Fickle Fortune’ exhibition, was designed by Thomas Bish.
Gary Hicks, who recently wrote a book about The First Adman: Thomas Bish and the Birth of Modern Advertising, got in touch with Miss Ross after reading the appeal for help with the conundrum. He told her Bish used new and innovative advertising methods like the pictograms posters in order to sell tickets in the old state lottery, which Parliament abolished in 1826 following a campaign by William Wilberforce.
Miss Ross said Bish was known as “a strange mixture of idealist and spiv who managed to be expelled from both House of Commons and the Stock Exchange in the same year”.
But he was also a marketing genius who pioneered spin-doctoring, graphic design and direct marketing tecniques.
ALL IS REVEALED
The official translation of the pictogram is:
‘Catch Fortune when you can. As every man would rather get money than not, the attention of all is called to the New Lottery, in which, by a small risk, they may get an independent fortune. They should hasten to the nearest lottery office, and then, by purchasing even a share, they may secure what they desire, and which cannot fail to make the mare go, and place them (if money be their deity) in an earthly paradise.’