Skip to comments.The Quest to Find 12 Hidden Treasures From a 1982 Treasure Hunt Book
Posted on 08/02/2014 6:03:11 PM PDT by nickcarraway
The 1982 treasure hunt book, The Secret, has clues to 12 hidden gems. Only two have been found. James Renner is on a quest to discover the others, and he invites you to join the hunt.
The Secret: A Treasure Hunt! first set its hooks in me when I was eight years old. My mother had taken me to the little library in Bedford, outside Cleveland, and in the stacks there, I discovered this small bound book with a strange painting on the cover that hinted at some fantastic mystery. I took the book home with me and read about the twelve keys Byron Preiss had buried in cities across North America. I tried to decode the paintings and poems that held the locations of these keys. And I fretted that, by the time I was sixteen and had the freedom a drivers license could afford, all the keys would be found.
That was nearly thirty years ago.
Only two keys have ever been found.
This summer, Im setting out to finally claim one for myself. I challenge you to do the same.
The Secret: A Treasure Hunt! was published in 1982. Its creator, Byron Preiss, was inspired by the book, Masquerade, which was published in the U.K. in 1979. Written and illustrated by Kit Williams, Masquerade contained fifteen paintings that pointed to the location of a buried treasure, in this case, a rabbit pendant made of gold and jewels. That book sold hundreds of thousands of copies around the world. That year, much of Great Britain was full of shallow, empty holes.
For his book, Preiss commissioned a young artist named John Jude Palencar (who went on to design the covers for the Eragon series) to create a dozen paintings. Each painting was paired with a poem. Used together, they pointed an armchair sleuth to a specific location. There, three feet underground, one could find a buried casque. Inside the casque was a ceramic key. And each key could be turned into the publisher, who would hand over a gem worth around $1,000.
Unfortunately, The Secret: A Treasure Hunt! was never as popular as Masquerade. And the clues proved harder to solve than Preiss imagined. There was no way to cheat, either, as metal detectors would never pick up the ceramic casque or keys.
In 1984, three kids unearthed a key in Chicago. Then, nothing much happened until 2004, when a pair of lawyers found one in Cleveland.
Preiss, alone, buried the keys. He never told anyone else the precise locations. And the secrets died with him in a tragic car accident, in 2005. The gems, too, were said to have been lost.
However, fans of the mystery continue to mine the Palencar paintings and Preisss poems for clues. A Reddit post six months ago introduced the book to a new generation of web-savvy puzzlers. If you want to travel deeply into the rabbit hole, an old message board called Quest4Treasure goes into greater detail.
For the last few years, Ive written about unsolved crimes, hunting down serial killers and crooked politicians in Cleveland (we have more than our fair share of both). But I wanted to find a new mystery I could really enjoy digging into. And this summer, I got to thinking about Byron Preisss book again.
My first call was to Preisss widow and what she said got my heart racing again, the way I felt when I first saw that book in the Bedford library so many years ago. She had just seen the gems, again. They werent lost. As far as she was concerned, the game was still on!
On Friday, I leave for Chicago to interview the Goonies who found the treasure there, back in 1984. Along with me for the trip is Charles Moore, who helped me track down J.D. Salinger a few years back. And then its on to New York, and Florida, and locations to be determined. A crew is coming along to film a documentary, produced by Tyler Davidson and his gang at Low Spark Films (Take Shelter, The Signal).
We challenge the Boing Boing community to race us. Can you solve Preisss puzzles and find a key before we do?
If so, please remember to document your dig and to share it with us.
The game is afoot! May the odds be ever in your favor! Avast ye mateys and all of that.
Funny, I overheard a woman discussing this on the trolley today . She and her friends were on the hunt!
I remember about 40=50 years ago a Dallas radio station KTSA started a treasure hunt for some money ($10,000?) and gave out clues over the air.
The city went completely crazy trying to find the treasure. Fist fights between rival hunters in locations thought to be the site were common. In some places hundreds of people searched the ground and left holes littered everywhere.
As I recall, the treasure was in a tin can buried so that only one end barely showed in the ground.
I think that was the last one of those deals because it caused so much disruption.
Well, don’t hold out on us. Did she reveal any actionable details?
maybe the internet can make it more popular than it was back then
Is the book on Kindle?
Reminds me of the much more recent “treasure hunting” that is geocaching, which uses GPS points and clues to lead the seekers to what has been hidden. ....Obviously, the older versions with clues being depicted in drawings and poems are much harder.
A different sort of digging PING!
I live waaay out on the sticks. A couple of summers ago I started see in cars stop at the culvert bridge at the end of my lane and people would get out and look over the edge or climb down in it. Drove me crazy, I thought maybe someone was hiding drugs for pickup or something worse. My son finally investigated and found a little magnetic box with a piece of paper in it with a bunch of numbers and people’s initials. He found out there is a club here that does that sort of thing. Don’t know what they get out of it except for a drive in the country. Haven’t seen them this year
Thanks a fool in paradise.
It’s called Geocaching. Friends of mine, and some family members enjoy doing that. Here’s the website:
I did some research on the net last year when this thread came out. Some multimillionaire that found his own treasures, and buried a bunch of them (millions of dollars worth) in a chest. He just wants people to experience the thrill and adventure that he enjoyed when he first found them. And to get off their butts and get outside and explore!
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