In 1982, publisher Byron C. Preiss teamed up with National Lampoon writers Sean Kelly and Ted Mann as well as artist John Jude Penencer to publish a children’s puzzle book called The Secret. The book tells the story of The Fair People, a race of Old World goblins and fairies, who made their way to North America laden with precious jewels. Among the book’s characters are an elf named Elf S. Pressley, the mythical Maitre D’eamons, and a race of creatures cheekily called Tupperwerewolves.
Despite its strange character names, this book has managed to fascinate adults and children alike for more than thirty years for one main reason: buried treasure. Yes, you read that right. Hidden in the book’s cryptic poems and paintings are the locations of twelve casques hidden on public lands across the United States and possibly Canada.
In order to solve the riddle, you must pair one poem with the correct painting. Then you must decode both to find visual and directional clues to the location of one of the twelve casques. Inside the casque you will find a key that you can mail to the publisher, and in exchange they would send you a small jewel. The combined worth of the jewels was said to be $13,000!
Two of the twelve casques have already been located. The first was found by a group of school children in Chicago’s Grant Park in 1984. The second was found in Cleveland’s Greek Cultural Garden by a bankruptcy lawyer named Bryan Zinn. Other casques are believed to be located in San Francisco, New York City, Houston, Milwaukee, and either Montreal or St. Louis.
Here’s the catch though. As if finding the location of ten remaining buried casques solely based on coded poems and paintings wasn’t hard enough, there is no longer any way for the author to give his readers hints. Byron Preiss was sadly killed in a car accident in 2005 taking the location of the remaining casques with him. On top of that, there is no guarantee that the remaining casques have not been dug up by unknowing landscape crews already.
The many obstacles haven’t seemed to deter the dedicated though. Highly active forums dedicated to The Secret and its mysterious treasure hunt still exist on sites like Wiki Front Page. Here members present their findings, discuss clues, and organize digs. Some intrepid hunters have even rented Ground Penetrating Radar devices to aid them in their search.
Should anyone surpass the odds and find one of the casques, Preiss’ widow claims that she still has the jewels in her possession.
I think we can all agree, though, anyone who is looking for this treasure is not in it for the money. They’re in it for the adventure!
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Featured image via Boing Boing